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Why was Phil Mickelson suspended by PGA?

Phil Mickelson at the 150th Open - Day One (Image via Getty)
Phil Mickelson at the 150th Open - Day One (Image via Getty)

Phil Mickelson made his debut in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series in June. The 2021 PGA Tour champion reportedly bagged a hefty paycheck to play at the inaugural season of the invitational tournament. However, Mickelson's association with LIV landed him in trouble as the PGA Tour suspended the former champion.

Mickelson participated in the 54-hole, 48-man field Saudi administration-backed tournament. The 52-year-old athlete chose to back the newly introduced series despite harsh criticism. The six-time major championship winner on the PGA Tour joined Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Kevin Na, and Louis Oosthuizen at the controversial tournament.

This was not entertained by the PGA Tour, which soon released a statement banning golfers. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan took strict action against the players who participated in the Saudi-backed series introduced to rival the PGA. Phil Mickelson was one of the first to face the heat.

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PGA Tour suspends Phil Mickelson for two years

Phil Mickelson was suspended by the PGA in March. He was suspended even before his debut in the LIV Golf series. According to the lawsuit filed by the former PGA Tour champion, the US-based tour suspended the golfer for alleged reasons like "attempting to recruit players to join [LIV Golf]."

According to the complaint, the suspension was initially issued for two months. This was later extended by two years by the PGA.

The antitrust claim made by Phil Mickelson read:

“On March 22, 2022, the Commissioner suspended Plaintiff Mickelson (with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement in May of 2022) for, among other alleged reasons, 'attempting to recruit players to join [LIV Golf].'
“Following an appeal, the appeals committee (a three-person committee comprised of members of the Tour Policy Board) affirmed the Commissioner’s two-month suspension. On June 20, 2022, Mr. Mickelson applied for reinstatement from the two-month suspension. The Tour denied his request, stating that Plaintiff Mickelson violated Tour regulations by participating in the LIV Golf London Invitational. In addition to denying his request for reinstatement, the Tour extended Plaintiff Mickelson’s suspension, forbidding him from seeking reinstatement to play professional golf with the Tour until March 31, 2023.”

Mickelson's complaint claims the two-year suspension from the PGA Tour as being "unlawful." According to it, Mickelson has demanded compensation for the "irreparable professional harm" the suspension has caused. He demanded an opportunity to play in the PGA Tour series in the future.

Matthew Wolff 🤝 Phil Mickelson#LIVGolf https://t.co/ifWs2uMy7j

However, the court dismissed the antitrust suit filed by Mickelson and 10 other pro golfers. Mickelson is now seen as the leader of the players who chose to join the Greg Norman-led league backed by the Saudi Arabian government.

Conversely, Mickelson's rival Tiger Woods has advocated for the PGA Tour. Woods recently called a meeting with golfers to "rally support" for the PGA in the ongoing PGA-LIV debate.

What is LIV Tour?

The multimillion-dollar LIV Tour is backed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman's Public Investment Fund (PIF). The controversial series gained popularity with its exciting structure, with a prize money of $250 million.

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Despite players like ace golfer Tiger Woods turning down their offer to participate, several others have already made their debuts. The LIV-PGA debate has now blown up with personalities from across the sport taking sides.

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Edited by Piyush Bisht
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