The six-time main winner is cited from a 2021 interview with author Alan Shipnock for his upcoming book “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Super League because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.”
And the Shipbank website quoted Michelson as saying that there are things that violate the human rights record in Saudi Arabia and confirmed that the kingdom had killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The LIV Golf series is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund headed by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the man described by a US intelligence report as responsible for approving the operation. It led to Khashoggi’s murder in 2018. Bin Salman denied his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
In his opening answer at Wednesday’s press conference, when asked about the human rights record of the country providing funding for the project, Mickelson appeared remorseful.
“Well, sure, I’ve made, said, and done a lot of things that I regret, and I’m sorry for that and for the hurt I’ve caused to so many people,” he said during what was a much of the press conference.
“I don’t condone human rights abuses at all. I don’t think – nobody here, all over the world. I’m certainly aware of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s horrific.”
“I’ve also seen the good that golf has done throughout history, and I believe LIV Golf will do a lot of good to the game as well. I’m excited about this opportunity. That’s why I’m here.”
His Centurion Club appearance was his first on the golf course in nearly four months – he missed the Masters this year for the first time in 28 years. However, the American said he had a “terrific time” away from sports, spending it skiing and with his family.
However, it was clear that the topic of Saudi Arabia and sports washing was one of the topics Mickelson had to think about about a break from golf.
A long pause before answering questions about the moral dilemma of playing in such a round suggested the man to choose his words carefully.
Time and time again, Michelson has given a similar answer. He repeatedly said, “I don’t condone human rights violations at all.”
The players’ decision to agree to play in the LIV Golf Series came with a set of questions.
Of interest was whether their commitment to this new tour would affect their ability to feature on other golf tours – most notably the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.
Two-time main winner Dustin Johnson, as well as longtime PGA Tour player Kevin Na, have resigned from the PGA Tour to compete in the LIV Golf event. This means Johnson will no longer be eligible for the Ryder Cup, despite the US Open announcing on Wednesday that players will be able to play in the next major tournament.
When asked about his future on the PGA Tour on Wednesday, and specifically whether he had been blocked for agreeing to join the new project, Mickelson – who has lifelong eligibility on the PGA Tour – declined to confirm or decline, instead choosing to keep his cards close to his chest.
“I’m learning the lessons” – who said he will play at the US Open this month – said Mickelson. “I will be speaking on the PGA Tour publicly, which I have chosen not to do at this time.
“I have enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour and have strong opinions about what can and should be done a lot better, but I will make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors.
“I don’t want to give up (my life membership on the PGA Tour). I don’t think I should. I don’t know what that means for the future, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I earned it, and I don’t plan on just giving it up.”
Although some PGA Tour professionals have criticized the players’ decision to join the new league, multi-time tour winners Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have chosen to describe themselves as “world class golfers” and “independent contractors” respectively.
Besides the hefty prize money, one of Mickelson’s stated reasons for playing the LIV series was to create a better balance between his family and his work life.
He said that even his last break made him realize how his life could be improved.
“I’ve played a lot of golf over the years, and when I finally got out and took a break, I realized I needed a little balance, I guess; I’ve said it many times,” he said.
“I just needed more balance on and off the golf course, and that provided me a chance to bring golf back into my life, but still do the things off the course that I wanted to do, whether it was traveling or spending time with the people I care about.
“I’ve gone to a couple of my nephews’ little league games. I’ve never had the chance to do that in my whole life. I’ve gone to my niece’s lacrosse games. I’ve never had the chance to do it. It has given me opportunities, I say, to achieve a better balance on and off the golf course.”
What is the Leaf Golf Series?
The LIV Golf Series is a new tour organized by LIV Golf Investments consisting of eight events around the world, starting in London on Thursday.
Preface to former world number one Greg Norman, the team-based series will run from June through October with the goal, she says, of “comprehensively improving the health of professional golf on a global scale to help unlock the untapped potential of the sport.”
The Public Investment Fund pledged $250 million in total prize money. Each of the first seven events will have a total prize pool of $25 million, with $20 million split between individual players and the remaining $5 million shared between the top three teams each weekend.
Ahead of the first event in London, 12 teams were announced, plus their captain. On Tuesday, the leaders picked the rest of their teams in draft form similar to the NFL and NBA drafts.
Unlike typical golf events, the London event lasts over three days rather than four, with the 48-player course starting with a gun start – all at the same time – in the hope of being a more engaging and action-packed event.
Compete in the traditional hit play format, the lowest score will be the winner.
Whereas in the first two rounds each team’s two best scores will be counted, in the final round, the three best scores will be counted, with the team’s lowest overall score after 54 holes the winning team is named.
For the final event – the team tournament – the format changes to a four-round knockout tournament.
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