Phil Mickelson was among the first to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. Despite being controversial, the American golfer showcased immense confidence in the then-newly introduced Saudi-backed series. So much so, the six-time major winner even compared it to the influential World Series Cricket.
Mickelson insisted that he picked “the winning side” in the LIV-PGA Tour fight. Claiming that the Saudi-funded series was set to achieve success, the golfer drew parallels between it and the short-lived but influential World Series Cricket of the 1970s. Stating that he “didn’t grow up with cricket,” Mickelson said that it was still the “best analogy” for the LIV Golf situation.
Speaking to reporters at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast in October, Phil Mickelson said:
“I think you look back into the 1970s, what happened with cricket is probably the best analogy.”
The golfer went on to state that the divisive tour followed a template similar to the World Series Cricket. Interestingly, much like the Greg Norman-led circuit, the rebel cricket series was headed by an Australian, Kerry Packer.
The World Series held from 1977 to 1979 was highly controversial. The event that divided cricket at the time eventually popularized one-day and day-night matches. Mickelson reiterated that the disruptive series “totally changed” cricket and he wished LIV would do the same for golf.
“I didn’t grow up with cricket but I am becoming somewhat aware of what Kerry Packer did to evolve cricket and to pay professional cricket players a reasonable fee… I think they were making $200 a game back in the ‘70s and they weren’t getting paid and there wasn’t television rights and they were all having other jobs, and yet there was still money coming in.”
“And when Kerry Packer came and got involved and started paying the guys what they were worth and what they were bringing in, it totally changed and we’re seeing that happen now.”
It is pertinent to note that Phil Mickelson’s comparison was spot on. Much like the World Series, which popularized shorter formats of cricket, LIV Golf had set out to normalize shorter formats for golf. LIV, whose name translates to Roman numerals for ‘54’, conducts 54-hole events.
The inaugural season of LIV Golf concluded with eight events, giving players a longer break period. LIV also restricted its events to 48 players, rather than the usual field of 140.
Phil Mickelson says LIV was out to disrupt the monopoly in golf
Furthermore, Phil Mickelson went on to state that the rebel series was disrupting the monopolized market of golf. The American golfer said that the PGA Tour would no longer have all the best players in the world, thanks to LIV Golf.
Speaking at the same press conference, Phil Mickelson said:
“For a long, long time, like 30 years, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour. That will never be the case again… You have to pick what side you think is going to be successful, and I firmly believe that I’m on the winning side of how things are going to evolve.”
While LIV Golf wasn’t as popular as World Series Cricket in its first season, one can only wonder how the event will grow in its second.