Tiger Woods a lancé son premier tour du PGA Championship jeudi.

Golf: Saudi Arabia and a controversy in the shadow of the PGA Championship

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The second Grand Slam lifter of the 2022 season has been “on sabbatical leave” since the release of derogatory comments without his defending champion Phil Mickelson.

Tiger Woods started his first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday.

AFP

The PGA Championship, the second Grand Slam of the 2022 season, kicked off this Thursday at the Southern Hills course in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Missing grades must be reported. We think of the American long hitter Bryson DeChambeau, ex-no. 4 in the world who has not recovered sufficiently from left wrist surgery. But also and above all to his compatriot Phil Mickelson, six majors in the bag and defending champion.

It is that “Lefty”, his nickname (he is left-handed), has been “on sabbatical” since February and the publication of comments he allegedly made about the American professional circuit (PGA Tour) and Saudi Arabia in names of a biography.

“The PGA Tour likes to pretend to be a democracy, but it’s actually a dictatorship.”

Phil Mickelson

We must first set the scene to understand. In early June, the LIV Golf International Series, a highly lucrative ($25 million in prize money per tournament; double the PGA Championship) eight-event dissident league funded by Saudi Arabia and for which the Tour American recently signed up, kicks off refused to grant waivers to members (players) who have applied to participate.

Phil Mickelson,

Phil Mickelson, “On Sabbatical.”

AFP

amazing reasoning

Phil Mickelson is one of the golfers drawn to this Super League. The comments that journalist Alan Shipnuck says he would have made? “The tour likes to pretend to be a democracy, but it’s really a dictatorship (…) They divide and conquer. The worries of the top players are very different from the worries of the guys lower down the earnings list, when the latter are far more numerous.

“Lefty” would also have had a surprising rationale, to say the least, when citing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “We know they killed Khashoggi (Editor’s note: Jamal, Washington Post journalist and columnist) and that they have terrible precedents when it comes to rights and freedoms. They execute people for being gay. Knowing all this, why should I think about joining this Super League? Because this is a unique opportunity to transform the way the PGA works.”

“There is a lot of money here, the tour is growing. But you have to go out there and win it.”

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods supports the PGA Tour

Inevitably, the topic returned to the table this week in Tulsa before a PGA championship robbed its defending champion. To tell the truth, they are several who have been questioned on the subject during the various pre-tournament press conferences. Including Tiger Woods. “Phil said things that many of us who are committed to the Tour and the Tour’s legacy have dismissed,” responded the man with 15 Grand Slam wins, before “justifying” his support on the American circuit.

“I believe in legacies. I believe in big tournaments. I believe in big events. “I believe in comparisons with historical figures of the past,” explained the tiger. There is a lot of money here, the tour is growing. But it’s like any other sport, like tennis. You have to go out there and win it…”

Who will be the big winner in Oklahoma? Definitely not Phil Mickelson, around whom the main questions are about the date of his return and the reception that the world of golf will give him.

As is so often the case in a Grand Slam facelift, Tiger Woods is in the spotlight. The former world No. 1 (46) has not played since the Masters in April and he reassured this week he feels “stronger” than he was at Augusta (47th), where he had returned fourteen months after a car crash nearly cost him his right leg.

Speaking to American media on Tuesday, the Tiger admitted he is not yet at 100% of his potential, but reiterated that he believes he can win “without a doubt”. “I just have to go out and do my job. I will be ready.”

In reality, other players are more popular during this PGA championship. At the top Scottie Scheffler, world No. 1 and winner of the Masters in April. You can also see the Spaniard Jon Rahm, the Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and the Americans Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa. JRE


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