DEREK LAWRENSON: Phil Mickelson’s U-turn helps him hog the limelight again… the 51-year-old has changed his tune on Saudi Super Golf League and now warns rivals of getting mixed up with ‘scary motherf*****s’
- Phil Mickelson, 51, has spoken out against Saudi Arabia’s Super Golf League plan
- He has accepted at least $10million in Saudi appearance fees in recent years
- Mickelson feels the Saudi situation is a ruse for ‘leverage’ against the PGA Tour
What a week for the proposed Saudi golf revolution.
As the world’s best players lined up here to voice their rejection of the riches on offer to join the Super Golf League, Phil Mickelson managed to overshadow them all by calling the Saudis ‘scary motherf*****s to get involved with’.
Yes, the same Mickelson who has accepted at least $10million in appearance fees from the Saudis in recent years and was acting as their champion – acting, apparently being the operative word.
Phil Mickelson (pictured at the PIF Saudi International earlier this month) has completely changed his tune on Saudi Arabia and has said: ‘why would I get involved with them?’
In quotes that appear in a soon to be published book – Phil: The rip-roaring (and unauthorised) biography of golf’s most colourful superstar – Mickelson claims the Saudi situation has all been a ruse to gain ‘leverage’ and reshape the PGA Tour.
It has worked to the extent that the tour will hand over hundreds of millions of dollars more in prize money and other initiatives over the next few years, moves that not surprisingly have gone down well with the young men with the most to gain.
But where on earth does it all leave Mickelson, who burned most of his PGA Tour bridges when he accused them of ‘obnoxious greed’ and appears hellbent on biting every hand that feeds him?
It is believed that he is mulling over an offer of around $100m to be one of the key figures in the SGL. Or was.
Six-time major champion Mickelson recently hit out at the PGA Tour’s ‘obnoxious greed’
He has pulled a U-turn on Saudi plans by labelling the country’s leaders ‘scary motherf*****s’
Mickelson is quoted as saying: ‘We know the Saudis killed (journalist Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.
‘Why would I even consider getting involved with them? Because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour operates.
‘As nice a guy as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan comes across as, unless you have leverage he won’t do what’s right.’
Monahan has certainly done the right thing as far as the young stars are concerned.
World No 1 Jon Rahm, Open champion Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka… the list went on.
Indeed, Dustin Johnson was alone among the top 10 in not voicing his unequivocal support for the status quo.
In Los Angeles, Rory McIlroy said he ‘would not tarnish his reputation for Saudi millions’
‘Maybe they’ll rename it the Not So Super League,’ said Rory McIlroy, a long-time critic.
It leaves the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson mulling over £20m offers to join, with a supposed announcement of a starting date for 14 events, 10 of which will take place in America, some time next month.
Joining will mean a lifetime ban from the PGA and DP World Tours and end any prospect of becoming Ryder Cup captain.
The Genesis Invitational? At lovely Riviera, Ryder Cup colleagues Spieth and Scottie Scheffler set the early pace with five under par rounds of 66.
Rahm shot 69 to make it 34 consecutive rounds under par on the PGA Tour. The record is held by Tiger Woods with 52.
Golf’s current tours explained
What is the Asian Tour?
It’s the principal men’s professional golf tour in Asia, which is now looking to use its Saudi-backed riches to challenge the two most established competitions: the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. The Saudis are also looking to start a global circuit for the elite, known as the Super Golf League, poaching stars with eye-watering offers.
What is the PGA Tour?
It’s the flagship professional golf tour where players compete in events mostly in the United States and North America. The biggest tournaments, the biggest players, the biggest prize money. The best player on tour wins the FedEx Cup.
What is the DP World Tour?
The new name of the European Tour, which was the main professional golf tour in Europe but long seen as secondary to the PGA Tour. Hence the rebrand. Players compete across lots of different countries, including Japan, South Africa and Belgium — for more money than before. The best player over the season wins the Race to Dubai.
Can players compete in more than one tour?
Yes. Many do, such as Rory McIlroy. To do so, players must participate in four DP Tour events over the season. That does not include the four majors, as they are combined events of both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.