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Why was journalist Alan Shipnuck removed from Phil Mickelson’s LIV Golf press conference?

In yet another blow to the image of the fledgling tour, the expulsion of a journalist i.e. the control of freedom of speech is most definitely not a good look.

Update:
Golf journalist Alan Shipnuck ejected from Phil Mickelson’s LIV Golf press conference
PAUL CHILDSREUTERS

With the new tour already being mired in controversy, the last thing it needed was an apparent attack on journalistic freedoms, but that now seems to be the case for the LIV.

Journalist Alan Shipnuck expelled from LIV press conference

Over the last few days there has been intense speculation surrounding the newly launched LIV Golf Tour. With reports ranging from bans handed out by the PGA to those who defected, to accusations of money grabbing golfers, there has been no shortage of news items coming out of the Saudi backed golf tour that had its first official event in London. Yet the most recent scenario is one that is sure to not just raise eyebrows, but garner major criticism as well. The latest controversy involves the expulsion of veteran golf reporter Alan Shipnuck. The golf pundit who is actually Phil Mickelson’s biographer had previously published a quote from the LIV Golf star on Saudi Arabia back in February, which was not at all well received by the tour for whom Mickelson has now signed up.

Mickelson - if you missed it - referred to the Saudis as “scary motherf***ers,” according to Shipnuck’s book, before going on to acknowledge the infamous and shocking murder of reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Indeed, the iconic golfer didn’t stop there as he admitted the country has a “horrible record on human rights.” To that end, the narrative surrounding LIV instantly became one that suggests the tour is nothing more than a way for the Saudi regime to ‘improve’ its image by offering lucrative contracts to the PGA’s players. Incidentally, Mickelson has not played a single stroke since Shipnuck made his comments public. That is of course until Monday when he teed off in the LIV’s inaugural event in London. True to his journalistic form, Shipnuck was present and in turn attempted to attend Mickelson’s press conference. That, however, did not go according to plan. The journlist was promptly and aggressively ejected from Mickelson’s session, leaving the question ‘what next?’

Greg Norman contradicts himself in Shipnuck exupulsion

If things weren’t bad enough they were then made worse as a result of a screenshot that was posted by Shipnuck. The journalist not only tweeted video of the altercation which occurred between himself and LIV Golf security, but he went on to release a screen grab of an exchange that he had with LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman. During the correspondence Shipnuck asks the legendary golfer if he’s aware of what occurred. Norman responds that he did not hear about it, however, Shipnuck immediately rejects Norman’s statement by posting a photo in which Norman can be seen watching the very same altercation.

What next for the controversial LIV Golf Tour?

What is now clear is that LIV’s Saudi financiers do not look kindly on Shipnuck’s role in increasing the scrutiny that the country’s regime faces, which in turn only furthers the growing animosity towards a new golfing format, which seems interested in nothing more than paying players large amounts to increase its social and political image. Where Mickelson is concerned, while his image will of course take a hit, the fact remains he’s not the one under the microscope for apparent human rights violations and more over he’s getting paid. One way or another, the LIV Tour is not off to the best start. With battle lines being drawn between the new golfing venture and the PGA, one can expect more twists and turns in what is already a heated battle for control of the sport.

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