Philip Alfred Mickelson, also known as Lefty, is an American professional golfer who was born on June 16, 1970. On the PGA Tour, he has won 45 events, including three Masters crowns (2004, 2006, and 2010), two PGA Championships (2005, 2021), and one Open Championship (2013). Mickelson became the oldest major tournament winner in history when he won the 2021 PGA Championship at the age of 50 years, 11 months, and 7 days.
Mickelson is one of only 17 golfers in history to have won three of the four majors. Except for the U.S. Open, where he has finished second a record six times, he has won every major.
Mickelson has been in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for more than 25 years. He has spent almost 700 weeks in the top ten, has a career-high world ranking of No. 2 on many occasions, and is a PGA Tour life member. Despite being naturally right-handed, he is recognized for his left-handed stroke, which he developed by copying his right-handed father’s. In 2012, he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Controversy Surrounding Phil Mickelson and Saudi’sportswashing’ Explained
Phil Mickelson is in serious trouble. Now he’s apologizing and attempting to skirt around the shocking and callous remarks he made to novelist Allen Shipnuck. Mickelson’s sponsors are jumping ship, detaching themselves from the golfer, in the midst of a massive issue of his own creating.
At the heart of it all is an existential danger to Mickelson’s meticulously constructed and managed public image. It was for many the first look of who the golfer is when the cameras are turned off, and it was not pretty. Now we go back to the beginning to see how Mickelson went from being the face of golf to being a pariah so quickly.
The Future of Golf Is Being Fought Over
Since 1968, the PGA Tour has been the home of professional golf in the United States, hosting and administering all domestic tournaments (excluding majors). The player-owned and operated company has managed to strike a delicate balance between keeping enough participants to run events and keeping a select group of elite, household-name players pleased.
There has been friction recently, similar to when the PGA Tour split from the PGA in the 1960s. Those great players are angry with the PGA Tour’s leadership once again and want a bigger piece of the money pie. As Slate writer Alex Kirshner put it:
Enter LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia. It’s a new organization with Greg Norman as its public face, with the goal of attracting elite players away from the PGA Tour. LIV Golf, supported and funded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is providing massive money and unprecedented scheduling flexibility to have top players compete in a Super League.
It’s part of the country’s “sports washing” effort, which entails utilizing sport to restore a country’s bad reputation by hosting sporting events and using athletes as spokespeople to praise the host’s merits.
The Saudi government has done this with Formula One Saudi Arabia GP, WWE’s annual “Crown Jewel” events, the Diriyah Tennis Cup, and now golf — all in an attempt to elicit sympathy from predominantly Western viewers. It’s all a ruse to divert attention away from the country’s human rights abuses while keeping the world’s oil markets under its totalitarian control.
Phil Mickelson Did Something Unusual by Saying the Silent Section Aloud
All of these high-stakes transactions have one thing in common: they prioritize profits over principles. Before 2018, engaging in Saudi sports washing was a risky proposition, and it has since become disgusting. After visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled, dismembered, and his body was dissolved in acid.
The Western world struggled to come up with a coherent response to the heinous atrocity. There was no serious international censure since no one wanted to anger the Saudi government, which they rely on for oil production. The US Senate passed a resolution holding the Crown Prince responsible for Khashoggi’s death, but Trump refused to accept it, instead of playing a game of “maybe, maybe not” when challenged about the journalist’s death.
When a Saudi show trial found five men guilty of Khashoggi’s murder, but failed to condemn any of the government’s decision-makers or accuse the Crown Prince, most of the west was placated. Amnesty International termed the verdict “whitewashing,” but business as usual continued in the west.
Enter Mickelson, who told Alan Shipnuck why he was thinking about joining the Saudi-backed Super League.
All you need to know is contained in that single quote. Mickelson knows the country’s appalling human rights record and acts, and he is aware that participating in a sports washing effort is fundamentally immoral, but he adds, “but hey, it’s a nice opportunity.” It’s everything that’s usually left unsaid or overlooked when it comes to hosting sporting events in Saudi Arabia or accepting the Crown Prince’s money. It demonstrates that, for Mickelson, the objective justifies the means, regardless of the cost.
The golfer is now in serious trouble. In one interview, he not only enraged his new Saudi supporters but also demonstrated to the world that money and power are more important than morals, which contradicts Mickelson’s public image.
He issued a statement on Tuesday that seemed to apologize more to the Saudis for insulting them than to address his willingness to participate in a sports washing effort.