Threat of Saudi-backed golf circuit gives players leverage, says Mickelson

Threat Of Saudi-Backed Golf Circuit Gives Players Leverage, Says Mickelson
Speaking on the eve of the Asian Tour's Saudi International near Jeddah, Mickelson said the prospect of a new rival had already prompted the U.S.-based PGA Tour to distribute more money to its players. Photo: PA Images
Share this article

Thomson Reuters/Field Level Media

Phil Mickelson said all of the world's top golfers had been contacted about joining a proposed Super Golf League (SGL) and that the threat of the Saudi-backed new circuit had improved players' earnings potential.

Speaking on the eve of the Asian Tour's Saudi International near Jeddah, Mickelson said the prospect of a new rival had already prompted the U.S.-based PGA Tour to distribute more money to its players.


He cited a new Player Impact Program that handed out $40 million (€34 million) to the players who generated the most media coverage and the increase in prize money to $20 million at last year's Players Championship in Florida.

"I think every (top) player has been contacted," the six-time major winner told reporters when asked about the SGL.

"Everybody is looking at it and seeing parts of it that can really help and benefit their situation, their life, their career, and then there's parts of it that they're probably concerned with.

"I'm appreciative of the fact that there is competition, and that leverage has allowed for a much better environment on the PGA Tour.


Media rights

"My hopes are that the biggest thing, which are media rights and the way the players have been used for so long, I hope that that changes through the competitive opportunity."

Dustin Johnson said he was not allowed to disclose how much he had been offered. He said it was "not similar" to the reported $20-30 million guarantee given to Ian Poulter.

"I think it's a really good concept," he said. I think it makes it a little more interesting for the fans and for the players."

Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau has been offered more than $113 million to become the face of the Super Golf League, according to a report by the Daily Mail.


The proposed Super Golf League (SGL) is a Saudi Arabian-backed venture that has been courting most of the sport's marquee players over the past year.

Nearly half of the top-50 players in the world rankings are at this week's Saudi International, and the Daily Mail reported that it has led to meetings with several prominent players.

Dustin Johnson and England's Lee Westwood are among those in the field who have said they are not allowed to disclose whether they have received offers from the breakaway league.

According to the report, England's Ian Poulter is among multiple established players who have received offers of up to $25 million from the Saudis. However, the SGL is seeking a young superstar to join the upstart effort and the 28-year-old DeChambeau has reportedly been the focus.


Lifetime ban

"There's an awful lot of meetings going on in Saudi that people don't know about," a source told the Daily Mail. "They are talking to players that I never thought in a million years would be tempted."

Any player who joins the SGL faces a potential lifetime ban from the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (the latter formerly know as the European Tour).

In the case of Poulter, it would mean a lifetime ban from both tours and likely foregoing the ability to play for -- or captain -- Team Europe in future Ryder Cup competitions.

Reports last May surfaced that negotiators for those behind the SGL had been in South Florida making lucrative offers to several marquee players in the range of $30 million to $50 million.


At the time, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy called the proposed breakaway league "a money grab" and said he was first approached by representatives for the proposed league in 2014.

He was joining the chorus of other marquee players including Brooks Koepka and Spain's Jon Rahm, who said in the spring of 2020 that they had no intention of joining what was known then as the Premier Golf League

Talk of the PGL-turned-SGL helped lead to the creation of the PGA Tour's $40 million Player Impact Program, designed as a bonus pool for its 10 most popular stars. McIlroy said last year that he's "very much against" the notion of a breakaway circuit, but that hasn't stopped the SGL's effort's to lure star players with lucrative offers.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by