Phil the Thrill. Many of us know Phil Mickelson as the modern golf great, defying the odds by winning the PGA Championship in 2021, and setting an example for the next generation of professional golfers. Phil went silent for several months, after playing his last PGA sanctioned event at the end of January. Phil missed The Masters, and the 2022 PGA Championship, giving up the chance to defend his title. He insisted he was allowed to play in both majors, and rather decided to not play in either by his own will. Lefty took questions on Wednesday 6/8 regarding the involvement of the Saudi Arabian government and the allegations against their regard towards human rights violations. Phil responded in a statement, “I don't condone human rights violations at all,- nobody here does, throughout the world. I'm certainly aware of what's happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it's terrible. I've also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history, and I believe that LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I'm excited about this opportunity, and that's why I'm here.”
The athletes that have accepted positions within LIV golf are receiving backlash from fans and fellow athletes alike after ridiculous contracts have been offered to many of the draft picks. The money being paid out to these athletes is backed by the Saudi Arabian government directly, and most people see this as “dirty money”. Mickelson was also asked about how this new endeavor will affect his relationships with the PGA. He chose not to comment on the issue but did open up about his gambling addiction, something that was kept under wraps until recently. “I've been handling it for many years now… Me and my family, we've been financially secure for -- I can't even remember for how long now. But it was certainly going to be threatened if I didn't address this. And I did.” Phil also touched on the importance of taking time away from the game while focusing on himself and his mental health. “I've had a four-month break from the game that I've not had in over three decades. I've had an opportunity to spend time with my wife, Amy, and spend time traveling to parts of the world, spend time at a place we have in Montana skiing and a hike in Sedona. It's given me time to continue some of the work and therapy in areas where I'm deficient in my life. It's given me time to reflect (on) what I want to do going forward and what's best for me and what's best for the people I care about.”
There’s no doubt Phil’s intentions are in the right place, but that doesn’t mean critics and tabloids won’t exploit LIV Golf’s mission given all the scandal and controversy it’s connected to. Some other notable athletes that have signed deals with LIV Golf include: Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Talor Gooch, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, and MSU Alum and amateur, James Piot, just to name a few. Tiger Woods reportedly received a “nine-figure” deal from LIV Golf but declined, shining light on the potential dirty money involved with the new organization headed by golf great Greg Norman. LIV athletes will be able to play in next week’s US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA, but this too will likely be met with controversy. Stay in the loop with GSN and affiliates about the development of LIV Golf and its infiltration into professional golf as this is a developing story.