June 22, 2024

Mickelson joins controversial Saudi-backed golf series

Mickelson joins controversial Saudi-backed golf series

Phil Mickelson has confirmed that he has signed to play in the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, saying he also plans to play major events, including next week’s US Open.

The six-time major winner will be in the field of 48 at the controversial new tour’s inaugural event in London this week. “I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start,” Mickelson wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Mickelson said he will keep his US PGA Tour membership, unlike some who joined LIV Golf, but has not spoken with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “I’m uncertain how I will play given that I haven’t played in a few months. But I’m optimistic,” said Mickelson who has not played since the publication of comments in February where he criticized the PGA Tour and LIV Golf’s Saudi backers.

In an interview with author Alan Shipnuck, the 51-year-old American left-hander said the Saudi-funded LIV Golf was an opportunity to gain leverage over the PGA Tour. However, Mickelson described the new venture’s backers as “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights”.

Phil Mickelson lines up his putt during The Farmers Insurance Open. Photo by Donald MIRALLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Mickelson, a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, apologized when his original remarks were made public and took some “desperately needed time away” from golf, skipping the Masters and PGA Championship during his self-imposed exile. “There’s a lot of things I regret. I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt a lot of people and I’m really sorry,” he said. Mickelson said in his statement that he remains in therapy: “Time away and self-reflecting has been very humbling. I still have a long way to go but I am embracing the work ahead.”

During his absence, however, LIV Golf has torn at the fabric of world golf, with dozens of household names joining the new tour. Last week, former world number one Dustin Johnson joined the money-spinning new series, whose tournaments will offer among the richest purses in golf history. This week’s event teeing off at Centurion Club at St Albans, north of London, will have a $25 million purse — almost double that of any major, with $4 million going to the winner.

Tiger Woods has turned down LIV’s overture saying he supported the US PGA Tour. Others going to LIV Golf include European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia. Players opting into LIV Golf have done so despite PGA Tour warnings of disciplinary action.

Several PGA Tour golfers had requested releases to play this week’s LIV event, which clashes with the PGA’s Canadian Open, but were refused.


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