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Phil Mickelson says more PGA players will jump to LIV Golf

MIAMI – Six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson said on Wednesday that more PGA Tour players will jump to Saudi-backed LIV Golf, despite a framework agreement for a merger by the end of 2023.

The American star, among the first to leap from the PGA to the upstart circuit in 2022, spoke ahead of Friday’s start of the season-ending LIV Golf Team Championship at Doral.

“I’ve been fielding calls, as we all have, from players that are free agents to PGA Tour players to DP World Tour players that want to come over,” he said.

Asked if he expected an “exodus” of talent from the PGA and DP World tours, he was confident of more movement.

“Do I think that? No. I know that’s going to happen,” Mickelson, 53, said. “When players look at LIV, they’re wanting to be a part of it.

“Everybody here is happy and enjoying what we’re doing, enjoying the team aspect of it and enjoying each other and the camaraderie and enjoying playing golf globally and all the benefits that come…

“So there are a lot of players that see that and want to be a part of it.”

LIV Golf will see four players “relegated” after this season. Those outside the top 24 of the season-long points standings are also not assured of coming back unless they have a contract.

Merger talks have continued between the three tours since a June announcement of a framework agreement, but there is a Dec 31 deadline.

A 12-member PGA Tour Policy Board with a majority of players, including Tiger Woods, must approve any merger deal.

“I think the merger talks allow for it,” Mickelson added of players jumping to LIV. “It allows and kind of opens the door for that.”

But one door slammed shut on LIV last week.

The Official World Golf Ranking board rejected LIV’s appeal to have rankings points awarded for its events, citing issues with LIV’s limited player turnover rate and team format issues impacting individual play.

LIV players have been banned from PGA Tour events, limiting their ability to earn ranking points.

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Brooks Koepka, the 2023 PGA Championship winner, and Cameron Smith, British Open champion in 2022, are the only LIV players still among the world rankings’ top 50, a key cut-off point for entry into Majors.

Koepka insisted LIV has plenty of talent. “It’s hard to argue that some of these guys here are not the best players in the world,” he said. “These guys deserve to be in Majors. Hopefully there’s a pathway for them.” AFP

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