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Around nine months ago, Phil Mickelson was tapping-in at Kiawah Island to claim his sixth Major title. Not only did the victory send shock waves around the world, but also cemented the American in the history books, as he became the oldest male Major winner at 50 years, 11 months, 7 days.
However, in February 2022, the American has now gone from being one of the most adored characters on Tour, to one of the most controversial, with comments made about the PGA Tour and the reported breakaway Saudi Golf League, dividing not just golf fans around the world, but also the players, with four-time Major champion, Rory McIlroy, calling out Mickelson in an interview at the 2022 Genesis Invitational.
Speaking after his final round, the 32-year-old stated: "I don't want to kick someone while he's down obviously, but I thought (Mickelson's comments) they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant. A lot of words to describe that interaction he had with Shipnuck. It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I'm sure he's sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here."
The quotes that McIlroy was referring to are from Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming book, titled ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar’.
In the text, Mickelson admits that his alliance with the rumoured Saudi-backed Super Golf League (SGL) is just a ruse to “leverage” the PGA Tour, with the six-time Major winner making it clear he thinks it's merely an attempt to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia's reputation.
Along with the comments, which you can read here. Mickelson has regularly mentioned the issue of media rights. Ahead of the Saudi International - at which he earned a seven-figure appearance fee - Mickelson launched a scathing attack on the PGA Tour, claiming those at the helm were guilty of “obnoxious greed” in withholding so much revenue from players.
“The Tour is sitting on multiple billions of dollars worth of NFTs,” mentioned Mickelson. “They are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of digital content we could be using for our social media feeds. The players need to own all of that. We played those shots, we created those moments, we should be the ones to profit. The tour doesn’t need that money.”
In response to similar allegations made by Mickelson during his latest visit to the Kingdom, a PGA Tour source responded, saying: “Phil’s making stuff up that’s just not true,” with close friend, Jon Rahm, adding: “I don’t agree with everything he said.”
It's not just on the PGA Tour where players have been frustrated with Mickelson's actions, with Meghan MacLaren being highly critical of the latest comments regarding players' media rights.
In a quote tweet linking to Shipnuck’s article on Twitter, MacLaren wrote: “Again.. I think the thing that pisses off a lot of the rest of us is his apparent lack of appreciation for what the PGA tour has done for his career. Yes players hit the shots, but it’s not them singularly that “create moments”. There’s a whole infrastructure that’s done that.”
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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