Phil Mickelson leaves the PGA to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitation Tour Series
‘Lefty’ announced today that he will join the new Saudi backed LIV Tour Series which tees off this very weekend in London.
Mickelson will join Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Talor Gooch, Martin Kaymer, Kevin Na and Ian Poulter for a total of 48 players who will compete over three days and 54 holes in London this weekend.
Mickelson has been in the shadows since his last Twitter post on Feb. 22, 2022 when he apologized for what were perceived as harsh comments about the Saudis who are backing the LIV Tour Series. The comments were made public and put Mickelson in a bad light with his new business partners, but he seems to have worked things out as he will be playing in the LIV inaugural event in London at the Centurion Club this weekend. This despite not having participated in a PGA Tour event for over four months, including the Masters at Augusta and the PGA Championship.
The PGA now has competition
With the recent inclusions of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and possibly Rickie Fowler, things are beginning to look up for the LIV Golf Series, headed by CEO Greg Norman, who didn’t mince words about some of those running the PGA, saying they are, “conspiring against LIV to protect an antiquated system that prevents golfers from realizing their own power and worth amid a global movement of athlete empowerment.”
“Free agency has finally come to golf” - Greg Norman
Without any big names willing to make the leap, the LIV Golf Series looked to be in jeopardy as several elite golfers pulled out or refused the tempting petrodollars that were on the table. Jack Nicklaus refused over $100 million to be part of the circuit and Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods also turned down the opportunity.
Although the PGA refused to allow players compete in both competitions, the money was just too good for some to refuse, including Dustin Johnson, the 37-year-old high profile golfer, who decided to take the money and run. The two-time major winner and Graeme McDowell were immediately dropped by their sponsor the Royal Bank of Canada for deciding to leave the PGA.
Is Rickie Fowler next?
The 33-year-old is expected to announce his decision today to join the LIV Golf Series. Fowler, currently ranked 145th in the world, has seen his career lose traction since 2016 when he reached no. 4. The decision to play with the Saudis doesn’t come as a surprise considering his level of play over the past five years.
Fowler hasn’t been clear about his decision to play in the new circuit, but he has left some hints, claiming that he’s not opposed to the idea, “I haven’t necessarily made a decision one way or the other. I’ve mentioned in the past, do I currently think that the PGA Tour is the best place to play? I do. Do I think it can be better? Yes.”
Is it just about the money?
Some may question these 48 golfers’ decision to quit the PGA and play in a new tour backed by money from Saudi Arabia, a country which is desperately trying to whitewash its image by throwing money into sports to clean its image and its record of human rights violations. Others may agree with some of these golfers who are in the twilight of their careers to take the money and run. The players are trying to justify their move by claiming golf needs to take better care of its players and the whole system should be revamped. With all of this in mind, the coming week will be one of the most interesting in recent golf history as the PGA will have to decide what to do with the defectors, while the LIV will be hoping to promote more interest in its new product. They say competition is good for the market, at this point all we can do is wait to see if that’s true.