Speaking at this week’s season-ending LIV Team Championship at Trump National Doral in Florida, Phil Mickelson continued to promote the idea that LIV Golf is on the way up even though national interest in the Saudi-backed circuit appears to be way down as more Americans watch international basketball, the WNBA and the Little League Softball World Series than Greg Norman’s rebel series.
One of the biggest names to defect from the PGA Tour to LIV, Mickelson told reporters he had been “fielding calls” from golfers around the world who are interested in joining up with the league. Though he didn’t name any names, the 53-year-old said the calls were coming from members of both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. Asked if he thought any of those calls were going to result in high-profile names jumping ship, Mickelson responded with confidence.
“I know that’s going to happen,” Mickelson said. “When players look at LIV, they want to be a part of it. Everybody here is happy and enjoying what they’re doing and enjoying the team aspect of it. Enjoying each other and the camaraderie, and enjoying bringing golf globally and all that comes with playing this tour. So there’s a lot of players that see that and want to be a part of it. The question is how many spots are available? There’s a lot more players that want to come than have spots.”
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When LIV Golf first launched, the new series did land its fair share of big names — Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann all joined Mickelson in defecting to Norman’s tour in exchange for boatloads of cash. History did not repeat itself before LIV’s second season, as the biggest fish to join this past offseason were Thomas Pieters, Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz and Brendan Steele.
Since LIV practices relegation, there will be at least four open spots, but it remains to be seen what caliber of players will fill them. If you believe Mickelson, the caliber will be high.
“When you’re a startup, and we have only been around a year and a half, you look at the quality of players that we have already, and that’s going to continue to improve next year and it’s going to continue to improve the following year,” Mickelson said. “It’s important that we continue to evolve our product.”
We’d argue it’s probably more important for LIV to get fans to pay attention and consume their product, but they don’t seem all that concerned about it.