ROCHESTER, NY — Phil Mickelson was asked about LIV Golf’s greatest accomplishment in the year since its inaugural event and his answer was all about the money.
“It’s provided 48 new professional golf opportunities at the highest pay, which is incredible,” was Mickelson’s first thought Sunday after finishing the 2023 PGA Championship at 10-over par 290.
One of those, of course, is Mickelson, whose reported $200 million contract was the largest given out by the Saudi Arabia-financed league. But it’s probably not what CEO and commissioner Greg Norman wanted to hear as LIV continues to battle the perception that players were only going for the money grab when they joined the breakaway tour.
Mickelson, who had his best round of the weekend Sunday with an even-par 70, then talked about LIV “holding a lot of people accountable” and appealing to “a lot younger” generation.
“It’s … getting a lot younger fans to come out and introduce a whole different vibe to the game of golf that I think is necessary,” he said.
“We’re only a year (in) and I’m thinking, three to five years out, where we’ll be,” Mickelson said. “But we’re only a year in so to me it’s just starting. In two more years, that’s when we need to look back and say, ‘Okay, are we where we want to be?’ And it seems like we’re well on that path.”
Mickelson would not comment directly on the recent New York Times report that he said, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia were interviewed by the Justice Department, other than to say it was accurate and he knew “a lot of stuff” would come out later.
The DOJ is investigating the PGA Tour for antitrust violations and collusion when it comes to the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don’t want to get into specific details but I know a lot of stuff that will come out later that I am appreciative that they’re being held accountable,” Mickelson said.
LIV is six events into its 14-tournament schedule this season with the next stop this week at Trump National outside Washington, DC Players have talked about the reception at the international events, especially last month in Australia.
Mickelson said “unequivocally” LIV is more popular outside the US and was asked what it would take to catch on in the United States.
“Have a little bit more open mindedness, maybe, is my guess,” he said. “But the people who come out and are part of the tournaments seem to be really enjoying it.
“Look, it’s not going anywhere. It’s going to continue to accelerate and hopefully people will continue to give it a try.”
Open-mindedness from whom?
“Kind of everyone in the sense that golf’s been kind of a closed shop, right?,” he said. “Every tour is run by one organization. Golf had the same structure for, I don’t know, a century or two, and now we’re introducing it to a slightly different presentation bit.
“And it’s appealing to a little bit younger crowd and you kind of have to be open minded to give it a try and say, … ‘even though I’ve done it this way for decades and decades, maybe I should be open to looking at a different way.’”
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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek