BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Phil Mickelson stuck to his script and showed restraint when put in tough spots at the U.S. Open, a big change for him. Except on Monday, he was using words instead of his golf clubs.
Still to come is the major reputed to be the toughest test in golf, the only one keeping him from joining golf’s most elite group with the career Grand Slam. And this one figures to be far different from any other Mickelson has faced.
The six-time major champion is competing on American soil for the first time in more than four months, now the face of a Saudi-funded league that aims to disrupt the PGA Tour.
At risk is his popularity build up over 30 years for his wins and losses, equally memorable.
“In regards to if fans would leave or whatnot, I respect and I understand their opinions, and I understand that they have strong feelings and strong emotions regarding this choice,” Mickelson said. “And I respect that.”
He added nothing from his comments last week outside London, where Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and 15 others defied PGA Tour regulations by competing in Greg Norman’s new LIV Golf series that paid Lefty a reported $200 million just for signing up.
Mickelson said while tour players have been suspended — some of them resigned before the opening tee shot last week — he hasn’t ruled out playing the PGA Tour again. He said Monday that should be his decision.
“I’ve worked hard to earn a lifetime membership,” said Mickelson, whose six majors are part of his 45 career tour victories. “I’ve worked hard to give back to the PGA Tour and the game of golf throughout my 30-plus years of professional golf, and I’ve earned that lifetime membership, so I believe that it should be my choice.”
He was dressed in a black shirt with his personal logo — an image of him leaping on the 18th green at Augusta National with his arms in the air from winning the 2004 Masters for his first major. He still has that scruffy beard, no hat, and he took questions for 25 minutes.
But he was halting in speech at times, often looking down at his feet before answering, the words not flowing as easily as they usually do. He became irritated when he felt reporters were asking more than one question.
One was about the meaning of legacy and if his would change now that he was being funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
“I don’t like it when you keep asking multiple questions,” he replied.
As for his legacy, he said he appreciated what the PGA Tour has done for him and “I’m excited about the opportunity that LIV Golf presents for me.”
“I think that there is an obvious incredible financial commitment,” he said.
Otherwise, he took a straight path.
For the legion of fans who are angry at him for taking Saudi Arabian money to play in a rival golf league, he understands emotions run high and he respects their opinions.
For the families of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — all but four of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens — he expressed deepest empathy even as a victims’ group demands Mickelson and others leave the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.
Anything related to his future on the PGA Tour he felt would be speculation. Any changes to U.S. Open criteria was not for him to say publicly.
Mickelson earned a five-year exemption from winning the PGA Championship last year at age 50, becoming the oldest player to win a major.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan spoke publicly Sunday for the first time since players defected to LIV Golf. Among his arguments regarding the source of the funding, Monahan said: “I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would ever consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?’”
Mickelson said he has not spoken to Monahan since October.
Asked if he felt he needed to apologize for being part of the Saudi-backed circuit, Mickelson declined to take the bait.
“There’s a lot of things throughout the years that the PGA Tour has done that I agree with, and there’s a lot of things that I don’t agree with, and yet I’ve supported them either way,” he said.
Other opinions he had about the tour or any other governing body he said he would keep private “because it was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is voicing all of these little things.”
That’s what started all this.
Mickelson was quoted by Golf Digest in February as referring to the “obnoxious greed” of the PGA Tour while he was in Saudi Arabia getting a seven-figure appearance fee.
Then, golf writer Alan Shipnuck published an excerpt of his biography on Mickelson that quoted him as calling the Saudis behind the new league “scary mother-(expletives)” and saying he was willing to get involved so he could get leverage to make changes on the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, a championship that dates to 1895 begins Thursday at The Country Club, steeped in heritage as one of the five founding clubs of the USGA.
The Saudi talk has been so prevalent the U.S. Open has become an afterthought.
“You can’t go anywhere without somebody bringing it up,” Justin Thomas said. “This is the U.S. Open, and this is an unbelievable venue, a place with so much history, an unbelievable field, so many storylines, and yet that seems to be what all the questions are about.
“That’s not right for the U.S. Open. That’s not right for us players,” he said. “But that’s, unfortunately, where we’re at right now.”
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Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com
Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports
Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.
The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.
It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.
The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.
“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.
“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”
“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”
WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:
Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”
“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.
“Couldn’t be more honoured.”
Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).
The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.
His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).
Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.
“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.
“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”
The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.
The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.
Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders
Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.
His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.
When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).
Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.
“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.
“Never took a day off.”
A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.
The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.
“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”
Best line in hockey <br><br>Luongo-Sedin-Sedin
Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons
Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.
The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.
“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.
Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.
“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.
“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”
Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.
She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.
Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.
Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.
Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.
“I am so proud.”
Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.
The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.
On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.
For now, that still means a member of the Nets.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.
Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.
He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.
The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.
Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.
“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.
And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.
But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.
Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.
A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.
“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”
NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
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