Phil Mickelson explains Rory McIlroy dig as he TEASES explosive PGA truthbombs

Phil Mickelson has addressed his trolling of Rory McIlroy as the LIV Golf League player revealed why he'll be more outspoken in 2023.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 31 Jan 2023
Phil Mickelson explains Rory McIlroy dig as he TEASES explosive PGA truthbombs

Phil Mickelson has lifted the lid on why he trolled Rory McIlroy before the Northern Irishman battled his LIV Golf League rival Patrick Reed. 

Speaking before the PIF Saudi International, Mickelson, 52, said the animosity between the Ulsterman and Captain America "added to the excitement". 

Mickelson's social media activity during the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour was eyebrow raising to say the least

He congratulated McIlroy as he opened up a three-stroke lead in "DUBAI" and queried whether the Northern Irishman would be able to finish off the job in the "Middle East". 

Related: LIV Golf take massive L in latest legal twist

This was clearly Mickelson pointing out the hypocrisy of his critics. 

It's not unreasonable to suggest that Mickelson, 52, has attracted more criticism than any other LIV Golf player. 

The fallout from his comments he made about working with LIV's Saudi financiers led to a four-month break from the game. 

Mickelson lost major sponsorships. His future with Callaway still remains unclear. 

He went "dark" on social media. Mickelson told the media on Tuesday in Jeddah that this year he'll able able to able to say "all the things" he hasn't yet been able to. 

That's once things off the course get settled. 

Lefty predicted the LIV players will prevail in their sports arbitration case against the DP World Tour next week, allowing for more showdowns like McIlroy's with Reed

Asked about his apparent return to social media, Mickelson told the media:

"I've had a lot of fun with it over the years, and this last year I've kind of gone dark, if you will, and rightfully so. I have to be very careful; I can't say all the things I want to say yet.
"But many this year I'll be able to. I'll have that freedom when some of these things going on off the course get settled and become more transparent.
"I have to be a little bit guarded right now, but later this year when things are much more transparent, I'll be able to be more engaging.
"But on areas that I'm able to be, I guess, more engaging, where it's not going to cause problems with some of the things that are going on off the course, then I'm going to try to do that, because I enjoy it. I think it's fun. I've always enjoyed having fun.
"But there's a little bit of a transition, and I knew that this was going to happen for the first couple of years, that I'll have to be -- want to be sensitive and careful and a little bit guarded. But I'm looking forward to being a little more engaging, as well."

Mickelson added to his comment about McIlroy on social media after the final round at Emirates Golf Club. 

"Exciting battle down the stretch," he wrote. "I hope everyone watched and enjoyed." 

Related: McIlroy defends Reed

Asked about the duo's battle in the desert, Mickelson said: 

"I think that when you have characters in the game, when you have controversy in the game, I think it creates a lot more excitement, a lot more awareness. What transpired early in the week with Patrick and Rory added to the excitement level.
"I thought the final round was incredible. Both players played some great golf.
"Patrick played an incredible final round, and Rory didn't really have his best stuff throughout the day, but he fought hard for the last two to win, and I think that shows a lot about the kind of champion and player he is.
"I thought it was great for the game to have that type of interest, and it's been interest throughout the globe. That's a really good thing.
"In a couple of weeks I expect that 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 that you'll have more showdowns, more head-to-head competitions like you saw last week in Dubai, and I think that would be a really good thing for the game." 

Mickelson has also revealed that he's "at peace" with his uncertain PGA Tour and Ryder Cup future. 

Speaking to SI's Bob Harig, Mickelson said he'll look back on a chaotic 2022 as a period of "short-term disruption for long-term gain". 

He also had some predictions about the future of the world ranking system

Next page: Nine players who changed their mind about LIV Golf