Phil Mickelson has told the golf world to prepare for more jousts involving LIV rebels on the DP World Tour on the basis they will win their arbitration case against that organisation.
There was added spice to Monday’s Dubai Desert Classic duel between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed because of their opposing sides in the civil war. Reed, a LIV player, is among those permitted to play on the DP World Tour due to a stay on suspensions imposed until a case comes before the arbitration service Sport Resolutions UK on 6 February.
LIV players argue they should have the right to combine appearances on the DP World Tour with those on the Saudi Arabian-backed circuit. McIlroy, a firm advocate of the sport’s existing ecosystem, saw off Reed by a stroke on Monday.
Mickelson, preparing for the Asia Tour’s Saudi Invitational that starts on Thursday, has pre-empted the arbitration outcome. “The final round was incredible,” he said of the Desert Classic. “Both players played some great golf. Patrick played an incredible final round. Rory didn’t really have his best stuff throughout the day, but he fought hard for the last two to win and that shows a lot about the kind of champion and player he is. It was great for the game to have that type of interest and it’s been interest throughout the globe.
“In a couple of weeks I expect the players, the LIV players will win their case in the UK and we’ll open the doors for all players to play on the European Tour. There’s a very good chance you’ll have more showdowns, more head-to-head competitions like you saw last week in Dubai and that would be a really good thing for the game.”
Mickelson’s comments will raise eyebrows at the European Tour Group’s Wentworth headquarters. The arbitration case is scheduled to last for five days, but an outcome is unlikely to be known for several weeks.
Mickelson’s 2022 was overshadowed by his controversial switch to LIV and comments associated with that. His on-course performance was generally poor. “I’m embarrassed with how I played last year,” said the 52-year-old. “I’m going to put that behind me and have a really good year.”