Phil Mickelson dishes details of PGA Tour ruling with iron fist, being “shot down”

Ever since Phil Mickelson helped bring prominence to LIV Golf, he has simultaneously criticized the PGA Tour.

He famously said to Alan Shipnuck in February 2022, after referring to the Saudi Arabian Kingdom as “scary motherf***ers,” that his move to LIV was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Mickelson added, “[The PGA Tour has] been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.”

These sentiments about the PGA Tour continued during a Thursday press conference in Singapore, where a reporter asked Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau about their viral golf videos and social media posts.

“Bryson has a beat and understanding on social media that I’m late to the party on, [and] I don’t fully understand it, but I’ve been spending time with him, and I’ve been starting to understand it more and more,” Mickelson said.

Phil Mickelson, LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs-up to the crowd at LIV Golf Adelaide.
Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

“I think that’s why we’re so excited here at LIV; a lot of these opportunities were not an option for us before LIV. We didn’t have an opportunity for elevated events. We didn’t have an opportunity for equity. We didn’t have an opportunity to do our own social media. That was all controlled and shot down.”

Mickelson alluded to the PGA Tour having all the leverage while noting the changes the tour has made since LIV Golf’s inception. Since then, the PGA Tour has established Signature Events, a Player Impact Program (PIP) that awards top players top dollars for their social media presence, and an equity share program, which would not have been possible without the Strategic Sports Group’s (SSG) investment.

But the six-time major winner also said these opportunities have been available to LIV golfers since the onset.

“Every event is an elevated event. We have equity, and we have the ability to do these social media posts and try to transcend the game of golf to different generations. All of these things were not possible before LIV came along,” Mickelson said.

The Masters, Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson at the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

“We’re very appreciative that we have that opportunity, and [DeChambeau’s vision is what I’m trying to better understand because, at 53, I don’t fully grasp this generation and so forth and the opportunities that social media provides. As I better understand it, I try to take advantage of it a little bit or do some of it.”

Mickelson has had plenty of viral moments on social media over the past year, including a hilarious story he told about practicing at Augusta National. But on the flip side, he has also exchanged barbs with Trevor Immelman, thrown shade at Rory McIlroy, and traded blows with golf fans over the PGA Tour-LIV Golf divide.

Still, Mickelson, along with DeChambeau, believe that their social media prowess—and their freedom to produce content at their discretion—have allowed them to help grow the game among diverse groups of people around the world.

“We’ve talked about growing the game out here at LIV, and we’re doing that globally, but we want to continue to enhance it. I think what LIV has provided us the ability to do, not only from a team level, the HyFlyers, and the Crushers, what we’re able to do as a team commercially and social media-wise over the course of time,” DeChambeau said.

“But for us to be able to showcase our unique abilities in different ways allows us to not only showcase our personalities but also the great level of play we have. [We also show] the skill set that we have that can hopefully inspire a lot more people to play the game of golf.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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