The great white shark is the largest of its fish.
Greg Norman, the number one man in the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, arrived on Monday with 51-year-old Phil Mickelson, The Post exclusively learned.
Last week LIV Golf announced 42 of its 48 players on the field for its first event, June 9-11 outside London. Number 13 in the world, Dustin Johnson It was the biggest name on the list. Now the event will also feature Mickelson, who will play the tournament for the first time since February 6 when he participated in the Saudi International Championship.
Johnson’s participation came as a surprise given that he publicly supported the PGA Tour in February. But a report from the UK in The Telegraph said Johnson had offered LIV Golf about $125 million to join its championship series.
It is not known what Mickelson was offered to join, but sources told The Post that negotiations between LIV Golf and Mickelson’s camp were ongoing and there was a point last week that LIV believed Mickelson was on board. Those negotiations were finally completed on Monday.
“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation,” Norman said. “His contributions to the sport and his connection to audiences around the world cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He is fostering an exciting field in London as we are proud to launch a new era of golf.”
One of the complications that Michelson faced was the public repercussions of comments he made to a writer (in a conversation that Mickelson asserted was private) that tore up both the PGA Tour and the Saudi Project.
Since his comments were posted, Mickelson has issued a public apology and stated that he was taking some time away from the game and was in a self-deprecating fashion. The last time the PGA Tour happened was played in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
The six-time Grand Slam winner has since surpassed the Masters, which he has won three times and described as his favorite event, and last month’s PGA Championship, in which he was set to defend the title he won in 2021.
It’s unclear if Mickelson will play in next week’s US Open in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, but it seems highly unlikely given the pattern of the past few months. The US Open, for which Mickelson is officially registered, is the only major tournament he has not won, the only major tournament missing for him to complete his Grand Slam career and the tournament he most desires.
With PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan taking a tough line on players playing in Saudi events, threatening penalties that could include banishment from play on the PGA Tour, Mickelson and other players who have committed to playing next week’s LIV event appear to have chosen sides.
The Norman-led round is operated by LIV Golf Investments, which is backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is primarily the financial arm of the Saudi government. This has been a hot topic in sports, generating a lot of criticism.
In his comments to Alan Shipnock, who wrote an unauthorized biography of Mickelson, Mickelson described the Saudis as “scary mothers to get involved with,” adding: “We know they were murdered.” [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi has an appalling human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all this, why am I even thinking about it? Because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.
“They were able to overcome manipulative, coercive and strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no sanctuary. Nice guy like [Monahan] It comes as, unless you have leverage, it won’t do the right thing. Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not even sure I want [the SGL] To achieve success, but just the idea of it allows us to get things done using [PGA] a trip.”
Prior to those posted comments, Mickelson was quoted on the record by John Hogan of Golf Digest in February, Calling the PGA Tour ‘hateful greed’ In his quest to advance the Tour to offer better financial sponsorship to the players, especially the stars who lead the Tour.
Mickelson called the PGA Tour the gatekeepers of “nearly $20 billion” in media assets and “hundreds of millions of digital moments” that rightly belong to gamers.
“I don’t know where things are going, but I know I’m going to be criticized,” Mickelson said in an interview with Golf Digest. Media rights are only a small part of everything else. And it was the obnoxious greed of the Tour that really opened the door to opportunities elsewhere.”
We now know that the word “other places” belongs to Mickelson.
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