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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

Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas take shots at Bryson’s awkward attempt to own viral rope incident

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“If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?”

According to those search engines, both quotes can be attributed to an awful lot of people over the years, including golf legends Payne Stewart and Tiger Woods.

Sometimes, though, others don’t find it as funny.

A week ago, we reported on a viral video from LIV Chicago that showed Bryson DeChambeau losing a battle with one of the gallery ropes .

Despite the histrionics and the supposed loss of vision in one eye, he completed the event at 6-under, and finishing in the top 10.

The incident brought more attention to the tour than anything Chicago winner Cam Smith could do, and the 2020 U.S Open winner probably thought he was onto a winner when recreating the event in a re-run of Bryson v Rope.

In it, the 29-year-old prepares for the challenge like a pro boxer, before ducking under the rope with no personal damage – to the whoops of the ‘onlookers’.

It was a bit of fun, but recent BMW PGA champion, and 2022 Masters third, Shane Lowry, wasn’t at all impressed.

The 2019 Open Championship winner has always stayed fairly neutral about the Greg Norman-led tour, but there was never a doubt that he was fully behind his good friend Rory McIlroy with his views.

However, after the win at Wentworth, Lowry was a tad more open with his views:

“I just think [LIV Golf] is bad for the game. I have always said I play for trophies, not for money. That’s why I didn’t entertain it, to be honest. The reason I have never even contemplated it is I don’t think it is good for the game.”

Whilst we can’t be sure if this had any effect on his Twitter post today, it was clear what he thinks of DeChambeau’s latest stunt:

Then JT got involved and made it clear what camp he was in…

The long-standing Dunhill Links weather is always unpredictable, but home players seem to thrive whatever the conditions.

What is definite is that Lowry will not stomach much more of the clownery on show, and probably won’t be cheering Bryson on as he reached the last 64 of the World’s Longest Drive Championship.

Just as we thought things might have been calming down…..

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19th Hole

Why Phil Mickelson decided to drop out of lawsuit against PGA Tour

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Whatever the whys and wherefores, the disputes and disagreements, the one thing the LIV series has done is get people thinking.

Much water has crossed under the bridge and a recap could go on for many hours, but it remains that something somewhere caused the PGA Tour to look at a revised schedule.

Behind all this were a number of court cases, the first being 16 players fighting their cause against a DP World Tour ban, before 11 PGA Tour players sought temporary injunctions against the tour, seeking allowance into the FedEx Cup.

Since then,  Abraham Ancer, Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez have dropped out of the suit, the trial scheduled to commence in 2024, and now four more have fallen by the wayside.

Those four are Ian Poulter, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and more vitally, Phil Mickelson.

The idea of a series challenging the golf status quo was always in the mind of Greg Norman and his backers, and Lefty was certainly the one player that launched the idea into orbit, after a revealing interview with golf writer Alan Shipnuck.

That now leaves just three of the original 11 – Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein – who are still being backed by LIV Golf.

The organization released a recent statement, commenting:

“Nothing has changed,’” confirmed LIV. “The merits of the lawsuit—the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive conduct—still stand and will be fully tested in court, and we look forward to it.”

The statement confirmed the reasons why they believe they have a strong case.

“We stand by the players who the PGA Tour has treated so poorly, but we also recognize to be successful we no longer need a wide variety of players to be on the suit. We have our players’ backs and will press our case in court against the PGA’s anti-competitive behavior.”

Losing the bigger names might be a blow to the plaintiff’s case, and Mickelson’s comments were always going to be of interest.

Lefty explained the reasons for his withdrawal to Sports Illustrated:

“I am focused on moving forward and extremely happy being a part of LIV, while also grateful for my time on the (PGA) Tour. I am pleased that the players on Tour are finally being heard, respected and valued and are benefitting from the changes recently implemented.”

He summed up:

“With LIV’s involvement in these issues, the players’ rights will be protected and I no longer feel it is necessary for me to be part of the proceedings.”

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19th Hole

Patrick Reed includes three golf journalists in fresh defamation lawsuit

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Last month, Patrick Reed filed a defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee. The suit has since been withdrawn, but the former Masters champion isn’t done yet.

Reed has just filed a new lawsuit against golf journalists Damon Hack, Shane Bacon and Eamon Lynch. In addition to the writers, the suit includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour and their commissioners Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley.

The suit alleges that those mentioned are guilty of “conspiracy, defamation, injurious falsehood and tortious interference”.

The lawsuit is a whopping 96-pages long and it lists 42 “causes of action.” The causes of action include “a pattern and practice of defaming Mr. Reed.”

“These malicious attacks have created hate, aided and abetted a hostile workplace environment, and have caused substantial financial and emotional damage and harm to Mr. Reed and his family,” Reed’s attorney Larry Klayman said in a statement.

The suit claims that the defendants have cost Reed opportunities at multi-million-dollar sponsorships over the course of his career.

The documents also allege that the defendants have been “intentionally and maliciously destroying” the reputation and sales of Reed and his wife’s company, grindworksUSA, which distributes golf equipment made by the Chinese company.

Reed was set to tee it up at the Alfred Dunhill Links this week, but was forced to withdraw due to back issues resulting from a soft mattress at a French hotel.

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