PGA Tour champions Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shared a healthy rivalry for many years. While the duo were fierce competitors, they were also famous for their fun banter on and off the pitch. Their competition resonated with the fans as Mickelson once admitted that he was finding it “very hard” to win over Woods when it comes to "smack talk."
However, Woods and Mickelson drifted apart over time. Now, with the LIV Golf- PGA Tour debate, the chances of the duo playing together anytime soon seems impossible. Their relationship has also gone into a spiral as the duo openly criticized one another over their debate. Woods even expressed his disappointment while noting that he would “miss” Mickelson on the pitch.
The downward spiral began when Phil Mickelson accepted the Saudi-backed LIV Golf’s offer. The 2021 PGA Tour champion made his debut in the inaugural invitational tournament earlier this year. According to reports, Mickelson bagged a hefty sum to play in the 54-hole, 48-man field tournament. This was met with heavy criticism from many around the world, including Tiger Woods.
Back in May, Tiger Woods openly spoke about Mickelson’s decision to move to the Saudi-backed league. Sharing his thoughts about Phil Mickelson being absent from the 104th PGA Championship, Woods said that he was disappointed. The legendary golfer said, "We'll miss him," before going on to bash his rival. Woods backed the PGA Tour in the debate. He said:
"Phil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the Tour and committed to the legacy of the Tour have pushed back against, and he's taken some personal time, and we all understand that. Some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there. Obviously, we're going to have difference of opinions, how he sees the Tour, and we'll go from there."
Tiger Woods’ criticism of Mickelson came after the latter claimed the PGA of having "obnoxious greed." Following this, Woods mentioned that he would distance himself from the vision put forth by Mickelson, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and others. He said:
"I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There's plenty of money out here. The Tour is growing. But it's just like any other sport. It's like tennis. You have to go out there and earn it. You've got to go out there and play for it. We have opportunity to go ahead and do it. It's just not guaranteed up front"
Tiger Woods further mentioned that he hasn't spoken to Mickelson since the inception of the controversial debate.
The big LIV Golf- PGA Tour debate
The LIV Golf tour is a multimillion-dollar series backed by the Saudi government. Advertised as the biggest league in the world, the series was introduced to rival the PGA Tour. However, it suffered a major blow when Tiger Woods turned down an offer worth $700 to $800 million to feature.
While players like Mickelson accepted heavy paychecks from the Saudi Arabian administration-backed project, Woods dismissed it by saying that he "didn’t understand it." The recent inductee of the World Golf Hall of Fame openly criticized the ambitious series.
The PGA-LIV debate blew up when the PGA Tour suspended players, including Mickelson, who made their appearances in the Saudi-backed league. Following this, players on either side have been on loggerheads.