HomeSportsPhil Mickelson back to golf at first Saudi-backed LIV event, starting Thursday...

Phil Mickelson back to golf at first Saudi-backed LIV event, starting Thursday in London

After a four-month hiatus, Phil Mickelson is ready to return to competitive golf, but on a “new path” and with a “fresh start” at the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Mickelson, a six-time Major Championship winner, was added to the field on Monday for LIV Golf’s first event, which is due to start on Thursday at the Centurion Club outside London. In a statement posted on his Twitter account on MondayMickelson said he still plans to play at the majors, but didn’t say whether he would be competing in PGA Tour events.

Mickelson, 51, hasn’t played since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He skipped the Masters and PGA Championship, an event he won last year. He walked away from golf after his controversial comments about the PGA Tour’s “abhorrent greed” and Saudi financiers at LIV Golf caused a firestorm. Mickelson said he felt healthier and “more at peace” after being “engaged and intentional” in ongoing therapy.

“I’m ready to come back and play the game I love, but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, exciting for me at this point in my career and clearly transformative, not just for me, but ideally for me. the game and my peers,” Mickelson wrote.

“I also love the progressive format and think it will be exciting for the fans. Equally important, it will provide balance, allowing me to focus on a healthier approach to life on and off the course. I am incredibly grateful for what this game and the PGA Tour has given me. I’d like to think I’ve given back too, but now I’m thrilled with this new opportunity.”

Mickelson joins a field of 48 players in London which also includes the two big winners Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer, as well as four other big winners: Sergio Garcia (Masters 2017), Charl Schwartzel (Masters 2011), Graeme McDowell (2010 US Open) and Louis Oosthuizen (Open Championship 2010).

“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation,” LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said in a statement. “His contributions to the sport and his connection to fans around the world cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He reinforces an exciting area for London where we are proud to usher in a new era for golf.”

Mickelson, one of the most popular players of his generation, has already paid a heavy price for his controversial comments. Several of his long-time sponsors, including Amstel Light, KPMG and Workday, have ended their relationship with him. Callaway, who signed an equipment contract with Mickelson until the end of his career, broke off his relationship with him.

Mickelson apologized for his remarks, which were made to author Alan Shipnuck, who was writing an unauthorized biography of the player popularly known as ‘Lefty’. During the conversation, which Shipnuck said took place in November, Mickelson said he was working with two players to hire lawyers to draft operating agreements for the new circuit, which is funded by the Fund. of Saudi public investment.

“These are some scary mothers to get involved with,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “… They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because it’s a unique opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour works.”

Mickelson again apologized for the remarks on Monday.

“First and foremost, I again want to apologize to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments a few months ago,” Mickelson wrote. “I’ve made mistakes in my career in some of the things I’ve said and done. Taking time and reflecting on myself has been very humbling. I have to start prioritizing the people I love the most. more and work on becoming a better version of myself.”

While many stars such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth have pledged their loyalty to the PGA Tour, Mickelson and 13 others are jumping on Norman’s new circuit.

On May 11, the PGA Tour denied contention event releases to players who had asked them to play in London. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told players’ agents at last week’s Memorial in Columbus, Ohio that players had to choose between the tour and LIV Golf and could not play on both tours. Monahan threatened players who competed in London without discipline release, including fines, suspensions and/or bans.

On Saturday, longtime PGA Tour member Kevin Na, who also competes in London, resigned from the tour instead of facing possible disciplinary or legal action.

LIV Golf offers eye-popping purses — the total prize money is $255 million this year, including $25 million for each of the seven regular season tournaments — that are the richest in professional golf. The eight-event LIV series will include five tournaments played in the United States, including a Tag Team Championship final at the Trump Doral in Miami from October 28-30. The second LIV event is scheduled for July 1-3 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon.

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