Phil Mickelson just ripped the PGA Tour for what he called “obnoxious greed.”
Now that – pardon the expression – is rich.
“I know I will be criticized,” Mickelson said earlier this week, soon after arriving in the golf-forsaken Saudi Arabian metropolis of King Abdullah Economic City – you cannot make this stuff up – to play in the Saudi International.
“That’s not my concern,” Mickelson added in an interview with Golf Digest. “All that would do is dumb down one of the most intricate issues in sport.”
Actually, it’s not that intricate. It’s just another attempt at a cash grab. If you remember the mercifully brief crash-and-burn experiment run by a handful of top European soccer teams to create a breakaway league and keep the lion’s share of the receipts last spring, you’re pretty much up to speed.
In this instance, though, it’s former golfer Greg Norman trying to establish an Asian Tour to rival the PGA Tour after bombing with the same concept nearly 20 years ago. This time, though, Norman has pumped $300 million into the venture through his LIV Golf Investments, which in turn is funded primarily by the Saudis’ sovereign wealth fund. And the sheiks willing to dole out the money are a lot less interested in golf than they are in cleaning up their image as routinely ruthless violators of human rights.
We’ll get to exactly what got Phil’s dander up in a moment (but here’s a hint: money, money, money and more money). Just know that Lefty’s net worth is at least $800 million as you read this, and climbing.
He pilots his own jet, owns a Bentley, an Aston Martin, a mansion in California with a three-hole putting course and is building an even bigger mansion in Florida, apparently to avoid paying state income tax. The only guys splattered with more logos when they get dressed are either walking a runway during Fashion Week in Milan or sitting behind the wheel at a NASCAR race.
But what if the PGA Tour didn’t exist when Mickelson joined in 1992, and just as important, Tiger Woods didn’t show up four years after that? Well, it might be a very different story.
Mickelson might still be playing in front of relatives and not many more souls than wandered the fairways during his college days at Arizona State. He’d be thrilled just to nab the exit-row seat on a long commercial flight and own even one Rolex, let alone the drawerful he has stashed at home (next to a bag of cash) for endorsing the brand.
Instead, it was the flush Phil who soon after his arrival in Saudi Arabia pocketed an appearance fee that once would have qualified as a “king’s ransom” but could be more accurately described these days as a “sultan’s bribe.” And almost everything you really need to know about the Saudi International tournament can be explained in two sentences:
No. 1, it’s being played on a course that looks like it was plopped down next to a shopping mall parking lot in Phoenix; and No. 2, Mickelson wasn’t the only PGA Tour pro who skipped the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and flew halfway around the world with a guarantee – no matter what they shot – to fly back home a lot richer.
Lefty opened with a 67 in Saudi, added a 69 and through two rounds was tied for 14th. Considering he beat only five players at Kapalua, didn’t break par on easy courses in the California desert and missed another cut at Torrey Pines, this would be progress.
Of course, Mickelson might have been distracted in those three events to start the year, steamed about the PGA Tour controlling the players’ media rights, an asset he valued at $20 billion without providing how he came up with that number.
If nothing else, he contended just the threat of top players defecting to a rival league would give them more leverage to bargain.
But what about those sublime golf skills Mickelson spent a lifetime honing? Shouldn’t that be leverage enough?
Without the PGA Tour, sure, those would be great for taking $100 bills off his pals every weekend down at the local country club. And good as Mickelson is, he probably could have taken his hustle on the road like old-timers Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd. Both pocketed plenty of money playing in winner-take-all matches at private clubs, but neither saw a paycheque with six figures on it until they took their talents out on the PGA Tour.
Now, it takes almost that much just to fuel up the jet. Mickelson got that much, and much more, to spend a few days in the desert chasing a ball with a stick because guys like Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and above all, Woods, built a PGA Tour that made it possible.
So who’s being greedy now?
Andreescu's 3-year title drought extended at Wimbledon tune-up in Germany – CBC Sports
Caroline Garcia won her first tour title in three years after coming back from a set and a break down to beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany.
Andreescu was looking for her first title since beating Serena Williams in the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows before injuries forced her to miss the entire 2020 season.
“I’m very happy. It’s been a couple of rough years but, you know, I’m putting in the work and on to the next. I’m excited for Wimbledon,” said Andreescu, who became visibly emotional while thanking her team. “You guys stuck with me through the toughest moments and that’s all anyone could ever ask for.”
She has drawn American qualifier Emina Bektas in the first round of Wimbledon next week. Garcia has Yuriko Miyazaki of Britain for her opener.
WATCH | Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final:
Garcia took a medical timeout for what seemed to be a shoulder problem early in the second set. She then went 4-2 down before winning 10 of the next 14 games to seal the match ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday.
“It was a fight [for] every point from the first to the last one,” Garcia said.
Garcia is 8-3 in career finals but her last title was almost exactly three years ago in Nottingham in the build-up to the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.
WATCH | Canadian tennis star Andreescu answers questions from kids:
Kvitova captures Eastbourne title
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova tuned up for the Grand Slam tournament by overpowering Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to win the Eastbourne title on Saturday in England.
The 14th-seeded Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career overall – after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve.
Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the second set to stay in control of the match at 3-1.
“Playing on the grass is very special for me every time,” the 32-year-old Czech player said in her on-court interview. “It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon, as well.”
Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, plays Tuesday at the All England Club in a first-round match against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.
