Phil Mickelson didn’t hold back. In a scathing interview with Golf Digest’s John Huggan, Mickelson ripped the PGA Tour’s media rights policy, said the Tour’s “greed” is “beyond obnoxious” and even added that if he won next year’s U.S. Open, completing the career grand slam, he’d retire.
Mickelson’s Wednesday press conference on site was quite mild, although when he was asked about the potential of a Super Golf League for the game’s stars, he admitted the competition had been good for the Tour, referencing the PIP program and Players Championship purse increase. He also added, “I’m appreciative of the competition, and what my hopes are is 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, as well.”
Mickelson also talked to Golf Digest on Wednesday and went deeper on his issue with media rights.
“It’s not public knowledge, all that goes on,” Mickelson told Huggan. “But the players don’t have access to their own media. If the tour wanted to end any threat [from rival leagues], they could just hand back the media rights to the players. But they would rather throw $25 million here and $40 million there than give back the roughly $20 billion in digital assets they control. Or give up access to the $50-plus million they make every year on their own media channel. There are many issues, but that is one of the biggest. For me personally, it’s not enough that they are sitting on hundreds of millions of digital moments. They also have access to my shots, access I do not have. They also charge companies to use shots I have hit.”
Mickelson said when he played in The Match, the Tour “forced me to pay them $1 million each time.”
“For my own media rights,” he said. “That type of greed is, to me, beyond obnoxious.”
The PGA Tour declined to comment for the story. Like other major sports organizations, the Tour relies heavily on media rights for revenue.
Asked during his press conference if he’d been contacted directly to play in a Super Golf League, Mickelson said, “pretty much every player that is in the top 100 I would say in the World Ranking has been contacted at some point, absolutely.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding golf’s potential new leagues, Mickelson told Golf Digest he wasn’t sure how everything will play out.
“I don’t know where things are headed, but I know I will be criticized,” he said. “That’s not my concern. All that would do is dumb down one of the most intricate issues in sports. It would be so naive to not factor in all of the complexities. The media rights are but a small fraction of everything else. And it is the Tour’s obnoxious greed that has really opened the door for opportunities elsewhere.”
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