Lefty said the breakaway league is open to change – but would this contradict their core principle? Matt Chivers reports
Phil Mickelson has raised the possibility of the LIV Golf League moving to 72 holes as part of its ongoing “evolution”.
Ahead of this week’s LIV event in Tucson, the six-time major champion pondered if changing from 54 to 72 holes could improve the fan product, as well as satisfy Official World Golf Ranking criteria.
The absence of world ranking points is a big box still unticked for LIV players who could one day see their major championship exemptions run out if they continue to tumble down the rankings.
The 52-year-old certainly didn’t rule out what could be a head-turning change, and one that could contradict one of the league’s key principles of 54-hole events – not to mention its name, which is ’54’ in Roman numerals.
“Evolution. We’ll just simply evolve,” he said. “When we see something that can be better, we have the fluidity to make the change and make it better.
“There’s a lot of specifics that we could look at and say, do we need to go to 72 holes to get world ranking points or what do we need to do to be the best product? But really it comes down to providing the best product to fans, to sponsors.
“This is a question that LIV has been asking that I haven’t been asked in the last 32 years: How can we make this the best experience for the professionals? And that’s what’s exciting for us as players to be a part of this league.
“Those are things we can talk about and again we have the fluidity to make changes if it’s in the best interests of the players or the league or for the fans or for the sponsors. But I don’t feel that that’s a pressing need right now, otherwise, it would have been changed.
“But again, the great thing about this league is its fluidity and its ability to adapt and make changes and do things quickly to make things better.”
Mickelson also expressed relief that the PGA Tour didn’t announce its new designated event schedule before he made the controversial move to LIV early last year.
But if the PGA Tour had announced its revamped schedule of new no-cut events before the formation of the Greg Norman-led breakaway league, would that have convinced him to stay put?
“I think that it’s really a good thing. I’m happy to see it,” Mickelson, who will lead the Hy Flyers team at Gallery this week, said. “I’m happy to see it for the Tour. I think there will always be a need and a want for traditional golf.
“And there’s always an opportunity to innovate and to allow LIV to be additive and create something new and different for the going.
“I also think the changes bring the best players about more often. I think that’s what fans want and what the sponsors want.
“They want to know what they are buying, and those are all things that LIV have provided for their sponsors and television and so forth. I think it’s a good model to follow, and I’m glad that they are.
“I’m thankful it didn’t happen a year ago. I’m really happy with the way LIV has brought about new change to the game.
“Because this team aspect is something that we really never saw as a possibility in golf until LIV came along. It brought about a new energy for me and a new dynamic, and my team-mates and myself are helping each other be our best.
“That’s been a lot of fun, playing practice rounds with them and going to dinner, hanging out.
“It’s brought a lot more joy to the professional golf experience, and I’m really appreciative that it’s come about, so I’m glad that those changes didn’t happen a year ago.”
Mickelson didn’t comment on the latest golf debate concerning golf ball roll back, but touched on the Masters, a tournament he has won three times.
Anticipation is at fever pitch for the first major of the year with a mixture of LIV Golf, PGA Tour, and DP World Tour players set to tee it up amongst each other.
Mickelson will join Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, and Charl Schwartzel at the Masters Champions Dinner which could create an interesting dynamic, to say the least.
Tiger Woods admitted last month that he won’t know how to react in front of the LIV rebels, but Mickelson is looking forward to returning to Augusta National.
“We’re all grateful that we’re able to participate in the Masters and all the majors because there was a lot of talk that that might not happen,” he added. “But here we are, able to do that, and we are all grateful for that as well.
“We are grateful to just be able to play and compete and be a part of it. A lot of the people there that are playing and competing in the Masters are friend for decades, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”
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