Mickelson is not playing in this week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass after declaring two weeks ago that he was taking time away from golf “to prioritize those I love most and work on being the man I want to be.”
Mickelson, 51, caused a stir last month with his comments about the PGA Tour and the Saudi funders of the Super Golf League. Mickelson described the Saudis as “frightening” but said he was looking beyond their controversial history of human rights abuses to gain leverage with the PGA Tour.
“I think as he relates to Phil, I said it: The ball is in his court,” Monahan said during a news conference on Tuesday. “He has said he is walking away and wants time to think. This is something we will respect and honor. When he is ready to return to the PGA Tour, we will have this conversation. This is a conversation I am looking forward to.”
Monahan did not wait for reporters’ questions about the proposed breakaway league. He spoke about it at the beginning of his opening statement, which included a veiled note about Mickelson’s comment that he didn’t care if the SGL succeeded and was only using it as leverage against the PGA Tour.
“The PGA Tour is moving forward,” Monahan said. “We have so much momentum and so much to achieve that we are constantly distracted by rumors of other golf tournaments and their attempts to disrupt our players, partners and most importantly our fans from enjoying the round and match we all love so much.
“I am grateful for the strong support that our top players have shown recently and publicly, and I am very proud that we have turned the conversation around to focus on what we do best: delivering world-class golf tournaments with the best players for the best fans, while positively impacting the communities in which we play. We are and will always focus on legacy, not impact.”
Monahan has not commented specifically on whether Mickelson has been suspended or could face discipline when and if he decides to return to the tour. The PGA Tour does not advertise discipline, although some players, including Rory McIlroy, have called for more transparency when it comes to suspensions and bans.
“He walked away on his own and asked for time,” Monahan said. “This time has been given. We don’t comment on disciplinary matters, potential matters or actual matters. But every player is responsible for their actions here.”
It seems Monahan hasn’t completely ruled out letting Mickelson back in. He has repeatedly said that any PGA Tour player who participated in a competing league would face immediate suspension and a possible life ban.
During a phone call with author Alan Shipnuck, who has written an upcoming biography for Mickelson, the 2021 PGA champion reportedly said he’s recruited other players to help him get lawyers to write an operating agreement for SGL.
“I would welcome a phone call from him,” Monahan said. “But it’s hard for me to talk about the different scenarios that could happen. Listen, he’s a player who’s won 45 times on the PGA Tour. He’s had a career in the Hall of Fame. He won here the Players Championship. He’s inspired a lot of people and helped grow this. The tour, his tour. So, although some of the things that were said are hard to read, he’ll have a conversation at the end when he’s ready to have it, and I’ll be ready to have it, as well.”
Several of Mickelson’s longtime sponsors, including KPMG, Workday and Amstel Light, have ended their relationships with him. Another longtime sponsor, Callaway, has paused his relationship with him, while The American Express Championships in La Quinta, California, announced that it would no longer host Mickelson and that the event would not benefit his organization.
“I think it’s more than he wants,” Justin Thomas said. “If he wants to try to go back and play X-amount of events or if he wants to try to create something of his own, if he wants to do whatever he has to do, nobody knows what’s going on inside Phil’s head next to Phil, and I think the last few weeks It proved more than ever.”
Among other things, Mickelson accused the PGA Tour of “hateful greed”. In a letter to Monahan, former world number one Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf Investments, accused the tour of bullying and threatening players who might want to compete in both rings.
“I think people know me and know how I play and how we work and the values we stand for, and I don’t think there’s any question that’s not how I work,” Monahan said. “Not a lot of people asked me about it because people know me. I’m here.”
McIlroy said he doesn’t think the Premier League is much of a threat anymore because most of the top golfers, including John Ram, Colin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and others, have pledged allegiance to the PGA Tour. Several of these players made announcements at Genesis Invitational last month, which appeared to put the CPR-funded Saudi League in place.
“I haven’t heard anything since then, so I don’t know,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I don’t know where they stand. But it seems like every big player in the world, especially the youngsters, the guys that you really need to get something like that off the ground, they all want to play here, they’ve expressed their intent, and that’s what it is. on him “.
Monahan said the PGA Tour was ready to move forward.
“I think I’ve said this before: I get up every day assuming someone is trying to eat my lunch,” he said. “This is how I work. This is how we work as a team. But we are here in the Players Championship. The best players in the world have told you how they feel. … I’m not looking over my shoulder, I’m looking forward to.”