Phil Mickelson: PGA Tour Players should thank LIV Golf for creating 'leverage'

Phil Mickelson has defended the LIV Golf circuit for helping to create more "leverage" for the game's biggest stars.

Mickelson has become a golfing pariah in recent months for his decision to help get the Saudi-backed series off the ground, but he is keen to remind his harshest critics that the influence of the new tour has already brought about concrete change. 

In a bid to combat the encroachment of LIV Golf, the PGA Tour has announced a series of major incentives to appease their most elite players, while some of the innovations set to be introduced bear more than a passing similarity to those found in LIV.

"Well, they are getting a lot for it," Mickelson said. "So I'm extremely happy that the top players are being listened to and that their input is being valued... and what they are doing for the Tour is now being valued."

Mickelson has long been an advocate for change on the PGA Tour but said he ultimately decided to take up the LIV Golf offer when it became clear nothing was going to change.

Now others are benefiting from the status quo being shaken up.

"It was stated very clearly that nothing was going to happen," he said. "Unless there was leverage, nothing was going to change. And all players should be appreciative of what LIV is doing. The players on LIV for the opportunity they are getting. And the PGA Tour for the leverage that was provided to get these changes done.

"Despite multiple efforts by multiple players... I don't think anything like that would have happened without the leverage that LIV Golf has provided. There was no leverage. There were no other options.

"I think players on both sides of LIV and the PGA Tour are appreciative of what is happening. Every player is benefiting," he added.

Mickelson was one of 22 former PGA Tour players informed on Thursday that they do not meet the membership requirements for the 2022/23 season that begins in two weeks and are not welcome to return.

Wolff leads LIV event in Boston as Smith debuts

Meanwhile, the LIV Golf Invitational Boston got under way at The International Golf Club in Massachusetts on Friday, with new signing Cameron Smith making his LIV debut.

American duo Matthew Wolff and Talor Gooch grabbed the lead after the opening day thanks after a pair of seven-under-par 63s. Wolff also made the very first hole-in-one in LIV Golf history at the par-3 second hole.

Newcomer Smith is just one shot behind, however, sharing second place with Joaquin Niemann on six under.

Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Bernd Wiesberger, Kevin Na and Anirban Lahiri all share fifth place on four-under 66.

READ MORE: Made in HimmerLand: Ross McGowan maintains slender lead ahead of day three

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