For the first time since the PGA Tour announced its partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), Phil Mickelson has been the subject of interest. Well, beyond his initial quick tweet announcing that it was a great day.
“Going forward, we are all very optimistic about the direction professional golf is headed.” Mickelson said Wednesday. “I think actions are a little bit more powerful than words. If you look at what LIV does, what we do, it’s more of a statement.”
Mickelson also loves to play on the LIV Tour.
“The player experience here is unbelievable,” added Mickelson. “I can’t imagine a better scenario for myself as a player than playing on LIV.”
The six-time major winner made these comments before LIV Golf’s Valderrama event in southern Spain.
Valderrama Golf Club has been dubbed the “Augusta of Europe”, and hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup, which was won by Europeans. Legendary Spaniard Seve Ballesteros – Mickelson’s hero – was the winning captain.
Mickelson represented Team USA at the event, and now he returns to Valderrama this week feeling as confident as ever about the state of professional golf.
“We felt it would take about two years before we reached (an agreement), but it took a year and a half – six months faster than I expected,” Mickelson noted.
“Everything over the last couple of years that (CEO) Greg (Norman) has told us has paid off for everyone at LIV, so we have a lot of confidence in what they’re telling us because everything has been happening.”
The framework agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF does not include any details about what the future of men’s professional golf will look like. But as Mickelson pointed out, it’s mainly about “agreement.”
Future schedules, sponsorships, investments, and returning players need to be decided. In addition, the agreement must receive approval from the Department of Justice and withstand congressional hearings.
As for Mickelson, he is happy with where he is and how his 2023 schedule has played out.
“Playing 19 events this year with the Big Four, 14 LIV events, and then playing in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, it’s been a lot of golf,” admitted the 53-year-old Mickelson. “But it was fun because there are enough breaks between places that I feel excited to be back here.”
After Valderrama, LIV Golf heads to London before stopping. This break will allow some players to prepare for The Open Championship, which is being held at Royal Liverpool this year.
Mickelson won the Claret Jug Award in 2013.
Playing with LIV may bring another important moment for Mickelson, who became the oldest major champion in 2021 by winning the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island.
After all, he’s tied for second at the 2023 Masters — the first time he’s played at the Augusta National after committing to LIV.
Either way, Lefty feels confident about what’s to come.
Jack Melko is the golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out _PlayingThrough as well.