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A lot has been made of the proposed Saudi Golf League over the past few weeks, with players reportedly signing Non-Disclosure Agreements, as well as also being offered eye-watering amounts of money to join the breakaway league.
One player, who has perhaps been most closely associated - publicly at least - with the aforementioned SGL is Phil Mickelson, who not only said that “Pretty much every player in the top 100 has been contacted at some point,” (opens in new tab) but also launched a scathing attack on the PGA Tour over their media rights, stating that: "Their type of greed is beyond obnoxious," and that "the Tour forced him to pay $1million to access his shots." The PGA Tour have, so far, declined to comment.
Last week at the Saudi International (opens in new tab), 20 of the world's top-50 appeared at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Jeddah, with players receiving significant appearance fees for committing to the event that is backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.
As a result, it caused a rather scarce field (opens in new tab) at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, an event which usually draws a number of high-profile players. However, at this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open (opens in new tab), we see a stacked field, with the likes of Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka returning.
By Wednesday though, the topic of the Saudi Golf League and the "obnoxious greed" (opens in new tab) comments from Mickelson hadn't gone away, with one reporter asking world number one, Rahm, about them.
The US Open champion, who has a close friendship to Mickelson and was actually taught by his brother whilst he was coaching the young Spaniard at Arizona State, simply answered: "Listen, I try to stay away from those things. I'm here to play golf, and that's about it. Phil has been on Tour for a very long time, and I'm not here to judge anybody, right? Phil said what he said. That's it.
"He's still a great friend of mine. I don't know why he said what he said or why he said how he said it, but all I can say is I support him as a friend, yet I don't agree with everything he said. I'm 27 years old. I can count myself pretty lucky to be where I'm at in life."
One thing we do know is that the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka won't be joining the breakaway Saudi Golf League, with McIlroy calling the idea of the SGL (opens in new tab): "nothing more than a money grab," comparing it to the doomed attempt of the European Super League in football.
As well as McIlroy, 15-time Major champion, Woods, stated he is "supporting the PGA Tour," (opens in new tab) claiming that it is where "his legacy is." The last player to also come out in support of the PGA Tour, is Koepka, with the 31-year-old commenting: "It's been pretty clear for a long time now that I'm with the PGA Tour, it's where I'm staying. I'm very happy (opens in new tab). I think they do things the right way. People I want to do business with. I'm happy to be here."
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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