Phil Mickelson ‘confident’ about golf’s future as PGA Tour, Saudi Arabia PIF agreement aims to reshape sport

It took a little more than three weeks, but Phil Mickelson has broken his silence regarding the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund’s agreement to house commercial operations under a new for-profit entity. Not want to take away from the championship at hand, Mickelson declined to speak on the matter at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. 

Ahead of LIV Golf Andalucia, however, Mickelson was ready to discuss the agreement that would reshape golf at the professional level, and the six-time major champion is confident and optimistic about the future of professional golf as the process moves forward.

“I would say I felt appreciation that we got to this point where we’re working together because it makes me confident with where the game of golf is headed in the future,” said Mickelson. “We felt like it was going to be about two years roughly before we got to that point. It took a year and a half or six months quicker than I thought it would be. 

“Going forward, we’re all very optimistic about where the game of golf, professional golf specifically, is headed. Also a lot of the changes that have been made because of LIV were all very appreciative, both on the LIV tour as well as the PGA Tour, and we’re happy for the guys out there that they’re having some positive changes there, as well.”

The PGA Tour, Saudi Arabia PIF and DP World Tour announced the landmark agreement on June 6. It has since undergone scrutiny from the U.S. government for potential antitrust violations with concerns being raised about the brevity of the deal and players themselves. 

On June 21, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) invited PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Saudi Arabia PIF governor Yasir al-Rumayyan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman to testify at a hearing on July 11 that will examine the planned agreement. The initial framework has since been leaked and confirmed many details that still need to be hashed out between all parties.

“I think that right now we have basically an agreement to have an agreement, so there’s really — and everything over the last couple of years that we’ve been told by Greg and everybody on LIV has come to fruition, so we have a lot of confidence in what they have been saying to us because everything has been happening,” said Mickelson. “We don’t really feel the need to publicly posture our position. There’s really no need for us to talk about things publicly but to just let it play out.”

Chief among the missing details is the fluidity in which LIV Golf members will be able to return to the PGA Tour (if they wish) as well as the future of LIV Golf. 

According to the framework: “NewCo will undertake a full and objective empirical data-driven evaluation of LIV and its prospects and potential and will make a good faith assessment of the benefits of team golf in general, and PIF, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour will work together in an effort to determine how best to integrate team golf into PGA Tour and DP World Tour events going forward …”

Both sides of the aisle have voiced conflicting remarks when it comes to LIV Golf. Some believe it will cease to exist. Some argue it is here to stay. Others project the integration of team golf (as stated in the framework) on the PGA Tour could be its lasting impact. Mickelson believes in the former.

“I think actions are a little bit stronger than words,” Mickelson said of LIV Golf’s future. “I think if you just look at what LIV is doing and what we’re doing, I think that is more of a statement.”

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