Phil Mickelson has confirmed that he will be attending the opening event of the controversial Saudi Arabia-sponsored LIV Golf Invitational Series this week.
The six major champions haven’t played since the explosive comments about the Breakaway Series and the PGA Tour were released in February, and have maintained a very low profile.
A 51-year-old American described Saudi Arabia as “scary m ************” and said he was familiar with Saudi Arabia’s “horrible records of human rights,” including the killing of the Washington Post. I did. Reporter Jamal Khashoggi – In an interview with the author of the next biography.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) June 6, 2022
Still, he added that working with Saudi Arabia is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure the way the PGA Tour operates” by creating a new series of tournaments in different formats.
His comments caused a great deal of opposition, and Mickelson apologized in considerable criticism. He disappeared from public and missed both the Masters in April and the defense of the title at the PGA Championship last month.
The remarks also hurt the big buck LIV Golf series, but the organizers pushed the plan forward and the first tournament at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire will begin on Thursday.
Mickelson will participate in a field of 48 people, including two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and European Ryder Cup stars such as Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
Mickelson said in a statement: “First and foremost, I would like to once again apologize to the many people who were offended and hurt by the comments a few months ago.
“I made mistakes in some of the things I said and did in my career. It was very humble to take the time and introspect.
“I had to start prioritizing the people I love most and work to be a better version of myself.
“I spent this time with Amy and my loved ones. I am engaged in continuous treatment, deliberately working, feeling healthy and much more peaceful. There is still a long way to go. I know there is, but I am accepting future efforts. “
He went to explain why he favored the LIV Golf series.
He states: “I’m ready to come back to play my favorite game, but 32 years later, this new path is a new start, exciting for me at this stage of my career, and obviously not just myself. It’s a game changer, but ideally for the game and my companions.
“I also love the progressive format and I think it’s exciting for fans. Equally important, it provides a balance and allows you to focus on a healthier approach to life both inside and outside the course. I am very grateful to me for this game and the PGA Tour.
“I think I gave back, but now I’m excited about this new opportunity.
“I’m excited to start with LIV Golf. Thanks to everyone involved. I’m going to play a major too.
“I fully recognize and respect that some people are against this decision and have a strong opinion. I sympathize with it. I have a new spirit and excitement for the game. ..
“I am very grateful for the support of my fans, partners, friends and colleagues. I hope these feelings, relationships and support will continue.”
The Century Tournament, with a total prize pool of £ 20.2m and a winner of £ 4m, is the first of eight LIV golf events scheduled for this year and will be expanded to 14 in the future.
The competition is to be held in 54 holes instead of the standard 72 holes, with groups teeing off at the same time in different holes at the start of the “shotgun”.
Greg Norman, Chief Executive and Commissioner of LIV Golf, said:
“His contribution to the sport and connections with fans around the world cannot be exaggerated. We are grateful to welcome him.
“He is strengthening the exciting field of London, which he is proud to open up a new era of golf.”