Mickelson joins Saudi-backed golf series, plans to play US Open

4. Mickelson joins Saudi-backed golf series, plans to play US Open
(Photo: Phil Mickelson Facebook)

WASHINGTON, DC — Phil Mickelson confirmed on Monday he has signed to play in the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, saying he also plans to play major events, including next week’s US Open.اضافة اعلان

The six-time major winner will be in the field of 48 at the controversial new tour’s inaugural event in London this week.

“I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start,” Mickelson wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Mickelson later Monday told Sports Illustrated that he plans to play all eight LIV Golf events and compete in majors after talks with major sanctioning bodies.

“I’m looking forward to playing the US Open,” Mickelson told SI. “I’m under the understanding that I’m able to play.”

Mickelson told SI he will keep his US PGA Tour membership, unlike some who joined LIV Golf, but has not spoken with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan or long-time rival Tiger Woods.

“I’m uncertain how I will play given that I haven’t played in a few months,” Mickelson told SI. “But I’m optimistic.”

Mickelson has not played since the publication of comments in February where he criticized the PGA Tour and LIV Golf’s Saudi backers.

In an interview with author Alan Shipnuck, the 51-year-old American left-hander said the Saudi-funded LIV Golf was an opportunity to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.

However, Mickelson described the new venture’s backers as “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights,” noting the death of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate.

Mickelson, a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, apologized when his original remarks were made public and took some “desperately needed time away” from golf, skipping the Masters and PGA Championship during his self-imposed exile.

“There’s a lot of things I regret,” Mickelson told SI. “I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt a lot of people and I’m really sorry.”

Mickelson said in his statement that he remains in therapy.

During his absence, however, LIV Golf has torn at the fabric of world golf, with dozens of household names joining the new tour.

Last week, former world number one Dustin Johnson joined the money-spinning new series, whose tournaments will offer among the richest purses in golf history.

This week’s event teeing off at Centurion Club at St Albans, north of London, will have a $25 million purse — almost double that of any major, with $4 million going to the winner.

The Washington Post reported Monday that LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman said 15-time major winner Woods turned down a “mind-blowingly enormous” LIV overture.

“We’re talking about high nine digits,” Norman said.

Woods said last month he supported the US PGA Tour, noting its legacy to such icons as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Others going to LIV Golf include European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Sergio Garcia.

Players opting into LIV Golf have done so despite PGA Tour warnings of disciplinary action.

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