Former world number one Phil Mickelson has confirmed he has signed up to play in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Los Angeles — Phil Mickelson confirmed on Monday he has signed up to play in the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The six-time major winner and 2021 PGA Championship winner has been confirmed in the field for the controversial new tour’s inaugural event in London this week.
“I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start,” Mickelson wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
Mickelson has not played since the publication of comments in February in which he criticized the PGA Tour and the Saudi backers of LIV Golf.
In an interview with author Alan Shipnuck, the 51-year-old golf star said the Saudi-funded LIV Golf was an opportunity to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.
However, Mickelson described the new venture’s Saudi backers as “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights.”
Mickelson, a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, later issued an apology after his remarks were made public and said he would take some “desperately needed time away” from the sport.
He subsequently skipped both the Masters and the US PGA Championship during his self-imposed exile from the sport.
During that period, however, the rise of LIV Golf has continued to tear at the fabric of world golf, with dozens of household names joining the new tour.
Last week, former world number one Dustin Johnson was confirmed as having signed up to play the money-spinning new series, whose tournaments will offer some of the richest purses in the history of golf.
This week’s event teeing off at Centurion Club at St Albans, north of London, will have a $25 million purse — almost double that of any major, with $4 million going to the winner.
As well as Mickelson and Johnson, other players include European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.
Players opting into LIV Golf have done so despite warnings from the PGA Tour that they will face disiciplinary action.
Several PGA Tour golfers had requested releases to play this week’s LIV event — which clashes with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open — but had been refused.
In his statement on Monday, Mickelson said he believed LIV Golf could have a “transformative” effect on the sport.
He also said it would allow him to change his lifestyle.
“It will provide balance, allowing me to focus on a healthier approach to life on and off the course,” Mickelson said.
“I am incredibly grateful for what this game and the PGA Tour has given me.”
However, Mickelson added: “I fully realise and respect some may disagree with this decision and have strong opinions and I empathize with that.
“I have a renewed spirit and excitement for the game.”