Phil Mickelson Will Play LIV Golf Event That Starts Friday Near London

Phil Mickelson, who has not played competitively since incendiary remarks he made in support of a Saudi-backed golf league that hopes to rival the established PGA Tour, was reported in February, will end his self-imposed layoff later this week by playing first. Event of the upstart LIV Golf Circuit.

Mickelson, the winner of last year’s PGA Championship including six major golf championships when he became one of the oldest golfer to win, will be one of 48 players competing for $ 25 million in prize money when the tournament begins Thursday at the Centurion Club near London. Last week, Dustin Johnson, 15th in the men’s world golf rankings, also agreed to compete on the alternative tour. A report in The Telegraph said Johnson was paid $ 125 million to join LIV Golf, whose major shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.

The breakaway tour also has promised hefty appearance fees and a format that guarantees every entrant six-figure payouts.

“This new path is a fresh start, one that is exciting for me at this stage in my career,” said Mickelson, whose world ranking has slumped to 72nd, on Twitter Monday. “I fully realize and respect this decision with some disagree and may have strong opposition and I empathize with that. I have a renewed spirit and excitement for the game, “he added.

Mickelson’s announcement will most likely lead to his suspension from the PGA Tour, which has paid Mickelson more than $ 94 million in tournament earnings for 30 years. Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour Commissioner, has said players who choose to play LIV golf events will be subject to discipline that may include suspensions or lifetime bans.

Mickelson, with a reputation as a golf firebrand, might relish a court challenge to the PGA Tour’s right to ban him. Monahan has not flinched when asked if he has the authority to discipline players in that manner, insisting that the tour’s lawyers believe any penalty handed to golfers who will play with the rival tour will stand legal scrutiny.

Mickelson, one of the most recognizable golfers of his generation, drew heavy criticism after he acknowledged Saudi Arabia had a “horrific record on human rights” – including the murder of a Washington Post journalist – but said he was still talking, and aiding, The new tour because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Earlier this year, Mickelson, 51, was accused of the PGA Tour, where he has won 45 times, of “obnoxious greed.” He later said his remarks were “reckless,” but nonetheless several longtime corporate sponsors, including KPMG and Workday, ended their relationship with him.

On Monday, Mickelson wrote: “I want to apologize to the many people I offended and hurt my comments a few months ago. I have made mistakes in some of the things in my career I have said and done. Taking time away and self-reflecting has been very humbling. “

The tournament near London is one of eight events this year at the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Early this season, Mickelson competed in three PGA Tour events, missing the cut in two and finishing tied for third in the 30th.

Although a three-time Masters winner, he skipped this year’s tournament. On Monday, however, Mickelson said he intended to play in future major championships. He is currently in the field for next week’s US Open and next month’s British Open.

Greg Norman, chief executive and commissioner of LIV Golf, said last week that “free agency has finally come to golf,” praised Mickelson.

“His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated, and we are grateful to him,” Norman said in a statement on Monday.

Many of Mickelson’s colleagues on the PGA Tour, including his longtime rival Tiger Woods, have been critical of Mickelson’s adversarial stance toward the tour.

“The viewpoints that Phil has made with the tour and what the tour has meant to all of us have been polarizing,” Woods said last month.

Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner, called Mickelson’s comments, “naïve, selfish, egotistical, ignorant.”

Last week, McIlroy, who has been outspoken for his disdain at the LIV Golf venture, was dismissed by the list of players entering the tournament starting Thursday at the Centurion Club.

“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” McIlroy said.

But on Monday, Twitter, Mickelson was cheerful.

“I’m thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved,” he wrote.

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