Phil Mickelson is competing at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament at Centurion Club this week; the 51-year-old is returning to action after four months out, and intends to play next week’s US Open; Mickelson adds he will not resign from PGA Tour.

Phil Mickelson says he feels “so good” about the balance playing in the LIV Golf Series provides and added he will not resign from the PGA Tour during a tense press conference on Wednesday.

The 51-year-old is ending his self-imposed four-month exile from the sport to compete in this week’s inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament at Centurion Club.

Phil Mickelson skipped his PGA Championship defence following a backlash over comments he made about the Saudi-backed breakaway tour, and was facing the media for the first since confirming his LIV Golf participation on Monday.

The six-time major winner repeatedly said “I don’t condone human rights violations” when asked about his reasons for competing in the tour, despite calling the Saudi regime “scary” back in February, and stressed LIV Golf can “do a lot of good for the game”.

Addressing his break, Mickelson said: “I’ve had an awesome time, I’ve had a four-month break from the game. It’s given me time to continue some of the work and therapy that I’ve been working on, on some areas I’m deficient in, in my life.

“It’s given me time to reflect on what I want to do going forward, what’s best for me, what’s best for the people I care about. This allows me to be more present and engaged with people I care about.

“That is why, when I think about being a part of LIV Golf, I feel so good about it.”

Phil Mickelson also said he will not speak publicly about PGA “issues”, and refused to deny if he had been banned by the Tour.

As a lifetime member of the PGA Tour, Mickelson acknowledged he does not have to play any of their events, and does not see “any reason” to give up his membership following Dustin Johnson’s resignation on Tuesday.

He did, however, confirm he would take part in the US Open next week – “I’m looking forward to it,” he added.

On Tuesday, the USGA confirmed golfers competing in this week’s LIV series opener will be allowed to play in next week’s US Open, providing they had already qualified.

Mickelson took plenty of pauses and considered his answers carefully when grilled about his participation in the event, which starts on Thursday, and the American once more apologised for his comments about the breakaway tour.

“I’ve said a lot of things I regret, I’m sorry for that and the hurt it’s caused a lot of people,” he said. “I don’t condone human rights violations at all, nobody here does, throughout the world. I’m certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi and I think it’s terrible.

What did Phil Mickelson say before taking break?

Back in February, Mickelson apologised for his “reckless” comments about the Saudi-backed breakaway league.

It was revealed Mickelson called the Saudis “scary motherf****** to be involved with” and questioned the country’s human rights record in an interview with Alan Shipnuck for his upcoming book on the 51-year old.

Mickelson went on to say the money on offer was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates”.

He added: “As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right.’ And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the Saudi golf league] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”

“I’ve also seen the good the game of golf has done throughout history. I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I’m excited about this opportunity. That’s why I’m here.”

Asked if he was a tool of “sports-washing” or could be seen as a “Saudi stooge”, Mickelson replied: “I said earlier. I don’t condone human rights violations. I don’t know how I can be any more clear. I understand your question, but again, I love this game of golf, I’ve seen the good it’s done and I see the opportunity for LIV Golf to do a lot of good for the game throughout the world.”

He was then asked to clarify what he is apologising for, and Mickelson said: “I understand many people have strong opinions and may disagree with my decision. I can emphasise with that. But at this time, this is an opportunity that gives me a chance to have the most balance in my life going forward. I think this is going to do a lot of good for the game.”

Phil Mickelson had spoken about using the Saudi tour as leverage to improve the PGA Tour, but said he will now keep his views about the latter under wraps.

He added: “I’ve really enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour. I’ve had some incredible experiences, great memories, and have a lot of strong opinions that should and could be a lot better. One of the mistakes I’ve made is voicing those publicly.

“I will really make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors going forward. That’s the way to be the most efficient and get the most out of it.”

Phil Mickelson

Is there a future for Phil Mickelson on the PGA Tour?

Mickelson has won 45 events on the PGA Tour in a career spanning more than three decades, and he stressed he does not want to cancel his membership with a tour that has provided him “incredible memories”.

He said: “I have been a part of the Tour for over 30 years. I’ve had a lot of incredible memories that have been formed, and experiences I’ve shared. Tournaments I’ve won, and lost.

“I also received a lot from the PGA Tour. I’m very grateful for that, for everything the PGA Tour and the game of golf has provided for me and my family.

“I’ve also worked really hard to contribute and try to build and add value to the Tour during my time there.

“I worked really hard to earn a lifetime exemption, and I don’t want to give that up, I don’t believe I should have to. I don’t know what that means for the future, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve earned that, and I don’t plan on just giving it up.”

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