Friday, December 09, 2022

Saudi-funded golf chain conducts new investigation on Mickelson

scheduled tribe. ALBANS, England ( Associated Press) — Out of public view for four months, Phil Mickelson returns to golf under serious scrutiny because of where he’s playing and who’s paying him.

Mickelson is a six-time major champion, Tiger Woods’ most popular golfer on this side. And now he’s being referred to as “Stuge” by a human rights group after being among 48 players signed up for a rebel golf league backed by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“I do not condone human rights violations,” Mickelson responded hesitantly, choosing his words carefully at a brief news conference on Wednesday.

Mickelson, who last year made history as the oldest major champion in golf’s 161-year history, and Dustin Johnson are the leading faces of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the biggest threat to the PGA Tour in 1969.

As well as disrupting the royal and ancient game, it has forced Mickelson and others to weigh the value of taking more money than they’ve earned in their careers against the state’s notorious record on human rights.

The cash offered by LIV Golf is irresistible, especially for players like 51-year-old Mickelson who are in the late stages of their careers. The signing bonus is said to be as high as $150 million for Johnson, even more so for Mickelson.

The Washington Post quoted circuit overseer Greg Norman as saying that Woods turned down an offer he described as “the high nine points”.

Each event has $25 million in prize money – more than $20 million for the PGA Tour’s flagship event – with the winner banking $4 million and the last-place player earning $120,000. The first event of the circuit begins on Thursday at Centurion Golf Club near London.

for potentially jeopardizing his future participation in majors such as the Masters and Ryder Cup, while ignoring the flow of funds from the Public Investment Fund and facing a torrent of questions about accepting cash from Saudi Arabia Players are required, who have encountered on a global scale. Outrage over the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights violations. The state has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s death.

It was Mickelson who called the Saudis a “scary mother- (outrageous)” in comments reported in February, citing the killing of Khashoggi at the state consulate in Istanbul.

“I’ve done, said and done a lot of things that I’m sorry for, and I’m sorry for that, and I’m sorry for the hurt it has caused so many people,” he said. “I certainly know what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history.”

It is unclear how LIV Golf can help Saudi Arabia improve other than tarnish its image, although there is little evidence of the country’s support for the series around the Centurion Club in St. Albans.

“I understand that people have very strong opinions and may disagree with my decision,” Mickelson said when asked to elaborate on his apology, “and I can sympathize with that.”

Human rights activists see players as engaging in a process they call “sportswashing” – helping a country improve its image through events with famous athletes.

“Saudi Arabia has become more oppressive, not less, in recent years,” said Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive officer of Amnesty International UK. “Human rights defenders and peaceful critics have been locked up, torture in prisons is rampant, and mass executions have shocked the world. Instead of acting as willing puppets of Saudi sportswashing, we at the LIV Golf Invitational bring golfers to the Saudis Would like to see him speak about human rights abuses in Arabia.”

Cowboy by news conference co-host and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer 16 golfers facing the media outside London have faced some questions about the competition. There is no cut and shotgun start in a 54-hole tournament, meaning everyone starts on a different hole at the same time. No other tournament in the world does this.

The series name LIV – which rhymes with “give” – ​​takes its name from the Roman numerals for 54.

Former top-ranked Lee Westwood had no hesitation in accepting the cash incentive to join the series.

“This is my 29th season,” said the 49-year-old Englishman. “If there is a pay increase, then at my age, I’d be a fool not to take it, or of course take a good look at it and then not take it.”

It was also taken down by compatriot Ian Poulter, 46, who stands to rapidly improve on the $28 million he earned in career prize money.

Of LIV, Poulter said, “It’s a huge amount of money, but it’s a great platform to be able to build up the game of golf and give back at the same time.”

Of the eight incidents, only one is in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah in October. There are five tournaments scheduled for the United States, starting July 1–3 near Portland, Oregon. Two are on courses owned by former President Donald Trump. This is a direct challenge to the PGA Tour as its rules do not allow any releases for tournaments held in North America.

Unlike two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, who has resigned from his membership, Mickelson has resisted leaving the PGA Tour.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion who sank the winning putt in the Ryder Cup that same year, is aware of potential disciplinary consequences for competing on the LIV circuit while not severing ties with the PGA.

“Why as a player, would I want to be involved in some sort of legal situation with one of the greatest tours in the world?” McDowell said.

The PGA Tour has stated that a member who plays in the LIV series will face discipline because he did not allow a release. It has not said what it will be, although commissioner Jay Monahan said at a player meeting earlier this year that he would be banned.

Players joining LIV hope that the PGA Tour, along with the European Tour, allows players to compete where they want and LIV becomes just another circuit that counts for ranking points being fed to the majors. keeps.


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