Phil Mickelson finally addressed the planned partnership between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and LIV Golf on Wednesday.
Mickelson, who has both been one of the biggest faces of LIV Golf and received the most criticism for his involvement with the controversial Saudi Arabian-backed venture, addressed the new partnership ahead of this week’s LIV Golf event in Spain. Everything he hoped for, he said, feels like it’s ahead of schedule.
“I would say I felt appreciation that we got to this point where we’re working together because it makes me confident with where the game of golf is headed in the future,” Mickelson said, via ESPN. “We felt like it was going to be about two years roughly before we got to that point. It took a year and a half or six months quicker than I thought it would be.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced plans earlier this month to form a new entity with the DP World Tour and LIV Golf, ending nearly two years of a contentious battle in the sport. The Tour sent its six page “framework” agreement to Congress earlier this week. A Senate committee is investigating the new deal, as is the Justice Department.
Monahan has received severe backlash for his announcement, especially after he once invoked the 9/11 terrorist attacks when defending the Tour over LIV Golf. Monahan has since stepped away from the Tour to recover from a medical issue.
There are still plenty of details to be figured out, including whether or not LIV Golf continues in 2024. The league’s future will be determined by the new company’s board after Monahan issues a recommendation. LIV Golf CEO and Hall of Famer Greg Norman has reportedly told golfers that the league is planning to continue operating in 2024, though Norman’s future with the new entity is also up in the air.
While nobody seems to know what will happen on that front, Mickelson isn’t worried.
“Everything over the last couple of years that we’ve been told by Greg and everybody on LIV has come to fruition, so we have a lot of confidence in what they have been saying to us,” Mickelson said, via ESPN. “We don’t really feel the need to publicly posture our position. There’s really no need for us to talk about things publicly but to just let it play out.”
Will Phil Mickelson return to the PGA Tour?
Part of the “framework agreement” detailed a plan to allow LIV Golf members to rejoin either the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour after the 2023 season. Though it’s unclear what that will look like specifically, golfers will likely be fined or suspended before being allowed to play on either Tour again, regardless of whether LIV Golf survives or not.
Mickelson won 45 times on the PGA Tour in his career. He is second on the PGA Tour’s career-earnings list, and is just shy of the $100 million mark. Only Tiger Woods, who has earned nearly $121 million playing, is ahead of him.
Mickelson was one of the first to get behind LIV Golf, though he received plenty of criticism — including for his comments supporting Saudi Arabia, who he described initially as “scary motherf***ers.”
While Mickelson didn’t shut the idea of returning to the Tour down, he made it clear he’s very content playing with LIV Golf at this stage of his career.
“Rather than saying yes or no, I know that from a player experience, all of the difficulties and challenges and things that take a lot of excessive energy and output throughout the week have been fixed at LIV,” Mickelson said, via ESPN. “So the player experience here is incredible. I just can’t envision a better scenario for me as a player than playing out here on LIV.”
Either way, Mickelson is very happy with the direction the sport is now headed.
“Going forward, we’re all very optimistic about where the game of golf, professional golf specifically, is headed,” Mickelson said, via ESPN. “Also, a lot of the changes that have been made because of LIV were all very [appreciated], both on the LIV Tour as well as the PGA Tour, and we’re happy for the guys out there that they’re having some positive changes there, as well.”