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19th Hole

Everything Phil Mickelson said as he is GRILLED by media at first LIV press conference

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Phil Mickelson is sporting a new look this week in the UK, with the 51-year-old appearing in London with an unfamiliar beard ahead of his long awaited comeback.

Another thing unfamiliar about Lefty this week is the lack of sponsors on any of his clothing, as Mickelson spoke before media today with no brands evident on his plain clothing bar his own ‘Jump Man’ logo on his hat as seen on his ‘Coffee For Wellness’ product.

That marks a big difference from the likes of Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na, and Graeme McDowell, who all appeared before the media this week with the majority of their sponsors on show, with DJ wearing Adidas clothing and his typical TaylorMade hat.

Seemingly now sponsorless, Mickelson has been answering some predictably difficult questions on Wednesday morning as he spoke ahead of this week’s LIV Golf Opener.

Here’s a rundown of everything Mickelson said in his first LIV press conference, where he seemed to consider his answers very carefully, taking many pauses throughout the presser:

Mickelson: “Well, I’ve certainly said and done a lot of things that I regret, and I’m sorry for that and the hurt that it’s caused a lot of people. I don’t condone any human rights violations at all, nobody does here, throughout the world. I’m certainly aware of everything that’s happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good the game of golf has done through history, and I believe that LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well; and I’m excited about this opportunity, that’s why I’m here.

On Sportswashing

Reporter: But isn’t there a danger that you’re going to be seen as a tool of sportswashing, an attempt to try and improve an image of a human rights abusing regime through sport? And that ultimately, you could be seen as a Saudi stooge, and that could tarnish your legacy. Are you comfortable with that?

Mickelson: I said earlier, I don’t condone human rights violations. I don’t know how I can be any more clear. I understand your question, but again, I love this game of golf, I’ve seen the good it has done, and I see an opportunity for LIV Golf to do a lot of good for the game across the world, and I’m excited to be a part of this opportunity.

*Different reporter*

Reporter: You said something in a Sports Illustrated interview, and you said it again this morning, ‘what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is awful, but I’ve seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history.’ No matter how successful this tournament could ever be, it can’t counteract someone being murdered, can it?

Mickelson: Nobody here condones human rights violations, and nobody here is trying to make up for anything.

Reporter: But you said those two statements one after the other, which sort of implies that you feel that one can sort of make up for the other, and one of our colleagues used the phrase sportswashing, and that’s surely what that is an attempt to do?

Mickelson: The game of golf I’ve seen unify and bring people together, and I love that I’m a part of this sport and this game has given me so much, and it is fun for me to give back and to bring this game throughout the world on a global scale and have the opportunities that LIV Golf provides. I don’t know how else I can say it, I don’t condone human rights violations. Nobody does. I don’t know how else to say it more assertively.

On Signing With A Group He Was Using As Leverage

Reporter: So you also spoke about leverage, you used the word leverage, and here you are sitting and representing the very people you were using to leverage. How do you explain that?

Mickelson: I’ve really enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour. I’ve had some incredible experiences, some great memories, and I have a lot of strong opinions on things that should and could be a lot better. One of the mistakes I’ve 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.

What He’s Apologizing For

Reporter: Can you just clarify, you’ve apologized again just now. Can you just clarify what you’re apologizing for? Is it sorry for speaking the truth about the Saudis, or are you sorry about the shameless hypocrisy of taking their money anyway?

Mickelson: 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 the chance to have the most balance in my life going forward, and I think this is going to do a lot of good for the game.

On If He’s Serving A PGA Tour Ban

Reporter: Can you tell me if you’ve served a ban or are serving a ban with the PGA Tour?

Mickelson: I choose not to speak publicly on PGA Tour issues at this time.

On Next Week’s U.S. Open

Reporter: Can you say if you’re going to play in next week’s U.S. Open?

Mickelson: I will play next week’s U.S. Open. I’m looking forward to it.

On If It’s All About The Money

Reporter: You’re talking about this being good for the game of golf. The general perception is that this is all about the money for the players. Can you give me your thoughts on that?

Mickelson: 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.

