Phil Mickelson speaks out again… but says very little

After six months, we ought to be used to the new, reserved Phil Mickelson, but it still irks us when he withholds information from us. The most recent instance was provided Wednesday night in an interview with Bob Harig of Sports Illustrated.

During their 45-minute conversation, Harig gave Mickelson plenty of chances to express his thoughts on the latest wave of changes in men’s professional golf. What a pleasure! After all, Mickelson was the key figure in the June signing of LIV. In February, he was the one who spoke about the PGA Tour’s “obnoxious greed.” And it was his remarks that made headlines throughout the world, delaying the spring debut of LIV Golf.

Even yet, Mickelson kept the same restrained, humble tone we’ve seen and heard all summer when given the opportunity to say anything he pleased: He claims to be just delighted. Really happy Top golfers are “extremely happy,” especially, that they will soon have more of what they desire (money, scheduling perks, etc.). Why does it make him feel such a sense of relief? Harig received nothing more from Mickelson beyond the simple statement that he is “moving on” to the exciting new world of LIV Golf. He has experience on the PGA Tour. The new Mickelson seems to be here to stay; much as when LIV debuted in London, his views are circumspect and short.

For Mickelson, the last few months have been reserved in that way. His press conferences have been punctuated by pauses and careful responses, and his on-course gestures have been reduced to the occasional thumbs-up. He has also made many fewer birdies than we’re used to seeing on his cards. Mickelson spoke with a pool reporter rather than a member of the general press after failing to make the cut at the U.S. Open. Mickelson gave reporters the “firm no” when they approached him for an interview after he missed the cut at St. Andrews. This was the man who embraced social media like no other, eager to engage with fans, playfully jab media members, and toss out dozens of responses between sips of wine after winning the 2021 PGA Championship. While that may be a positive move for anyone’s mental health, he has avoided social media almost entirely. Lefty has not tweeted in over three months up until Friday morning (when Mickelson quoted Harig).

But if anything can be inferred from recent social media discussion, it’s that many people think Mickelson has been justified for raising concerns about some of the PGA Tour’s apparent flaws. The most prominent of these observers was Greg Norman, who made the claim that “LIV Golf is clearly the best thing that’s ever happened to help the careers of professional golfers” while sharing grammatically incorrect memes on Instagram.

In response to recent PGA Tour changes, Greg Norman shared this on Instagram.

Mickelson is not prepared to publicly express whether or not he feels justified now that the PGA Tour has made significant modifications that are advantageous to its top players. Mickelson reiterates that he is just “generally happy.” He said his conversations with the PGA Tour commissioners from the past and present were “pretty well documented,” so they didn’t need to be repeated, and he merely added, “It’s interesting some of the similarities.”

Certain parallels are intriguing. Mickelson would have been the ideal authority to explain why such correlations are actually intriguing in previous years. The new Mickelson, though, doesn’t seem concerned in making any details public. Only seven months before, he was more than willing to misrepresent information on the value of Tour media rights being withheld from top athletes. The fact that “Mickelson, et al.” is listed as one of the plaintiffs in the most major case in PGA Tour history undoubtedly contributes to some of Mickelson’s evasive behavior this year. Everything he says seems to have an additional layer of legal caution.

Leverage is high on Mickelson’s list of topics that he wants to talk about. That eight-letter L-word may be the most significant term in the golf industry’s civil war, above “monopoly,” “strategic alliance,” and “competition.” One of the most significant things Mickelson said to Alan Shipnuck ten months ago was that.

“As nice a guy as [Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as,” Mickelson said in November 2021, “unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage.”

Mickelson reaffirmed it once again on Wednesday. Harig was informed by Mickelson that “nothing was going to happen,” which was expressed very explicitly. “Unless there was leverage, nothing was going to change. And all players should be appreciative of what LIV is doing. The players on LIV for the opportunity they are getting. And the PGA Tour for the leverage that was provided to get these changes done.’’

Who offered that power? As Mickelson said, LIV Golf did. This summer, he has periodically hidden himself behind that person—his new business partner—leaving us all perplexed as to how public a role he intends to play going ahead. The organization that gave him media training when LIV Golf started in June is also the newest plaintiff added to the case bearing his name.

Shortly after the training, he informed reporters, “I’m learning from my mistakes.” In the last three months, not much has changed.

Original article posted on Golf.com

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