'I'm Thankful It Didn't Happen A Year Ago’ – Mickelson Happy With PGA Tour Changes

Phil Mickelson had called for some of the exact changes the PGA Tour has now made, but is still happy he joined LIV Golf

Mickelson answers questions in front of a LIV Golf board
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson advocated for change before joining LIV Golf, but has no regrets about the timing and is happy the PGA Tour is now finally following their example.

The 52-year-old has no doubts the recent PGA Tour changes are based on the LIV Golf format, and are a good thing for the game, but is still happy he joined the Saudi-backed tour.

Mickelson was advocating for more money for the top players and events where the top stars of the PGA Tour competed against each other more often – even adding that he brought a $1 billion deal to the tour but had it rejected.

That's something which is now happening with the designated events, which from next year will be smaller fields with no cut – similar to LIV Golf’s format, which Mickelson labelled as “a good model to follow” for the PGA Tour.

The six-time Major champion has no doubt that LIV Golf’s emergence prompted the PGA Tour changes, and says he’s happy Jay Monahan is trying to emulate the Saudi-backed tour’s format.

“I think that it's really a good thing. I'm happy to see it. I'm happy to see it for the Tour,” Mickelson said of the new PGA Tour changes.

“I think there will always be a need and a want for traditional golf. And there's always an opportunity to innovate and to allow LIV to be additive and create something new and different.

“I also think the changes bring the best players about more often. I think that's what fans want and what the sponsors want.

“They want to know what they are buying, and those are all things that LIV have provided for their sponsors and television and so forth. I think it's a good model to follow, and I'm glad that they are.”

Monahan chats to the media at The Players Championship

Mickelson says Jay Monahan turned down his $1 billion deal

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many feel that if Monahan and the PGA Tour had made changes Mickelson was calling for he’d never have left and LIV Golf would not have been born – but Lefty is happy with the way things played out.

“Then I'm thankful it didn't happen a year ago,” he insisted. “I'm really happy with the way LIV has brought about new change to the game.

“Because this team aspect is something that we really never saw as a possibility in golf until LIV came along. It brought about a new energy for me and a new dynamic, and my teammates and myself are helping each other be our best.

“That's been a lot of fun, playing practice rounds with them and going to dinner, hanging out. It's brought a lot more joy to the professional golf experience, and I'm really appreciative that it's come about, so I'm glad that those changes didn't happen a year ago.”

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.