The Mickelson fallout, and what’s next for the Saudi league?

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Check out weekly unfiltered opinions from our editors and editors as they break down the hottest topics in sport and join the conversation by tweeting us. @golf_com. This week we break down Charley Hoffman’s rant against the PGA Tour, its rules makers and the USGA, the WM Phoenix Open and more.

Phil Mickelson topped the headlines for the second straight week despite not hitting a golf ball. A week after Mickelson’s comments on the Saudi league and the PGA Tour were published by The Fire Pit Collective, and after Mickelson was heavily criticized by several of his peers, the 51-year-old pro issued a public apology on Tuesday. on his social media accounts. In a six-paragraph long message, Mickelson called his comments reckless, apologized for anything he said that was taken out of context, gave his sponsors the opportunity to pause or end a relationship with him and said he planned to move away from the Visiter for a bit. What did you learn from Mickelson’s mea culpa?

Sean Zak, Digital Project Manager (@sean_zak): That he chose and chose his apologies carefully. “PGA Tour” has not been mentioned once. Phil is not sorry for what he did/is doing. He is sorry for the way the news broke.

Josh Berhow, Editor-in-Chief (@josh_berhow): There was a lot there, although what caught my attention was that his second sentence was about off-the-record comments. The author, Alan Shipnuck, who was writing a book on Mickelson, says they weren’t confidential. Who do you believe? It’s up to you, but I know who I’m going with. My point is this: however these comments came out, the second sentence of a long apology was an apology. It rubbed me the wrong way.

Josh Sens, Senior Writer (@joshsens): Mickleson also said his comments were taken “out of context”. It seems dishonest. I would like to know in what other context his comments would mean something different. He said what he meant.

Alan Bastable, editor (@alan_bastable): In politics, we talk about October surprises – events that no one saw coming that influence last-minute elections. For the Saudi league, this whole episode of Phil has that feel. A phone conversation may have deflated everything. As for the apology, yes, it sounded a lot less like an “I’m so sorry” and a lot more like an “I’m so sorry I got caught”. He did nothing more with Shipnuck than verbalize the plan he was executing, which was to use the Saudis as leverage against the PGA Tour, just like many of his fellow pros were. If he was legitimately contrite, he wouldn’t have engaged with Norman and Co. to begin with.

Golf analyst Brandel Chamblee called Mickelson’s statement “one of the worst apologies I’ve ever seen written.” What left a sour taste in some fans’ mouths?

Zac: Part of that is because his apologies in the statement were only aimed at the people who give him (or would likely give him) the most money. He apologized to LIV Golf, the company that would essentially have to negotiate millions of dollars from the Saudi government. He apologized to sponsors who pay big bucks to have his hat embroidered. Did he owe someone else a big statement? He could have eloquently included others who have been disappointed by his recent approach, that’s for sure.

Berhow: I guess I already answered this a bit in my previous answer, but Mickelson, as Brandel said, tried to play the victim card here and I’m not sure it worked for him. A lot of things made Phil feel like he was on a fair path to improving golf, and we just have to trust him. It seemed moralizing. But I think Phil can and will bounce back from it all. People are quick to forgive those who ask.

Senses : What bothered a lot of people about his original comments was the greed and hypocrisy that people were reading into them. Mickelson didn’t really apologize for these things.

Bastable: Oh, they will forgive. Tiger survived an international sex scandal, ARod and so many others survived juice scandals. Phil will also endure. Knowing him, he’ll likely win another Masters and be swept off the green by a crowd of cheering patrons. The apologies were too long and winding. A good excuse should be like a resume: straightforward and no longer than one page.

Over the past week, Mickelson has lost some of his sponsors and, apparently, is no longer the host of The American Express tournament. Are you surprised that some of these brands have started to distance themselves from the five-time major champion?

Zac: Not at all. It’s one of the things that has been more debated in recent days. These sponsors pay a lot of money to be associated with Phil. But the last month of association with Phil has not been a good atmosphere! These sponsors have separate partnerships with the PGA Tour, as a whole, and it opposes the Tour in a very public way. The onslaught of headlines with lead photos that show their the company being associated with these comments and the various implications…once he gave them an exit, they jumped on it. I can’t blame them at all.

