Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was speaking ahead of LIV Golf Miami Image Credit: LIV Golf

Six-time Major champion Phil Mickelson believes golf will end up in a “more global environment” which will open up more playing opportunities for professionals.

Mickelson was one of early movers to the LIV Golf League back in 2022, with the American stating in an interview with Alan Shipnuck that he was willing to use the Saudi-backed circuit as leverage against the PGA Tour and that he and other players paid attorneys to help LIV Golf develop its business plan.

Those comments were released a couple of months after Mickelson had referred to the PGA Tour’s "obnoxious greed" as a reason why players might be interested in joining the breakaway league, while maintaining the PGA Tour was sitting on millions of dollars that should be going to the players.

In the time since Mickelson’s departure from the American circuit, the PGA Tour announced a series of limited field events with bumper prize funds and no cut – almost a copy of what LIV Golf was offering since their first event in 2022.

After PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, made the announcement of the new-look events, Mickelson quickly responded.

“Before I left I brought a $1 billion commitment from a current PGA Tour partner to have 8 elevated events and give equity and ownership in these events to the players. JM’s quote was “I don’t believe the league is going to happen so we won’t be doing that.” No vote, no discussion,” Mickelson claimed on X last year.

Plenty more has happened since, including the PGA, DP World Tour and Public Investment Fund (PIF), the backers of LIV Golf, announcing a framework agreement last June as well as a bucketload of star names defecting to the circuit including current Masters champion Jon Rahm and 2022 Champion Golfer of the Year, Cameron Smith.

So, how much of the past few years has gone how Mickelson expected in golf, and where does he want it to go?

“So, I knew the first two years were going to be interesting,” said Mickelson before LIV Golf Miami, which gets underway on Friday.

“And how it all plays out, where it ends up, I don't know exactly. I just know that in the end, it's going to be a more global sport and there's going to be more opportunities.

“We already have 52 more playing opportunities or 54, for players. That's 54 more job opportunities that we didn't have before, and they are on a more global scale.

“So, we are bringing high-end, world-class professional golf to parts of the world to open up opportunities in those countries, and getting young kids to see it first-hand, the way we did, when we went to our local tour event and saw the pros for the first time and got inspired.

“So, I don't know exactly where it's going to end up, but I know it's going to end up in a more global environment.”

While talks remain ongoing between PIF, the DP World and PGA Tour to come to an agreement in healing the fractures the game, Mickelson believes another problem need solving.

Phil Mickelson with the PGA Championship trophy
Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner of a Major when winning the PGA Championship in 2021 Image Credit: Reuters

How does the game get more non-golfer viewers?

“One of the challenging things about golf that we don't talk about is that pretty much everybody here, we all watch football,” said Mickelson.

“We enjoy watching NFL, but we don't play it. I don't play football. I don't go tackle on the weekend and nobody here does, but we all watch it.

“Golf, a lot of our viewers, almost all, a huge percentage of them, they all play golf, and how do we get golf to people that don't play golf. Like that's one of the challenges that's quietly being addressed with ideas and so forth, and I think there's going to be some things that will appeal in the end to people that don't necessarily play that want to watch and be interested in the game.

“Those are some areas that are being addressed quietly, haven't been discussed yet, but those are small parts that I think in the end we are going to have some ideas.

“We are already here at LIV targeting a younger audience by decades, and that's a good thing, is we want to keep the younger generation interested in the game and not just keep losing fans. We want to keep gaining new ones as we lose some to age.”