PHIL MICKELSON refused to say if he has served a ban from golf in his four month absence.
But the six-time Major winner vowed to play in next week’s US Open.
And he implicitly confirmed he has accepted a staggering £160million to join the Saudi-backed rebel LIV Tour.
Mickelson isn't the only golf star to defect to the rebel Tour, with big-hitters Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler expected to be next.
An official announcement of the trio's joining the Tour is expected.
Appearing in public for the first time since describing the Saudis as “scary m***********s” in February at the Centurion Club near St Albans, Mickelson was asked if he had been banned by the PGA for his comments.
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Mickelson, 51, replied: “I’ve chosen not to speak publicly on PGA tour issues at this time.
“If I were to confirm, deny, or speak at all, I would be speaking publicly on PGA tour matters, which I’ve chosen not to do.
”I really enjoyed my time on the PGA tour, had some incredible experience and great memories.
“But there are a lot of things I feel could and should be done better. One of the mistakes I’ve made is voicing those publicly.”
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Mickelson added: “I’ve said and done a lot of things I regret. I’m sorry for that and sorry for the hurt it caused a lot of people.
“I don’t condone human rights violations at all. Nobody here does. I don’t know how I can be any more clear.
“I’m certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi and I get it’s terrible.
“But I’ve also seen the good the game of golf has done through history.
“I understand many people have strong opinions and many will disagree with my decision. I empathise with that.
“But this is an opportunity for me to have more balance in my life going forward.”
Asked if it the reported joining bonus was correct, he did not deny, answering: “I feel that contractual agreements should be private.
“That doesn’t seem to be the case, but it should be.”
As for his own future plans, he explained: “I will play in the US Open and I’m looking forward to it.
“I have had an awesome time, enjoying a four month break that i haven’t had in three decades.
“It gave me the opportunity to spend time with my wife Amy and travel, ski in Montana and go hiking, spending time watching my nephews play Little League baseball and my niece play lacrosse, with the people I care about.
“Every day of The Masters I skied in the morning and watched afterwards. I enjoyed watching it but while i missed it I didn’t want to be there or have any desire to be there.
“It was made clear to me last month, through extensive conversations, that I was able to play in the US PGA if I wanted but I wasn’t ready to play and compete.”
European Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are also part of the 48-man field playing for a £16m prize fund this week, despite it putting their future involvement in the team competition at risk.
Poulter admitted: “I don’t know what will happen – I’m as interested as you are in finding out.
“I would like to think it wouldn’t affect that, but it’s an unknown risk.”
Westwood added: “It’s something i had to take into account, maybe not in terms of playing but, for me, the future captaincy could be in jeopardy.
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“People have played on the PGA Tour as well as the European one with no effect on the captaincy and LIV is just another tour so i don’t see why it should be any different.
“But if there’s a pay increase, at my age, I would be stupid not to look at it.”
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