Golf’s tour wars are still raging, but LIV Golf commit Phil Mickelson believes a winner has already been decided — and he’s on the triumphant side.
In a lively press conference on Thursday at LIV Golf’s event in Saudi Arabia, Phil Mickelson defended his new home tour’s home turf with a prolonged victory lap from the lectern.
“I firmly believe that I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf,” Mickelson said. “I love the way they involve us and listen to us in decisions. I mean it’s so inclusive, it’s so fluid that things, LIV Golf is leading. Whether it’s shorts, whether it’s other aspects of professional golf that are going to change and evolve, those positions will be led by LIV.”
Mickelson’s comments come as the Saudi-backed upstart league closes in on the home stretch of the nine-event LIV Invitational Series, a sort-of beta test for the forthcoming full-time league, which is expected to begin in earnest in 2023. This week’s event in Jeddah is the final pure stroke-play event of the season, with a final “team championship” scheduled for Miami in the final week of October.
Mickelson himself has struggled on the course in his first season with LIV, posting only a single top-10 finish in seven starts in the 48-man, no-cut competitions. But personal accolades have little to do with long-term success, Mickelson said, particularly not given the current tide as he sees it in professional golf.
“I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards,” he said. “I love the side that I’m on. And I love how I feel. I love how I’m reinvigorated and excited to play golf and compete. I love the experience. I love the way they treat us.”
That’s a whole lotta love for Phil, who, it can’t be questioned, has had no problem voicing his displeasure with his former employer. Back in January, it was Mickelson who first ignited the feud between upstart and establishment when he accused the PGA Tour of exploiting players by shielding billions of dollars in digital assets from them, among other perceived offenses.
Mickelson has since been suspended indefinitely by the PGA Tour, where he once held a lifetime membership.
“There were a lot of opportunities that were left open for somebody to come in and do this,” Mickelson said. “I think that, as I said earlier, for a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA Tour, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour, at least for the last 20 years. That will never be the case again. I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side do you think is going to be successful.”
Earlier this summer, Mickelson joined a group of LIV Golf players suing the PGA Tour to maintain their membership. He has since dropped the suit, and has in recent weeks expressed support for the two sides to join together to work out a path forward. But if Thursday’s press conference is any indication, it’s clear which side Mickelson thinks holds the chips.
“We play against a lot of the best players in the world on LIV and there are a lot of the best players in the world on the PGA Tour,” he said. “Until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve.”