Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been competing against one another for years on the PGA Tour. Now, however, Mickelson plays for LIV Golf, and that’s been a sore spot for a lot of people in the golf world in recent months.
Woods, who reportedly declined nearly $1 billion of Saudi money to join LIV Golf, finally addressed the startup league earlier in the week by slamming the former PGA golfers who chose to chase guaranteed money.
“I disagree with it,” Woods said of the players who have spurned the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”
“What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money upfront and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
“I certainly respect his opinion,” Mickelson said Thursday. “I have a lot of respect for him. I respect his opinion. I think everybody’s going to have strong emotions and opinions about it, and I certainly respect his.”
Mickelson also discussed the reason that he, like LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, didn’t attend Monday’s Celebrations of Champions and Tuesday’s champions’ dinner.
“The R&A contacted me a couple weeks before and said, ‘Look, we don’t think it’s a great idea you go [to the celebrations], but if you want to, you can,'” Mickelson said. “I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I said fine. We both kind of agreed that it would be best if I didn’t.”
Despite the criticism and protests, Mickelson says that he still believes it was the right decision for him to join the Saudi-backed golf series.
“I made the right decision for me,” Mickelson said. “And I’m excited about, like I say, having the opportunity to play competitive golf and have it in my life in a more moderate scale to where I can do some things outside of that too. I freed up a lot of other — freed up a lot of time as well.
“I couldn’t be happier. I think it’s been really good. I can’t wait to get to New Jersey and play another event there. The player experience, the experience of those events from a player standpoint is a 10. You can’t get it any better. Look, it’s not my job to explain or help you understand or whatever. It’s just, I couldn’t be happier.”