Sport

Phil Mickelson confirms he will play in the £25m Rebels’ LIV golf tournament in his first appearance since Saudi comments

PHIL MICKELSON has taken part in this week’s first rebel golf tournament in St Albans – despite calling the Saudi supporters “scary mothers”.

Six-time Major winner Mickelson, 51, “blacked out” after his comments about the Saudi government and its role in the February assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi were published.

Phil Mickelson will compete in the inaugural LIV Rebellious Golf Tournament this week

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Phil Mickelson will compete in the inaugural LIV Rebellious Golf Tournament this weekCredit: AP

Mickelson has not been seen since his comments in February, and even his friends reported he had “gone dark”.

He missed both the Masters and the PGA Championship – where he was the defending champion – after apologizing for the “reckless” comments branded by Rory McIlroy as “selfish and ignorant”.

But now he’s flying to the UK to play the 54-hole LIV Golf Invitational – with a £25m prize pool – which starts on Thursday at the Centurion Club.

And he will force PGA chiefs to make a decision on whether to let him play next week’s US Open after declaring his intention to return to the majors.

In a lengthy statement, Mickelson said: “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 in my career. Taking time and self-reflection was very humbling.”

He added, “I’m ready to come back to play the game I love and I’m incredibly grateful for what this game and the PGA Tour have given me.

“I’d like to think I gave something back too, but now I’m excited for this new opportunity.

“I’m thrilled to be joining LIV Golf and appreciate everyone involved. I also intend to play in the majors.”

That desire will put pressure on the PGA – and the R&A – ahead of next month’s 150th Open in St Andrews.

But it also drew a lot of attention at the tournament in St. Albans.

Mickelson joins Dustin Johnson – who has agreed a £100m deal to take part in the new Rebel series – and European Ryder Cup stars including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.

The tournament will be played over 54 holes – LIV is 54 in Roman numerals – and Chief Executive and Australian legend Greg Norman welcomed the coup.

Norman said: “Phil Mickelson is undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers of this generation.

“His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the world cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him.

“He reinforces an exciting field for London where we are proud to herald a new era for golf.”

Westwood has pointed to other sporting events that have taken place in Saudi Arabia, including the F1 Grand Prix, Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title win over Andy Ruiz and official golf tournaments to justify his involvement.

But the arrival of Mickelson will change the momentum once again and ensure he and Johnson share most of the global attention.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5502669/phil-mickelson-play-liv-golf-saudi-comments/ Phil Mickelson confirms he will play in the £25m Rebels’ LIV golf tournament in his first appearance since Saudi comments

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