Phil Mickelson’s miserable US Open ended in a missed cut and was compounded by an errant tee-shot from the left-hander that left a spectator prostrate on the ground.
And as if all this was not enough then a US senator rounded on Mickelson for playing on the Saudi rebel circuit telling him “you’re better than this”, at the same time as he bizarrely promised he is going to take the LIV issue all the way to the White House.
Mickelson’s second-round 73 was actually a creditable effort as The Country Club bared its teeth, on a hot day of swirling winds in which the ground baked, but too much damage had been wrought with his opening 78.
When he signed for an 11-over total, there were only two players in the clubhouse with a higher score and inevitably gags were being made about the Saudis getting value for signing money for the $200 million-on fee they reportedly paid the 52-year -old.
By and large, the galleries here were positive towards the six-time major winner. “The fans here have always been terrific,” he said, thanking them for the warmth of their welcome.
However, the same could not be said about Senator Ron Wyden. The 73-year-old Democrat represents the state of Oregon, where Mickelson will next pitch up in two weeks’ time in the second $25m LIV Golf Series event and the first to be held in America. Wyden is not happy that the tournament is being staged at Pumpkin Ridge.
“One of the reasons I am so strongly opposed to this being in Portland is that this hits really close to home,” Wyden told USA Today.
“A young woman, Fallon Smart, was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run and right before the Saudi national was to go to trial, our law enforcement officials at home that this suspect was whisked believe out of Oregon and the country by Saudi officials. They saw a big car pull up, his ankle bracelet cut, passports, all this stuff, in order to get out of the country.”
So what would Wyden say to Mickelson? “I would just say, this is wrong,” Wyden replied. “I would tell Mr Mickelson, you can do better than this. You can be far better than this, you’re clearly going to have loads of opportunities to make very substantial sums of money, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t reward those with blood-stained hands.
“I’d say going along with this sportwashing is basically undermining core American values… The golfers ought to be Americans first and concerned with justice, values and acknowledging there’s more to it than money. The ball, so to speak, is in their court. They’ve got a chance to make this right [by quitting LIV Golf]and make a very powerful statement.”
Wyden is even going to bring it up with President Biden and ask him to discuss the matter – including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents – with Mohammed Bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, when they meet in Jeddah next month.
“I’d like to see the president bring up these issues and particularly raise the Saudi golf efforts with LIV and put it in the context of holding the Saudis accountable for these atrocities,” Wyden said. “I want to tell you as one member of the United States Senate, I’m not going to let this go away.”
Banned from the PGA Tour, Mickelson is eligible for the next four US Opens, if the USGA decides not to take their own sanctions of the LIV members. After Portland, Mickelson is expected to play in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews on July 14.