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Rory McIlroy joined Justin Thomas in criticizing Phil Mickelson’s comments on how the Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League might be a tool by which to effect change on the PGA Tour.
Alan Shipnuck, who’s writing a biography on Mickelson, shared comments from the six-time major champion on the Super Golf League that quickly gained traction:
“They’re scary motherf–kers to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. 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.”
Mickelson’s comments didn’t sit well with McIlroy, who described them as “naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant.”
“It was just very surprising and disappointing. It was just very surprising and disappointing. Sad,” he told reporters. “I’m sure he’s sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”
Thomas echoed a similar sentiment when he said Mickelson made an “egotistical statement”:
Zephyr Melton @zephyrmelton
Justin Thomas says Phil’s claim about using the Saudi league as leverage to change the PGA Tour is an “egotistical statement.” pic.twitter.com/yPyfNMBD07
There’s no question the threat of a breakaway golf tour was the kind of thing that might force the PGA Tour to rethink policies and procedures that may be unpopular among the sport’s top stars.
It appears the Super Golf League may go the way of the Super League in European soccer, however.
Should the Saudi-backed competition forge ahead, it will do so without a lot of the top players who will inevitably be required to make a new tour viable.
On Sunday, the PGA Tour shared a statement from Dustin Johnson, who made it clear he’s not leaving. Bryson DeChambeau, widely viewed as the biggest uncertainty still on the board, recommitted to the PGA Tour for now as well.
Even if he doesn’t ultimately go anywhere, Mickelson is increasingly finding himself on an island by lending the Super Golf League the kind of legitimacy many of his peers have declined to give it.