Column: Tiger’s again, however Lefty’s nowhere to be discovered | Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods is on the point of tee it up at Augusta National.

Phil Mickelson is nowhere to be discovered.

This situation was unimaginable just some months in the past, when Woods was nonetheless recovering from a horrific wreck, whereas Mickelson’s monumental reputation had surged much more after he turned golf’s oldest main champion.

But Lefty’s hubris acquired one of the best of him once more, resulting in a surprising fall from grace at the same time as autocratic regimes akin to Saudi Arabia discover loads of keen companions for his or her sportswashing schemes.

Now the large query is: Can Mickelson pull off a comeback of his personal?

Of course he can, however who is aware of if he even desires to patch issues up with the PGA Tour and his fellow gamers.

The extra perplexing difficulty is why Mickelson took this path within the first place — one of many richest athletes on the planet, coming off an inspiring victory on the 2021 PGA Championship simply shy of his 51st birthday, embracing an upstart, Saudi-backed golf tour even whereas acknowledging the nation’s grim file on human rights.

These wounds had been solely self-inflicted.

“His scandal is, frankly, kind of bizarre,” stated Mike Lewis, a advertising professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “It’s not just a scandal, it’s a head-scratcher. You’re like, ‘Did I read that right?’”

To recap, Mickelson — whose web price has been estimated at $800 million — accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed.” Not lengthy after, golf author and writer Alan Shipnuck revealed a part of his upcoming biography on Mickelson that shed additional perception into Lefty’s involvement with Greg Norman and the Saudi-funded “Super Golf League.”

Mickelson stated the Saudis had been “scary mother (expletive),” specifically mentioning the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the country’s anti-LBGTQ laws.

Then, without skipping a beat, Mickelson said it was worth getting in bed with the Saudis if it meant changing the PGA Tour — which was essentially code for cashing even larger paychecks, an especially important consideration, apparently, for someone in the twilight of his career.

“Why would I even consider it?” he posed to Shipnuck. “Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

In the comprehensible backlash to Lefty’s spot-on impersonation of Mr. Burns, Mickelson misplaced most of his big-money sponsors and have become a pariah in a big a part of {the golfing} world.

He shut down his profession, saying he “desperately wanted” a while to reassess his priorities, and withdrew from the Masters — through textual content message, as we discovered Wednesday from Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley.

Ridley insisted that it was Mickelson’s resolution to withdraw, not one pressured on him by the membership. It’s the primary time the three-time champion has missed the Masters since 1994.

“We did not disinvite Phil,” Ridley stated. “Phil reached out to me, I think in late February or early Match, and let me know he did not intend to play. That was by way of a text. I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know. I told him we certainly appreciated that. I told him that I was certainly willing to discuss that further with him if he liked.”

Beyond that temporary trade, there isn’t any proof of Mickelson discussing the matter with anybody past his internal circle. Not even with the golfers that he is pretty near, akin to Bryson DeChambeau.

It’s been a whole vanishing act.

“I’ve tried to reach out, but he’s gone dark,” DeChambeau stated this week. “There’s no contact.”

While Mickelson’s dalliance with the Saudis caught everybody off guard, it actually should not have been a shock.

Lefty has demonstrated time and time once more that his checking account will all the time be his No. 1 precedence, from an insider buying and selling scandal he was lucky to flee with solely a slap on the wrist to his griping about excessive taxes in his native California even whereas dwelling a lifetime of monumental luxurious.

Mickelson has all the time normal himself because the People’s Champion, however the one individuals he actually cares about are those that could make him even richer.

In that respect, he is comrades with most of the world’s most distinguished sporting organizations.

The most up-to-date Winter Olympics had been held in China, which has been accused of a genocidal marketing campaign in opposition to its Uyghur minority. Soccer’s World Cup can be hosted on the finish of the 12 months by Qatar, which has a prolonged file of human rights violations. Formula One has appeared the opposite approach when awarding races to authoritarian regimes all through the Middle East. World Wrestling Entertainment (not an actual sport, however price mentioning) hosts annual pay-per-view occasions in Saudi Arabia.

Mickelson and the Saudi golf league are simply one other offshoot of a quickly altering world, the place morality has develop into a really grey difficulty if you’re speaking about all that inexperienced.

“As Americans, we grew up thinking America was the center of the universe,” Lewis stated. “What’s occurred over time with globalization is the cash has actually shifted. … These different nations mirror the majority of the viewers on the earth.”

In Lewis’ eyes, the Saudi-backed golf tour is not unlike the effort by some of Europe’s most prominent soccer clubs to form their own super league, which would totally upend that sport’s traditional structure within national borders.

“Phil kind of put his mouth in it,” Lewis said, “but this where everyone is going. There’s the soccer super league. There’s the NBA wanting to be more of a global brand like (soccer governing body) FIFA.”

No one knows where Mickelson goes from here.

Turning back might not be an option.

“The world is in a massive debate about human rights,” Lewis said. “But globalization has led to this getting much more complicated.”


Paul Newberry is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at) or at


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