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Phil Mickelson: No LIV player wants to return to PGA Tour; tour owes LIV Golf members a public apology for slander

July 31, 2023

Harry How

The PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continue to discuss a possible alliance unifying professional golf, and last week commissioner Jay Monahan informed the PGA Tour membership that a task force will dictate discipline for LIV Golf players interested in returning. However, according to LIV Golf’s frontman, Phil Mickelson, those with the rival league funded by the PIF aren’t interested in coming back to the PGA Tour.

Mickelson took to Twitter over the weekend to comment about the potential penalties facing LIV Golf members who seek to return to the tour, writing that the effort is “a colossal waste of time.”

“Not a single player on LIV wants to play PGA Tour,” Mickelson said on Twitter. “It would require a public apology and restitution to LIV players for paying millions to Clout media to disparage all of us. A better topic is future sanctions for the many players who now come to LIV.”

Mickelson, it should be noted, received disciplinary action from the PGA Tour for attempting to recruit members to the Saudi-backed circuit in March 2022. In the fallout of his controversial comments about Saudi Arabia and leveraging the tour, Mickelson said he was taking a personal leave of absence from the game during this time. According to the lawsuit brought by Mickelson and other LIV Golfers against the tour, Mickelson applied for reinstatement in June 2022, a request that was denied after Mickelson violated tour regulations by participating in LIV Golf’s inaugural event in London. The complaint says that the tour then extended the suspension for Mickelson’s participation in the LIV Golf Portland event, "deferring even the mere opportunity to apply for reinstatement until after March 31, 2024.”

The lawsuit and the tour's countersuit were both dropped this June as part of the tour’s framework agreement with PIF.

The framework deal only broadly outlines how the former rival entities intend to coexist, with LIV Golf's future still undetermined. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has been telling LIV players and staff members that LIV Golf will return for 2024 and beyond, but there is no guarantee the circuit will continue, and Norman is not mentioned anywhere in the agreement. The new entity formed by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF will, however, “undertake a full and objective empirical data-driven evaluation of LIV and its prospects and potential and will make a good faith assessment of the benefits of team golf in general, and PIF, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour will work together in an effort to determine how best to integrate team golf into PGA Tour and DP World Tour events going forward.” There is also a mention of the parties in question cooperating to help secure Official World Golf Ranking consideration for LIV Golf events.

The ambiguous nature of LIV’s role in the new entity has raised the question if there is a future for LIV. But as Mickelson pointed out the week after the U.S. Open, those writing LIV’s obituary are premature.

"Everything over the last couple of years that we've been told by Greg and everybody on LIV has come to fruition, so we have a lot of confidence in what they have been saying to us," Mickelson said in late June. "We don't really feel the need to publicly posture our position. There's really no need for us to talk about things publicly but to just let it play out."

As for the apology Mickelson says LIV players would need, he is referring to the PGA Tour working with Clout Public Affairs, an advocacy group the tour hired to advocate for 9/11 families and apply pressure toward LIV Golf as it was launching in 2022. However, Clout dropped the PGA Tour as a client after the tour’s alliance with PIF.

Mickelson, 53, finished T-2 at this year’s Masters. He is ranked 43rd out of 52 players in LIV Golf’s individual season rankings.