Yes, you read that correctly. Five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson has questioned if golf’s leading players would be selfless enough to turn their backs on their respective tours in order to fill their pockets with tens of millions of dollars in a Saudi-backed Super Golf League.
Mickelson, who’s been a long-time supporter of the project previously branded ‘Premier Golf League’, not only believes he’s championing for a better product for the fans, but has now called out the independent contractors of golf’s main tours, asking would they be willing to hand over their precious schedules in order to make a heap of money elsewhere.
“I think the fans would love it because they would see the best players play exponentially more times,” Mickelson said ahead of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. “Instead of four or five times, it would be 20 times … I don’t know what the final number is.
“But that’s a big deal to give up control of your schedule. I don’t know if the players would be selfless enough to do that. But every other sport, the entity or teams or leagues control the schedule. The players kind of play where they are told to play. Whereas here, we’re able to control it.”
That control has allowed Mickelson to amass a reported net worth of $400million but that won’t stop the American in his pursuit of another big pay-day. The fact that Mickelson’s name features so heavily in the conversation around the Super League is quite revealing in itself. His best golf is clearly behind him – he’s 51 in June – and his last PGA Tour win came at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2019. Perhaps Mickelson has decided his retirement plan lies in the hands of the Super League and not the Champions Tour. It would make sense that that’s the reason he’s pushing it – far from having the fans’ interests at heart, you can be sure a rumoured $100 million per year has something to do with it, too.
Whether Lefty’s waning influence holds sway over any of his peers remains to be seen, but Mickelson wasn’t going to leave reporters before once again questioning the selflessness of the game’s current elite, laying on the guilt hard that the Super League is in fact for the benefit of the whole sport, and not just wholesome people like Phil.
“Golf is really the only major sport where the players have control of their schedule,” he said. “The sponsors and television are not able to know exactly what it is they’re buying. I just don’t know if the players are going to be selfless enough to give up control of their schedule. We all make a very good living. We all do well. I’ve already had kids. I had the ability to control my schedule and be at big moments in their lives. If you’re a younger player, are you going to give that up?
“It would take a lot to give up control of that, even though the entire sport would benefit. Even though the fans would love it and get to see the best guys play more often. And there would be global events. Imagine all the best players having to go global and what it would do for the game.”
An aside – I mentioned Mickelson’s net worth to be around $400m. No surprise then that he also thinks the Player Impact Programme was a great idea. ‘Phireside’, if you haven’t had the pleasure, has been a lockdown creation of Mickelson where he interviews fellow players with tales from the Tour and uploads them on social media. He might be in for a cut of that $40m bonus being divvied out amongst the top-10 most influential players as a result.
At long last, Phil, scantily rewarded thus far in his career with a mere $400m in the bank – will be recognised for all the selfless work he undertakes in the name of golf.
“I do think it’s a great way to show appreciation for a lot of the guys who helped create so much opportunity and revenue for many of the other tour members,” Mickelson added.
Clearly, with his latest Super League lobbying, Mickelson’s selfless motivations aren’t finished yet.