Phil Mickelson followed his script and showed restraint when he got into tough places at the US Open, which was a big change for him. Except Monday, he used words instead of golf clubs.

Ahead – the main, which is considered the most difficult test in golf, the only one that prevents him from joining the most elite golf group with a career Grand Slam tournament. And that figure is very different from all the others Mickelson has encountered.

The six-time top champion is competing on American soil for the first time in more than four months, now he is the face of a league funded by Saudi Arabia that aims to disrupt the PGA tour.

At stake is his popularity, accumulated over 30 years for his victories and defeats, equally memorable.

“As for whether the fans will leave or something else, I respect and understand their opinion, and I understand that they have strong feelings and strong emotions about this choice,” Mickelson said. “And I respect that.”

He added nothing from his comments last week outside of London, where Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and 15 others challenged the rules of the PGA Tour by participating in Greg Norman’s new LIV Golf series, which paid Levti $ 200 million just for registration.

Mickelson said that although the players of the tour were rejected – some of them resigned before the start last week – he did not rule out playing in the PGA Tour again. On Monday, he said it should be his decision.

“I’ve worked hard to earn a lifelong membership,” said Mickelson, whose six majors are part of his 45 tour wins. “I’ve worked hard to bring back the PGA Tour and golf for my over 30 years of professional golf, and I’ve earned this lifetime membership, so I think it should be my choice.”

He was wearing a black shirt with his personal logo – an image of him jumping on the 18th green at Augusta National with his hands up after winning the 2004 Masters in his first major competition. He still had that bad beard, no hat, and he answered questions for 25 minutes.

But sometimes he stopped in his speech, often looking at his feet before answering, and the words poured out not as easily as usual. He was annoyed when he felt that journalists were asking more than one question.

One was about the meaning of the legacy and whether it will change now that it is funded by the Saudi Arabian Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“I don’t like it when you ask a few questions,” he replied.

As for his legacy, he said he appreciated what the PGA Tour did for him, and “I’m thrilled with the opportunity LIV Golf presents to me”.

“I think there are obvious incredible financial commitments,” he said.

Otherwise he went the straight path.

For a legion of fans who are angry at him for taking Saudi Arabia’s money to play in a competing golf league, he understands that emotions run high, and respects their opinions.

He expressed deep condolences to the families of those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – all but four of the 19 abductors were Saudi nationals – even as a group of victims demanded that Mickelson and others leave the LIV Golf series, which funded by Saudi Arabia.

Anything related to his future on the PGA Tour, he thought would be a guess. He did not have to speak publicly about any changes in the US Open criteria.

Mickelson received a five-year exemption from winning the PGA Championship last year at the age of 50, becoming the oldest player to win a major.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Manahan spoke publicly on Sunday for the first time since players moved to LIV Golf. Among his arguments regarding the source of funding, Monahan said, “I would like to ask any player who has left, or any player who has ever considered leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for participating in the PGA Tour?’

Mickelson said he had not spoken to Manahan since October.

Asked if he felt he needed to apologize for being part of a chain backed by Saudi Arabia, Mickelson declined to take the bait.

“I agree with a lot of things that I’ve done with the PGA Tour over the years, and with a lot of things that I don’t agree with, but I’ve supported them anyway,” he said.

Other opinions he had about the tour or any other governing body, he said he would keep private, “because it was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made – it’s voicing all these little things.”

That’s where it all started.

In February, Golf Digest quoted Mickelson about the “disgusting greed” of the PGA Tour when he was in Saudi Arabia, receiving a seven-figure fee for appearing.

Golf writer Alan Shipnuk then published an excerpt from his biography at Mickelson, quoting what he called the Saudis behind the new league, “terrible mother (malice)” and said he was ready to get involved to get leverage to make a difference. in the PGA tour.

Meanwhile, the championship, which begins in 1895, begins Thursday at a country club that has a legacy as one of the five founding clubs of the USGA.

The talk of Saudi Arabia was so widespread that the US Open became later.

“You can’t go anywhere without someone telling you,” said Justin Thomas. “It’s the US Open, and it’s an incredible venue, a place with such a great history, an incredible field, so many plots, and yet it seems like all the questions are about that.

“It’s not suitable for the US Open. It’s not suitable for us players,” he said. “But unfortunately we are in this place now.”

Associated Press report.

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