Berhow: A little surprised, mainly because some of them have been tied to Mickelson for so long. Some may have left before Mickelson gave them the chance anyway, but Sean is right, it gave them a loophole and they took it.

Senses : Not surprised. Mickelson’s own apology sounded like he saw it coming, too.

Bastable: Clearly, Callaway was the most torn, with his ‘pause’ treatment leaving the door open for Phil’s return. These episodes are tricky: when a sponsor leaves, it puts immense pressure on the others to follow suit. The domino thing happens way more often than not. Tiger eventually picked up sponsors; Phil will too.

The Saudi golf league appeared to take a hit after many players pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour following Mickelson’s comments, but Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, the league’s proposed finance arm, isn’t backing down. He sent a memo to players and agents saying the PGA Tour couldn’t ban them from joining and also sent a memo to commissioner Jay Monahan, saying, in short, “This is just the beginning.” If you’re Norman and LIV brass, what’s your next move?

greg norman

Greg Norman sends blunt letter to PGA Tour commissioner: ‘This is just the beginning’


Sean Zac

Zac: I will post details weekly. As a population of golf title readers, we need Something. The PGA Tour is going to brag itself and all of its cash reserves in two weeks to the players. LIV should start sharing some of the most concrete details they have locked away. A name or two from the list of players who signed up. A few courses that will be involved. Whet the appetite for more.

Berhow: There’s too much money behind this for it to go away and I don’t think they have the freedom to retreat and rethink their plan. For better or for worse, it is fresh in the minds of golf fans and should stay that way. But a kind of commitment – at any time of the commitment! – as of a player, a location or some kind of schedule must be revealed to interest players and fans.

Senses : Get something on the schedule. Make it as compelling an event as possible. A legal battle could come later, and — at least according to the antitrust lawyers I spoke with — Norman and Co. might have a legitimate case. But launching a formal fight against a ban seems to put the cart before the horse if you don’t have enough marquee players to come in the first place.

Bastable: Focus on growing the Asian Tour. The proposed super league is so busy right now that no big-name player will come close. At least not now. Come back in a year or two. You can be sure the Saudis and LIV aren’t folding the tent and, as Berhow says, there’s too much money on the table for every player to look away.

The Associated Press reported that Zach Johnson will be named Ryder Cup captain next week. The Ryder Cupper and two-time vice-captain will lead the United States in Rome in 2023. Okay, if not expected, choice? And what will ZJ bring to the team as captain that will help the Americans win on European soil for the first time since 1993?

Zac: Like Stricker, he will bring years of information as an assistant captain. He is steel. He won’t worry about leaving guys off the list who might not be the right fit. He will make the decisions that a captain makes – which are not all this hard – and will have no problem sticking to it. I think that’s what made Stricker so beautiful. He continued with this “Should I include Patrick Reed?” debate and never looked back.

Berhow: He definitely seemed like the next man, so I’m good with the choice. He’s gained valuable experience and seems like a guy who won’t try to reinvent the wheel. Americans have a great influx of young talent and a lot of the work is just motivating and setting people up to succeed. He was there enough to know what worked and what didn’t.

Senses : Good choice. If Ryder Cup captain Johnson is anything like Ryder Cup contender Johnson, he’ll be fiery and committed. What else do you want?

Bastable: Zach is the anti-Phil in every way. At the moment, this seems like a very good thing for all parties involved.

Our Facebook group How to Hit Every Shot helped us find the 35 grossest things you should never do on the golf course. What’s the most annoying thing a playmate can do while playing in your party?

Zac: Try to correct an aspect of my swing during one round. It’s not perfect. I know it’s not perfect. You’re not perfect either! So let’s not try to make this thing perfect.

Berhow: I was randomly matched with a few plus-complimenters. Generally very nice people! But I don’t need anyone to feel obligated to tell me that my 2-footer snatch was a good try or that my blatantly missed green in regulation was a good swing.

Senses : Telling your own game and coming up with excuses becomes very tedious, very quickly. But nothing irritates me more than slow play. I can get very rude about this.

Bastable: The best of the day, Berhow! I’m going to keep scratching the 5-footers like they’re tap-ins, especially when that 5-footer comes right after a 5-footer you just missed.

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