Phil Mickelson tells Rory McIlroy he should thank LIV Golf for boosting PGA Tour incentives

Far from “hating” LIV – as Rory McIlroy declared he does earlier this week – Phil Mickelson believes that the Northern Irishman and the rest of the top players should be “appreciative” of the Saudi rebel circuit in forcing the PGA Tour to introduce huge incentives to appease the elite golfers.

Even McIlroy felt obliged – albeit through gritted teeth – to concede that  “some of his ideas had merit”, reflecting on Mickelson’s infamous rant against Sawgrass HQ and his contention that the star names were not duly compensated and that they should play each other more often.  

And while Mickelson, as he continues to be treated as golf’s pariah, is careful not to take all the credit the Tour injecting up to $200 million annually from next season – most of which has been designed to find its way into the heavyweights’ pockets – the 52-year-old is keen to stress the LIV influence in the overhaul.

“Well, they are getting a lot for it,” Mickelson replied to SI when asked what he thought of the Tour’s most pre-eminent performers committing to 20 Tour events. “So I’m extremely happy that the top players are being listened to and that their input is being valued…. and what they are doing for the Tour is now being valued.’’

Mickelson is adamant that without the threat of the $2 billion breakaway league, funded by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Tour would not have altered its structure. The six-time major winner spent years making the case for the superstars, but is insistent that his entreaties went ignored. 

The frustration led him to accuse Tour commissioner Jay Monahan  of “running a tyranny” and of “obnoxious greed” and also to his notorious comments in which he called the Saudis “scarymotherf—–s to deal with” before saying he was able to contain his disgust for the country’s “horrid” humans rights record because of the “leverage” it gave him over the Tour. Ultimately, Mickelson joined LIV in May in a $200million deal.

“It was stated very clearly that nothing was going to happen,” Mickelson said. “Unless there was leverage, nothing was going to change. And all players should be appreciative of what LIV is doing. The players on LIV for the opportunity they are getting. And the PGA Tour for the leverage that was provided to get these changes done. Despite multiple efforts by multiple players… I don’t think anything like that would have happened without the leverage that LIV Golf has provided. There was no leverage. There were no other options.’’

Leave a Comment