CALIFORNIA’S PACIFIC PALISADES — If you thought Phil Mickelson was being honest when he called the PGA Tour “obnoxiously greedy,” wait till you hear what he has to say.
Mickelson trashed the PGA Tour and explained why he’s been in talks about joining the Saudi Golf League in an interview with Alan Shipnuck of the Fire Pit Collective, author of the upcoming book “Phil: The Rip-Roaring(and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar.” He “opened a vein,” as Shipnuck called it.
Here are a few of the most interesting passages.
Mickelson addressed why he might consider working with Saudi Arabia in a much-hyped breakaway Saudi Golf League:
He described them as “terrifying motherf—–s to get engaged with.” “We know they assassinated [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a dismal human rights record. People are executed for being gay in that country. Why would I ever consider it knowing all of this? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the way the PGA Tour works. Because we, the players, had no redress, they [the PGA Tour] were able to get away with deceptive, aggressive, and strong-arm techniques. Even if [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] appears to be a good guy, unless you have leverage, he will not do what is right. And it is thanks to Saudi money that we now have that leverage. I’m not sure I want [the SGL] to thrive, but the fact that it exists allows us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”
Regarding his desire to acquire media rights, he says:
“They have access to hundreds of millions of dollars in digital information that we might use for our social media feeds.” All of this must be owned by the players. We took those images, created those moments, and we should reap the benefits. That money isn’t required for the Tour. They already have a $800 million cash reserve on hand. How do you think the PIP will be funded? Alternatively, how about spending $200 million on the European Tour? The Tour is claimed to be a non-profit organization that donates money to good causes. How in the (hell) are they allowed to have so much cash on hand? The answer is that it isn’t. They, on the other hand, are constantly seeking more and more. Everything has to be under their control. Their ego will prevent them from making the necessary sacrifices.”
In terms of how he’d like to see the Tour’s policy framework rebuilt, he says:
Mickelson told Shipnuck, “The Tour tries to pretend it’s a democracy, but it’s really a dictatorship.” “They divide and conquer,” says the narrator. The top players’ issues are significantly different from those of the lower-paid players, yet there are a lot more of them. They use the top guys to improve their own situation, but the top guys have no voice in the matter.”
Mickelson’s governance concept is based on the United States Congress, according to Shipnuck. The Tour’s enormous middle class would act as the House of Representatives, voting on ideas that would subsequently be rejected or amended before being validated by a much smaller Senate-like body made up of the game’s biggest stars. “That way, nothing is done without both sides’ approval,” Mickelson explains.
Mickelson on the SGL’s chances of moving forward:
“I know 20 men who want to do this, and there’s a good chance it’ll happen if the Tour doesn’t do the right thing.”
Mickelson is talking a big game, but is he just threatening to leave for the SGL to get as many concessions as possible (PIP, higher purses, bonus money for playing 15 events so far)? Is the Tour going to call his bluff?
Only time will tell if this is true.