Rory McIlroy calls proposed golf super league a 'money grab;' Phil Mickelson thinks it's 'interesting'

·3 min read

Phil Mickelson's legacy is secure.

The five-time major winner hasn't won a Grand Slam event since 2013 and doesn't project to do so again at 50 years old. He holds a unique corner in golf history as Tiger Woods' most formidable foil, but isn't likely to add any significant chapters to his golf story at this point of his career.

So count him in as curious about the super league.

Premier Golf League chatter is back

An alternative tour to the PGA Tour that was floated in 2020 is reportedly gaining traction again, tabbed as The Premier Golf League. The pitch? A tour featuring the world's best golfers playing for high-stakes guarantees and $10 million purses.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the league backed by Saudi investors is prepared to offer players like Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose $30 million each to jump ship from the PGA. The rest of the world's elite players are also reportedly on their radar.

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 07:  (L-R) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Phil Mickelson of the United States talk on the second tee during a practice round prior to the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 7, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson don't see eye to eye on the proposed Premier Golf League. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

McIlroy calls league a 'money grab'

An exclusive super league commitment would likely preclude players from competing on the PGA Tour and traditional legacy-building majors. The idea got shut down in 2020 when top players, like Rory McIlroy, said they wouldn't play. He reiterated that stance on Wednesday, calling the idea a "money grab."

“The more I've thought about it, the more I don't like it," McIlroy said. ... "People can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that's what you're playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that's what makes you happy.

"But I think the top players in the game, I'm just speaking my own personal beliefs, like I'm playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world."

Justin Thomas delivered a similar, if less scalding, take.

“For me, I personally am about being No. 1 in the world and winning as many majors as I can and winning as many tournaments as I can and doing historical things on the PGA Tour," Thomas said. "If I was to go do that, then all those things go down the drain."

For younger players at the top of the game, there's plenty of money to be made on the PGA Tour that comes with a chance to win majors. PGA Tour commissioner made clear on Wednesday that players who jumped ship would forfeit their Tour rights, reportedly telling players that they would "likely" be expelled if they signed with the PGL.

If this all sounds familiar, it's because the response very much resembles that to the soccer Super League that was chastised as a money grab before failing almost as soon as it was floated in April.

But the response isn't stopping Mickelson from entertaining the league. And why not? He's almost strictly in the play-for-dough portion of his career.

"I think it’s very interesting," Mickelson said. "What’s interesting is the players would be giving up control of their schedule and then compete against each other 14 times or 15 times or whatever the final number is.”

Unfortunately for Mickelson, he's not going to land a giant PGL contract all by himself. He needs to bring the game's best players in their primes along with him. For now, that doesn't sound like an idea based in reality.

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