Phil Mickelson will return to golf at first LIV event this week
Phil Mickelson will return to golf after a three-month hiatus to play in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament this week in London.
The Saudi-backed golf venture, a challenger to the established PGA Tour and other world tours, hosts its first tournament this week at the Centurion Golf Club. In addition to Mickelson, established PGA Tour pros like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood will be competing for a $4 million first prize.
Mickelson has kept an invisible public profile for the past several months, since comments about the Saudi regime backing LIV Golf were made public. Mickelson missed the Masters and last month's PGA Championship, where he was the defending champion.
Criticism of Mickelson peaked when he indicated to a journalist that he was aware of the Saudi government's woeful record on human rights, but wanted to go into business with it regardless in order to wound the PGA Tour. “They’re scary motherf***ers to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “They killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."
Mickelson issued a lengthy public statement on Twitter shortly after the announcement of his participation broke. The statement seemed to indicate that his time on the PGA Tour is done and that he will be playing on the LIV tour — and majors, if permitted — in the future:
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) June 6, 2022
LIV Golf had long sought marquee names to help boost its public profile, and Mickelson qualifies. “Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation," LIV CEO Greg Norman said in a statement announcing Mickelson's debut. "His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him."
In an interview with the Washington Post, Norman said LIV made a run at Tiger Woods, offering him a "mind-blowingly enormous" deal. “We’re talking about high nine digits,” Norman told The Washington Post.
The LIV Golf London tournament will take place from Thursday to Sunday and will broadcast on YouTube and LIV's own social media channels.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.