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Golf

What did Phil Mickelson say about the LIV Golf rivalry with the PGA Tour?

As LIV Golf hosts one of its final two tournaments in Jeddah this weekend, here’s more on LIV Golf and what Mickelson says about it

Update:
As LIV Golf hosts one of its final two tournaments of the eight-event season in Saudi Arabia this weekend, here’s more on LIV Golf and what Mickelson says about it
Chris Trotman/LIV GolfGetty

Ahead of this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah, Phil Mickelson had plenty to say.

After jumping over to the controversial league from the PGA Tour earlier this year, Mickelson has been one of the LIV’s most forthcoming supporters. On Thursday, appearing before the media in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, Mickelson continued to praise the Saudi-backed league saying that they are on the rise.

“I firmly believe that I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf,” said Mickelson.

The 52-year-old, who’s back in Saudi Arabia for the first time since his derogatory comments about the source of LIV Golf’s funding, continued to say that going forward, golf players will “have to pick a side,” that they deem more successful.

Mickelson says LIV on rise and PGA Tour trending downward

Mickelson added that he sees the PGA Tour trending downward, reiterating his statement last month that after 20 or 30 years of the Tour having the best players in the world, that will never be the case again.

“We play against a lot of the best players in the world on LIV and there are a lot of the best players in the world on the PGA Tour. And ... until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve. And I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards and I love the side that I’m on.”

Mickelson signed with LIV Golf one year after he earned his sixth major title, becoming the oldest major winner at the 2021 PGA Championship in June. He has registered only one top 10 in six appearances with the new league.

He contends LIV Golf has been an experience he loves, especially how they treat him and other golfers, involve them and keep them in mind while making decisions.

“I mean it’s so inclusive. ... LIV Golf is leading. Whether it’s [wearing] shorts, whether it’s other aspects of professional golf that are going to change and evolve, those positions will be led by LIV.”

Shipnuck interview with Mickelson

The six-time major champion also completely denied doing an interview with writer Alan Shipnuck, who published an unauthorized biography of Mickelson in May.

I never did an interview with Alan Shipnuck. And I find that my experience with everybody associated with LIV Golf has been nothing but incredibly positive and I have the utmost respect for everybody that I’ve been involved with,” said Mickelson.

According to Shipnuck however, Mickelson referred to the Saudis as “scary motherf---ers to get involved with,” and the interview was published two weeks after Mickelson played in the Saudi International at Royal Greens.

Mickelson on Saudi Arabian: “scary motherf---ers”

Mickelson is also quoted saying that “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay,” but he clarified that he still considered working with them  “because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

LIV Golf money, top players

Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are some of the major champions LIV Golf signed contracts in the $125 million range with.

With a 48-man field and no cut over 54 holes, these guys play for $25 million each week. Johnson has already made over $30 million, including the $18 million bonus he received xxx for winning the individual points race.

The Saudi-funded league currently has 12 of the top 50 players in the world ranking, including British Open champion Cameron Smith who’s first. LIV Golf, however, hasn’t received world ranking points since it began in June, so the majority of the players are outside the top 25.

The PGA Tour, on the other hand, still has 19 of the top 20 current stars, and is doing everything they can to keep those players close. Back in August, the Tour announced the new schedule in 2023 will offer $20 million prize funds and bring together the best players together some 15 times a year.

LIV Golf - PGA Tour courtroom feud

The Tour has suspended Mickelson and other members who signed with LIV Golf, resulting in these players filing an antitrust lawsuit against them scheduled for a January 2024 trial.