UK news Rory McIlroy had four words on Phil Mickelson’s defection, but only one for Graeme McDowell last news
PremierLeague-News.Com - Golf was a game of honour at the time, even for Greg Norman. The month was June 1995, and the game’s most dominant star was sitting in the clubhouse of the Tournament Players Club at Avenel, telling me about things that mattered in life.
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! "Golf was a game of honour at the time, even for Greg Norman. The month was June 1995, and the game’s most dominant star was sitting in the clubhouse of the Tournament Players Club at Avenel, telling me about things that mattered in life. He won three hundred grand in prize money a week before in Ohio, won a hundred that week at the Kemper Open, and would win two hundred a week later at the US Open in Shinnecock Hills, but wasn’t counting.“I’ve never played the game of golf for money,” he said. “Never worried about the size of the cheque for first prize. When I was an assistant pro, there were a couple of members at the club who wanted to sponsor me to go on Tour but I said, ‘No, I don’t want the money. If I can’t do it myself, I can’t do it at all.”Family mattered.He had taken a break a month earlier and spent the Sunday at his Florida home taking his kids to church, having lunch by the pool, and lounging on the couch for the evening with Laura. “I fell asleep,” he said. “It was the first time my wife had seen me fall asleep on the couch. Ever! And that to me shows how much I enjoy being at home.”Values mattered.His friend and rival, Nick Price, had given an interview a week before and defined success in life as “being a good parent”. Norman disagreed. “He’s got a point,” he said, “but I think being a good parent shouldn’t depend on whether you are successful or not. You’ve got to make them understand that there’s a real life out there — not this pseudo life in golf where you get preferential treatment. My wife and I are very conscious of that.”Conservation mattered.He’d earned his moniker — ‘The Shark’ — from shooting Great Whites in Australia and the Cajun Islands but hunting had become “a very sensitive issue with a lot of people around the world,” so he’d stopped. But he still dived with them, he said. He loved diving.Integrity mattered.Two months later, during the opening round of a tournament in Akron, he would accuse his playing partner, Mark McCumber, of plucking a tiny clump of grass from the seventh green and smoothing it with his thumb as he was lining up a putt. That was cheating. McCumber refuted the charge but Norman wouldn’t back down.“My job is to protect the game of golf,” he said. “I can’t stand by and watch somebody not play by the rules.”The interview lasted an hour. I thanked Norman for his time, walked the course for an hour and returned to the clubhouse where a handsome young American was talking to a group of reporters. I knew nothing about golf, and had never heard of Phil Mickelson, but in five years in journalism I had seldom come across anyone as articulate or polite.It was the abiding memory of my first PGA tournament.Why can’t they all be like him?1Mahatma GandhiA month ago, on the eve of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Pádraig Harrington started joshing with a couple of reporters about the millions being offered to join the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Invitational Series. The three-time Major winner had not had an offer from the Saudis and was happy he did not have to make a decision.“I haven’t got a number because I don’t have to think about it,” he said. “If someone said, here’s a million to go play, I’d go ‘no’. If you said here’s $100 million, now I’d have to think about it.”A few hours later, his phone started pinging with some curious messages:And:And:And:And:What did it mean?2Thomas L. Friedman in Tuesday’s In the years that followed that first sighting of Phil, he became my favourite American golfer.The mind returns to the 1997 Open and the sight of his big goofy grin as he ambled through the streets of Troon one evening hand-in-hand with his wife, Amy. And to Muirfield five years later, when he spent more time signing autographs than any other player. But mostly to Augusta in 2004, and the joy on my father’s face, as we stood by the 18th green and watched Phil win his first Major.He was easy to love. A prolific winner and a gracious loser, he had a nice family, a great caddie, and was popular with his peers. He was the most generous tipper in the locker-room, treated people with respect, and always seemed to do the right thing. He was the Best Player Never To Have Won a Major and then he went on to win six.But there were other truths.In