Phil Mickelson has signed up for the PGA Championship and the US Open, and his manager asked the PGA Tour for permission to play in a Saudi-funded golf tournament outside London without saying whether Mickelson will play any of them.
“Phil currently has no concrete plans on when and where he will play,” Mickelson’s longtime manager, Steve Loy of Sportfive, said in a statement. “Any actions taken are in no way a reflection of a final decision made, but rather to keep all options open.”
London’s Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, reports that 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia has also sought to play in the opening event of Greg Norman’s rival tour, joining English duo Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
Monday was the deadline for players to ask for a conflicting event release from the PGA Tour to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational from June 9-11 in England.
It also was the deadline to register for the PGA Championship, to be played May 19-22 at Southern Hills. Mickelson is exempt as the defending champion, winning at Kiawah Island last year at age 50 to become the oldest major champion.
That also gave him a five-year exemption to the US Open, which this year will be played outside Boston on June 16-19.
Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman before the Saudi International in February.Credit:Getty
It was the first word from the Mickelson camp since February 22, when Mickelson apologised for explosive remarks in a book excerpt by Alan Shipnuck in which he disparaged the Saudis behind Greg Norman’s attempt at a rival league and said he wanted leverage against the “obnoxious greed” of the PGA Tour.
Norman’s plan for a rival league suffered a big setback in February when Mickelson, viewed as a chief recruiter for Norman, was quoted by Shipnuck as saying the Saudis were “scary motherf–kers” to get involved with,” and that he was working with Norman to get leverage for changes he wanted on the PGA Tour.
“We know they killed (Washington Post reporter Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates,” Mickelson told Shipnuck, whose unauthorised biography on Mickelson is to be released next month.
Mickelson also said he recruited three other top players and they paid attorneys to write the operating agreement for the proposed league.
British reports state that former Masters winner Sergio Garcia will also join the breakaway league.Credit:Getty
Within days, the biggest names in golf — some of whom had been contemplating taking the guaranteed Saudi riches — publicly stated support for the PGA Tour.
Mickelson has not played since the Saudi International on February 6, even skipping the Masters.
None of the top 10 players in the world has expressed interested in Norman’s venture. Norman since has said the rival league he envisioned will be put on hold for two years. Instead, he said players could sign up for any of the eight tournaments, which offer $20 million (A$28m) in prize money with an additional $5 million purse for the team aspect.
Even then, PGA Tour players — no matter their world ranking — cannot apply for conflicting event releases for the five tournaments planned for the United States.
Meanwhile, Norman announced the season-ending team championship for the series would be at Trump National Doral Miami, the first tournament at the “Blue Monster” since the PGA Tour moved a World Golf Championship to Mexico in 2017.
It would be the second course owned by former US President Donald Trump to host one of the LIV Golf events run by Norman. Trump Bedminster in New Jersey is scheduled to hold a tournament the last weekend in July.
Doral hosted a PGA Tour event from 1962 through 2016. It was a World Golf Championship for the final 10 years until the search for a new title sponsorship led to the WGC moving to Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City.
Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee for president when Cadillac chose not to renew as tournament sponsor and the PGA Tour left Doral for Mexico and the sponsorship of Grupo Salinas.
“I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” Trump said at the time.
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