Phil Mickelson says golf 'very lucky' to have Saudi financial support and insists 'LIV Golf is loved'
The LIV Golf Series, which launched in June, has lured away some of the sport's biggest names with enormous purses; those who joined the rebel circuit are currently no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour events
Last Updated: 13/10/22 5:57pm
Phil Mickelson believes golf is "very lucky" to have the financial backing of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and insists he is on the "winning side" of the current divide within the sport.
The six-time major champion was among the initial wave of players to switch from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's PIF and offers prize purses significantly bigger than anything available in the professional game elsewhere.
Mickelson's previous admission that the Saudis were "scary m************" to get involved with had threatened the launch of the breakaway circuit, leading to a public apology, although the 51-year-old praised their support to golf ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series event in Jeddah.
"The game of golf is very lucky to have the PIF invest in the game," Mickelson said in a press conference at Royal Greens Country Club. "The sport of golf is being influxed with billions of dollars now. And the ability to go global and make golf a truly global sport is really beneficial for the game.
"Now the United States and the UK are not favourable to this, but everywhere else in the world LIV Golf is loved. And eventually they will come around and they will be accepting of it.
"The United States and the UK, where it's very negatively viewed currently, that has been changing and evolving already and in time in a few years it will be not only accepted but appreciated [because of] the involvement and the influx of capital into this sport and what it's doing."
While the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have made it clear their loyalty lies with the established tours, LIV Golf's massive prize funds and signing bonuses have attracted the likes of Mickelson, Open champion Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
"For a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA Tour, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour, at least for the last 20 years," Mickelson added. "That will never be the case again.
"I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side do you think is going to be successful and I firmly believe that I'm on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.
"We play against a lot of the best players in the world on LIV and there are a lot of the best players in the world on the PGA Tour. Until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve.
"And I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards and I love the side that I'm on."
Reed: World Rankings issues 'political battle'
LIV Golf announced a "strategic alliance" with the MENA Tour earlier this month and was hopeful that would lead to ranking points being awarded, only for the Official World Golf Ranking [OWGR] to respond by saying points would not be handed out to LIV golfers in 2022.
"The only thing I'll say about all of that is the longer that you have competitive golf and competition with such great players and top players, the longer they're playing events that aren't getting World Ranking points, it just makes the World Ranking system insignificant," former Masters champion Patrick Reed said.
"Let's be honest; it's not a true system if you're not counting all the events and having points for everybody. If you're competing for a golf tournament and they meet every criteria that you're supposed to meet in order to have World Ranking points, then they should be getting World Ranking points no matter what.
"It doesn't matter where you're playing, who you're playing, what tour you're on, anything like that. If you're trying to say that we don't deserve World Ranking points, this and that, then it's a political battle, it's not an actual true system.
"Last time I checked, every sport you play, it's based off of competition and who you're playing, how strong that field is and who wins, and you're allocated certain things. It doesn't matter what tour you're playing on."