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Speaking on CBS’ PGA Championship broadcast on Saturday, six-time Major winner Nick Faldo gave his thoughts on the Phil Mickelson saga, with Faldo stating that if Lefty “wants to protect his legacy, he’s got to return to the PGA Tour.”
A lot has been said about when Mickelson will return to competitive action, and it's still unclear as to whether it will be the US Open, an event which the 51-year-old is still registered for and needs to win to complete the career Grand Slam, or the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series (opens in new tab) opener at Centurion Club in June.
Many high-tariff names within the world of golf have given their thoughts on the matter but, for Faldo, he believes that Lefty must return to the Tour, where he has plied his trade for 30 years, to protect his legacy.
“That’s where he created everything, he’s a legend out here," stated the six-time Major winner on Saturday. "We know if he needs — wants to go and play for guaranteed cash, we know there’s another option out there.
“But I was thinking about it — he’s done two amazing things. When you come on Tour, all you want to do as a kid is compete — that word, compete — and he won as an amateur, 20, and then at 50. All you want to do is compete and prove you can do it again, and he won at 50. And so that is absolutely — the middle 30 years is pretty darn good too as well; legendary career — but just think of those two things. You’re a golfer, all you want to do is compete.
“You did it as an amateur and he did it at 50 years old, two astonishing things… You had an incredible career. Like the guys say, to come back out and get on the PGA Tour.”
At Kiawah Island in 2021, Mickelson became the oldest ever Major winner at 50 years, 11 months and 3 days, an event that Faldo describes as "one of the greatest achievements in our game."
“We commented that Sunday afternoon — I said, well, along with Tiger winning his 15th Major, this, for me, was one of the greatest achievements in our game. To win a Major at 50, you got to appreciate the physical effort Phil made was a three-year project, not a three-week one, to get himself to swing the club faster.
"And then to have the mental strength to be able to take on the youngsters and take it on yourself more importantly — as we know in this game, it’s all about dealing with the negativity.
“But to do that at a Major, on a Sunday afternoon, and he outplayed Brooks Koepka, he went on to win and I really believe in our lifetime that will not be topped. Nobody will be older than that.”
Since that historic week though, Lefty has been embroiled in controversy, with Mickelson making remarks about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia back in February of this year.
Speaking at the Saudi International, Mickelson called out the PGA Tour and its stance on media rights (opens in new tab), with the 51-year-old stating: "The players don’t have access to their own media. If the tour wanted to end any threat [from Saudi or anywhere else], they could just hand back the media rights to the players."
He went on to add: "They also have access to my shots, access I do not have. They also charge companies to use shots I have hit. When I did ‘The Match’—there have been five of them—the tour forced me to pay them $1 million each time for my own media rights. That type of greed is, to me, beyond obnoxious.”
Not long after his comments on the PGA Tour, Mickelson was soon admitting that his alliance with the rumoured Series is just a ruse to “leverage” the Tour (opens in new tab).
In an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s book (opens in new tab), titled ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar’, the six-time Major winner made it clear he thinks it's merely an attempt to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia's reputation, claiming that: "They’re scary motherf*****s to get involved with." (opens in new tab)
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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