In the past year, no professional athlete in the world has raked in more cash than Phil Mickelson, who banked $138 million to edge out Lionel Messi ($130 million) as the highest-paid athlete in 2022 thus far, according to Forbes.
Mickelson, who has six majors and 45 PGA Tour wins under his belt but defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-financed LIV Golf Series this year for an estimated $200 million, did not finish better than tied for 18th place in his six non -LIV appearances in ’22 and missed the cut in four of the six events he competed in, including the US Open and British Open. Fittingly, given his current employer, the event the 52-year-old had his best finish at was actually the PIF Saudi International.
Now barely hanging in the top 100 in the World Golf Rankings (No. 99), Mickelson actually has not finished better than tied for 18th this year even when his three LIV Golf finishes are added into the equation. Despite being paid like the league’s top player, Mickelson has compiled scores of +10, +10 and +6 and has not finished higher than 34th while competing in the “Golf, But Louder”-branded series.
Given what he’s being paid to barely compete, the 2021 PGA Championship winner probably doesn’t care how he’s playing, and it’s quite possible neither do his Saudi benefactors. But the gap between the amount of Mickelson’s pay and the quality of his play underscores just how little LIV Golf, which Donald Trump has come out in support of despite its direct ties to blood money, values performance.
That fact was laid even more bare on Monday when the face of LIV Golf, Greg Norman, revealed he offered Tiger Woods $700-800 million to join the upstart tour. (That number is more than the top team payroll in each of the major three sports — MLB, NFL, NBA — for 2022 combined – $691 million.)
Woods, who is already a billionaire but could have pushed his net worth over $2 billion if he had accepted Norman’s offer, turned down the deal and defended the PGA Tour while chiding Mickelson for taking the money. The 46-year-old has been widely praised for backing the PGA Tour and rejecting LIV. Deservedly so. But if you think about it, perhaps what he really should have done is take the money and completely expose LIV as the fraud league it is.
In case you missed it, Woods is no longer good at playing the game of golf. The reasons for that are myriad — and many are his own fault — but the fact is his World Golf Ranking (1062) makes Mickelson look like a stud. That’s the same Mickelson who is getting paid $200 million to finish in the top 30 in LIV events and can no longer make the cut at major championships. Making the cut at majors, sadly, is also something Woods now struggles with, and he hasn’t finished higher than tied for 37th at a professional golf event since 2020.
Barring a miracle, which no one should be expecting, Woods is finished as a top golfer. As such, he probably should not be playing on the top golf circuit in the world, the PGA Tour. What he should be doing is taking the new tour for all they are worth, golfing like hot garbage and proving Norman and LIV all are all about pay, not play in the process. And if he ends up beating Mickelson a few more times along the way, all the better.
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