After LIV Golf appeared to be shut out of the pre-Masters press conferences, it was reported Phil Mickelson declined an invitation to speak with the media.
Holding a pre-tournament press conference at the Masters is typically considered an honor, with Mickelson being a frequent invitee throughout his career. When the list of 14 players who would be making the trip to the media center was announced, Mickelson was noticeably absent.
Monday evening, The Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner said Cameron Smith was the only LIV player to do a sit-down with the media, noting, “Phil – we were told – declined an invitation.”
Mickelson is playing in his 30th Masters this week, after skipping a trip to Augusta National last year as he took a brief hiatus from the sport before announcing his controversial decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour. The PGA Tour later issued Mickelson a two-year ban for recruiting golfers to join LIV. Augusta National Golf Club, however, decided not to prevent LIV players from competing in the Masters.
A three-time Masters champion, Mickelson has been arguably the most popular personality on Tuesday at Augusta in recent decades, usually relishing the opportunity to hold a press conference. Spurning an invite to speak at the Masters this week only further exemplifies his deteriorated relationship with Augusta and the PGA Tour.
Mickelson previously attempted to appease both the PGA and LIV. But after referring to the royal Saudi family as “scary motherf*ckers” in a 2022 interview that he now claims was off the record, Mickelson has gone all in with the regime that funds his reported $200 million contract with LIV.
Whenever Mickelson speaks, his allegiance to LIV is going to be a recurrent topic. Last year, during a press conference at the Open Championship, Mickelson got snippy while fielding 11 questions about LIV. Mickelson certainly didn’t eliminate having to answer LIV questions at the Masters, but by declining a press conference invite, he mitigated the topic Tuesday at Augusta.