Phil Mickelson ‘excited’ for LIV Golf, readdresses Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations

Phil Mickelson ‘excited’ for LIV Golf, readdresses Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations

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Phil Mickelson addressed the media Wednesday ahead of LIV Golf’s first tournament and his first competition since he created a firestorm with comments about Saudi Arabia.

Mickelson wouldn’t say whether he had been disciplined by the PGA Tour for joining the Saudi-backed golf league set to rival the organization. He said he felt remorse for some of the things he’s said.

He created controversy when he seemingly brushed off Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The comments he made were for a book by author Allen Shipnuck and excerpts were published in February. He said he considered joining LIV Golf because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” regardless of Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations.

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Phil Mickelson attends a press conference at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, England, ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Wednesday June 8, 2022.

Phil Mickelson attends a press conference at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, England, ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Wednesday June 8, 2022. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

Mickelson would apologize for the comments and readdress them again Wednesday.

“I don’t condone human rights violations at all. Nobody here does, throughout the world. I’m certainly aware of what’s happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible,” he said, via ESPN. “I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history, and I believe that LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I’m excited about this opportunity, and that’s why I’m here.”

Mickelson took a leave of absence after the Saudi Arabia comments. He said while he was away he had time to continue therapy and spend time with his family.

Phil Mickelson wouldn’t say whether he had been disciplined by the PGA Tour for joining the Saudi-backed golf league.

Phil Mickelson wouldn’t say whether he had been disciplined by the PGA Tour for joining the Saudi-backed golf league. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

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He added he has not resigned from the PGA Tour, unlike Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen, who revealed Tuesday they resigned their memberships.

“I’ve gained a lot from the PGA Tour, and I’ve received a lot. I’ve worked really hard to contribute and add value to the tour during my time there. I worked really hard to earn a lifetime exemption, and I don’t want to give that up and I don’t feel like I should have to,” he said.

“I don’t know what that means for a future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’ve earned that, and I don’t plan on just giving it up.”

Phil Mickelson in action during the Pro-Am at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, England, ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Wednesday June 8, 2022.

Phil Mickelson in action during the Pro-Am at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, England, ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Wednesday June 8, 2022. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

Mickelson would be allowed to play in next week’s U.S. Open should he want to.

The United States Golf Association said it wouldn’t prohibit those playing in LIV Golf this weekend from playing in the U.S. Open.

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Mickelson said he plans on playing in the U.S. Open. He finished tied for 62nd in last year’s event, and it’s the only major event he hasn’t won.

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