BROOKLINE – Phil Mickelson is at The Country Club this week, and before you wonder about your chances of winning the US Open – they’re not good, experts say – ask yourself a simple question.
Why is he here?
To win the last remaining big title, he has not yet won and to secure a Golf Slam at the age of 52 – this is the easy answer.
To take his cake and eat it too – that’s the real answer.
Mickelson stood on the podium of The Country Club for about 30 minutes on Monday afternoon and still said almost nothing. He seldom answered the questions he was asked, but he routinely threw himself at any reporter who asked questions in two parts.
“I don’t like it when you keep asking a lot of questions,” Mickelson said several times.
He offered a little explanation for his decision to join the LIV Golf tour, where the same 48 players compete over and over again in a short schedule of events that guarantee golfers more money than some have made in their entire careers. PGA Tour. He turned down questions about Saudi-backed bloody money that would be paid to get him out.
He believes that it doesn’t matter what he does, that he has the right to stay on the PGA Tour and play in any event he chooses, although he, along with others who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, was banned until further notice.
“I worked hard to win a lifetime membership, I worked hard to bring back the PGA Tour and golf in my 30 years or more of professional golf, and I won that lifetime membership, so I believe that should be my choice.” , he said.
If Mickelson is to be credited for his words on Monday, it is that he said what we all wanted to say: he did it for the money.
“I think he has an obvious incredible financial commitment,” said Mickelson, who won nearly $ 100 million in prize money during his legendary PGA Tour career, but will reportedly make $ 200 million for LIV Golf events alone. Unlike the PGA Tour, it doesn’t require golfers to actually perform well to get paid.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan called it “exhibition golf” and he’s right.
Mickelson also praised the smaller schedule and ability to “develop the game”, pointing out some young people who came out to see him play in the first LIV event in London last week. Apparently, attendance at the event was rare and LIV handed out tickets to entice people on the course.
In Brooklyn, meanwhile, the field was packed with fans on Monday, the first day of practice rounds. The cheapest ticket that could be found on the secondary market was over $ 400 for a one-day tournament game.
So why is Phil here?
Last year, he won the PGA Championship at the age of 50, becoming the oldest major player to win. No one over the age of 45 has won the US Open.
But in his mind his legacy is already built.
“I did my best to contribute to the game, to contribute to the PGA Tour during my stay with them, and that’s all I can do,” he said Monday.
Mickelson is too thoughtful, too intelligent, too self-centered not to know what he’s getting himself into.
He knows exactly what he’s doing.
Which means that Mickelson has either come to terms with the fact that he sold his soul to the devil and reluctantly swallowed his fate for the greater good of his bank account, or think about it for a moment: he actually likes to be hated.
Without anyone dominating the sport, as Tiger Woods once did, golf needs a villain as much as a hero. And let Mickelson, who has only won three PGA Tours in the last nine years, shake things up a bit.
His first days of making money were over. If he craves attention and tries to dig himself out of a hole because of his recognized gambling problems, why not take the bag the Saudis offer as he becomes the notorious golf robber?
He will lose fans and he knows it. He will feel it in Boston this week.
Anyone with a working brain and a beating heart must lose some respect for him and will develop a stronger hatred of man. But do not doubt for a moment that some people will love it for it.
His oldest and most loyal fans, those who began to love him for his sheer charm and his position as the Tiger’s worst rival, are the ones most likely to turn against him. It’s not good for the PGA Tour. It’s not good for American golf. And it is not good for the greater wealth of mankind.
Maybe one day he will be forgiven. The Tiger was forgiven after his troubles off course. Athletes are always forgiven.
Why does this one feel different?
Because it’s personal.
This is personal for anyone who has been interested in the PGA Tour and watched it excel largely thanks to Tiger and Phil. This is personal to those who supported Phil in the Ryder Cup, who saw him present stars and stripes of class and dignity, who are now watching this same man take money from a foreign government with a terrible human rights record, while helping the growth of a league with direct intentions to destroy one that was largely built on American soil.
This is personal to anyone who has watched him play a PGA event and loved golf more because of it.
It’s such a big chance to win the US Open this week that most gambling sites don’t even have a chance to bet on it. Or you can bet $ 100 to win $ 10,000 on Mickelson on the popular betting site Bovada.
So again, why is he in Brooklyn this week?