Less than a year after calling Saudi Arabia “scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” Phil Mickelson is stumping hard for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series as well as claiming his previous comments were never made.
Speaking at an LIV Golf press conference from the Royal Green Golf and Country Club in Jeddah, the 52-year-old was asked if his opinions about Saudi Arabia had changed now that he was in the country. His response:
“I will reiterate: I never did an interview with Alan Shipnick [sic]. And I find that my experience, with everybody associated with LIV Golf, has been nothing but incredibly positive. And I have the utmost respect for everybody I’ve been involved with.”
Shipnuck, not Shipnick, is the author of Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar and is the person to whom Mickelson made his previous comments about Saudi Arabia. Apparently, now that Mickelson is a card-carrying member of LIV Golf after signing with the series in June and foregoing his PGA Tour membership, the 52-year-old wants to pretend he didn’t say what he said.
The six-time major winner also wants his fellow golfers to “pick a side” between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour and believes that he is on the winning side of things. “For a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA Tour, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour, at least for the last 20 years,” he said. “That will never be the case again. I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side you think is going to be successful. I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards. I love the side that I’m on. And I love how I feel. I love how I’m reinvigorated and excited to play golf and compete.”
That reinvigoration has really had a major impact on Mickelson’s game as the best he has finished in six events since joining LIV is tied for eighth place. His other finishes? 17th, 40th, 35th, 42nd, 34th. Really reinvigorated.
But, at least now Mickelson gets to wear shorts. “I firmly believe I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for pro golf,” he said. “I love the way they involve us and listen to us in decisions. I mean it’s so inclusive, it’s so fluid that things, LIV Golf is leading. Whether it’s shorts, whether it’s other aspects of professional golf that are going to change and evolve, those positions will be led by LIV.”
Whether he’s correct or not, it doesn’t look like the LIV leaderboard will be led by Mickelson anytime soon.