By David Close, Amy Woodyatt and Sammy Mngqosini, CNN
Six-time golf major champion Phil Mickelson will participate in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament at the Centurion Club near London, along with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, who on Tuesday resigned from the PGA Tour ahead of headlining the controversial series.
Mickelson, who won the last of three Masters green jackets in 2010, has not played since controversial comments about the Saudi Arabian-funded events were published earlier this year by his biographer.
He was quoted from a 2021 interview with author Alan Shipnuck for his upcoming book, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar,” as saying that he would consider joining the proposed Super League because it is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
Shipnuck quoted Mickelson as saying disparaging things about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and asserting that the kingdom killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mickelson said in February he would take “some time away” from golf after being criticized for the comments.
Mickelson tweeted a statement Monday, “I am thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved. I also intend to play the majors.”
Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, stated in part on Monday, “(Mickelson) strengthens an exciting field for London where we’re proud to launch a new era for golf. Our International Series qualifiers have earned an incredible opportunity to compete in LIV Golf’s new format, and I’m eager to watch all of them tee it up…”
Mickelson was apologetic in Monday’s statement saying “I want to again apologize to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments a few months ago. I have made mistakes in my career in some of the things I have said and done … I have been engaged and intentional in continued therapy and feel healthy and much more at peace. I realize I still have a long way to go, but I am embracing the work ahead.”
CNN reached out to LIV Golf about how much money Mickelson will earn for participating.
Johnson quits PGA Tour
Meanwhile, Johnson announced he had resigned from the PGA Tour to compete in the LIV Golf event.
He is set to play along with 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, two-time major winner Martin Kaymer and Kevin Na among others.
“It’s hard to speak on what the consequences might be, but I’ve resigned my membership of the Tour and that’s the plan for now,” he said at a press conference at the Centurion Club, outside London, the venue for the inaugural Saudi-backed event which tees off on Thursday.
The 37-year-old American will no longer be eligible for the Ryder Cup but remains optimistic about featuring in future events of the biennial competition against Europe, having been on the winning side twice in five appearances.
“The Ryder Cup is unbelievable and has meant a lot to me, but ultimately I decided this was best for me and my family,” he said.
“All things are subject to change and hopefully, at some point, it will change and I will get a chance to do that again,” he added.
In a statement released later on Tuesday, the United States Golf Association (USGA) says it will welcome all golfers who have earned the right to play in the US Open, including players who have decided to participate in the LIV Golf series.
The USGA, citing its aim to be “the most open championship in the world,” says it would not be appropriate or fair to change the tournament’s established field criteria. The association also clarified that its decision should not be viewed as a show of support for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series or its players.
Johnson is the second golfer to resign from the PGA Tour in order to play in the controversial breakaway lead, after American Na announced his decision last week.
CNN reached out to the PGA Tour for comment about Johnson’s resignation.
Last week, the PGA Tour threatened “disciplinary action” for PGA Tour golfers who participate in the new Saudi-backed series.
In a Washington Post article posted Sunday, Norman admitted Tiger Woods was offered huge money to be a part of the upstart series but turned it down. Norman said the proposal to Woods was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”
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