Phil Mickelson breaks down LIV Golf move, thinks rival league ‘will do a lot of good for the game’


The last time Phil Mickelson played in a professional golf tournament was in Saudi Arabia in early February. He is no longer physically in the country, but he is now one of its representatives in London and around the world.

It was announced this week that Mickelson is in the LIV golf league and has no doubt been paid a massive amount of money, even though he dominated the golf landscape for his comments earlier this year on how whose people who run LIV Golf – namely the Saudi Arabian government – are a bunch of “scary mothers——“.


Mickelson has not been seen since those comments were posted in February. He missed the Masters and he jumped the chance to defend his PGA Championship. He insisted on Wednesday, in his first public appearance in four months, that he was allowed to play in both but had personally chosen not to play in either.

On Tuesday night, his team, the Hy Flyers, drafted Chase Koepka, Justin Harding and Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat in the first-ever team draft for the event, which kicks off Thursday at 9 a.m. ET in London. On Wednesday, he faced a series of questions from the press covering LIV Golf’s inaugural event.

Lefty was not brash with his answers, instead taking more time and thought with each one, especially when asked about the source of the funds he signed up for. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is the financial arm of a Saudi government, whose human rights record resembles most of Mickelson’s scorecards in recent years (awful grades all around).

“I don’t condone human rights abuses in any way,” Mickelson said. “No one here does, across the world. I’m certainly aware of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history, and I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I’m excited for this opportunity, and that’s why I’m here.

This has been a common theme among players who have shown up in London. Graeme McDowell gave a similar answer on Tuesday, which was both disgusting and revealing as to the real reason players play for the Saudi-backed league (money).

“We’re golfers,” McDowell said. “I personally really feel like golf is a force for good in the world. I just try to be a great role model for kids. I know what the game of golf has taught me. J love to use the game of golf as something That’s pretty much what we’ve been for the past 20 years, being role models for kids and trying to use this game, like I said, as a strength good.

“We are not politicians. I know you hate that expression, but unfortunately we really are not. We are professional golfers. If Saudi Arabia wanted to use golf as a means for them to get there where they want to be and they have the resources to accelerate that experience, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey by using the game of golf and the abilities we have to help grow the sport and take them where they want to be.”

In other words, they pay exorbitant sums of money “to get where they want to be”. McDowell actually said out loud that he was proud of it. To be clear, there has been no regime change in Saudi Arabia since the assassination of Khashoggi. They are exactly the same people.

Mickelson also declined to discuss whether or not he is suspended by the PGA Tour, instead focusing on his time off from the sport.

“I had a four month break from the game that I haven’t had in over three decades,” Mickelson said. “I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my wife, Amy, and travel around the world, hang out at a place we have in Montana to ski and hike in Sedona. has given me time to continue work and therapy in areas where I am lacking in my life. It has given me time to think about what I want to do in the future and what is best for me. me and what is best for the people I care about.

The other big issue he addressed was his gambling problem – which he recently revealed to Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig had become “reckless and embarrassing” – and was widely reported and even speculated as to the reason for his jump at LIV Golf and a huge salary to start with.

“I’ve been running it for many years now,” Mickelson said. “Me and my family have been financially secure for – I can’t even remember how long now. But he was definitely going to be in jeopardy if I didn’t sort this out. And I did.”

There weren’t as many fireworks displays as expected from the six-time grand winner, but his mere presence at the event says it all. Although he hasn’t resigned from the PGA Tour like many of his other colleagues and plans to play the US Open next week, Mickelson lends a gravity to LIV Golf that contributes to its success and puts the PGA Tour in a extraordinarily difficult position. Lefty’s career has been full of moments where his mouth got ahead of his actions. He certainly wasn’t one of them, but his actions – leading a league he privately disparaged – said everything you need to know.