Phil Mickelson legacy defended by Spanish star John Rahm after Saudi Arabia comments

Mickelson signs up for controversial LIV Golf Invitational

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Recently slammed golf star Phil Mickelson has had his legacy defended by former world No 1 Jon Rahm, following his controversial comments on Saudi Arabia. Mickelson’s once glittering reputation looked to be in tatters in February, after comments he had made to author Alan Shipnuck were released from the production of his new biography.

The six-time major champion was discussing his contentious intentions to play in the newly formed LIV Golf Invitational Series, backed by the Saudi state. During his interview with Shipnuck, Mickelson described the Saudis as ‘scary motherf*****s’ due to their poor human rights record, but hinted he was willing to look past this to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.

This came after the 51-year-old had already accused the Tour he had spent nearly all of his professional career on of ‘obnoxious greed’, despite being the circuit’s second highest earner of all time only behind Tiger Woods. Mickelson’s remarkable rant was widely slammed across the golf world, forcing him into a grovelling apology where he revealed he would be taking a break from competing.

Despite the controversy, one man who has risen to the American’s defence is Rahm. Ahead of this week’s Mexico Open he said: “I don’t think what’s happened recently should, or will, damage his legacy too much. That guy has given his life to golf and a lot of what we have and a lot of what we are competing on now is thanks to him.

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“A lot of people focus on Tiger [Woods], but he is easily in the top three best players in the world right now. We should recognise the guy has given his life to the public – nobody has done more for the fans or signed as many autographs. I know he’s in a bit of a slump right now, for whatever that may be, but I don’t think his whole career or legacy should change because of a couple of comments.”

The former world No 1’s comments come in the wake of the announcement of Mickelson’s return to golf, after his management team confirmed he will compete in both the PGA Championship – where he defends his title – and the US Open. As well as this, it seems his controversial comments haven’t hindered his chances of playing in the Saudi-backed Series, after it was confirmed that the 51-year-old had applied to play in the circuit’s inaugural event in June.

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“Our client Phil Mickelson is officially registered to play in the PGA Championship as well as the US Open,” the statement read. “We have also filed a request on his behalf for a release to play in the first LIV Golf Invitational in London, June 9-11. Phil currently has no concrete plans on when and where he will play. Any actions taken are in no way a reflection of a final decision made, but rather to keep all options open.

“Phil currently has no concrete plans on when and where he will play. Any actions taken are in no way a reflection of a final decision made, but rather to keep all options open.” Along with Mickelson, a whole host of big names have been linked with the Saudi switch, including Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.

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