Sports

Phil Mickelson praises Saudi Arabia-supported golf tour despite Khashoggi’s death

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson has faced backlash this week for his reported remarks about a Saudi Arabia-supported golf tour, with one biographer quoted him as saying that although he was aware of the kingdom’s “terrible human rights record”, the tour was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Mickelson, a six-time major champion, commented in a nearly hour-long phone interview last November that Alan Shipnuck, a longtime golf writer, is completing a biography. about golfers, said Friday.

A former Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine writer, Mr. Shipnuck reported Thursday’s comments about The Fire Pit Collectivea golf website.

Mickelson, 51, was asked to comment on his connection to the Super Golf League, an emerging league whose main source of funding is Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, a sovereign wealth fund totaling more than $400 billion.

He called the Saudi authorities “scary”, used profanity to describe them, and noted the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who had was assassinated in 2018 with the approval of the crown prince of the kingdom, according to US intelligence officials. Mickelson also alluded to the criminalization of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, where it is punished with death.

“We know they killed Khashoggi and have a terrible record on human rights,” Mickelson is quoted as saying by the biographer. “They executed the people there for being gay. Knowing all this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour works. ”

Representatives for Mickelson, who is one of the biggest names involved in the separatist tour, and the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

A PGA Tour spokesman declined to comment on Friday.

When contacted on Friday, Mr Shipnuck said the golfer had previously declined to be interviewed about his biography, “Phil’s Biography: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstars,” is expected to be published in May. But he said that Mickelson gave him an online interview to try to explain his possible participation in the breakaway tour.

Mr. Shipnuck said: “Phil loves playing with fire. “Sometimes you play with fire, you get burned. I don’t think he realizes how hot this topic is with Saudi Arabia.”

In his online account of the interview, Mr. Shipnuck said that the golfer asked three other unidentified players to hire a lawyer to draft an agreement to operate the emerging tournament.

Several top golfers have criticized Mickelson for his remarks, including Justin Thomas, the eighth ranked player in the world. Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the Genesis Invitational near Los Angeles, he said it “seems like a bit of a pretentious statement, you know,” he said.

Thomas continued: “Like he’s done a lot of great things for the PGA Tour, that’s a big reason where it’s located, but he and the others are adamant about it, if they’re passionate about it. crazy, keep going. I don’t think anyone stopped them. “

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/sports/golf/phil-mickelson-saudi-golf-tour.html Phil Mickelson praises Saudi Arabia-supported golf tour despite Khashoggi’s death

Fry Electronics Team

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