Phil Mickelson says he supports a new Saudi Arabian golf league despite slating the country’s human rights record because it’ll give US golfers leverage to reform the Professional Golf Association.
Mickelson reportedly made the remarks on the country’s record on human rights in an interview with author Alan Shipnuck for his upcoming book, ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar,’ which is set for a May release. His remarks came as it was claimed Donald Trump is in talks to host the Saudi tournament at his New Jersey and Florida clubs.
‘They’re scary motherf****** to get involved with,’ Shipnuck reported Mickelson as saying in a phone interview as posted to the website Firepit Collective.
‘We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.’
Phil Mickelson of USA talks to the media during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 02, 2022 in Saudi Arabia
Phil Mickelson of the US tees off on the 5th hole during Day 1 of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on January 30, 2020 in Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the annual shura council meeting, a top advisory body, in the capital Riyadh on December 30, 2021
‘They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right.’
‘And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. 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 [PGA] Tour.’
Mickelson made no further comment on what exactly his beef was with the PFA.
Mickelson, who has won 45 events on the PGA Tour, including six major championships, three Masters titles, two PGA Championships and one Open Championship, added that he has about 20 golfers ready to play for the proposed Saudi league, should it indeed come into fruition.
Meanwhile, Mickelson’s comments on backing such a league, in a country where human rights violations are exacted with impunity, have irked his fellow PGA golfers.
‘He’s done a lot of great things for the PGA Tour,’ Justin Thomas said of Mickelson Friday.
Donald Trump plays golf on Saturday morning at the Trump International golf course in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 12 2022
‘It’s a big reason it is where it is. But him and others that are very adamant about that, if they’re that passionate, go ahead. I don’t think anybody’s stopping them.’
Rory McIlroy too questioned what kind of player would agree to play in a Saudi golf league, while mentioning top players like Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa who have declined such an opportunity to play in the league, should one present itself.
‘That’s not what they’re going to want, is it? They don’t want some sort of league that’s like a pre-Champions Tour. I guess I understand the financial part of it for guys that are later on in their career,’ McIlroy said Wednesday.
‘You look at the people that have already said no,’ McIlroy said.
‘You’ve got the top players in the world are saying no, so that has to tell you something.’
The proposed league is targeting it’s first event sometime later this year.
Mickelson hits an approach shot on the 17th hole during day two of the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 4, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who resigned suddenly in May 2010 in Riyadh from the helm of Al-Watan days after the newspaper published a controversial column criticizing Salafism
Former President Donald Trump has expressed interest in hosting the proposed, and lucrative, Saudi golf league events at several of his properties, three people familiar with the matter told the Washington Post on Saturday.
At least two of Trump’s golf courses, one in Bedminster, New Jersey and the other in Doral, Florida, have been discussed as possible sites for the proposed tour.
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to US intelligence.
The journalist was eventually assassinated in Turkey on October 2, 2018.
The US has worked with the Saudis and other Sunni majority nations in an effort to contain Iran – whose proxy forces were the target of the U.S. military strike launched in Syria Thursday.
Fifteen of the September 11th hijackers including Osama bin Laden were from Saudi Arabia, and the US counts on the Saudis to keep pressure on anti-American forces in their own homeland. The Kingdom is second to the U.S. in oil production.