Phil Mickelson is ‘very optimistic’ about the future of golf as the parties speak

Mark SchlapachSenior writer for ESPNJune 28, 2023, 09:17 a.m. ET5 minutes to read

Phil Mickelson is “optimistic” about the future of golf with the PGA Tour-LIV Golf Alliance

Phil Mickelson talks about the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger and how it will affect golf going forward.

In his first public comment since the PGA Tour’s stunning alliance with the DP World Tour and PIF in Saudi Arabia on June 6, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson said he was glad the two sides were working to bring the fractured sport back together.

During a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the LIV Golf League tournament in Spain this week, Mickelson told reporters he believes the plan to reshape the sport is ahead of schedule.

“I would like to say that I feel appreciated that we have come to this point where we are working together because it makes me confident about where golf is going in the future,” Mickelson said. “We felt like it was going to be about two years or so before we got to that point. It took a year and a half, six months faster than I expected.”

Mickelson refused to speak to reporters at the US Open at the Los Angeles Country Club earlier this month, saying he did not want to distract from the major tournament. He missed the cut and wasn’t around for the weekend.

Mickelson has come under fire for comments he made about Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuse and the PGA Tour’s alleged “greed”. He lost several old sponsors before joining LIV Golf last year.

“Going forward, we’re all very optimistic about where golf, especially professional golf, is going,” Mickelson said Wednesday. “Also, a lot of the changes that have been made because of LIV have all been very (appreciated), both on the LIV Tour and the PGA Tour, and we’re glad the guys out there have had some positive changes there as well.”

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF have reached a framework agreement to form a new entity that will bring together their business assets. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will serve as CEO of the new entity; The head of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, will be its president. The PGA Tour will have a controlling stake in the new company, regardless of the size of the PIF investment. Al-Rumayyan will also join the PGA Tour’s policy board if the deal is finalized.

The PGA Tour Policy Council met in Detroit on Tuesday. The players’ directors sitting on the board—Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Charlie Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson—were assured by the touring management that they would have to agree to a final agreement between the former rivals.

The framework agreement does not specify what will happen to the LIV golf tournament, which is funded by the Public Investment Fund. According to the framework agreement, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN Monday, “NewCo will conduct a complete, empirical, data-driven assessment of the LIV, its prospects, and its potential and will make a good faith assessment of the benefits for the golf team. Overall, PIF, the PGA Tour, and the DP World Tour will work together in An effort to determine the best way to integrate collegiate golf into the future PGA Tour and DP World Tour.”

LIV Golf League CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman told LIV Circuit players and staff that LIV Golf is a stand-alone entity and is making plans for the 2024 season and beyond.

“Everything Greg has told us over the past two years and everyone at LIV has paid off, so we have a lot of confidence in what they’ve told us,” Mickelson said. “We don’t really feel the need to take a public stance on our position. There’s really no need for us to talk about things publicly but just to let it happen.”

The framework agreement also included language about how players who have been suspended by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour for competing in LIV Golf League events can re-apply for membership in those circuits. Under the terms of the Framework Agreement, the Tours will work collaboratively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any player who wishes to re-apply for membership on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour after completion of the 2023 season and to determine fair standards and conditions for readmission consistent with each player’s disciplinary policies. a tour “.

Mickelson, who has won 45 times on the PGA Tour, was asked about the possibility of returning to that tour.

“Instead of saying yes or no, I know from player experience all the difficulties, challenges, energy-intensive and overproductive things throughout the week were fixed at LIV,” Mickelson said. “So the player experience here is unbelievable. I can’t imagine a better scenario for myself as a player than playing here on Leaf.”

Dustin Johnson, captain of the 4Aces GC team, which won LIV Golf’s individual and team championships in its inaugural season in 2022, told ESPN at the US Open that Al-Ramayan told him LIV Golf would have a full schedule in 2024.

“I’m excited about the future,” Johnson said in Spain. “I think with this agreement, the only thing that is going to happen is that LIV is going to get better than it is now, which is really nice. I’m happy with exactly where I am, and I’m definitely not looking forward to playing golf any more than I do now, that’s for sure.” “.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Fireballs GC captain, has been suspended by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour for joining LIV Golf. He later quit both tours. Garcia told reporters in Spain that he is confident the LIV golf league will continue to be played in 2024.

“Yeah, very confident,” Garcia said. “I mean, that’s what I can see. That’s all I can say. I think we’re in a good place. I think there are a lot of details that haven’t been finalized yet, and there’s a lot of speculation. But I think it’s going to be a great deal for everybody, and I don’t expect we won’t be.” Here next year.”

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