Portugal Colonial - Mickelson says Saudi-backed golf league chance to 'reshape' PGA Tour

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Mickelson says Saudi-backed golf league chance to 'reshape' PGA Tour
Mickelson says Saudi-backed golf league chance to 'reshape' PGA Tour

Mickelson says Saudi-backed golf league chance to 'reshape' PGA Tour

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson says he's willing to get involved with the Saudi-backed golf Super League despite concerns over the kingdom's human rights record as a way to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

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In comments related by biographer Alan Shipnuck via the Fire Pit Collective website on Thursday, Mickelson described the Saudi paymasters of the controversial breakaway league as "scary," citing the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"... They killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights," Mickelson told Shipnuck in an interview that the writer said took place in November. "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."

Australian great Greg Norman has been a driving force of the proposed league and 51-year-old Mickelson is one of the highest-profile US PGA Tour players to give full-throated support to the venture.

Mickelson asserts the US tour has "been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.

"As nice a guy as (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what's right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage.

"I'm not sure I even want (the SGL) to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the (US) tour."

Mickelson is particularly keen to see players have possession of their media rights, currently owned by the tour.

"They are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of digital content we could be using for our social media feeds," Mickelson told Shipnuck, whose unauthorized biography of the American will be released later this year.

"The players need to own all of that. We played those shots, we created those moments, we should be the ones to profit."

Mickelson, who voiced similar sentiments to Golf Digest this month, also told Shipnuck that he and three other players had paid for lawyers to write the super league's operating agreement in order to ensure players have control of the details.

- 'Egotistical statement' -

"Seems like a bit of a pretty, you know, egotistical statement," world number eight Justin Thomas said of Mickelson's comments.

Thomas is among a string of top players who have flatly said they aren't interested in the breakaway circuit. Many of them are tired of being asked about what they say remains only a vague proposal.

"I don't know, it's, like, he's done a lot of great things for the PGA Tour, it's a big reason it is where it is," Thomas said. "But him and others that are very adamant about that (the super league) if they're that passionate, go ahead. I don't think anybody's stopping them.

"I've heard way too much talk about a lot of players that are so done with everything, but they keep hanging around, so clearly they're not too done," Thomas added.

World number two Collin Morikawa also sounded weary of the conversation, indicating he'd had no confirmation of the big money the super league would guarantee those who signed up.

"We don't know what's going on," Morikawa said Thursday. "We're just all hypothesizing and guessing, you know, when this, when that, what date. It's all unknown. I think that's what we're sick of. It sucks to not know things and it's just an unknown, so why keep talking about it until something's actually said."