Phil Mickelson has been one of the most prominent names is the world of Golf over the last 20 years. He was a pioneer in bringing in personality and swagger to a game that has a strong tradition of elitism and stuffiness. From the aviator shades, to the all-black outfits, to the classic thumbs-up or finger point, Mickelson was a fan favorite on the PGA Tour for decades. Recently, he has made some comments that has landed in a bad position with not only fans of golf, but with sponsorships, and the PGA Tour itself.
Background of Saudi Super League
The prospective Saudi Golf League has been making headlines as of late for becoming an emerging rival to the PGA Tour. The main reason that the ’super league’ is being viewed in this light it because of players have some opportunity to make more money. However, not all that shines is gold. The underlying issue with this proposed Saudi league has nothing to do with the league itself, but more so where the primary funding and support comes from.
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is a wealth fund worth upwards of $400 Billion and is said to be the financial group backing the proposed Saudi Super League. Many professional golfers have been asked about the league and Mickelson’s initial comments to Alan Shipnuck are what put Mickelson in such hot water.
In his discussion with Shipnick, Mickelson acknowledges how repressive the current Saudi regime is with its harsh rules against homosexuality and freedom of speech. Without getting too political, this culture is very far removed from the standard that most players on the PGA Tour and its’ fans alike are familiar and comfortable with. After acknowledging the repressive culture that would be backing this supposed super league, he then says he would still be willing to partner with them because it would be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
This is where Phil went wrong. You can’t play both sides of the coin. You either choose with your moral compass or your bank account. Phil Mickelson chose his bank account. When analyzing these comments, it’s important to remember that Mickelson has been on the PGA Tour since 1992. That equates to 30 years of career earnings. In that time, he has made over $100 million in career earnings on tour. So this begs the question; is it really all about the money?
Since these comments were made, Mickelson has released an apology for his statements. He also added he would be taking some time away from golf. The reality of his comments came crashing down when two of his biggest sponsorship partners, KPMG and Heineken, severed ties with the three-time Masters winner.
Phil Mickelson has six career major championship victories. He’s one of the most notable names in the sport and has a massive fanbase. Does Phil deserve to face backlash for his comments? Of course. However, he can do the right thing and stick with the PGA Tour. Take the morality out of it, there is still a sense of loyalty that should be there after 30 years. The PGA is as popular right now as it has been since Tiger Woods went on his incredible run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Could the grass really be that much greener for a guy who’s had such an accomplished career already?
Phil Mickelson has had a career in the sport of golf that most professional golfers could only dream of. For that reason, he deserves a chance at redemption. He was the rival to Tiger Woods throughout their concurrent careers. Recently, Mickelson was a part of the Capital One Charity Matches featuring other athletes like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He has done so much for the sport of golf. It is up to him to make sure his legacy is not overshadowed by a lack in judgement.