HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England — Phil Mickelson, making his first public appearance since February, has neither confirmed nor denied being suspended or banned by the PGA Tour for joining rival LIV Golf tour.
“I choose not to speak publicly about PGA Tour issues at this time,” Mickelson said Wednesday morning.
Mickelson has repeatedly stressed that he is sorry for recent controversial comments that led to his decision to take time off from golf, including his decision not to defend his PGA Championship last month.
“I said and did a lot of things that I regret,” Mickelson said. “I’m sorry for this and sorry for the hurt this has caused a lot of people.”
Mickelson is part of a 48-man field for the new LIV golf league which will hold its first event from Thursday at the Centurion Club outside London. Other players include Kevin Na and Dustin Johnson, who were among several golfers to announce last week that they were resigning from their PGA Tour memberships.
Sources previously told ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told players’ agents at last week’s Memorial in Dublin, Ohio that players had to choose whether they were going to play on the PGA Tour or in the LIV Golf Series and they couldn’t play in both. Monahan threatened players who competed in London without discipline release, including fines, suspensions and/or bans.
Mickelson answered reporters’ questions for nearly 30 minutes, but repeatedly declined to elaborate on comments he made to reporter Alan Shipnuck that were published in February, in which he said the owners of LIV Golf were “scary mothers to get involved”. with.”
LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Salman has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
“I don’t condone human rights abuses in any way,” Mickelson said. “No one here does, across the world. I’m certainly aware of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history, and I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I’m excited for this opportunity, and that’s why I’m here.
Mickelson chose his words carefully throughout the press conference, pausing several times as he seemed to weigh how to approach a subject before opening his mouth. He cracked a few jokes and sipped his personal brand of therapeutic coffee from a cup bearing his personal logo, but for the most part he seemed gloomy as he considered his answers.
He said that during his four months away from golf, he traveled with his family, spent time in therapy and watched golf on TV.
“I had a four month break from the game that I haven’t had in over three decades,” Mickelson said. “I had the opportunity to spend time with my wife, Amy, and spend time traveling to parts of the world, spending time in a place we have in Montana to ski and hike in Sedona. It has given me time to continue some of the work and therapy in the areas where I am lacking in my life. It has given me time to think about what I want to do in the future and what’s best for me and what’s best for the people I care about.
Mickelson confirmed that he was trying to address some of the behaviors – particularly his excessive gambling – which he felt were negatively affecting his personal life.
“I’ve been running it for many years now,” Mickelson said. “Me and my family have been financially secure for – I can’t even remember how long now. But he was definitely going to be in jeopardy if I didn’t sort this out. And I did.”
Mickelson said he had not resigned as a member of the PGA Tour and had no plans to do so, but was simply unsure what his future might be with the PGA Tour. PGA Tour.
“I’ve won a lot from the PGA Tour and received a lot,” Mickelson said. “I worked very hard to contribute and add value to the tour during my time there. I worked very hard to get a lifetime exemption, and I don’t want to give it up and I don’t think that I should have.
“I don’t know what that means for a future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’ve earned it, and I don’t plan on just giving it up.”
Although he previously suggested he was using LIV Golf as “leverage” to force certain changes on the PGA Tour, Mickelson declined to say which changes still interest him.
“I have a lot of strong opinions about things that should and could be a lot better,” Mickelson said. “One of the mistakes I’ve made is expressing them publicly. So I’m really going to make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors going forward. I think that’s the way to be the most effective. and make the most of it.”
Mickelson said he plans to play the US Open next week at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and feels better about his game now than he has in months.
“I had a four month break from acting that I haven’t had in over three decades. I had the opportunity to spend time with my wife, Amy, and spend time traveling in parts of the world, spending time at a place we have in Montana to ski and hike in Sedona It gave me time to pursue some of the work and therapy in areas where my life is deficient. It gave me time to think about what I want to do going forward and what’s best for me and what’s best for the people I care about.”
Phil Mickelson, on his break from golf in 2022
He said he thought – based on conversations with organizers – he would have been welcome at the Masters or the PGA Championship. But he didn’t feel like his game was about to be sharp enough to compete.
“Every day of the Masters I skied in the morning and watched the tournament afterwards,” Mickelson said. “I enjoyed watching it. I thought Scottie Scheffler had an incredible performance there. I found myself missing the Masters but I didn’t want to be there. I hadn’t played. I hadn’t club touch. I was not able to be competitive. But I will always love this tournament, and if I’m not there, I will always miss it, but I didn’t want to be there.
He said he felt the same way about the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Mickelson was the first major champion in modern history to opt out of defending his title by choice, not because of injury.
“It was made clear to me through long conversations that I could play if I wanted to,” Mickelson said. “I just chose not to.”
Towards the end of the press conference, Mickelson couldn’t resist a small smile when asked if he was really receiving $200 million from LIV Golf for his participation in the startup league.
“I think contractual agreements should be private,” Mickelson said. “It doesn’t seem like it, but it should be.”