Phil Mickelson didn’t want to “detract from what’s happening this week” at LIV Golf’s Team Championship in Miami at Trump National Doral, but a recent Rory McIlroy interview with the Guardian was too juicy to avoid.
At a press conference ahead of the upstart circuit’s season finale, Mickelson was complimentary of McIlroy, who said the “us versus them” dynamic between LIV Golf and players on the PGA and DP World tours has gotten out of control.
“You know, I think a lot of Rory. I really have the utmost respect for him, and I look at what he’s done in the game and how he’s played this year and his win last week and No. 1 in the world now, and I have a ton of respect for him,” said Mickelson. “We’ll have three months off after this event to talk about things like that and so forth, but this week something is happening that I don’t want to deflect focus on, which is we’ve never had a team event like this in professional golf.”
McIlroy also took exception to Mickelson’s recent comment that LIV Golf is trending upwards and the PGA Tour is trending downwards, calling that statement “propaganda.”
“But just — maybe I shouldn’t have said stuff like that, I don’t know,” responded Mickelson, “but if I’m just looking at LIV Golf and where we are today to where we were six, seven months ago and people are saying this is dead in the water, and we’re past that, and here we are today, a force in the game that’s not going away, that has players of this caliber that are moving professional golf throughout the world and the excitement level in the countries around the world of having some of the best players in the game of golf coming to their country and competing. It’s pretty remarkable how far LIV Golf has come in the last six, seven months. I don’t think anybody can disagree with that.”
The Greg Norman-led operation receives its financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, where no expense has been spared. Building a new golf series certainly isn’t easy, and LIV has done well to attract a few of golf’s biggest names like Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith. But the problems that come with building a startup become less challenging when you’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars to throw around. According to Sports Illustrated, LIV Golf’s first-year expenditure totaled upwards of $784 million, with another $1 billion committed for next year, when the series becomes a 14-event league.
As for excitement levels across the world, so far LIV has held seven events: Four in the United States, one in England, one in Thailand and one in Saudi Arabia.
McIlroy also said he felt “betrayal” in regards to LIV players putting their Ryder Cup futures in jeopardy, noting how Graeme McDowell had a chance to captain the Europeans in 2027 and the legacies of Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are mainly based around the biennial bash against the Americans.
“A betrayal? We can still qualify for the team as far as I’m aware. Unless we’ve been told we can’t qualify, then I’m still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try to make that team,” said Poulter. “I mean, look, my commitment to the Ryder Cup I think goes before me. I don’t think that should ever come in question. I’ve always wanted to play Ryder Cups and have played with as much passion as anyone else that I’ve ever seen play a Ryder Cup.
“You know, I don’t know where that comment really has come from, to be honest.”
Article By: Adam Woodard
Date Published: October 26, 2022