Phil Mickelson said he hoped to ‘create new memories’ with the PGA Tour after the US golf circuit suspended him for joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series amid a continuing outcry ahead of this week’s U.S. Open.
The PGA Tour last week suspended Mickelson and other members who joined LIV Golf, with Commissioner Jay Monahan saying they had ‘decided to turn their backs’ on the tour.
Mickelson, who has finished runner-up six times at the U.S. Open and will get another shot at completing the career Grand Slam on his 30th attempt at the Country Club in Brookline, said he respected those who have ‘strong opinions.’
‘(I’m) very appreciative of the many memories, opportunities, experiences, friendships, relationships PGA Tour has provided, and those are going to last — those will last a lifetime, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have a chance to create more,’ he said.
Mickelson was a long-time fan favourite but faced a barrage of disapproval after remarks were made public earlier this year in which he criticised the Saudi government for its ‘horrible’ human rights record but said he would use the prospect of LIV Golf to gain economic leverage over the PGA Tour.
Mickelson apologised for his remarks and announced in February that he was taking time away from the game, opting out of the Masters and his title defence at the PGA Championship.
Saudi Arabia’s government denies accusations of human rights abuses.
‘It’s been a necessary time and an opportunity for me to step away a little bit and put a little bit of thought and reflection into going forward and how to best prioritise things,’ Mickelson told reporters on Monday.
The American said he planned to compete in next month’s Open Championship at St Andrews and would prefer to have the option to play ‘one or both’ tours.
‘I gave as much back to the PGA Tour and the game of golf as I could throughout my 30 years here and through my accomplishments on the course I’ve earned a lifetime membership,’ he said.
‘I intend to keep that and then choose going forward which events to play and not.’