Mickelson 'ecstatic' with LIV decision despite champions dinner snub

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Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson insisted he "couldn't be happier" with his decision to join the Saudi-backed rebel LIV golf tour despite facing a wave of criticism.

Detractors of the rebel tour claim the circuit is being bankrolled as part of Saud Arabia's effort to "sportswash" its reputation amid criticism of the kingdom's human rights record.

Mickelson himself even described the Saudi regime as "scary" with a "horrible record on human rights" during an interview last year.

Tiger Woods joined those bashing the breakaway group this week, accusing them of "turning their back" on the tours that made them household names.

Mickelson, who reportedly received a $200 million signing bonus to become one of the leading names to join the new tour, is one of 24 LIV players taking part at the 150th British Open in St Andrews this week.

However, Mickelson, who lifted the Claret Jug in 2013, was not present for the traditional champions dinner on Tuesday.

The American revealed he had been advised against attending by tournament organisers the R&A.

"We both kind of agreed that it would be best if I didn't (attend)," said Mickelson after shooting an even-par opening round.

Yet the 52-year-old hit back at suggestions he would have regrets over his call to take the money on offer from LIV.

"I made the right decision for me," added Mickelson.

"I couldn't be more excited and ecstatic with where I'm at. I love the events. I get to have golf in my life and competitive golf in my life on a scale that is fun, exciting, different, and lets me play and compete but still do the things outside that I want to do.

"I've got a nice trip lined up after this and things that I haven't been able to do in the past. So, no, I couldn't be happier."

Another LIV member, Ian Poulter, was booed as he prepared to hit his first tee-shot on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau also defended his decision to cash in on joining LIV despite being dropped by ball sponsor Bridgestone.

"It was the best decision for me at that point in time and still is," said the 2020 US Open champion.

Bridgestone outlined their commitments to a partnership with the PGA Tour in a statement explaining the decision to part ways with DeChambeau.

The PGA Tour has suspended 17 members, including Mickelson and DeChambeau, for playing in LIV tournaments.

"I love them. I love what they do," added DeChambeau, on still playing with a Bridgestone ball at St Andrews.

"I respect it and understand everybody's position and the ties that everybody has."

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