Phil Mickelson REFUSES to confirm whether he's been banned from the PGA Tour

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Phil Mickelson REFUSES to confirm whether he’s been banned from the PGA Tour as he squirms through his Saudi golf tour press conference, dodging questions on human rights after ‘pocketing £160m’ from ‘scary motherf***ers’

Phil Mickelson has refused to say whether or not he has been banned from the PGA Tour after his defection to LIV Golf, insisting he has earned his lifetime membership and should not be forced to give it up.

The launch of the Saudi-backed tour has ripped the sport apart with Mickelson leading a host of star-studded names including Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia in the competition’s first tournament this week.

Mickelson is reportedly being paid £160million to compete at LIV Golf events. 

The 51-year-old has previously described the Saudis as ‘scary motherf***ers’ and said he was well aware of the nation’s horrible record on human rights’ – including the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi – in an interview with the author of a new unauthorised biography. 

But now, on the eve of the tour’s debut competition at Centurion Club in St Albans, Mickelson refused to comment on whether or not has been given a ban by the PGA Tour.

The six-time major champion said: ‘I’ve been a part of the tour for over 30 years and I’ve had a lot of incredible memories and experiences, tournaments that I’ve won and lost.

‘I’ve gained a lot, received a lot and I’m grateful for everything the tour has done for me. I’ve also worked hard to contribute and build and add value to the tour in my time there.

Phil Mickelson has refused to say whether or not he has been banned from the PGA Tour after his defection to LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson has refused to say whether or not he has been banned from the PGA Tour after his defection to LIV Golf

‘I worked hard to get a lifetime exemption. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t feel I should have to. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve earned that and I don’t plan on just giving it up.

‘I’ve really enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour. I’m had some incredible experiences, great memories and I have a lot of strong opinions that it should and could be a lot better. One mistake I’ve made is voicing them publicly. I will make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors moving forward.’

Garcia and Johnson have both resigned their membership to the PGA Tour. Asked if he had done the same, Mickelson said: ‘I saw that and I think they’re making the decision that’s best for them personally.

‘I respect that. As a lifetime member I’m not required to play 15 events. I don’t have to play any. I can play one. So I don’t see a reason for me to give that up.’

Mickelson also stressed he does not condone human rights violations but added that working with the Saudis was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates’, also accusing the Tour of ‘obnoxious greed’.

He added: ‘I’ve said and done a lot of things I regret. Sorry for that and the hurt it’s caused. I don’t condone human rights violations at all. Nobody here does.

‘I’m aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi and it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good the game of golf has done and I think this will do a lot of good as well. I’m excited about this opportunity and excited to be here.

‘I don’t condone human rights violations. I don’t know how I can be more clear.

‘I understand that many people have strong opinions and may disagree with this decision. I can empathise with that. But at this time this is an opportunity that gives me a chance to have the most balance in my life going forward and I think it’s going to do a lot of good for the game.’

More to follow. 

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