Another top-name professional golfer is leaving the PGA Tour to join another professional league backed by former President Donald Trump.
Phil Mickelson announced his decision over the weekend, according to another golf legend, Greg Norman, the frontman for the new league, which is also backed by money from Saudi Arabia.
“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation. His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He strengthens an exciting field for London where we’re proud to launch a new era for golf,” Norman said.
For Mickelson, his decision wasn’t automatic but principles-driven.
He said earlier that the Saudis were “scary motherf—ers to get involved with. We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.”
He added: “Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.
“They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as Monahan comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right,” he said, mentioning PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan.
“And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want the SGL to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the PGA Tour,” Mickelson continued.
“I don’t know where things are headed, but I know I will be criticized. The media rights are but a small fraction of everything else. And it is the Tour’s obnoxious greed that has really opened the door for opportunities elsewhere,” he said.
Other star golfers are also making the move. Dustin Johnson told the PGA he will join the Trump-backed LIV Golf league. He was reportedly paid around $125 million to join the Saudi Arabia-funded competitor to the PGA.
Johnson’s decision to leave the PGA Tour caused one of his sponsors, the Royal Bank of Canada, to dump him. The PGA is mounting a full-court press to persuade top golfers to stay, but it isn’t succeeding.
Other leading golfers making the move include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Kevin Na, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Talor Gooch.
Trump backed the new league and after the PGA of America announced last year they were yanking a major tournament from Trump’s club in Bedminster.