Mickelson questioned Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and labelled them “scary motherf******”; he has since apologised for his “reckless” comments and has filed a request to play in an LIV Golf Invitational Series event that conflicts with the PGA Tour
Last Updated: 03/05/22 12:30am
Phil Mickelson’s recent criticism of a proposed Saudi-backed breakaway tour in golf has ‘hurt’ the upstart league, according to former two-time major championship winner Greg Norman, CEO of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Comments from a Mickelson interview with author Alan Shipnuck in November came to light in February in which the 51-year-old called the Saudis “scary motherf****** to be involved with” and questioned the country’s human rights record.
Mickelson has since apologised for his “reckless” comments and has filed a request to play in an event that conflicts with the PGA Tour, signaling his desire to still play in the new Saudi Super League.
Norman, speaking to ESPN on Monday, said of the Mickelson controversy: “There’s no question (it) hurt.
“It hurt a lot of aspects. It hurt the PGA Tour. It hurt us. It hurt the game of golf. It hurt Phil. So yeah, across all fronts.
“It wasn’t just specifically to us. But it definitely created negative momentum against us.”
Norman added that nearly one third of the top 50 players in the world were committed to playing in the new golf tour, even though when Mickelson’s comments were revealed, many top players reaffirmed their commitment to playing on the PGA Tour.
“Quite honestly, we were ready to launch (in February),” Norman said. “We had enough players in our strength of field, or minimal viable product, ready to come on board.
“And when all of that happened, everybody got the jitters.”
Originally set to be a 14-event schedule, the LIV Golf Invitational Series has restructured itself with a potential eight-event season. Of those, five are expected to take place in the United States. A total of $255 million is expected to be up for grabs.
“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised,” Norman added. “What has been talked about in the media and what is reality are two different things.
“We know what’s happening with a lot of interest expressed. From an expectation standpoint, we’ve got a lot of interest from significantly named players.”