Phil Mickelson, who has been out of competition for a Saudi-backed golf league that is expected to oppose the PGA Tour set in February, will end his self-imposed dismissal this week by playing first. upstart LIV Golf Course Event.
Mickelson, including last year’s PGA Tour winner, winner of six major golf tournaments, became the oldest golfer to win a major one, and will be one of 48 players competing for $ 25 million in prizes when the tournament kicks off at the Centurion Club near London on Thursday. Last week, Dustin Johnson, also ranked 15th in the men’s golf world rankings, agreed to compete in the alternative tour. A report in The Telegraph said Johnson had paid him $ 125 million to join LIV Golf, whose main shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
The getaway tour also promised a large appearance fee format and a format that guarantees six-figure payments to each participant.
“This new path is a fresh start, which is exciting at this stage of my career,” wrote Mickelson, who dropped his world rankings to 72nd on Twitter on Monday. “I fully realize and respect that some people disagree with this decision and may have strong opinions and I empathize with that. I have a renewed spirit and enthusiasm for the game, ”he added.
Mickelson’s announcement is likely to disrupt the PGA Tour, which has paid Mickelson more than $ 94 million in tournament earnings for 30 years. JGA Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, said that players who choose to play LIV Golf events will face discipline that could be suspended or banned for life.
Mickelson, who has a reputation for being a fiery golfer, is likely to challenge the PGA Tour’s right to ban him. Monahan did not shy away from being asked if he had the power to discipline the player in this way, and stressed that the tour’s lawyers believe he will be subject to any legal control imposed on golfers who play on the opponent’s tour.
Mickelson, one of the most popular golfers of his generation, was harshly criticized after acknowledging that Saudi Arabia had a “tremendous history of human rights” – including the murder of a Washington Post journalist – but said he was still talking and helping. because the new tour was a “definite opportunity in life.” Earlier this year, Mickelson, 51, accused him of “horrible filth” on the PGA Tour, where he has won 45 times. He later said his remarks were “irresponsible”, but that several long-term corporate sponsors, including KPMG and Workday, ended their relationship with him.
On Monday, Mickelson wrote: “I would like to apologize again to many people who insulted and offended me with my comments a few months ago. I have made mistakes in my career in some of the things I have said and done.
The London Tournament is one of eight events in the LIV Golf Invitational Series this year. Earlier this season, Mickelson competed in three events of the PGA Tour, losing twice and drawing 30th in the third.
Although he won the Masters three times, he skipped this year’s tournament. On Monday, however, Mickelson said he plans to play in major tournaments in the future. He’s in the U.S. Open next week and on the field for next month’s UK Open.
Greg Norman, LIV’s chief golf officer and commissioner, said last week that “finally free agency has come to golf,” Mickelson praised.
“We can’t say too much about his contribution to the sport and his connection to fans around the world, and we’re grateful to have him,” Norman said Monday.
Many of Mickelson’s colleagues in the PGA Tour, including his longtime rival Tiger Woods, have criticized Mickelson for his anti-tour stance.
“Phil’s perspectives on the tour and what the tour means to all of us are polarizing,” Woods said last month.
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner, described Mickelson’s comments as “naive, selfish, selfish, ignorant.”
Last week, McIlroy, who had a marked contempt for the LIV Golf Venture, rejected the catalog of players entered in the tournament, which begins at the Centurion Club on Thursday.
“I certainly don’t think there’s anything to jump the field up and down,” McIlroy said.
But on Twitter on Monday, Mickelson was cheerful.
“I’m excited to get started with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved,” he wrote.