The LIV Golf league has been a hot-button issue for the past several months, though the conversation has heated up in recent works. We’re about to see the very first event the Saudi-funded league puts on, which will run in London from June 9-11. Some major names have already joined the initial participants, including Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen, and the entire thing is hosted by Greg Norman.
But perhaps the most famous golfer involved with LIV Golf is Phil Mickelson. Speaking to his biographer in February, he noted how the Saudi government still opposes some basic human rights but believed participating in LIV events could help redefine how the PGA Tour operates. Those comments didn’t sit well with many fans, players, and certainly not the heads of the PGA Tour.
Mickelson hasn’t participated in a PGA Tour event since, but he’s going to be back on the links in London. The lefty is now officially listed in the LIV Golf opener field. Brentley Romine of Golf Digest and NBC Sports reported that Mickelson’s contract is worth about $200 million, according to a source.
The lure of massive paydays has certainly helped sway some golfers. Johnson received $125 million to join the LIV field and this first event has a purse of $25 million. Unlike the PGA Tour’s events, golfers only play three rounds (54 holes total) instead of 72 holes over four rounds. There are also no cuts from the field, which means even the last-place finisher in London will take home $120,000. In most PGA Tour events, they would be cut after 36 holes and receive no money.
Mickelson has long been a critic of the way the PGA Tour withholds money from players. He’s previously called the PGA Tour’s greed “beyond obnoxious” and said that if he won the U.S. Open and completed a career Grand Slam title, he’d retire. After announcing he will still participate in the U.S. Open, we just may see him kiss the PGA Tour goodbye completely.
The PGA Tour has promised disciplinary action for players that participate in LIV events. However, golf’s major events are each governed by different entities. The United States Golf Association stages the U.S. Open, so Mickelson is eligible to play in that event. He can also play in other majors if he so chooses, though he skipped out on this year’s Masters.
With the first LIV event nearly upon us, it’ll be fascinating to see how this all unfolds. Perhaps both golf leagues can hold events without incident. Or maybe we’ll witness some of the biggest blowbacks in golf history.