Tony Jacklin Calls Phil Mickelson Comments On Saudi Golf League “A Potential Masterstroke”
Former Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin has backed Phil Mickelson’s comments on the Saudi Golf League and said he hopes the plans get accommodated in some form in the future.
Mickelson issued an apology this week over comments he made in support of the controversial proposals, but speaking to BoyleSports this week, Jacklin insisted the Saudi-backed breakaway will be very hard for some players to ignore.
“I’d definitely hear out the Saudis,” he told BoyleSports.
“Personally, I hope it gets accommodated in some guise. I think it’s hard to ignore when there is such serious money on the table, as well as certain aspects on how to change the spectacle of golf as entertainment being undeniably attractive.
“The tour has made a big effort since Mickelson’s comments, injecting more money into various things.
“If Phil was genuinely trying to get the PGA Tour off its backside to do more for the players than they have been doing, then it’s potentially a masterstroke”
…albeit one where he’s had to take a reputational hit personally.”
“They’ve already come up with umpteen millions more dollars, so perhaps he was catching their attention. All these things take time to play and I believe we are a long way from the end.
Jacklin, a two-time major winner, also questioned Rory McIlroy’s assertion that the Saudi Golf League is “dead in the water.”
“Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups, so I would never assume that it was ‘dead in the water’ like Rory McIlroy said,” he added.
Long Way To Go
“I think this thing has a long way to go yet. They have signed a lot of very smart people up, whether it’s TV execs, rules people, people who deal with commercial entities et cetera. We’d be foolish to think it’s dead in the water just because a handful of people don’t agree with it.
“So many golfers these days are pretty set; they can make their minds up on what they want to without any worries. I fully understand someone like Lee Westwood, a bloke in his late forties, seeing a Saudi arrangement attractive.
“So the Saudi tournament has some attractive elements to it, not just the money, but the time element, the matchplay element, the team element. All things which might spice the entertainment up around golf. I hope it can create more opportunities and less animosity amongst the game’s biggest names.
“Rory is well respected everywhere he goes, he is highly intelligent and speaks from the heart and has a platform to speak his mind in his position as chairman of the Player Advisory Council. When he speaks, he has to think first. He does not take things for granted.
“He has firmly come down on the side of the PGA Tour as a man who has always set out to win majors and stay on safe ground, not upset the apple cart, especially with him being close to the commissioner.
“But I would say that as a man worth as much as he is, money is no object for him. He has no reason to have his head turned by Saudi Arabia, as he explained in the week, but perhaps he should understand those who do.”
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More on Tony Jacklin:
Tony Jacklin CBE is a retired English golfer. He was the most successful British player of his generation, winning two major championships, the 1969 Open Championship and the 1970 U.S. Open.
Jacklin may be best remembered for his involvement in the Ryder Cup. He was a playing member of the “Great Britain and Ireland” team in 1967 to 1977, and of the first European team in 1979.
He was also Ryder Cup captain from 1983 to 1989. Europe winning two and tying another of these four events.