Phil Mickelson joins LIV Golf Series as Tiger Woods turns down 'mind-blowing' offer

Six-time major winner to play first tournament since February when new tour begins at Centurion Club on Thursday

Phil Mickelson will be part of the 48-player field for the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series opener in London. AP
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Phil Mickelson will make his return to competitive golf at the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener in London, the six-time major winner confirmed on Monday, after signing up to play in the lucrative new tour.

Mickelson, who will be in the 48-player field at Centurion Club on Thursday, said he also plans to play major events, including next week's US Open.

"I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start," Mickelson wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Mickelson later on Monday told Sports Illustrated that he plans to play all eight LIV Golf events and compete in majors after talks with major sanctioning bodies.

"I'm looking forward to playing the US Open," Mickelson said. "I'm under the understanding that I'm able to play."

Mickelson said he will keep his US PGA Tour membership, unlike some who joined LIV Golf, but has not spoken with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan or long-time rival Tiger Woods.

"I'm uncertain how I will play given that I haven't played in a few months," Mickelson told SI. "But I'm optimistic."

Mickelson has not played since the publication of comments in February when he said he was using the new Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf enterprise as leverage against the PGA Tour.

Mickelson, a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, apologised when his original remarks were made public and took some "desperately needed time away" from golf, skipping the Masters and his PGA Championship title defence during his self-imposed exile.

"There's a lot of things I regret," Mickelson told SI. "I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt a lot of people and I'm really sorry."

During his absence, however, LIV Golf has forged ahead, with dozens of household names joining the new tour.

Last week, former world No 1 Dustin Johnson joined the new series, whose tournaments will offer among the richest purses in golf history.

Other notable names in this week's field include Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Richard Bland, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Americans Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Germany's Martin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.

Garcia, Oosthuizen, Schwartzel, and Grace resigned from the PGA Tour to pursue LIV, their manager told media outlets later Monday. They followed Na, who made his resignation announcement Saturday.

This week's event teeing off at Centurion Club at St Albans, north of London, will have a $25 million purse – almost double that of any major, with $4m going to the winner.

The Washington Post reported Monday that LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman said 15-time major winner Woods turned down a "mind-blowingly enormous" offer.

"We're talking about high nine digits," Norman said.

Woods said last month he supported the US PGA Tour, noting its legacy to such greats as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Players opting into LIV Golf have done so despite PGA Tour warnings of disciplinary action. Several PGA Tour golfers had requested releases to play this week's LIV event, which clashes with the PGA's Canadian Open, but were refused.

Mickelson became the oldest major winner at age 50 by capturing the 2021 PGA Championship and in 2012 was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation," Norman said. "We are grateful to have him."

Updated: June 07, 2022, 4:21 AM