Phil Mickelson tends to make news when he speaks. Earlier today, he tried not to make news, which was news all the same.
After a respectable even-par 70 in the final round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, an uncharacteristically reticent Mickelson seemed determined to fend off questions about the Ryder Cup, the importance of a LIV Golf League member winning and his current penchant for belching out pointed observations on Twitter. It was an odd 10-minute exchange with reporters, save for his readiness to make swipes at golf’s establishment.
That’s the Phil Mickelson we all know.
“I guess it’s because I know some things that others don’t,” Mickelson said. “I just want to make sure everybody’s held accountable.”
What those things are he wasn’t saying. There is an ongoing anti-trust suit that LIV Golf has filed against the PGA Tour. And the Department of Justice has an active investigation of the tour for which Mickelson was deposed, a fact that he confirmed today. “I know a lot of stuff that will come out later,” said the six-time major winner in another of his cryptic replies.
It’s unusual for Mickelson, 52, to hold back his opinions, but for the most part that’s what he seemed determined to do after finishing his 100th finish in the money in a major championship at 10-over 290, beating playing partner Justin Thomas, a noted LIV critic, by two shots, in a pairing of the two most recent winners of the PGA.
He was determined but wholly successful.
“I don’t see how it’s any concern of the PGA of America what tour we play. That’s just my opinion,” he said.
But that was his only opinion on the Ryder Cup. More than once when the topic resurfaced, he responded, “It’s not my concern.
“I’ve had a lot of great experiences with the Ryder Cup,” he later added. “I’ve been involved in 13. Played in 12, vice-captain at Whistling Straits. I’ve had a lot of great experiences. Stories. Memories. I’ve had more than my share. So I’m fine with other people having those other opportunities as well.”
As for what a victory by a LIV golfer, specifically 54-hole leader Brooks Koepka, would do for the fledgling tour, which approaches its one-year anniversary next month, he wouldn’t hit the softball. “I don’t know. I’d be happy for him.”
Mickelson and two-time major winner Dustin Johnson were the most noteworthy players to jump to the LIV Golf League when it debuted the week before last year’s US Open. He said golf has been a “closed shop” and LIV, which plays its seventh event of the year outside Washington, DC, this week has made a difference, at least in one regard.
“Well, it’s provided 48 new professional golf opportunities at the highest pay, which is incredible. And is holding a lot of people accountable for some things that they’ve done,” he said. “It’s appealing to a lot younger generation and getting a lot younger fans to come out and introducing a whole different vibe to the game of golf that I think is necessary.
“We’re only a year,” he added. “I’m thinking three to five years out where we’ll be. To me it’s just starting. In two more years, that’s when we need to look back and say we are where we want to be. It seems like we’re well on that path… It’s not going anywhere. It’s gonna continue to accelerate and, hopefully people continue to give it a try.”