Lynch: Phil Mickelson cares about rights; just not the rights abused by his Saudi pals

It’s difficult to ascertain exactly which character trait—Hubris? Hypocrisy? Indecency?—motivates someone to furiously demand the freedom to exercise his rights while being applauded by benefactors from a regime that dismembers its critics for doing just that. Or to pause his guzzling from the teat of Middle Eastern royalty only long enough to denounce the “obnoxious greed” of an organization that made him an enormous sum of money (which is not to presume he still has it).

For all the moments that have defined Phil Mickelson’s estimable career—the emotional first major victory at Augusta National, the improbable last one at Kiawah Island, even the fumbled finish at Winged Foot—it’s his intemperate comments in Saudi Arabia this week that risk defining his enduring reputation. At best, his words suggest that what he possesses in self-regard, he lacks in self-awareness. And at worst? That he’s a willing dissembler for a government bent on using golf to sportswash its human-rights depredations and war crimes.

Mickelson’s next moves will determine the extent to which one of the sport’s great legacies will be indelibly stained.

In an interview with Golf Digest’s John Huggan, the six-time major winner bemoaned most everything about how the PGA Tour operates. Chief among his gripes is not being granted unfettered latitude with his media, denied the right to bring his own camera crew inside the ropes and to otherwise monetize the shots he hits. He lamented having to pay the Tour a $1 million fee every time he stages a made-for-TV match (receipts will show Turner Sports signed those checks) and further claimed the Tour is sitting on $20 billion in digital assets, a figure conjured out of thin air as seamlessly as Jamal Khashoggi disappeared into it.

It was all enough to make one wonder if Mickelson has ever considered the source of the $95 million he has earned competing on the PGA Tour, excluding bonuses, like the $8 million Player Impact Program payout he preemptively claimed in December before the PIP had even concluded.

Every major sports league is built on aggregating the collective media rights of athletes to maximize revenue from broadcast partners and sponsors. Mickelson understands that, and he knows the same financial model that underpins the PGA Tour would apply to any Saudi-financed Super League concept. No broadcaster will sign on if players can simultaneously create their own content channels and dilute the product. But whether because he is being duped, duplicitous or desperate, Mickelson is shilling for the Saudis by parroting their talking points, trying to browbeat fellow stars into thinking they are being exploited and that their deserved pot of gold awaits at the end of the rainbow in Riyadh.

“My ultimate loyalty is to the game of golf and what it has given me,” he told Huggan, a statement that could only gain credibility if all but the first five words and the last one were deleted

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By: Eamon Lynch
Title: Lynch: Phil Mickelson cares about rights; just not the rights abused by his Saudi pals
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2022/02/05/eamon-lynch-phil-mickelson-rights-saudi-golf/
Published Date: Sat, 05 Feb 2022 21:11:17 +0000

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