Phil Mickelson has stepped out of the shadows.
In what is believed to be his first public appearance since his controversial comments about the Saudis in February, the 51-year-old sported a thin beard, slicked back hair and an all-black outfit during the LIV Golf draft at London. Tuesday ahead of the first competition in the Saudi-backed golf league, which begins on Thursday.
The Post’s Mark Cannizzaro first reported Monday that Greg Norman, who leads LIV Golf’s challenge on the PGA Tour, has secured Mickelson for the new league. Golf Channel reported that Mickelson’s LIV Golf contract is worth approximately $200 million.
Mickelson admitted to biographer Alan Shipnuck in February that the Saudis were “scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” but he still considered joining LIV Golf because he didn’t like the way the PGA Tour worked.
“We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and US resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it?” Because this is a unique opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works. They were able to get by with manipulative, coercive and heavy-handed tactics because we players had no recourse. Such a nice guy [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] seems like, unless you have leverage, it won’t do the right thing. And Saudi money finally gave us that leverage. I’m not even sure I want [LIV Golf] succeed, but the mere thought of it allows us to get things done with the [PGA] Round.”
On February 22, Mickelson released a statement saying he was “deeply sorry” for his “reckless” comments. He has not played competitive golf since and lost several sponsors including KPMG.
Mickelson was not at the LIV Golf press conference earlier Tuesday which ended in a confrontation between a reporter and officials. Dustin Johnson, the other big star Norman signed for $125 million, said he joined LIV Golf and resigned from the PGA Tour because he “chose what was best for me and my family.”
LIV Golf has a team component and Mickelson was one of 12 captains draft a team tuesday. His “HyFlyers GC” team includes Justin Harding, Ratchanon Chantananuwat and Chase Koepka, Brooks Koepka’s younger brother.