Phil Mickelson praised Rory McIlroy and called for an end to any divide or disdain between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. The Northern Irishman has been perhaps the biggest detractor of the LIV circuit, while Mickelson has led the way in speaking out against the PGA Tour after becoming one of the first high-profile names to switch to the 54-hole Saudi-backed league.
McIlroy has vehemently opposed LIV Golf since its controversial launch over the last two years, resisting as several stars signed for eye-watering sums. However, the divide between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf deepend last month as Jon Rahm became the latest big name to defect in favor of the breakaway tour backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Rahm’s shock switch was accelerated by the shock announcement in June that LIV Golf was set to sensationally merge with the PGA Tour – talks that continue after the December 31 was extended. This news sent a seismic shock around the golf world, but it appears McIlroy is now finally taking a softer stance when it comes to the breakaway tour.
In an interview with Sky Bet’s ‘Stick to Football’, McIlroy suggested he was ‘too judgemental’ of his peers who left for LIV Golf. Mickelson, who led the PGA Tour exodus nearly two years ago, has now urged fans on either side to come together and move forward amid merger talks.
“This quote and the many others made today by Rory probably weren’t easy to say,” the six-time major champion wrote on social media. “Let’s not use this as an opportunity to pile on.
“Rather, It’s time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future. Rahm’s signing is turning into a bridge to bring both sides together, as evidenced by the many comments today and a month ago about changing the rules for the Ryder Cup so Jon and others can play, so let’s use it as such.
“Until an agreement is reached it will be business as usual for both sides but hopefully without the needless disdain.”
McIlroy spoke candidly and openly about LIV Golf, acknowledging the Saudi-backed tour’s place in the sport’s new ecosystem. Mickelson’s tweet was in response to the 34-year-old’s comments on how the arrival of LIV Golf revealed ‘flaws’ in the framework of professional golf.
“I think what LIV has done, it’s exposed the flaws in the system of [golf], because we’re all supposed to be independent contractors and we can pick and choose what tournaments we want to play,” the four-time major champion said. “But I think what LIV and the Saudis have exposed is that if you’re going on a tour and you’re asking sponsors for millions of dollars to sponsor these events, and you’re not able to guarantee to the sponsors that the players are going to show up.
“I can’t believe the PGA Tour has done so well for so long. It’s exposed some flaws in the system that hopefully golf will have a look at more. If we’re going to ask these people for so much money, we need to be able to guarantee them what they’re getting.”
The LIV Golf and PGA Tour potential merger was expected to be finalised by the end of 2023, although the deadline has since been extended. Talks will continue in 2024, with hopes for an agreement by the Players Championship to avoid being a distraction to The Masters in April.