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Phil Mickelson signs up with LIV Golf tour

Jan 27, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; Phil Mickelson acknowledges the crowd after a putt on the fourth green during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson signed on with the controversial LIV Golf Series on Monday after months of speculation.

The six-time major winner will make his debut with the Saudi-backed tour at this week’s inaugural event outside London.

“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation,” LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said in a news release. “His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He strengthens an exciting field for London where we’re proud to launch a new era for golf.”

Mickelson, 51, has not played in a tournament since competing in the Saudi International in February. His last event on the PGA Tour was the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

“I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, one that is exciting for me at this stage of my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself, but ideally for the game and my peers,” Mickelson said in a statement.

Last week, LIV Golf announced 42 of the 48 players who were participating in the LIV Golf International starting on Thursday at the Centurion Club.

Dustin Johnson, the biggest name on that list, was offered $125 million by LIV Golf to join its rival tour, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The sum negotiated for Mickelson was not disclosed, but Tiger Woods turned down an offer in the “high nine digits” to join LIV Golf, Norman told the Washington Post.

Other notable names in this week’s field include Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace.

In addition to Mickelson, the remaining five entrants announced Monday were Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, India’s Viraj Madappa, Australia’s Travis Smyth and Kevin Yuan and South Africa’s Ian Snyman.

Rickie Fowler denied the rumors he is jumping to the LIV tour — at least for now — when he spoke to the Golf Channel last week at The Memorial.

“I’ve been in talks with them for a long time,” Fowler said, per ESPN Radio. “It’s something to definitely look at. At this point, it wasn’t the right move or decision for us, but I’m not saying I’m for sure here or I’m going to go there. I’m going to just kind of leave my options open and see how things play out.”

The PGA Tour did not grant its members a release to play in the event, which will be contested opposite the Canadian Open. Johnson — who won the Canadian Open in 2018 — and other members could face punishment for choosing the LIV Golf event without the tour’s permission.

The startup series became radioactive after Mickelson told author Alan Shipnuck that the Saudis were
“scary (expletives) to get involved with,” but that he planned to deal with them anyway as a leverage play to get more money out of the PGA Tour, including getting players their individual media rights.

Mickelson later apologized for his “reckless” comments and took a leave of absence from the game. He did not compete in the Masters or the PGA Championship, the first two majors of the season. His participation in next week’s U.S. Open in Brookline, Mass., is unclear.

“I am thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved,” Mickelson said on Monday. “I also intend to play the majors. I fully realize and respect some may disagree with this decision and have strong opinions and I empathize with that. I have a renewed spirit and excitement for the game.”

Mickelson is a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, including three wins at The Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), two at the PGA Championship (2005, 2021) and The Open Championship in 2013.

–Field Level Media