No player has been as outspoken against the Saudi-backed golf league as Rory McIlroy, and his outspokenness has extended to those juggling the jump to the proposed breakaway circuit. Phil Mickelson was one of those targets, with McIlroy calling Mickelson’s now infamous comments “naive, selfish, arrogant, ignorant” in the Genesis call.
But in the wake of Mickelson losing the majority of his sponsors and becoming something of a persona non grata for now, McIlroy – speaking Wednesday before Arnold Palmer’s call – took a more sympathetic tone toward Phil.
“It is unfortunate. I think Phil has been a great ambassador for golf, and he continues to be a great ambassador for golf,” McIlroy said at Bay Hill. using them against him, but this whole situation is unfortunate.”
McIlroy continued that the players “want to see [Mickelson] back” – in a statement last week, Mickelson hinted at spending time away from the sport – and that Mickelson has represented the game well throughout his career. McIlroy also preached forgiveness when Mickelson returns.
“Look, we all make mistakes. We all say things we want to get back. Nobody disagrees on that,” McIlroy said. But we should be allowed to make mistakes, we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and people forgive us and move on. I hope he comes back at some point. And he will, and people will welcome him back and be happy to have him back.”
Already considered one of the sport’s most reflective and intelligent voices, McIlroy has cemented that stand over the past two years in his remarks about the threat to the rival PGA League and European Tours, making his position known long before others tackled directly the issues at hand. This attitude is also helped by the fact that McIlroy is one of the best performing players in the game. When asked if he still sees himself talking about if he’s not a famous golfer, McIlroy made it clear that he’s only talking about what he knows.
“I will only express my opinion on things that I think I have learned about and think I have a right to speak about. So there are certainly things that I will not touch on just because I am not fully educated on the subject and I feel that perhaps having an opinion is not the right thing to do,” McIlroy said. Which needs to be done.” “But when it comes to golf and the PGA Tour stuff, I feel very educated in these things. And I think with that voice comes the responsibility to try to do the right thing. That’s all I’m trying to do. I try to make comments or talk about things to do the right thing, which is why I’m probably more outspoken than the other guys in our game.
“Again, it doesn’t go further than golf because I feel comfortable talking about it, but when you go deeper into other things, I don’t think that’s my place to go into it.”
McIlroy, who won the API title in 2018, kicks off Thursday with Adam Scott and Seb Straka at 8:27 a.m.