Mickelson gets SLAUGHTERED on Twitter for favouring Saudi over Phoenix

Phil Mickelson will miss the Phoenix Open for the first time since 1992 so he can play in the Saudi International...

Mickelson gets SLAUGHTERED on Twitter for favouring Saudi over Phoenix

Phil Mickelson would appear to have lost a number of fans following his decision to bypass the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour - an event he has played 27 consecutive times since turning pro in 1992 - in favour of the controversial Saudi International on the European Tour. 

Mickelson, 49, has competed in the Phoenix Open on 30 occasions in total and has won the tournament three times (1996, 2005 and 2013 - the latter of which he won with a joint tournament record score of 28-under par).

Mickelson gets SLAUGHTERED on Twitter for favouring Saudi over Phoenix

The tournament has held a special place in Mickelson's heart, especially with it being staged every year at TPC Scottsdale where he grew up playing the game while a member of the Arizona State golf team. 

But the American revealed on Sunday evening, much to the surprise of the golf universe, that he was going to skip the tournament he has favoured every year for the past 27 years as a PGA Tour pro and instead travel over to Saudi Arabia to compete in the Saudi International, a tournament that welcomes just its second ever staging of the event on the same week as the Phoenix Open (January 30 to February 2). 


"I am really looking forward to playing in Saudi Arabia in January," said Mickelson in a statement that confirmed his entry alongside World No.1 Brooks Koepka and defending champion Dustin Johnson.

"I watched Dustin win the title last year and thought the course looked like an interesting challenge. 

"Having so many talented players on show made it look like a much more established tournament than one in its inaugural year.

"I have enjoyed my previous visits to the Middle East and am looking forward to playing in a new country and doing my bit to grow the game in the Kingdom."

Mickelson has since responded to his critics, by saying: "After turning down opportunities to go to the Middle East for many years, I'm excited to go play and see a place in the world I've never been. I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You'll be ok. I'm excited to experience this for the first time." 




As for not competing in the Phoenix Open, the tournament scheduled for the same week, Mickelson tweeted: "Given I turn 50 this year, there's a good chance I've played my last Phoenix Open. We'll see."

It is estimated both Koepka and Johnson, who are both battling knee injuries at the moment, will pick up appearance fees to compete in the Saudi International of around $1 million - so we imagine Mickelson will be not too far away from that number.

Sergio Garcia reportedly walked away with a $500,000 appearance fee in the inaugural 2019 tournament, despite being disqualified from the tournament for "serious misconduct" when tearing up greens in frustration. 


Mickelson gets SLAUGHTERED on Twitter for favouring Saudi over Phoenix

It's fair to say Mickelson's decision has not sat particularly well with a number of golf fans on social media this week - many of whom consider Lefty's decision is solely based on a huge appearance fee to compete in the Saudi International. 

And let's not forget Mickelson isn't short of a dollar or two having amassed more than $90 million in career PGA Tour earnings, which lies second behind Tiger Woods ($120 million). 

Here's a look at a selection of tweets across the golf industry and among golf fans...













Mickelson last year skipped his home Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, a tournament he had missed for the first time in 28 years.

The five-time major champion fell out of the world's top 50 for the first time in more than 25 years earlier this season, and he currently looks on from 58th in the world. 

Mickelson gets SLAUGHTERED on Twitter for favouring Saudi over Phoenix

Garcia has also committed to playing in the 2020 Saudi International, despite being disqualified for "serious misconduct" when tearing up several putting greens in frustration during the inaugural 2019 tournament. 

This year's tournament caused plenty of controversy as it fell several months after the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who had spoken out against Price Mohammed bin Salman in Washington Post columns.

The US resident was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after agreeing to meet there.

As a result, a number of golf fans and critics of the tournament were ashamed to see some of the world's best golfers align at the tournament to receive Saudi money to appear and speak on behalf of their government. 


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