Phil Mickelson plays LIV Golf’s first tournament sponsored by Saudi Arabia

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Phil Mickelson plays LIV Golf's first tournament sponsored by Saudi Arabia

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Phil Mickelson officially announced on Monday that he will be joining the rival PGA Tour golf league after months of speculation and backlash for his support of the Saudi Arabia-funded organization.

Mickelson said he will compete in LIV Golf’s inaugural tournament in London this week at Centurion Golf Club with prize money of $25 million and $4 million to the winner.

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Phil Mickelson of the USA and Greg Norman, CEO of Liv Golf Investments, interact during a practice round in front of PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf &  Country Club on February 2, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia.

Phil Mickelson of the USA and Greg Norman, CEO of Liv Golf Investments, interact during a practice round in front of PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 2, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia.
(Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

In his statement, Mickelson apologized for appearing to dismiss Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamaal Khashoggi. He had not appeared at a golf tournament since the comments he made to author Alan Shipnuck, which formed part of his unauthorized biography.

“First and foremost, I would like to once again apologize to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments a few months ago. I’ve made mistakes in some of the things I’ve said and done throughout my career. Thinking was very humbling. I had to start prioritizing the people I love the most and work on becoming a better version of myself,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I spent that time with Amy and my loved ones. I was committed and intentionally in continuing therapy and feeling healthy and much more at peace. I realize I still have a way to go but I embrace the work that lies ahead.”

KEVIN NA’S LIV GOLF DECISION LEAVES THE PGA TOUR STARS DAMN

Mickelson said he was ready for a “fresh start.”

PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson during Sunday's game at the Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course.  Island of Kiawah, SC.

PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson during Sunday’s game at the Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course. Island of Kiawah, SC.
(Rick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

“I’m ready to come back to play the game I love, but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, one that’s exciting for me at this stage in my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself , but ideally for the game and my colleagues. I also love the progressive format and think it will be exciting for the fans. Just as importantly, it provides balance and allows me to focus on a healthier approach to life on and off the pitch. I’m incredibly grateful for what this game and the PGA Tour have given me. I would like to think that I gave something back too, but now I’m excited about this new opportunity.

“I’m thrilled to be starting LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved. I also intend to play the majors. I am fully aware and respect that some may disagree with this decision and have strong opinions and I empathize with them. I have a renewed spirit and excitement for the game. I’m incredibly grateful for the support of my fans, partners, friends and colleagues and I hope those feelings, relationships and support continue over time.”

Mickelson will join Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and three other former champions in the 54-hole tournament.

It’s “Lefty’s” first tournament since February 6 at Saudi International, when he accused the PGA Tour of “insufferable greed.” In comments to Shupnick, Mickelson said LIV Golf is worth getting into, regardless of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

11/11/2021;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phil Mickelson reacts after missing his putt right on the 18th hole during the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in Phoenix

11/11/2021; Phoenix, Arizona, United States; Phil Mickelson reacts after missing his putt right on the 18th hole during the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in Phoenix
(Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports)

He later apologized for the remarks but skipped the Masters and the PGA Championship – the latter he won in 2021.

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“His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the world cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him,” said LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman of Mickelson. “He strengthens an exciting field for London, where we are proud to usher in a new era for golf.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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