She is now 5-1 in grass-court finals in her career. Her most recent title on grass had been Birmingham in 2018.
Injured Keys, Coric out of Wimbledon
Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, and Borna Coric withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday because of injuries.
The tournament begins Monday.
Keys, an American who was seeded 19th at the All England Club, pulled out because of a hurt abdominal muscle.
She was replaced in the field by Coco Vandeweghe, twice a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and twice a semifinalist at other Grand Slam tournaments, who lost in qualifying this week. Vandeweghe’s first-round opponent will be No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina.
“This isn’t what I was hoping to say a few days before @Wimbledon, but unfortunately I have to withdraw due to an abdominal injury,” world number 24 Keys tweeted.
“I’m so disappointed, but my health comes first and my body needs time to get back to 100%. Lots of love London fans. See you next year.”
Former world No. 7 Keys won her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament in January before reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.
She was defeated in the French Open fourth round by Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.
Coric is a Croatian who got into the field thanks to a protected ranking because he has been injured. He cited a shoulder problem for his withdrawal.
He was drawn to face No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman and that spot will be filled by an as-yet-unannounced player who lost in qualifying.
Jaeger: Sexually harassed ‘at least 30 times’
Former teenage tennis phenom Andrea Jaeger said she was sexually harassed “at least 30 times” by a female Women’s Tennis Association staff member during the 1980s.
Jaeger, now 57, also told The Independent she also was unknowingly served alcohol when she was 16 by a different staff member, who drove her home and tried to kiss her.
The two-time Grand Slam finalist was on the tour from ages 14 to 19 and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 1981. Despite her success, she said she made it a habit to avoid WTA officials at tournaments during her five years on tour. Jaeger said much of the harassment occurred in locker rooms.
“I’d change in portable toilets or a bathroom stall because I didn’t want to deal with the comments, the interest or actions of people,” Jaeger said, according to The Independent. “I had at least 30 incidents with one specific non-playing staff member, physical attempts all in the locker room very, very early in my career. That particular non-playing staff employee had a major issue keeping her hands to herself.
“I avoided being in training rooms alone because an approach was made on me there as well.”
Jaeger said she was served multiple alcoholic drinks following the 1982 WTA Championships and began to get fuzzy. An official drove her home.
“When we got to my condo, she walked me to the door and tried something on with me,” Jaeger said. “She was trying to kiss me. I was so sickened that I was crawling up the stairs inside trying not to throw up so my dad wouldn’t see me.”
Jaeger said she complained to WTA officials after the incident and was threatened with reprisals.
She won 10 career titles before retiring at age 19 due to a shoulder injury.
Lightning’s Brayden Point remains out of lineup for Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca
Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is not anticipating any lineup changes Sunday night for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final as forward Brayden Point continues to deal with an undisclosed “severe injury.”
Point sustained a leg injury during Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He returned for the start of the Stanley Cup Final and recorded one assist in two games before leaving the lineup again.
“It’s tricky too because players are used to playing at, I guess, a certain way or how they feel they can play,” Cooper told reporters. “If they don’t feel confident in playing at the calibre they’re used to, it almost works against them.
“It’s unfortunate because it was a severe injury and at this time of the year, everybody’s trying to get back into the lineup and there are just some things you can’t do. When you can’t do what you’re used to doing, it’s tough on the player.”
The 26-year-old Point, who has 78 points in 76 career postseason games, skated with the Lightning during Sunday morning’s practice, and Cooper did not completely rule him out for a potential Game 7.
“He’s still plugging along here and rehabbing and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes one more game, you never know,” Cooper said. “It’s tough on these guys because they’re such competitors.”
The Colorado Avalanche hold a 3-2 series lead looking to secure their first Stanley Cup since 2001 while the double defending champion Lightning are aiming to keep their hopes of a three-peat alive. Watch Game 6 live on Sportsnet or Sportsnet NOW starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
In Gee Chun perseveres, holds off Lexi Thompson to win Women's PGA – Golf Channel
BETHESDA, Md. — In Gee Chun rallied after losing her once-sizeable lead, overcoming a bogey-filled front nine to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday when Lexi Thompson faltered with the putter.
Chun shot a 3-over 75 for the second consecutive day at Congressional, but that was enough to win her third major title by a stroke over Thompson and Minjee Lee. Chun, after leading by six at the tournament’s midway point, lost a three-shot advantage in the first three holes of the final round. Thompson was two strokes ahead of her after the front nine, but her putting problems were just beginning.
The 27-year-old Floridian botched a par putt from a couple feet on No. 14, but a birdie on 15 restored her lead to two. Then she bogeyed the par-5 16th while Chun made birdie, leaving the two players tied with two holes remaining.
Thompson three-putted for bogey on 17, and after an impressive approach from the rough on 18, her birdie putt wasn’t hit firmly enough.
Chun’s approach on the par-4 18th bounced past the hole and just off the back of the green, but she putted to within 5 feet and sank her par attempt to win the tournament.
Chun, a 27-year-old from South Korea, led by seven strokes after finishing her first round in wet conditions Thursday. The lead was down to five at the end of that day — still equaling the largest 18-hole advantage in the history of women’s majors.
She was six strokes ahead at the halfway point and had a three-stroke advantage coming into Sunday. She finished at 5-under 283.
Chun won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2015 and added the Evian Championship in France the following year.
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