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Phil Mickelson made his first public comments since joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series.
While he sat on a stage alongside his fellow teammates of “Team Hi-Flyer” that he picked the night before during a player draft, Mickelson answered every one of the 26 questions during their group presser.
Mickelson has been in self-imposed hiding since February when his controversial statements on the PGA Tour and Saudi Golf League were published on the Fire Pit Collective.
Here are 11 things Mickelson addressed during his news conference Wednesday ahead of LIV Golf’s debut event near London at the Centurion Golf Club.
Phil’s take on “sportswashing”
“I said earlier, I don’t condone human rights violations. I don’t know how I can be anymore clear. I understand your question, but again, I love this game of golf. I’ve seen the good that it’s done and I see the opportunity for LIV Golf to do a lot of good for the game throughout the world and I’m excited to be part of this opportunity.”
Pressed further, he added, “Nobody here condones human rights violations, and nobody here is trying to make up for anything.”
Why did he sign with LIV Golf?
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour. I’ve had some incredible experiences, some great memories. I have a lot of strong opinions on things that should and could be a lot better. One of the mistakes I made is voicing those publicly. So, I will really make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors going forward. I think that’s the way to be the most efficient and get the most out of it.”
Phil Mickelson adjusts his sunglasses during a press conference ahead of the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series event at The Centurion Club north of London. (Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)
What exactly he is apologizing for?
“I understand that many people have very strong opinions and may disagree with my decision, and I can empathize with that. But at this time, this is an opportunity that gives me a chance to have the most balance in my life going forward and I think will do a lot of good for the game.”
Is he banned from PGA Tour?
“I choose not to speak publicly on PGA Tour issues at this time.”
Will he play in 2022 U.S. Open?
“I will play next week at the U.S. Open. I’m looking forward to it.”
Why he won’t resign PGA Tour membership
“It’s because I earned it. I believe all players should have the right to play whenever or wherever they want, which is consistent with being an independent contractor. As a lifetime member, I’m not required to play 15 events. I don’t have to play any; I can play one. So, I don’t feel the reason to give that up.”
Future role in the Ryder Cup?
“Just like the PGA Tour, the Ryder Cup has provided so many relationships, friendships that have lasted a career and I’m hopeful to be part of the Ryder Cup going forward.”
Why not defend at PGA Championship?
“It was made clear to me through extensive conversations that I was able to play if I wanted to. I wasn’t ready to play and compete. I hadn’t practiced. I had played a couple rounds but I wasn’t sharp. I didn’t feel like I was ready. But it was made clear that I had the option to and I just chose not to. Just like the Masters. I certainly enjoyed watching it. I missed being there, but I didn’t have a desire to be there.”
Phil Mickelson smiles during a pro-am ahead of the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series golf tournament at The Centurion Club north of London. (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)
About that four-month absence
“I’ve had an awesome time. I had a four-month break from the game that I have not had from the game in over three decades. I have had an opportunity to spend time with my wife, Amy, a bunch and travel to parts of the world and spend time at a place we have in Montana skiing and hike in Sedona [Arizona], what a beautiful place that is, and it’s given me time to continue some of the work and therapy on some of the areas that I’m deficient in my life and given me time to reflect on what I want to do going forward and what’s best for me and what’s best for the people I care most about.
“This is an opportunity that allows me to have a balance where I can still be more present and be more engaged with the people I really care about and that’s why when I think about being part of LIV Golf I feel so good about it.”
Is LIV Golf all about the money?
“I don’t necessarily agree with your premise, but I think that the opportunity that it provides me to play, compete, bring the sport throughout the world, play less, and have a better balance in life on and off the golf course. I know that it gives me a lot of positives personally and professionally, and I believe it does the same for everyone else in the field.”
Did he actually get a $200 million sign-on fee?
“I feel like contract agreements should be private. But it doesn’t seem to be that way.”