‘Let’s not… pile on’: Phil Mickelson reacts to Rory McIlroy’s stunning LIV reversal

Rory McIlroy picks up tee after drive as Phil Mickelson watches at 2020 Zozo Championship

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson pictured at the 2020 Zozo Championship, before golf's civil war.

Harry How/Getty Images

This week Rory McIlroy offered up a major reversal of opinion, acknowledging the positive changes that have resulted from LIV Golf and criticizing aspects of the PGA Tour.

Quick to share his thoughts on McIlroy’s stunning change of tune: LIV loyalist Phil Mickelson.

McIlroy offered up his new outlook on pro golf’s civil war during an appearance on Gary Neville’s The Overlap, admitting regret that he had been “judgmental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start.”

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Previously, McIlroy had been the unofficial spokesperson for the PGA Tour side of the feud, criticizing the rise of the new Saudi-financed golf league and lamenting whenever a major player ditched the PGA Tour for LIV.

But everything changed last summer with the announcement of the framework agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF, which finances LIV. Since then McIlroy has stopped publicly commenting on the divide, and he took a major step back from his central role in the discussions by resigning from the PGA Tour Policy Board in November.

In his Overlap appearance, McIlroy admitted that LIV had “exposed the flaws in the system” of professional golf, and that he “can’t believe the PGA Tour has done so well for so long.” He also described Jon Rahm’s shocking departure for LIV in December as a “smart business move.”

These are the specific quotes that caught Mickelson’s interest. In a reply to an X post featuring McIlroy’s new thoughts on LIV, the much-maligned six-time major champion, who was one of the founding forces behind LIV, displayed an eagerness to move on from the feud.

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Mickelson wrote, “This quote and the many others made today by Rory probably weren’t easy to say. Let’s not use this as an opportunity to pile on. Rather, it’s time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future.”

He also expressed hope that Rahm’s decision to join LIV would turn “into a bridge to bring both sides together.”

But Mickelson acknowledged that without a definitive agreement in place between the PGA Tour and the PIF “it will be business as usual… but hopefully without the needless disdain.”

As for the ongoing negotiations between the PGA Tour and the PIF, an agreement was supposed to be finalized by Dec. 31, 2023. But when that date arrived, the two sides announced an extension of the deadline to an undetermined date.

Until that agreement is signed and revealed publicly, we won’t know what the futures of McIlroy, Mickelson, Rahm or pro golf as a whole will look like.

As for this week, McIlroy and Mickelson are both taking some time off. McIlroy chose to skip playing the Sentry, the PGA Tour’s season-opening event in Kapalua, choosing instead to begin his season on the DP World Tour in two weeks at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Mickelson will get his season started at the first LIV event of 2024 in Mexico the first week of February.

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