Phil Mickelson said PGA Tour is ‘trending downwards’: ‘I love the side that I'm on’

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Phil Mickelson is in Saudi Arabia and causing a stir. 

Mickelson, playing in LIV Golf’s event at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, discussed the ever-changing world of golf brought on by LIV.

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC practices on the driving range ahead of day one of the LIV Golf Invitational - Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Oct. 14, 2022 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. 

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC practices on the driving range ahead of day one of the LIV Golf Invitational – Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Oct. 14, 2022 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. 
(Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

“I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side do you think is going to be successful. And I firmly believe that I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf,” Mickelson said Thursday. 

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“We play against a lot of the best players in the world on LIV and there are a lot of the best players in the world on the PGA Tour. Until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve. And I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards, and I love the side that I’m on.”

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC plays his shot from the ninth tee during Day Three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Bangkok at Stonehill Golf Course on Oct. 9, 2022 in Pathum Thani, Thailand. 

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC plays his shot from the ninth tee during Day Three of the LIV Golf Invitational – Bangkok at Stonehill Golf Course on Oct. 9, 2022 in Pathum Thani, Thailand. 
(Pakawich Damrongkiattisak/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

It was nearly a year ago that Mickelson first found himself in hot water over comments he made regarding Saudi Arabia, the country that funds LIV Golf. 

In an interview with The Fire Pit Collective in November 2021, Mickelson is quoted as saying that despite Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights, partnering with the regime was an opportunity to change how the game of golf operates.

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“They’re scary m———— to get involved with,” Mickelson is quoted as saying. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

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The comments caused Mickelson to take some time away from golf while sponsors ended their relationship with the six-time major winner.

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC speaks to the media during a press conference after the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational - Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Oct. 13, 2022 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. 

Team Captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC speaks to the media during a press conference after the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational – Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Oct. 13, 2022 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. 
(Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

Mickelson has since said that the conversation was off the record, which he reiterated on Thursday. 

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“I will reiterate, I never did an interview with Alan Shipnuck [of The Fire Pit Collective],” Mickelson said. “And I find that my experience with everybody associated with LIV Golf has been nothing but invcredibly positive I have the utmost respect for everybody that I’ve been involved with.”

LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah takes place October 14-16. 

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