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Phil Mickelson: ‘I’ve Been Fielding Calls’ from Players Who Want to Join LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson: ‘I’ve Been Fielding Calls’ from Players Who Want to Join LIV Golf

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - JULY 12: Phil Mickleson of The United States tees off the driving range during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 12, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

It appears that LIV Golf isn’t quite done trying to add players from other tours.

Following revised agreements between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson said that the door has been opened for for other PGA Tour players to join LIV and he believes the tour’s roster will see a significant improvement next season.

“The reality is, I’ve been fielding calls, as we all have, from players that are agents to PGA Tour players, to DP World Tour players that want to come over,” Mickelson said at a news conference on Wednesday. “It’s probably going to be filled by the time the qualifying tournament is here. If I’m just being truthful, that’s a very real possibility.”

In the original agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV back on June 6, there was a provision included that the latter would stop recruiting players from the other tours. However, that had to be removed after the two sides received pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

The expectation is that there will be at least three open spots for players to join LIV next season.

And now, with their huge payouts and lesser stigma following the agreement, the appeal to join LIV may never be greater.

Mickelson feels exactly the same way.

“When players look at LIV, they are wanting to be a part of it,” Mickelson said. “Everybody here is happy and enjoying what we are doing and enjoying the team aspect of it and enjoying each other and the camaraderie and enjoying playing golf globally and all the benefits that come with playing this tour.

“There’s a lot of players that see that and want to be a part of it. The question is how many spots are available? There’s a lot more players that want to come than there are spots.”

However, there are still several drawbacks to joining the Saudi-backed league.

Back on Oct. 10 Official World Golf Ranking chairman Peter Dawson sent a letter sent to LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman and COO Gary Davidson saying that the OWGR’s governing board had unanimously rejected LIV Golf’s application for world-ranking points.

The reason being was that the circuit was “too much of a closed shop.”

“We are not at war with them,” Peter Dawson, chairman of the OWGR board, said when contacted by The Associated Press. “This decision not to make them eligible is not political. It is entirely technical. LIV players are self-evidently good enough to be ranked. They’re just not playing in a format where they can be ranked equitably with the other 24 tours and thousands of players trying to compete on them.”

LIV currently has a system in which it has the same 48 players for the entire season (with alternates in case of injury), which is not enough turnover for the OGWR’s liking. Only 24 players are assured a spot in the following season.

There are also several players who are on such lucrative contracts that they remain on the roster no matter what. Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are all a part of that group.

Most tours around the world typically have a turnover rate between 20 to 25 percent.

LIV is expected to add three more players through its promotions tournament.

As a result of the OWGR’s rejection, LIV players are only able to gain world ranking points through their performances in major tournaments and several of its top players like Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau aren’t even ranked in the top 100.

Cameron Smith (No. 15) and Brooks Koepka (No. 18) are the only LIV players in the top 50.

A lack of ranking points also costs LIV players when it comes to qualifying for majors, which Mickelson, DeChambeau and others are working to rectify.

“I think that the majors need to protect their product, and there’s probably other ways that they can do that by creating slots,” Mickelson said. “If they want to make sure they have the best fields in golf, they could create vehicles for players on LIV to play in majors where they don’t have to use the OWGR, which would undermine the TV contract and revenue of the PGA Tour if they gave points to LIV.”

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