LIV Golf’s slogan is golf, but louder — a 180 from the typically hush atmosphere at most tournaments.
It certainly was on Friday when the third event in the controversial new league teed off at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. As Phil Mickelson was about to get underway for his shotgun start on the par-3 16th, a man heckled him by shouting, “Do it for the Saudi Royal Family!”
LIV Golf has come under fire for being bankrolled by the Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Saudi Arabia, and drawn the ire of 9/11 groups this week in particular for its connections to the country.
Mickelson backed away from his ball, the crowd groused, and he gathered himself. Then, he knocked his tee shot into a greenside bunker. He went on to bogey the hole.
The moment was emblematic of what’s been an inauspicious run of late for the 52-year-old six-time major champion.
Mickelson, who is enormously popular in the New York area, first found himself in hot water for comments he made about Saudi Arabia as well as the PGA Tour. Then upon returning from a four-month exile he ditched the Tour for LIV, for a reported guaranteed $200 million.
On the course, things haven’t gone to script.
Mickelson, who was suspended along with the rest of the LIV players from the PGA Tour, missed the cut at last month’s U.S. Open and earlier this month at the British Open. He also finished 40th in the 48-player LIV event outside London and 33rd in its stop outside Portland, Ore.
In his first six rounds and two events of Liv Golf, Mickelson is an abysmal 20-over par.