In a move to pressure the “manipulative, coercive” Professional Golfers’ Association, six-time champion Phil Mickelson has expressed willingness to work with a Saudi Arabia-backed professional golf league. Mickelson’s comments appeared in an excerpt from journalist Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming book on his career.
Mickelson, who is a six-time major champion, says that his goal is to “reshape” the PGA Tour, and not necessarily aid the success of the potential Saudi-backed league, which has come under fire given its home country’s notorious reputation for human rights violations.
“They’re scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” he said in the interview. “…They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident 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.”
Mickelson told Shipnuck he knew “20 guys who want to do this and if the Tour doesn’t do the right thing, there is a high likelihood it’s going to happen.”
Justin Thomas, the No. 8 ranked golfer in the world, wasn’t moved by Mickelson’s remarks.
“Seems like a bit of a pretty, you know, egotistical statement,” Thomas said. “I don’t know, it’s like he’s done a lot of great things for the PGA Tour, it’s a big reason it is where it is, but him and others that are very adamant about that [the SGL], if they’re that passionate, go ahead. I don’t think anybody’s stopping them.”
Mickelson has, in recent weeks, complained about PGA’s “obnoxious greed,” citing players’ access to media rights and “strong-arm tactics” and has indicated that entertaining the Saudi League is a form of leverage against PGA leaders.
“The tour likes to pretend it’s a democracy, but it’s really a dictatorship,” Mickelson said. “They divide and conquer. The concerns of the top players are very different from the guys who make their own situation better, but the top guys don’t have a say.”