Phil Mickelson ‘embarrassed’ by golf game last year, ‘rejuvenated’ for second run with LIV Golf

The 52-year-old is playing in the PIF Saudi International this week

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is gearing up for LIV Golf's second season while playing in the PIF Saudi International this week. (Luke Walker/WME IMG/Getty Images)

After what was undoubtedly the strangest and most controversial year of his career, Phil Mickelson is trying to turn the page.

Mickelson, after his controversial Saudi Arabia comments and departure for LIV Golf, said Tuesday that he feels lighter and much more confident about his game. His play last year left him feeling “embarrassed,” he said before the PIF Saudi International this week.

"I have to look at last year as an anomaly and just let it go," Mickelson said at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, via ESPN. "I wasn't ready to play at the start. I wasn't ready to play during [the season], and this offseason I'm ready to play. I've been playing really well at home, and I'm ready to bring my game back out here and compete. I'm optimistic to see a whole different outlook, a whole different game, a whole different competitiveness."

Mickelson was one of the biggest names to leave the PGA Tour last year for the controversial LIV Golf startup, which only came after Mickelson made explosive comments about the Saudi Arabian government. That then led him to disappear from the game for quite some time.

Mickelson has since removed himself from the lawsuit against the PGA Tour, though that is still ongoing. He reportedly received a $200 million signing bonus to join LIV Golf initially, though he finished No. 34 in the season-long race. Dustin Johnson dominated LIV Golf, winning the individual title and an $18 million prize.

The 52-year-old Mickelson won 45 times on the PGA Tour in his career. He has exemptions to play in each of the four major championships for the next several years, as long as they continue to allow LIV Golf members to compete.

LIV Golf’s second season is set to start in Mexico in February. The league will have 14 events this season in seven countries, concluding with the championship in Saudi Arabia in November. The league finally struck a television deal in the United States, too. Tournaments will be broadcast on The CW, though terms of the deal are not known.

Though it’s unclear how he or the league will do in its second run, Mickelson is at least feeling much, much better — both about his game and his weight.

"I have a whole different energy, whole different excitement," Mickelson said, via ESPN. "I've been rejuvenated. Best shape I've been in in a long time. I'm back to my college weight. It allows me to recover faster after I play. I'm changing some of the ways I practice to be more efficient. Rather than quantity, it's much more quality driven, and I'm seeing a difference when I go out and play in the way I am kind of pulling the shots off on the golf course."