On The Public Criticism From His Peers

Reporter: How did you feel when colleagues of yours criticized you so publicly, given that you knew them?

Mickelson: I understand how many people are going to have very strong opinions on this, my peers included. I respect their opinions. I can empathize with their feelings, and I’m appreciative to the many peers who have reached out to me and shown their support.

On Why He Won’t Be Resigning His PGA Tour Membership

Mickelson: I have been a part of the Tour for over 30 years. I’ve had a lot of incredible memories that have been formed and experiences I’ve shared. Tournaments I’ve won, and lost.

I also received a lot from the PGA Tour. I’m very grateful for that, for everything the PGA Tour and the game of golf has provided for me and my family.

I’ve also worked really hard to contribute and try to build and add value to the Tour during my time there.

I worked really hard to earn a lifetime exemption, and I don’t want to give that up; I don’t believe I should have to. I don’t know what that means for the future, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve earned that, and I don’t plan on just giving it up.”

On If He Won’t Resign So He Is Still Eligible For The Ryder Cup

Mickelson: Like the PGA Tour, the Ryder has provided so many special memories, relationships and friendships. I’m hopeful to be a part of the Ryder Cup going forward, but that’s not the reason to retain my membership, I’ve earned it. I believe all players should have the right to play whenever and wherever they want, which is consistent to being an independent contractor.

On His Four Month Hiatus

Reporter: It was said by one of your colleagues (Bryson) that you’ve gone dark, whatever that means, but what have you done for the last four months, because nobody has seen you?

Mickelson: I’ve had an awesome time. I’ve had a four-month break from the game that I’ve not had in over three decades. I’ve had an opportunity to spend time with my wife Amya bunch and travel parts of the world and spend time at a place we have in Montana.. skiing and hiking in Sedona, what a beautiful place that is.

It’s given me time to continue some of the work and therapy that I’ve been working on, on some areas I’m deficient in, in my life.

It’s given me time to reflect on what I want to do going forward, what’s best for me, what’s best for the people I care about. This allows me to be more present and engaged with people I care about.

That is why, when I think about being a part of LIV Golf, I feel so good about it.

On His Reported $200 million Sign-On Fee

Mickelson: I feel like contract agreements should be private. But it doesn’t seemed to be that way.

On Missing the Masters and PGA Championship

Mickelson: I was under the understanding that I was able to play but I really needed some time away. I did watch them but I didn’t necessarily want to be there. I wasn’t in a position to be there and be able to compete.

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Gianni is the Managing Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected]

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Ed Bardoe

    Jun 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Chamblee’s money comes from the Chinese (all golf companies that advertise on golf channel make all their clubs in China) Perhaps he is upset that the Saudis commuted the death penalties for the 5 agents who killed Khashoggi to 20 years. If Salmon is responsible for Khashoggi then isn’t the Mayor of Minneapolis responsible for Floyd? Or maybe he is just pro death penalty.

  2. Jbone

    Jun 9, 2022 at 11:07 am

    These reporters are in lala land. The PGA Tour is completely about money, not “legacy”. The media has such a selection bias for what they report or won’t report on.

    The majors are the only tournaments that matter when it comes to “legacy”.

    Hopefully this is good for pro golf in the long run and Saudi doesn’t hold the reins for too long. Pro golf needed a change. Heck even the PGA Championship needs to go back to match play or something.

  3. PJ

    Jun 8, 2022 at 10:40 pm

    I cannot condone what the Saudis do to people and if they didn’t have oil and boat loads of cash they probably wouldn’t get away with it. With that said I find it odd, but not really, that so many people have a problem with a Saudi backed league but say NOTHING about tournaments in China, Nike and their piles of cash derived from sweat shops and cheap labor to make their goods, and the fact that China is the biggest violator of human rights aside from Germany in WW2. No one says a word. Sad and pathetic.

    Phil or anyone else playing in LIV doesn’t affect you, me, or anyone else. I say good luck, go make some cash, and do your thing. They are independent contractors and they are free to play for the highest bidder.

