Phil Mickelson says he’s on the ‘winning side’ after joining the controversial LIV Golf series

CNN Newsource By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Veteran golfer Phil Mickelson says he’s on the “winning side” amid the ongoing dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

The 52-year-old joined the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway series earlier this year which has caused an enormous rift in professional golf.

LIV golfers have been banned from the PGA Tour and the two bodies are embroiled in an ongoing legal battle.

“I think going forward you have to pick a side. You have to pick what side do you think is going to be successful,” Mickelson told reporters at the LIV Golf Invitational Series in Jeddah on Thursday.

“I firmly believe that I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.”

In August, the LIV series joined an antitrust lawsuit from some of its players that alleges the PGA Tour threatened to place lifetime bans on players who participate on the LIV golf series, adding that “unprecedented suspensions” were placed upon them.

The suit also alleges the PGA Tour has threatened sponsors, vendors and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf events and access to their members.

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit in late September, claiming “tortious interference with the Tour’s contracts with its members.”

Mickelson, who was among a group of players who have removed themselves from the LIV Golf lawsuit against the PGA Tour, added: “Until both sides sit down and have a conversation and work something out, both sides are going to continue to change and evolve.”

The LIV Golf series is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who a US intelligence report named as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.

Six-time major winner Mickelson has previously been quoted from a 2021 interview with author Alan Shipnuck as making disparaging comments about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and asserting that the kingdom killed Khashoggi.

He has since claimed the comments were off the record — a claim that Shipnuck denied — and said they were shared out of context and without his consent.

Mickelson now says he’s happy to have joined the lucrative series.

It comes as fellow American Dustin Johnson secured the inaugural season-long LIV Golf individual championship this week, earning himself $18 million.

“I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA TOUR trending downwards and I love the side that I’m on … I love the way they involve us and listen to us in decisions,” Mickelson added.

“It’s so inclusive, it’s so fluid that things LIV Golf is leading.”

The-CNN-Wire
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