a just-published biography — — the author, Alan Shipnuck, recalls that Mickelson was once listed by as one of the ten most hated athletes in the world, and tells some eye-watering stories about his insincerity:“Among Mickelson’s colleagues there is much eye rolling about his marathon autograph sessions at tournaments. The underlying feeling is that it is just a shameless brand-building exercise. This is not wrong. By the time Mickelson won the 2005 PGA Championship, he had hired a former San Diego newspaperman named TR Reinman to serve as a press liaison and to help shepherd him during tournament weeks. ‘I remember one time after a round, he had been signing autographs for 45 minutes or so and the crowd was getting bigger, not smaller,’ says Reinman. ‘It started to rain, so I went out to run interference. I tried to say something about him coming inside and Phil cut me off: ‘Hey, I’m working here.’“Brandel Chamblee recalls a Crosby Clambake [tournament] in the mid-1990s when he and Mickelson arrived in their cars at Poppy Hills just after dawn for an early tee time. A little kid was waiting in an otherwise empty parking lot to ask Mickelson for his autograph. ‘Phil just kept walking and said, ‘I’ll get you afterward,’ and this little boy was crestfallen,’ says Chamblee. ‘He wasn’t gonna wait around six hours to ask again and they both knew it. Of course I signed for the kid — it took five seconds. I’m not saying this to denigrate Phil, just to illustrate that it was strategic when he decided to start signing all those autographs. Because early in his career he didn’t sign a lot. I’m 99 per cent sure it was strategic because Tiger hated signing and pretty much refused to do it. Phil saw there was a void and decided he would be the superstar who signs for everyone. And that elevated the narrative surrounding Phil.’”His biggest vice was gambling.At the start of the 2000 NFL season, he put $20,000 down on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl and collected $560,000. But winning begets losing. Here’s Shipnuck again: “Continued whispers that Mickelson was dropping a lot of coin in Vegas sports books compelled to launch an investigation.“Veteran scribe Ron Sirak haunted Las Vegas alongside a local reporter who was well-connected to the gambling industry. ‘We found Phil had a lot of big losses, but casinos only keep track of losses, not winnings,’ says Sirak. ‘He may have won big the next day — we don’t know that. We talked to the casino guys who handle the whales. When they lose big [using a line of credit], the casino gives them 45 days to pay off the losses. Most people would wait until the 44th day. Phil paid on day one ... The only story I had was a rich guy who liked to gamble, and we already knew that. I saw no indication that Phil owed anybody money or had done anything that would make people uncomfortable.’”Then he did something that caused revulsion.In February 2021, Mickelson skipped the Phoenix Open — once a favoured event — and flew half-way around the world to play in Saudi Arabia. Then rumours began to circulate about his association with a new Saudi Golf League (SGL) that would be a direct competitor to the PGA Tour.For 10 months Mickelson kept his intentions to himself and then made a surprise call to Shipnuck and laid out the plan. His involvement in the birth of the tour was much more extensive than had been previously known. He told the writer he had enlisted three other “top players” and that attorneys were working on the SGL’s operating agreement.(From Phil): “He didn’t pretend to be excited about the prospect of making his professional home in Saudi Arabia, admitting the SGL was nothing more than ‘sportswashing’ by a brutally oppressive regime. ‘They’re scary motherf**kers to get involved with,’ he said. ‘We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.’”Mickelson’s comments caused a firestorm. He was being paid a reported $200m to join the SGL and his greed and indifference to the Saudi atrocities made headlines around the world. The blowback was fierce. He was suspended by the Tour, lost two major sponsors and was savaged by commentators, players and fans.Rory McIlroy was playing in Los Angeles that week. “I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down obviously, but I thought they were naïve, selfish, egotistical, ignorant — a lot of words to describe that interaction he had with Shipnuck,” he said. “It was just very surprising and disappointing. Sad. I’m sure he’s sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”Where he went was London for the first LIV event, and to Boston for the US Open.3– Colin Byrne, , February 26It’s Monday afternoon at The Country Club in Brookline.
