Phil Mickelson might enter the grounds at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, for the 2022 U.S. Open as Public Enemy No. 1.
Mickelson, after all, recently has led the charge of golfers leaving the PGA Tour to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, a direct competitor that also happens to be backed by Saudi Arabian investments. The public criticisms have gone as far as a 9/11 group sending Mickelson and company a scathing letter accusing them of betraying the United States.
Mickelson has yet to play in the U.S. since making his decision. And now he’ll have the pleasure of playing in front of some of the most dedicated sports fans in the country — just ask the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green.
“I think the Boston crowds are some of the best in sports,” Mickelson responded when asked about the reception he expects to get from fans, as seen during a video conference from The Country Club on Monday.
“And I think that they have given me a lot of support and I’m very appreciative and over appreciative of that over the years. And I think their excitement and energy is what creates such a great atmosphere. Whether it’s positive or negative towards me directly, I think it’s going to provide an incredible atmosphere to hold this championship,” Mickelson continued, essentially deflecting. “I think it’s going to be a great event and the people here have a lot to do with that.”
Mickelson, one of the most popular players in the sport prior to handcuffing himself to Greg Norman and LIV, also was asked how he would feel if fans opted not to support him anymore, or if it would hurt.
“OK, you’re throwing three questions at me, so let’s just try to keep it one at a time,” Mickelson retorted, as if he doesn’t have enough public relations problems at the moment. “In regards to if fans would leave or whatnot, I respect and I understand their opinions and I understand that they have strong feelings and strong emotions regarding this choice. And I certainly respect them, respect that. I respect that.”
Fortunately for Mickelson, he’ll have some sort of armor against fans, with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau also competing in Brookline. DeChambeau, as golf fans might understand, didn’t have an overwhelming amount of supporters when he was playing on the PGA Tour to begin with, so it will be interesting to see the reception he receives.
The first round of the 122nd U.S. Open will take place Thursday at The Country Club. You can follow along throughout the week with NESN’s coverage from Brookline here.