Few storylines have dominated the golf world in 2022 like the saga of the Saudi-funded golf league. For months, tidbits of information have slowly leaked out, giving us an idea of what the future might hold for the breakaway tour, but for the most part the narrative has been dominated by speculation.
One thing we know for certain, though? Phil Mickelson played an integral behind-the-scenes role in helping get the league off the ground.
According to a report from Mickelson biographer Alan Shipnuck, Mickelson admitted in November to helping write the league’s operating agreements to give more power to the players. Lefty justified his actions with claims that he was merely using the Saudis as leverage to improve the PGA Tour.
“The Saudi money has finally given us that leverage,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “I’m not sure I even want [the Saudi golf league] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the Tour.”
The bombshell report dropped just as the Saudis looked to be gaining serious momentum in their conquest to make a run at the Tour’s top stars, and it led to several of golf’s biggest names publicly committing to the PGA Tour.
But still, the Saudi league persists. On Wednesday, the public got a glimpse of the league’s plans for its inaugural season of the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Eight events are scheduled for summer/fall of 2022, and huge sums are up for grabs.
In the wake of the announcement, Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, which funds the series, joined GOLF’s Subpar Podcast to speak about the breakaway tour. While much of the talk surrounded plans for the inaugural season, co-host Colt Knost did ask Norman about Mickelson’s controversial remarks.
“I won’t comment on the comments,” Norman said. “People make mistakes. We all say the wrong thing about the wrong thing at the wrong time. Some of it is more public when you’re a public figure, right? At the end of the day, as far as I’m concerned, as a player, I always want Phil to come back and play the game of golf.”
Norman continued by saying that Mickelson has “an open door” to play in events run by LIV Golf Investments.
“He’s promoted the game of golf extremely well,” Norman said. “Not only for all the tours that he’s played on, but also for all the corporations that he’s been involved with.
“The fans are really behind Phil. And he did make a mistake, there’s no question about it. And I will give Phil the time. I haven’t spoken to him since. I’m respecting his wishes about stepping away and having the opportunity to regroup himself. But I’ve had numerous conversations with Phil before that about how passionate he was about LIV Golf and the opportunities that he could have. … I feel sad for Phil. I feel for Phil. But like I said, he’s always going to have an open door to the game of golf as far as I’m concerned.”
You can check out the entire interview below.