LIV Golfer Mocks 'Bulls*** Artist' Phil Mickelson For 'Kissing So Much A**' in Saudi Arabia

In an addition to Alan Shipnuck's Phil Mickelson biography, one LIV Golfer mocks the six-time Major champion for his backtracking in Saudi Arabia

Phil Mickelson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Journalist Alan Shipnuck has an update to his acclaimed Phil Mickelson biography where he chronicles that infamous LIV London press conference and gets an inside account of how Mickelson went to “kiss so much a**” in Saudi Arabia.

Mickelson’s explosive comments to Shipnuck, which the six-time Major champion insists were not meant for publication, led to him taking a break from golf before eventually joining LIV.

Describing the Saudi Arabians who would fund his huge signing-on bonus at LIV as “scary motherf******” was the headline, as the book led to a whirlwind for both golfer and golf writer.            

An excerpt from Shipnick’s addition for the paperback version of 'Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar' has been published on the Fire Pit Collective website and looks at that infamous press conference at LIV Golf London.

Shipnuck was prevented from asking Mickelson a question at his press conference by security, which he now believes were instructed by Mickelson’s team and not LIV organisers.

The famous pictures and video of Shipnuck’s confrontation, with Greg Norman lurking in the background, went viral – as did the LIV CEO’s text to the journalist saying he hadn’t heard about the event.

“I really hadn’t wanted to go public with the events of the press conference because the whole thing was so dumb,” Shipnuck wrote. “But Norman’s bald-faced lie was too outrageous to let slide.

“I responded to him with an image from the video showing him lurking directly behind me and then screenshot the whole exchange and put it on Twitter.

“The tweet went global, overshadowing the first round of the tournament. It got so much traction because it confirmed the widespread belief that Norman is a schmuck.

“My ejection from an otherwise innocuous press conference also fed the all-too-easy narrative of the Saudis’ aggressive disdain for a free press.”

Journalist Alan Shipnuck was ejected from Phil Mickelson's press conference CREDIT: @AlanShipnuck

Greg Norman said he didn't see Alan Shipnuck getting thrown out of Phil Mickelson's press conference CREDIT: @AlanShipnuck

(Image credit: Twitter: @AlanShipnuck)

And it’s clear that there’s still no love lost between the two, as Shipnuck also believes it was all down to Mickelson not wanting to face his questions.

“After subsequently unwinding the events with various involved parties, I believe that it was Mickelson, or his people, who sent in the clowns, not LIV.

“Sure, Norman could have interceded, but, charitably, he might not have grasped what was happening until it was too late.

“I confronted Mickelson’s manager, Peter Davis, with my theory. With his preppy wardrobe and slicked-back hair, Davis has the vibe of the punchable bad guy from every teen movie. He denied any culpability, but his smarmy smirk told a different story.

“The whole kerfuffle is noteworthy not because one brave and hardworking reporter was mistreated but for what it apparently said about Mickelson and those around him: Despite the carefully worded press releases and cloying public statements, they still felt the rules didn’t apply to them, and that they could warp their reality, and public opinion, through bullying.

“When Mickelson returned from his exile, he paid a lot of lip service to being a changed man. The early returns suggested otherwise.”

LIV Golfer mocks Mickelson's a** kissing

Phil Mickelson and Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan

Phil Mickelson may have had some awkward moments with Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan after his Saudi comments

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The initial Mickelson comments may have led to an awkward first visit to Saudi Arabia for the left-hander, but a fellow LIV golfer, who asked to remain anonymous, tells Shipnuck the levels the three-time Masters champion went to in his bid to smooth things over.

“This was Mickelson’s first visit to the Kingdom since he had been quoted calling its people 'scary motherf******'," Shipnuck adds. "He channeled all that anxiety into a relentless charm offensive. 

"A fellow LIV golfer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says, 'If you think Phil is a bulls*** artist normally, this was another level. You’ve never seen anyone kiss so much a** with that kind of enthusiasm and skill. He was ‘on’ from the second he got off the plane and never broke character.' 

"'I’m pretty sure by the end of the week he could have been elected mayor of King Abdullah City, if they actually held elections over there.'”

Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar

(Image credit: Amazon)

And finally, the case of when is an interview not an interview? Shipnuck continues…

“He was forced to clarify his remarks the next day to Bob Harig of Sports Illustrated: “We agreed multiple times that I was not going to be interviewed or a part of the book. He obviously took a conversation differently and we’re going to have to agree to disagree.” This was utterly nonsensical.

“Not be part of the book? He is the book! We had no such agreement that he wouldn’t be interviewed; that’s why I kept asking him to sit for questions. And then he called me.”

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.