Saudi Golf League door still open for Phil Mickelson after PGA Tour legacy left in tatters

The Match: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson joke at the tee

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The term hero to zero is something often used in the brutal world of professional sport, and there is nobody that knows that more than golfing great Phil Mickelson right now. Mickelson’s happy-go-lucky personality alongside his scintillating talent made him the perfect recipe for a fan favourite, and this he was.

However, this seemed to quickly change following the recent emergence of the Saudi Golf League, and Mickelson’s support of it. As well as his backing for the SGL, the American also took aim at the PGA Tour, revealing he would still contemplate the switch despite the Saudi state’s poor human rights record in order to ‘gain leverage’ on the circuit he had spent almost all of his successful playing career.

It seemed that in the same breath Mickelson had potentially upset both sides of the argument. First of all he was quick to describe the Saudi Arabians as ‘scary motherf*****s’, but still seemed to hint that he felt that was a bigger attraction than his newly formed rivals at the PGA Tour.

In the aftermath of his comments, cited in Mickelson’s new biography written by Alan Shipnuck, the six-time major winner offered an apology, and insisted he would take a break away from the platform that had made him one of the most successful sportsmen of all time. It remains unknown as to whether Mickelson will return to the Tour, and when exactly after it was confirmed he would miss the Masters next month, however the door still seems to be open elsewhere.

It was no secret that Mickelson had held strong links to the proposed Saudi-backed League since murmurings of its founding began. Despite this, his recent comments surrounding the state will no doubt not have gone down well with the series chiefs.

Remarkably though, when it looked as if all was lost, Mickelson could well have a way back in after the SGL’s main man Greg Norman seemed to welcome him with open arms last week. Talking about the 53-year-old’s explicit Saudi state description Norman told the GOLF Subpar podcast: “I won’t comment on the comments. People make mistakes. We all say the wrong thing about the wrong thing at the wrong time.”

Seemingly leaving the invite to the Saudi-backed series open, he continued: “At the end of the day, as far as I’m concerned, as a player, I always want Phil to come back and play the game of golf. “He’s promoted the game of golf extremely well. Not only for all the tours that he’s played on, but also for all the corporations that he’s been involved with…

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“I’ve had numerous conversations with Phil before that about how passionate he was about LIV Golf and the opportunities that he could have. I feel sad for Phil. I feel for Phil. But like I said, he’s always going to have an open door to the game of golf as far as I’m concerned.”

Of course just less than a month ago many had felt that the SGL was over before it had begun, following a number of snubs from the world’s biggest players, and Mickelson’s grovelling apology.

However, last week it was confirmed the circuit would go ahead under its official name the LIV Golf Invitational Series, and will kick off later this year. Therefore, with his PGA Tour future still uncertain and the invite still there, Mickelson could well be teeing it up at the SGL’s opening event at The Centurion Club in just three months time.

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