Six-time major-winner Phil Mickelson when compared Saudi-funded LIV Golf to the short-lived however influential World Series Cricket of the Seventies on Thursday, insisting he had picked “the winning side”.
Mickelson, talking forward of LIV’s first tournament on house soil in Saudi Arabia, stated the divisive excursion was once following a an identical template to Australian mogul Kerry Packer’s rebellion cricket sequence.
LIV, bankrolled by way of oil-rich Saudi’s large Public Investment Fund (PIF), has lured dozens of avid gamers with head-turning signing charges and $25 million handbags, opening a deep rift within the game.
“I think you look back into the 1970s, what happened with cricket is probably the best analogy,” Mickelson informed newshounds at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.
“For a long, long time, like 30 years, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour. That will never be the case again.
“You have to select what facet you suppose goes to achieve success, and I firmly consider that I’m at the profitable facet of the way issues are going to conform.”
The 1977-1979 World Series divided cricket but popularised one-day and day-night matches, still staples of the sport, before the breakaway venture ended when Packer struck a deal with the Australian board.
When asked what was to stop LIV following a similar path, Mickelson reiterated that the World Series had “completely modified” cricket.
“I did not develop up with cricket however I’m changing into moderately acutely aware of what Kerry Packer did to conform cricket and to pay skilled cricket avid gamers an affordable charge,” the American said.
“I feel they had been making $200 a sport again within the ’70s and so they were not getting paid and there wasn’t tv rights and so they had been all having different jobs, and but there was once nonetheless cash coming in.
“And when Kerry Packer came and got involved and started paying the guys what they were worth and what they were bringing in, it totally changed and we’re seeing that happen now.”
LIV, whose title is made up of the Roman numerals for ’54’, is performed over 54 holes and 3 days, as an alternative of 72 in 4 days, and not using a reduce. Only 48 avid gamers participate, fairly than the standard box of about 140.
Like Packer’s rebels, LIV avid gamers had been closely criticised by way of lovers and golfing’s established order, together with the United States PGA Tour which has barred them from its occasions and Team USA on the Ryder Cup.
With no issues to be had on LIV they’re slipping down the arena ratings, endangering their probabilities of taking part in within the majors.
The monetary rewards are massive, on the other hand. Mickelson, who has plunged to his lowest rating in a long time, 138th, coincidentally banked an estimated $138 million by way of July, maximum of it from his LIV signing charge, consistent with Forbes.
Mickelson stated avid gamers stand to “make a bunch of cash” at this week’s event in King Abdullah Economic City, an remoted building an hour’s pressure north of Jeddah.
“I see LIV Golf trending upwards and I see PGA Tour trending downwards, and I love the side that I’m on,” he stated.
“The game of golf is very lucky to have the PIF invest in the game,” added the left-hander.
“The game of golf is being influxed with billions of dollars now. And the ability to go global and make golf a truly global sport is really beneficial for the game.”
Saudi’s increasing portfolio of sports activities occasions has drawn accusations of “sportswashing”, or the usage of high-profile event to distract from its human rights report.
This week’s event additionally coincides with a rising row between Saudi Arabia and the United States, after President Joe Biden threatened “consequences” for an OPEC reduce to grease manufacturing.