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While the world of golf couldn’t wait to cast judgement on Phil Mickelson for controversial comments made about the PGA Tour and the Saudi financiers of the new LIV Golf Series, former PGA Championship winner Rich Beem has called for the audio to be released so people can “hear the context of what he said”.
The left-hander has become something of a pariah since accusing the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” and calling LIV Golf’s Saudi backers “scary motherf****** to deal with” in an article written by the Fire Pit Collective’s Alan Shipnuck.
However, Beem, a Major champion turned Sky Sports pundit, refused to condemn one of golf’s most colourful characters, insisting that, without context, the written word is open for interpretation.
“What was printed by Alan Shipnuk, I want to be clear on this, I want to hear the audio,” Beem told BoyleSports Latest Golf Betting (opens in new tab). “I want to hear exactly what Phil said and I want to hear the context of what he said because the written word is so different than the spoken word that you can take it in any context you want.
“If you write me a letter, I can read that letter in so many different ways trying to figure out the way you wrote it. I want to hear what he said and how he said it before I really determine how I feel because I look at the source [Alan Shipnuck] with a little disdain - I'm not a fan.
“Once I hear the context, I could probably make a better determination, but it's hard for me to comment much more on Phil. He's always been a unique character on the PGA Tour, and there's a thousand stories out there as we all probably know.”
Far from giving Lefty a free ride, Beem does acknowledge that mistakes were made and that a degree of grovelling will be required for him to pick up where he left off on the PGA Tour, should that be the destination for his return. While it’s rumoured he is serving a ban, the 2002 PGA champion insists Mickelson owes his fellow players an apology for his disruptive role in the ongoing Saudi saga.
“To go out and to try and redeem yourself, then what you need to do is become a model citizen. You need to come back, hat in hand at the PGA Tour if that's where your allegiance is, and you need to apologise to every single player on the range.
“You know, ‘Hey, listen, sorry for having this controversy, didn't mean it to distract from you and this great tour that we're part of’, because there are a lot more things to the PGA Tour that, besides the money they play for, are funnelled in.
“You can give me a cheque for $5 million for winning a tournament but the things that I get from the PGA Tour are so much more valuable in some respects. And there's a laundry list of them.”
Mickelson became the oldest ever winner of one of golf’s four marquee events when he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy at Kiawah Island last year at the age of 50. Fast forward 12 months and such has been his fall from grace that he is now the first non-injured male Major winner not to defend his crown in modern times, having opted to skip the event as speculation around his participation in the LIV Golf Series persists.
Ahead of the second men’s Major of the year, many of the world's best players were asked to comment on his absence. Rory McIlroy called it “unfortunate” and “sad”, while Tiger Woods added: “We miss him being out here.”
Video: Things you didn't know about Phil Mickelson
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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