Phil Mickelson believes that he is on the “winning side” of the split in professional men’s golf and reckons the game is “lucky” to have investment from Saudi Arabia.
Mickelson’s previous admission that the Saudis were “scary m………..s” to get involved with had threatened the launch of LIV Golf, the breakaway circuit of 54-hole, 48-man events funded by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The six-time major winner subsequently apologised and also pledged to keep his opinions to himself going forward, but did not hold back on Thursday (Friday NZT) ahead of the seventh event in the LIV Golf Invitational Series in Jeddah.
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“The game of golf is very lucky to have the PIF invest in the game,” Mickelson said in a press conference at Royal Greens Country Club.
“The sport of golf is being influxed with billions of dollars now, and the ability to go global and make golf a truly global sport is really beneficial for the game.
“Now the United States and the UK are not favourable to this, but everywhere else in the world LIV Golf is loved. And eventually they come around and they will be accepting of it.
“The United States and the UK, where it’s very negatively viewed currently, that has been changing and evolving already and in time in a few years it will be not only accepted but appreciated (because of) the involvement and the influx of capital into this sport and what it’s doing.”
While players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have made it clear their loyalty lies with the established Tours, LIV’s massive prize funds and signing bonuses have attracted the likes of Mickelson, Open champion Cameron Smith, and Bryson DeChambeau.
Australian Cameron Smith can’t shake the LIV Golf cloud, even after his stunning British Open win.
“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,” Mickelson added. “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 and 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.
“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. Until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve.
“And I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards and I love the side that I’m on.”