Phil Mickelson is back in the limelight and back teasing the golf world in ways only he knows how
If you thought golf’s civil war was going to calm down once LIV Golf had settled in for another year, then think again.
Ahead of the Saudi International, the Asian Tour’s flagship event at which LIV’s stars will tee up this week, Phil Mickelson – sporting a new, slimmer look – has warned the PGA and DP World Tours the noise won’t be going away any time soon.
LIV’s most outspoken player in the breakaway tour’s opening months, Mickelson has been somewhat quieter recently, allowing others – mainly Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau – to do the cheerleading on his behalf.
But Lefty’s back with aplomb as he prepares to tee up at Royal Greens, in Jeddah, for what will be his first competitive appearance since LIV’s 2022 finale in October. And his press conference, as they so often do, left more questions than answers.
“I have to be very careful,” the six-time major champion said. “I can’t say all the things I want to say yet.
“But many this year I’ll be able to. I’ll have that freedom when some of these things going on off the course get settled and become more transparent.
“When you have characters in the game, when you have controversy in the game, I think it creates a lot more excitement, a lot more awareness.”
Referencing the “tee-gate” incident between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, Mickelson said it “added to the excitement level” of the tournament.
“I thought it was great for the game to have that type of interest, and it’s brought interest throughout the globe. That’s a really good thing.
“In a couple of weeks I expect that the LIV players will win their case in the UK, and we’ll open the doors for all players to play on the European Tour. There’s a very good chance that you’ll have more showdowns, more head-to-head competitions like you saw last week in Dubai, and I think that would be a really good thing for the game.”
As for his own game, and noticeably different physical appearance, Mickelson said he has “a whole different energy” and a “whole different excitement”.
“I’ve been rejuvenated,” he added. “I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in a long time. I’m back to my college weight, back to where I was when I turned pro. It allows me to recover faster after I play.
“I’m very optimistic about playing at a level that I expect to play at. I’m embarrassed with how I played last year. I’m going to put that behind me and have a really good year.”
The 2023 LIV Golf series will get underway at the end of February.