Phil Mickelson ‘looking forward to seeing friends again’ at Masters

Phil Mickelson is excited with the prospect of being reunited with friends at next month’s Masters Tournament as LIV Golf and PGA Tour players get set to play on the biggest stage together for the first time in nine months. 

This year’s tournament is arguably the most anticipated yet given the divisions in the game over the last year or so with LIV Golf players unable to compete on the PGA Tour, which has meant star names such as Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Mickelson haven’t had the opportunity to go head-to-head with Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and co since the 150th edition of the Open last July.

“There’s no expectations (for LIV players at the Masters),” said Mickelson.

“We are grateful to just be able to play and compete and be a part of it. A lot of the people there that are playing and competing in the Masters are friend for decades, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”

Next month’s showdown at Augusta National will mark the fourth time the three-time champion has played a 72-hole event since joining LIV Golf – he has missed the cut in the last three.

Will LIV’s diluted 54-hole events, with no-cut shotgun starts and guaranteed money, be sufficient preparation for the game’s four Major Championships?

“To bring the most value to your team, you have to play your best, and so you still have to put in the work and shoot low scores,” said Mickelson, when asked if his focus on the Hyflyers would impede his preparation for the Masters.

“That’s how you bring the value to your team as a player. And so that’s not going to change. That will be the same whether it’s in team golf or individual golf, but the support system to help be your best is certainly a nice benefit.

“We’re all grateful that we’re able to participate in the Masters and all the Majors because there was a lot of talk that that might not happen. But here we are, able to do that, and we are all grateful for that as well.”

Similar model

Earlier this month, the PGA Tour announced a major change to their scheduling from 2024 onwards which will now see eight of its leading events – excluding Majors – feature smaller fields along with the removal of the traditional 36-hole cut – following a similar model to that of LIV Golf.

“I think that it’s really a good thing, I’m happy to see it,” he said.

“I’m happy to see it for the Tour. I think there will always be a need and a want for traditional golf. And there’s always an opportunity to innovate and to allow LIV to be additive and create something new and different for the going.

“I also think the changes bring the best players about more often. I think that’s what fans want and what the sponsors want. They want to know what they are buying, and those are all things that LIV have provided for their sponsors and television and so forth. I think it’s a good model to follow, and I’m glad that they are.”

Following the news of the new look schedule, Mickelson took to Twitter to claim the PGA Tour rejected his efforts to bring in $1 billion for eight big events just before he made the move to LIV Golf.

Would the six-time Major winner had stayed had the changes been implemented before he made the switch to the Saudi-backed league?

“I’m thankful it didn’t happen a year ago,” he said.

“I’m really happy with the way LIV has brought about new change to the game. Because this team aspect is something that we really never saw as a possibility in golf until LIV came along. It brought about a new energy for me and a new dynamic, and my teammates and myself are helping each other be our best. That’s been a lot of fun, playing practice rounds with them and going to dinner, hanging out.

“It’s brought a lot more joy to the professional golf experience, and I’m really appreciative that it’s come about, so I’m glad that those changes didn’t happen a year ago.

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