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Phil Mickelson: LIV Golf 'here to stay', calls for PGA Tour to 'come together' with breakaway circuit

Phil Mickelson on the future of LIV Golf and the possibility of it being accepted by the PGA Tour: "LIV Golf is here to stay, and this type of divisive talk is doing nobody good. The best solution is for us to come together"

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Phil Mickelson expresses his excitement towards the tournament and hopes for the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to 'come together' for the benefit of the game

Phil Mickelson has vowed that LIV Golf is "here to stay" and that the PGA Tour will "never" return to having all the best players in the world competing.

The six-time major champion was among the first players to join the breakaway circuit and has played in every event of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series, having apologised earlier in the year for "reckless" comments about the rival league.

Mickelson has previously said LIV Golf presented a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates", with former major champions Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed among the others to switch to the Saudi-backed tour.

SUGAR GROVE, IL - SEPTEMBER 16: LIV golfer Phil Mickelson reacts to making a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Chicago on September 16, 2022 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: Phil Mickelson has signed a long-term commitment to LIV Golf

Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann were in the latest wave of LIV Golf signings after the conclusion of the PGA Tour's FedExCup Play-Offs last month, with Mickelson hoping the two tours can "come together" for the sake of golf.

"The PGA Tour for the last 20 or 30 years have had all the best players in the world. That will never be the case again," Mickelson said after the opening round of the LIV Golf event in Chicago, the fifth of the inaugural season.

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Bryson DeChambeau believes people should give LIV Golf a chance and says he couldn't be happier with his decision to join the tour

"LIV Golf is here to stay, and this type of divisive talk is doing nobody good. The best solution is for us to come together.

"I think that the world of professional golf has a need for the old, historical history of the game product that the PGA Tour provides, and I think that LIV provides a really cool, updated feel that is attracting a lot younger crowd. That's being proven in the people that are watching and the age of the people that are watching.

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Open champion Cameron Smith says it is unfair that those who have joined LIV Golf are not receiving world ranking points and hopes that changes before his exemption into golf's four majors expires

"I think both are needed for the game of golf. Both are good for the game of golf. The inclusion of LIV Golf in the ecosystem of the golf world is necessary. As soon as that happens and we all start working together, that's going to be a really positive thing for everyone."

Johnson leads Smith in Chicago event

Two-time major champion Johnson made a dream start to his bid for back-to-back LIV Golf titles after opening a three-stroke lead following the opening round of the latest event in Chicago.

Dustin Johnson watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago tournament Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Sugar Grove, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Image: Dustin Johnson is chasing back-to-back LIV Golf victories

Johnson, fresh off a play-off win two weeks ago in Boston and part of the winning team in each of the past three events, carded nine birdies on his way to a bogey-free 63 at Rich Harvest Farms.

The former world No 1 holds a commanding advantage over Open champion Smith, who posted six birdies in a blemish-free 66, with Matthew Wolff a further stroke back in third spot.

Henrik Stenson, winner of the Bedminster event after being stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy, is in a share of fourth place with Lee Westwood, Charles Howell III and Matt Jones, while DeChambeau is in tied-eighth with South African duo Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

Twenty-seven players from the 48-man field broke par in the opening round of the three-day event, while Johnson's 4 Aces GC are a shot ahead of Smith's Punch GC in the team contest.

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