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. Simon Keelan is from Cork and works for Seamus Power; Ricky Elliott is from Portrush and works for Brooks Koepka. They’ve been chatting for five minutes when Koepka marches out of the clubhouse and motions to his caddie that they’re heading to the range.Elliott resents being treated like a lapdog. “Go on! I’ll be down in a minute,” he says, defiantly. Then he smiles at Keelan, grabs the bag and goes bounding after Koepka with his tongue hanging out. That’s the job: Show up. Keep up. Shut up. It has always been the job. And Colin Byrne has always been different.There was his degree (Trinity) in management science, a love for travel, food and wine and his often compelling column in . But the thing that really made him interesting, and set him apart, was his thinly-veiled contempt for some of the people who employed him. Generally, as a breed, he had never been an admirer of ‘the professional golfer.’“I wouldn’t want to play golf for a living,” he told me once. “It’s a tough job and they are very talented people, and every time you tee it up the game tests you to the core, but what I’ve found over the years is that you get these guys who play well and all of a sudden they are experts on everything.“And they never want to speak to you on the same level — they’re always looking down on you. And any relationship I want to have has to be on the same level. I’ve been brought up with the game but the modern golf environment just seems to be elitist, money-grabbing, materialistic.“It smacks of everything and I don’t enjoy that. There’s a tremendous history of golf and the people I enjoy are the people who are genuinely interested in the game. But money is dominating everything now, and it doesn’t attract deep-thinking people.”His column on Rory, and the greed driving the Saudi tour was brave, and blistering:“The Sky television commentator and ex-player Andrew Coltart recently ripped the silk rug of complacency from under a player who had blithely suggested that his reasoning for potentially signing up to the Saudi Arabia-led tour would be so that he could feed his family. Coltart was quick to suggest that he was tone deaf and had insulted people who were genuinely trying to feed their families on meagre incomes and spiralling inflation.“It wasn’t a question of putting food on the table, more likely securing the purchasing power to choose a Michelin-starred restaurant in which to feed his family. Somewhat naive you might say. As brave as Rory has been for actually expressing what he thought instead of the traditional diatribe that tends to constitute a golfer’s interview, Coltart has been even more daring in directing criticism at those ‘darlings of the fairways’ who have seemed until now untouchable. I hope he doesn’t lose his job over it.“Of course Rory won’t lose his job for his honesty, but he will make life difficult for himself by calling a fellow player out for making stupid comments.”I sent Colin a message that morning — ‘great piece’ — and we shared a house two months later with two other caddies at the Masters. I wondered when I’d see him again. His time with Louis Oosthuizen, the gifted South African, seemed to be drawing to a close but they were back together last week at the Centurion Club in London ... the first event of the Saudi Tour.It will make a good column.4Alan ShipnuckTen days ago, on the eve of the final round in London, the ran a story about a letter that had been sent to representatives of the five American stars — Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na — playing in the Saudi event.It was written by Terry Strada, a mother of three whose husband Tom was on the 104th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. She’s also the chair of a 9/11 survivors’ group.“As a freedom-loving American,” she wrote, “I am grateful to have the freedom of choice where I work and who I work for, and I respect your right as well. As a 9/11 widow, I feel compelled to help you understand the level of depravity the Kingdom engaged in when it knowingly sent government agents here to establish the support network needed for those hijackers“As you may know, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis ... yet these are your partners, and much to our disappointment, you appear pleased to be in business with them ...“The Saudis do not care about the deep-rooted sportsmanship of golf or its origins as a gentleman’s game built upon core values of mutual respect and personal integrity. They care about using professional golf to whitewash their reputation, and they are paying you to help them do it.”Mickelson saw the letter — but didn’t care to be reminded of it — when a passage was read to him at his press conference last Monday. “I’ve read all that,” he said, testily. “Is there a question in there?”I’ve read all that.What’s wrong with this guy? Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst on the Golf Channel. “By my count there were 22 questions [asked at Mickelson’s press conference] and not a single question about being the oldest Major champion of all time, not a single question about trying to complete the career Grand Slam. It was all about his decision to join a league that I think many view was an attempt at a hostile takeover.“When it comes to the richest sports stars in the world, Phil Mickelson is 11th. He’s ahead of Kobe Bryant, he’s ahead of David Beckham, he’s ahead of Kevin Durant, he’s ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Why is that? It’s because of the image of the golfer. Because of their independent-contract nature.“Because they show up and, generally speaking, play a game that is self-governed and self-policing. It is a game of integrity. It’s because corporations want to align themselves to these players. It’s because of the philanthropic aspect of the game of golf. So when I hear these players say that they are ‘growing the game’ it makes me want to puke. They’re destroying the game. And they are destroying their reputations.”Michael Bamberger is the best golf writer in America. “[Phil’s] greed is out of control,” he says. “He won the PGA Championship at age 50. He was in such great shape for a last act. The CBS thing [lead analyst] was waiting for him. He would have been great at it ...“His kids are getting out of college ... He’s a multi-multi-millionaire with a private jet and multiple homes and for any normal person it’s more than you could possibly want. And it’s not enough for him. He thinks more money is going to change his life and he turns it upside down because of it.”He’s not alone.Graeme McDowell was raised in a three-bedroom terrace house in Portrush. In 2015 — my last time to interview him — he made $9.3m. His golf had started to slip but he had blue-chip sponsors and was brilliant with corporates. He’d won a Major. People liked him. There was talk of a seat at CBS. Then he signs for the Saudi Tour and sets himself on fire.It’s Tuesday afternoon in Boston. Rory McIlroy is walking up the 18th fairway looking at a screenshot of the . Front page. Big headline: ‘McDowell: I’m proud of what I’m doing for Saudi.’ He shakes his head and returns my phone.“I want to ask you a question you can’t answer.”“Go on,” he says.“What did you think when Graeme torched himself last week in London?”He pauses.“One word will do,” I say. “You used four on Phil.”He thinks about it.“Sad.”"
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