June 21, 2024
Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson celebrates winning the 2021 PGA Championship

MIAMI — Phil Mickelson once tweeted that LIV golf is in move six of a long game of chess.
“You won’t believe moves 32-37,” he wrote. “That’s when it gets REALLY good.”
The 53-year-old six-time major champ has been a primary figure in golf’s fracture into two competing leagues and one of the more outspoken stars about changes the PGA Tour needed to make.

So speaking Wednesday before the start of LIV’s tournament at Trump National Doral, Mickelson still seemed like a man who thinks golf’s chaotic situation is part of a greater plan.

“Right now, we are in the disruption phase,” Mickelson said, “so we are in the middle of the process, and when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a lot brighter.”

He clarified he doesn’t know how it will all turn out and keeps his trust in PIF chair Yasir Al-Rumayyan, but he maintained the message that the sport is moving toward a more “global game” that will open up more opportunities for players, manufacturers and course designers.

When asked to elaborate on the “phases” and “moves” he’s often alluded to, Mickelson said: “So I knew the first two years were going to be interesting.”

“I just know that in the end, it’s going to be a more global sport and there’s going to be more opportunities. We already have (54) more playing opportunities for players. That’s 54 more job opportunities that we didn’t have before, and they are on a more global scale. We are bringing high-end, world-class professional golf to parts of the world to open up opportunities in those countries, and getting young kids to see it first hand.”

He compared golf to other sports like the NFL in which fans don’t necessarily still play the sport but still love it. Most golf fans play the sport, but a large focus of Mickelson’s comments centered around “how do we get golf to people that don’t play golf?” He said LIV is appealing to younger audiences.

“Those are some areas that are being addressed quietly,” he continued, “haven’t been discussed yet, but those are small parts that I think in the end we are going to have some ideas.”

Unification has been the big debate in golf the last few months as the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (who fund LIV) continue negotiations. Some key figures like PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy have been outspoken, telling Golf Monthly on Tuesday: “There needs to be a correction. I think what’s happening is not sustainable right now, so something needs to happen to try to bring it all back together so we can all move forward so we don’t have this division that’s sort of ongoing,” McIlroy said.

Not all PGA Tour players feel the same way, with PGA Tour policy board member Jordan Spieth saying, “I think the short answer is we don’t have to, and the long answer is, the positive there is unification.” Spieth added tour membership is quite divided on that topic. LIV golfers asked about it this week in Miami were more consistent on wanting to unify the sport. Reigning Masters champ Jon Rahm has said since he joined LIV in December that he hopes to be able to play tour events like the Players Championship again.

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