Just one year ago, Phil Mickelson was having a miraculous career renaissance. He was able to capture the PGA Championships to become the oldest major champion in golf history. Even if it ended up being the last major he would ever capture, fans knew at that moment that they were witnessing something special. Just one very long year later, Mickelson’s life has unravelled, and he has become one of the most controversial players in golf. How did that happen?
Mickelson has chosen to skip his second straight major, despite being healthy enough to compete, because he has been at the centre of a controversy. It all started with him airing his frustrations with the PGA Tour and flirting with joining LIV Golf, the upstart professional tour financed by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It all started when Mickelson seemed to be bragging about overlooking Saudi Arabia’s considerable human rights abuses because it allowed him the opportunity to change the PGA tour. Mickelson is quoted as saying, “They’re scary motherf—ers to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “… They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] 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.”
The fallout was swift and dramatic. One by one, several of golf’s biggest stars distanced themselves from LIV Golf (and Mickelson) and pledged their loyalty to the PGA Tour. Mickelson quickly lost longtime sponsors Amstel and KPMG. His legacy has taken a permanent hit, and with his decision to withdraw from a second tour event in a row, there are questions about whether he will ever return to the PGA tour.
The Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last week, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90 in Game 6. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 32 points, to go along with eight rebounds, as the Heat closed out the best-of-seven series, 4-2.
The victory was particularly sweet for Butler, who played for the 76ers in the 2018/19 season. After the game, as he made his way to the locker room, Butler could be heard saying, “Tobias Harris over me?”, which was a reference to Philadelphia’s decision to trade Butler to the Heat in 2019 and choosing to sign Harris to a huge contract instead (five years, 180 million USD). Since that decision, Butler has drastically outperformed Harris – and almost everybody in the league, especially during the playoffs – making Philadelphia’s decision to let him go even worse than it seemed at the time. Referencing that decision, Embiid said after the series, “I still don’t know how we let him go”.