Tiger Woods Has 'A Lot Of Disagreement' With Phil Mickelson, LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson is conspicuous by his absence at this weekend's 2022 PGA Championship, opting not to defend his victory in last year's tournament.

Mickelson became the oldest player to win a Major on Tour at the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina at age 50 last year. Tiger Woods, who has gone head-to-head with Mickelson over the past 25 years, is at Southern Hills Country Club and was asked during his media session Tuesday about Mickelson skipping the tournament.

Woods said that while he's disappointed Mickelson isn't there, he understands why the six-time Major champion might need some personal time. Woods also said he disagrees with many of Mickelson's issues with the PGA Tour.

“It’s always disappointing when the defending champion is not here,” Woods said. “Phil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the Tour and committed to the legacy of the Tour have pushed back against. And he’s taken some personal time, and we all understand that.

“Some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there. But…as a professional, we miss him being out here. I mean, he’s a big draw for the game of golf. He’s just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back. Obviously, we’re going to have difference of opinions, how he sees the Tour, and we’ll go from there.”

Woods added that he hasn't reached out to Mickelson and expressed his support for the PGA Tour. He never once called the LIV Golf Invitational Series led by Greg Norman by name, but seemed to refer to it when he said that there's money to be won on Tour, but you have to earn it. LIV Golf is promising nine-figure contracts to players for merely signing on, no cuts and guaranteed money.

“I just think what Jack and Arnold have done in starting the Tour and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our Tour ... I just think there's a legacy to that," Woods said. "I’ve been playing out here for a couple of decades, and I think there’s a legacy to it. I still think the PGA Tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity.

“I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures in the past. There’s plenty of money out here. The Tour is growing. But you have to go out there and earn it. You’ve got to go out there and play for it. We have the opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.’’

LIV Golf has been widely criticized by those around and in the game for its connection to being funded by Saudi Arabia. The league is set to tee off next month in London with a $25 million purse. That figure is more than double of every PGA Tour event, excluding the $20 million Players Championship.

Since comments from a November 2021 interview with author Alan Shipnuck were released in February, where Mickelson sounded off on the PGA Tour for its "greed" and indicated that he was looking past Saudi Arabia's human rights violations in order to gain leverage against the Tour, Mickelson has lost most of his sponsors and hasn't competed since. He issued a public apology on Feb. 22 and has gone radio silent since.

Mickelson backed out of the Masters without issuing a statement and did so again for the PGA Championship. Mickelson's future remains uncertain as ever, with Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, calling Mickelson's absence "the elephant in the room."

"Look, no one was more excited than us last year when Phil had his epic win, right? It's amazing," Waugh said. "He's done something nobody else has ever done and win a major at 50. It was one of the great moments in golf, and we'll never sort of forget it. We certainly looked forward to him defending.

"He's not here. It's his choice. He and I have had some conversations before, during and after, and I can really say that on Friday his camp called and said he's not ready to play. Obviously we respect that. We understand it. We wish nothing but the best for him and Amy. He's going through a lot. I don't really have a whole lot more to say. We're disappointed he's not here, and again, wish him all the best."