Phil Mickelson has responded to Rory McIlroy’s latest criticism at LIV Golf, saying the Saudi-backed breakout series is “an unstoppable force”.
This week, The Guardian published an interview in which McIlroy — the world’s No. 1 player again — said the game was not benefiting from the rift between LIV and the PGA Tour.
Earlier this month, Mickelson said he saw “LIV golf going up” and “the PGA Tour going down,” adding, “I like the side I’m in.” However, speaking ahead of the LIV Finals at Trump National Doral in Miami, Mickelson appeared to regret those comments but praised LIV’s rise.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have said something like that, I don’t know,” Mickelson said.
“If I’m just looking at LIV Golf and where we are now where we were six, seven months ago and people are saying this is dead in the water, and we’ve moved past that.
“Look, we have an indomitable force in the game today.”
McIlroy said the LIV Series was “dead in the water” in February when Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau announced they would continue with the PGA Tour. Anyway, they were tricked into signing bonuses worth over $100 million and went to LIV. Johnson earned an additional $31 million in LIV awards this weekend.
McIlroy has made no secret of his feelings for LIV and the players who decided to switch tours.
“This ‘us versus them’ thing has already gotten out of hand,” Massilroy told the Guardian. “If the two bodies continue to double down in both directions, it will be irreparable. We will have a broken sport for a long time. This is not good for anyone.”
McIlroy returned to world No. 1 last weekend by winning the CJ Cup in South Carolina. Mickelson called it a “big win” and an “amazing win.”
“I think a lot Rory,” Mickelson said. “I really have a lot of respect for him, I’ve seen what he’s done in the game and how he’s played this year and the way he won last week. [how he is] Now No. 1 in the world, and I have a lot of respect for him.”
The LIV Golf Finals, a team-only event, starts on Friday and ends on Sunday, with a purse of $50m — including $4m for each member of the winning four-man team. The tour is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and players awarded major prizes are barred from playing on the PGA Tour.
Lawsuits involving LIV players’ participation in PGA Tour and European Tour events are ongoing on both sides of the Atlantic. There is also uncertainty about who will be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter, who played for Europe in seven Ryder Cups and won five times, said, “I’ve always wanted to play Ryder Cups and I played with as much emotion as anyone I’ve ever seen play a Ryder Cup.”
That was in response to McIlroy telling The Guardian how many of his former Ryder Cup teammates felt “betrayed” by moving to LIV in a move that “jeopardized” their future eligibility.
“I’d like to think that the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me,” McIlroy said. “Maybe he does. But I would never make that decision knowing what the consequences would be.”