Phil Mickelson Denies Doing Infamous Interview With Alan Shipnuck
In February, before tensions between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf reached their fever pitch, former Sports Illustrated and Golf magazine writer Alan Shipnuck published a piece that included expansive thoughts from Phil Mickelson on the upstart league and his involvement with it. Shipnuck was putting the final touches on his book Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar. The following paragraph drew the most attention:
Mickelson told me he had enlisted three other “top players” he declined to name and that they paid for attorneys to write the SGL’s operating agreement, codifying that the players would have control of all the details. He didn’t pretend to be excited about hitching his fortunes to Saudi Arabia, admitting the SGL was nothing more than what he called “sportswashing” by a brutally repressive regime. “They’re scary motherf--kers to get involved with,” he said. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the SGL] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”
Rory McIlroy spoke for a large swath by saying the quotes were "naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant." Lefty would subsequently offer a long statement on the matter.
“First and foremost, I want to again apologize to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments a few months ago. I have made mistakes in my career in some of the things I have said and done,” Mickelson wrote. “Taking time away and self-reflecting has been very humbling. I need to start prioritizing the people that I love the most and work on becoming a better version of myself ...
There's a new twist today as Mickelson, speaking ahead of LIV's weekend event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, now says he never did an interview with Alan Shipnuck.
This is a bit confusing. And that's before you notice Mickelson is sporting a new henna tattoo on his left hand. Which seems like the bigger story.