  4. Don

    Jun 8, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    To think the Saudi’s will change their stripes is just as stupid as American companies investing in China will create a desire for the Chinese to be more “Americanized”.

  5. Bobby

    Jun 8, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    I am glad to see the PGA get a little competition, interesting to see how it plays out.

    • roger

      Jun 9, 2022 at 10:25 pm

      Why, what would a little competition mean to you. Should the PGA tour start having 20-30 million tournaments. 1.5 million 1st place isn’t nearly enough, should it be 3 or 4 million for 4 days work. The answer to all of this is on the fans back, it would follow professional football, baseball and other sports where it would cost $200 a day or more for any tournament that you wanted to go to. This is battles for millions that the fans will pay for.

  6. Drj

    Jun 8, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    ‘You can’t do this- you can’t do that’

    Yes- yes they can… This is what happens when ultimatums don’t go your way JM. You were very vocal then- where are your statements now?

  7. Dave

    Jun 8, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    It is greed, pure selfish greed and nothing else. I hope Westwood and Poulter get booed at the Open. Whilst people in this Country are struggling Poulter just wants a few more Feraris.

    • Bob

      Jun 8, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Deport him. He’s a tax dodging parasite who chases paper. Go live in Switzerland and take your Italian garbagemobiles with you.

    • Tom Kay

      Jun 8, 2022 at 4:23 pm

      Poulter should be forced to give me one of his Ferraris and an international supermodel to ride with me.

  8. Imafitter

    Jun 8, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Glad Reed is going. Most of these guys are chasing the $$$$$, they’re getting older and are not relevant.

  9. Eric Montgomery

    Jun 8, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Pretty sad when those we admire and applaud in the end turn out to be frauds and liars.
    Unable to keep their word or maintain any semblance of integrity or character, they whore themselves out for the almighty dollar.
    Pitiful men, to say the least.

  10. BD57

    Jun 8, 2022 at 9:39 am

    Meanwhile, the high & mighty, “we’re all concerned about human rights” media gives the Chinese a pass, says not a word to the NBA (or other entertainment companies, for that matter) about prostrating itself to stay in their good graces.

    Let’s just say the media’s “principles” are very . . . . flexible.

  11. Pingback: ‘This is uncomfortable’ – LIV press conference gets heated with reporter ejected – GolfWRX

  12. Pingback: Report: Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed agree multi-year deals with LIV Golf – GolfWRX

  13. Pingback: Why Mickelson could be in for a very awkward surprise at this week’s LIV Golf opener – GolfWRX

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19th Hole

Cam Percy clarifies ‘they’re gone’ comment regarding Cam Smith and Marc Leishman

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Last week, a report from The Telegraph that claimed Cameron Smith was joining LIV Golf for a contract north of $100 million took the golf world by storm.

And at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the world No. 2 didn’t deny the reports.

“I’m ready to cop some heat. I understand that’s what I said, but like I said I’m here to win the FedEx Cup playoffs that’s my No. 1 goal and whatever happens after that will come from me.”

Smith also said, “I have no comment to that,” he said. “I’m here to play the FedExCup Playoffs. That’s been my focus the last week and a half, that’s what I’m here to do – I’m here to win the FedExCup Playoffs.”

Many of the rumors regarding Smith began with an interview that fellow Australian Cameron Percy did with the radio station RSN where he said “Unfortunately, yeah, they’re gone,” speaking about both Smith and Marc Leishman.

After a week of constant rumors and reports, Percy stood behind his comments in an interview with Australian Golf Digest.

“Look, I was just conveying what was said in the locker room during the many rain delays we’ve had on tour the past few weeks,” Percy said.

With both the reports of Smith’s joining LIV, Percy’s comments, and Smith’s lack of denial, it seems quite probable the Champion Golfer of the Year will be taking his talents to LIV Golf when the PGA Tour season concludes. That said, only time will tell.

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19th Hole

Justin Thomas slams Will Zalatoris’ mentor for ‘egregious and aggressive’ tweets attacking NBC duo

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On Sunday, Will Zalatoris was able to outlast Sepp Straka in a three-hole playoff to earn his first PGA TOUR victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

During the tournament, Zalatoris’ mentor and creator of DECADE Golf, Scott Fawcett went off on Twitter in regard to some comments made about Zalatoris by Dan Hicks and Brad Faxon on the broadcast.

