Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday he expects six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson to bounce back after comments over the Saudi-backed Super League plan cost him sponsors and a return to the circuit American PGA.
The Northern Ireland star was among those who criticized Mickelson’s comments, as author Alan Shipnuck relayed via the Fire Pit Collective website.
Mickelson, 51, called the Saudi partners “frightening” but said he was prepared to ignore what he called a “horrible human rights record”.
He cited the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said he wasn’t even sure he wanted the proposed Super League to survive – but he wanted to use it as leverage against the PGA Tour.
Mickelson criticized the American Tour’s “strong arm tactic” and commissioner Jay Monahan, saying the Tour’s financial policies deprive players of deserved money-making opportunities.
“A guy as nice as (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) comes across as, unless you have leverage, he’s not going to do the right thing. And Saudi money ultimately gave us that leverage,” Mickelson said.
A series of sponsors dropped Mickelson and other US PGA Tour pros criticized him.
McIlroy himself called Mickelson’s comments “naive, selfish, selfish, ignorant.”
But speaking to reporters Wednesday ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., McIlroy sounded more conciliatory.
“It’s unfortunate,” McIlroy said. “I think Phil has been a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf, he’s still a wonderful ambassador. »
Apologizing for his comments, Mickelson acknowledged they were “reckless”, but added he believed he was making them off the record.
He said he would take a break from golf.
“We all make mistakes,” McIlroy added. “We all say things that we want to take back. No one is different in this regard. But we should be allowed to make mistakes, and we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and for people. to forgive us and move on.
“I hope he comes back (to the US PGA Tour) at some point and he will. And people will welcome him back and be happy he’s back. »
While McIlroy told the Genesis Invitational last month he thought the proposed Super League wouldn’t take off, he said on Wednesday he could see a world tour developing in the future.
“I certainly think steps have been taken to get us closer to that point,” he said.
“Obviously this strategic alliance between DP World Tour and the PGA Tour, PGA Tour buying a stake in European Tour Productions, Jay (Monahan) having a seat on the board in Europe, they certainly work much more closely together, which is a great thing,” he said. “I think it has to be that way.
“The game of professional golf, everyone has to try to pull in the same direction instead of pulling against each other. I think we’re getting closer to that place.
“It could still be two tours side by side parallel to each other, but basically it would be a world tour, a world program.
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Rory McIlroy says PGA players want to see Phil Mickelson back – Reuters