Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson today announced he will return to golf in LIV Golf’s London tournament this Thursday. “Lefty,” as he is known, took a four-month break after remarks he made about the PGA and Saudi Arabia.
Today, with a post to social media, Mickelson reiterated his apology from four months ago, said he’s been through a lot of therapy and is “thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and appreciate everyone involved” in the burgeoning new circuit financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) June 6, 2022
Michelson, a ratings draw, will reportedly receive a payday between $100 million and $200 million to play in the events — and that’s before any prize money. He also intends to still play in PGA majors.
In February, the same month he played his last LIV Golf tournament, Mickelson told author Alan Shipnuck of the Saudis, “They’re scary mother****ers to get involved with…They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
Many critics felt Mickelson’s position was not well considered, given the benefits he cites do not outweigh the glow such events may cast on Saudi Arabia which, some allege, will seek to use LIV Golf as China has used the Olympics: as a vehicle for internal and external propaganda.
LIV Golf consultant and former two-time major winner Greg Norman told the Washington Post that the new tour means that “Free agency is coming to golf. Finally.”
And it’s doing so with what Norman says is $2 billion in Saudi money over the next two years and winners purses that start at $4 million.
When asked about the Saudi connection Norman told reporters, “We’ve all made mistakes. According to the Post that rationale was criticized by both Amnesty International and Khashoggi’s former fiancee.
One golfer who would not sign on, according to Norman, was Tiger Woods. Woods, Norman says, turned down a payday that was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”
The tournament will not be broadcast in the U.S. but, beginning Thursday, June 9 at 9 a.m. ET, live coverage will be available on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook. The LIV Golf event broadcasts will also be aired live on a global roster of leading premium and free-to-air broadcasters providing coverage in 138 territories around the world.
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