Fawcett went on to delete the tweets, but Justin Thomas saved them and later called Fawcett out on his harsh words.

Fawcett has been working with Zalatoris for years and even caddied for him while he was an amateur.

Back in 2015, Zalatoris spoke about how influential Fawcett was on his golf game and at the time said he “has changed the way I play golf.”

“The first time he caddied for me, I told him I picked up 25 years of experience in four rounds. it’s kind of a new way of looking at things, and it’s really helped me.”

Zalatoris also raved about Fawcett back in 2020 saying, “He practically has been an older brother to me. I know a lot of other players have the same feeling about him considering the amount of time he invests in each player.”

Fawcett seemed to take issue with a few of the broadcast’s comments about the 25-year-old. Among them was one comment saying that Zalatoris was being “gifted the win” and another that said he had a “wobbly putter” due to the pressure-packed situation.

Fawcett replied to Thomas’ tweet shortly after.

JT responded again, claiming Faxon wasn’t involved in Thomas’ decision to call Fawcett out.

Amongst the chaos, Brad Faxon took to Twitter to denounce Fawcett’s comments saying: So all you college coaches, and high school coaches this is the guy you want to hire to teach your players? Nice. Scott Fawcett credit to the game” before thanking JT for getting involved: “Thanks Justin Thomas, not sure how this is good for anybody. If Scott has helped Will Zalatoris, he will let everyone know.”

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19th Hole

PGA Tour chief referee explains decision to penalize Cam Smith before Memphis final round

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After Saturday’s third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Cameron Smith sat at 11 under, which was just two shots back of the lead held by J.J. Spaun. The Champion Golfer of the Year was tied with Will Zalatoris at the time and looked as if he was going to challenge for a victory. He was even the betting favorite on Saturday night, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

On Sunday morning, things took a peculiar turn. Smith was called in to speak with PGA Tour chief referee, Gary Young. The Australian was assessed a two-shot penalty for playing the ball from the wrong place when playing a shot on the fourth hole of the third round.

According to the PGA Tour, the specific violation was Rule 14.7 on hole No. 4 during the third round as he was operating under Rule 17.1

Young elaborated on the rules violation when speaking to the media.

“We had seen it yesterday on the live broadcast. We had an official that was looking at it, but at that point, just knowing the awkwardness of camera angles and that he was dropping in a really tight area there at No. 4, the geometry of the whole situation, he’s got basically a sliver he’s dropping the ball in.

“We felt very comfortable at that time that he was familiar with the rule, and that it was such a quick view of it that we had, at that time we decided it wasn’t worth following up on.”

Young went on to further discuss the situation: “This is something common that players do every day. After seeing the rebroadcast and seeing it again, we felt that it was pretty close to the line and worth a second look. So we did take a second look at it and sure enough, we felt it was really close to the line, if not touching and possibly on the line. So it was worth asking the player.”

“The rules give the player, as long as the player has shown reasonable judgment in determining whether or not his ball was in or out of the penalty area in this situation with his own naked eye, I thought it was simply going to be a situation where I asked Cam the question and he was going to tell him that he was comfortable that his ball was outside the penalty area.

“When I asked him the question, unfortunately, he said to me, “No, the ball was definitely touching the line.” So at that point there’s no turning back. That was a moment where I know that the player has knowledge that the ball was touching the line, he just simply didn’t understand the rule that it requires the entire ball to be outside of the penalty area and in his relief area. So that was the tough part.”

The timing of the Smith’s penalty raised plenty of questions throughout the golf world. Early last week, it was widely reported that the current number two player in the world was headed to LIV Golf for a deal north of $100 million.

According to Young, Smith accepted the penalty without pushback.

“His answer to me is, “The rules are the rules.” He just accepted the two-stroke penalty, and I told him that we would be applying it to his fourth hole in Round 3 and he very calmly left the office and he’s just going about his business for the day.”

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