“A force in the game that’s not going away” - Phil Mickelson backs LIV Golf again amid strong comments from Rory McIlroy

US Open - Preview Day 1
US Open - Preview Day 1 (Image via Getty)

Rory McIlroy has been a staunch opponent of the LIV Golf. The Irish golfer recently doubled down on his standing against the Saudi-backed series and slammed his former Ryder Cup teammates who defected from the American circuit. He also noted that the PGA Tour-LIV Golf fight has gotten out of control.

Despite the strong comments, Phil Mickelson was complimentary of McIlroy. The LIV golfer was at a press conference, ahead of the upstart circuit's season finale, when he said he had "utmost respect" for McIlroy. He agreed that the "us versus them" dynamic between LIV Golf and players on the PGA and DP World Tour has gone out of hand.

However, the American golfer maintained his stand in the fight and said LIV was here to stay.

Phil Mickelson addresses Rory McIlroy's comments

Phil Mickelson was at LIV Golf's Team Championship at Trump National Doral, Miami, when he reacted to Rory McIlroy's comments. However, he didn't want to "detract from what's happening this week" at the event. Addressing the PGA Tour star's recent comments, Mickelson lauded the rebel series and said that the LIV Golf series is a "force in the game that is not going away."

Speaking to the media at Trump National Doral, Phil Mickelson said:

“You know, I think a lot of Rory. I really have the utmost respect for him, and I look at what he’s done in the game and how he’s played this year and his win last week and No. 1 in the world now, and I have a ton of respect for him… We’ll have three months off after this event to talk about things like that and so forth, but this week something is happening that I don’t want to deflect focus on, which is we’ve never had a team event like this in professional golf.”

Recently, world No.1 Rory McIlroy took a jibe at Mickelson's comment claiming that LIV Golf was "trending upwards" and the PGA Tour was "trending downwards." The Irish golfer dubbed the comment as the rebel series' "propaganda." Mickelson responded and said:

“But just — maybe I shouldn’t have said stuff like that, I don’t know.”

Further speaking at Doral, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson said that the Saudi-backed series has already defied all expectations.

He said:

“If I’m just looking at LIV Golf and where we are today to where we were six, seven months ago and people are saying this is dead in the water, and we’re past that, and here we are today, a force in the game that’s not going away.”
🚨 | Per @NoLayingUp, Phil Mickelson reportedly received a round of applause at the LIV Golf press conference in Miami after talking about just how far the breakaway series has come in the last six months 😳

Mickelson added:

“It’s pretty remarkable how far LIV Golf has come in the last six, seven months. I don’t think anybody can disagree with that.”

Phil Mickelson was seated with British Open winner Cameron Smith, English Ryder Cup favorite Ian Poulter, and former Masters winner Bubba Watson when he made the statement. However, the American golfer declined to respond directly to McIlroy's comments. He seemed more focused on the LIV team championship, featuring a whopping $50 million purse.

It is pertinent to note that Ian Poulter also responded to one of Rory McIlroy's recent comments. The English golfer clapped back at the Irishman after he claimed to have felt "betrayed" by his European Ryder Cup teammates, including Poulter, as they joined LIV. The golfer took offense at McIlroy's comments and said that he was fully committed to events like the Ryder Cup and that his teammates were wrong to question his values.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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