Phil Mickelson has no doubt that he’s on the winning side as the fallout from the arrival of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series continues to be felt at the top end of men’s professional golf.
In a quite remarkable pre-tournament press conference ahead of LIV Golf’s season finale in Jeddah, Mickelson expressed his delight at choosing LIV over the PGA Tour, insisting that there’ll only be one winner as it pertains to the future of men’s pro golf.
“I think if you look back into the ’70s, what happened with cricket is probably the best analogy,” Mickelson said. “I think for a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA TOUR, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA TOUR, at least for the last 20 years. That will never be the case again. I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side do you think is going to be successful.
“And 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.
“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. And I love how I feel. I love how I’m reinvigorated and excited to play golf and compete. I love the experience. I love the way they treat us.
“I love the way they involve us and listen to us in decisions. I mean it’s so inclusive, it’s so fluid that things, LIV Golf is leading. Whether it’s shorts, whether it’s other aspects of professional golf that are going to change and evolve, those positions will be led by LIV.”
Mickelson’s latest claims are a far cry from what he told U.S. reporter Alan Shipnuck of the Fire Pit Collective. In February this year, Mickelson said of his new employers; “They’re scary-motherf****** to get involved with. 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.”
Asked on Thursday if his opinion of the Saudis had changed in the interim, Mickelson managed to come up with something even more unthinkable by way of reply;
“So I will reiterate, I never did an interview with Alan Shipnuck,” he said. “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.”
How are you meant to ask a follow up to a guy who previously apologised for the horrible comments included in the interview he’s now denying? LIV makes my brain hurt pic.twitter.com/nl8xxB9L71
— John Craven (@Ace_Craven) October 13, 2022
Whether or not Mickelson was on the record, he said what he said, even apologising for it before going into hibernation for months and re-emerging as a LIV Golf recruit having evidently repented for his sins.
“The game of golf is very lucky to have the PIF (Public Investment Fund of Saudi) invest in the game,” Mickelson now says. “The sport of the game of golf is being influxed with billions of dollars now. And the ability to go global and make golf a truly global sport is really beneficial for the game.
“Now the United States and the U.K. are not favourable to this. But everywhere outside of the world, LIV Golf is loved. And eventually they come around and they will be accepting of it.”
What say you Ireland, is LIV loved on these shores? Have we come around to accepting it? Or is the view of a man so blinded by his own self-importance only seeing one side of golf’s great debate?