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After a week that saw more players pledge their allegiance to the PGA Tour rather than consider joining the rumoured Saudi Super League, one of the Tour’s biggest critics, Phil Mickelson, is facing a backlash from fellow American Billy Horschel. Speaking to Matt Adams on the Golf Channel podcast, Fairways of Life, the 35-year-old wasn’t holding back on the subject of Mickelson, even suggesting the six-time Major winner may have jeopardised his chances of captaining the US Ryder Cup team in the future.
Last month, Mickelson accused the PGA Tour of obnoxious greed over the PGA Tour’s stance on media rights, which he claimed is unfair. Then, last week, Mickelson drew more consternation after it emerged that in an excerpt from the upcoming book, Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck, he claims his allegiance to the reported Saudi Golf League is no more than a ruse to leverage the Tour.
Mickelson’s outbursts have left Horschel unimpressed. He said: “I think they’re a little bit idiotic to tell you the truth. I think, you know, some of the statements he made are lies, are false. I don’t know where he got his information from. It’s unbelievable that he would say certain things because I think he does understand how the PGA Tour works. He’s had obviously more experience and more time, and more communications with Tim Finchem and Jay Monahan over the years. And so, for him to say certain things about obnoxious greed and the PGA Tour’s on $20-30 billion and some of these other things which are complete lies because I’m in the PAC meetings. I may not see all the numbers that a player director may see in board meetings, but I see enough to understand that the money is being used correctly and it’s being used how the PGA Tour says it is.
Horschel admitted he finds Mickelson’s comments hard to accept because of the good things he’s done in the sport. Meanwhile, he’s concerned that as well as damaging his reputation in the short term, Mickelson’s comments might also scupper any Ryder Cup captaincy ambitions the 51-year-old may have. “It’s tough because this guy has done so great, and he’s been a great ambassador to the game of golf, and I honestly feel he’s hurting his reputation, is tarnishing his legacy a little bit. I would say at this point right now, if the Ryder Cup was next year for Bethpage, and we all thought he was going to get it, and that decision was going to be made, it would be hard-pressed for me to see him actually getting that spot. I would think they would sort of say, ’Hey, we just can’t go down that route’."
Nevertheless, Horschel thinks there could be a road to redemption for Mickelson, but only if he’s prepared to backtrack on his comments: “We’re three or four years away from that timeline, and things can be corrected, and people can admit wrong and do things the right way going forward. If what he really wants to be is a Ryder Cup captain, maybe there’s some way for him to sort of fix anything that has hurt him from possibly being in that spot.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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