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Phil Mickelson, One Year After LIV Golf's Debut, Takes a Positive Stance on Future

The six-time major champion didn't elaborate on the proposed alliance but said he's 'optimistic about the global growth of the game.'

HERTFORDSHIRE, England — For a guy who had just days prior signed a contract that would reportedly pay him some $200 million just for becoming a part of LIV Golf, Phil Mickelson did not exude much in the way of healthy vibes.

His first news conference just more than a year ago here at the Centurion Club saw him buried with questions about the Saudi Arabia money source for LIV, his own comments that saw him take a leave from the game four months earlier, and elicited a general uneasiness.

For the first round in LIV Golf history, Mickelson hit his first tee shot wearing an Augusta National logo on his vest and his own branded hat while wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. There was also a mustache and a beard that had not fully grown in.

It was a different look for Mickelson, 53, on Thursday at the same venue, where the LIV Golf League will for the first time play a repeat event when the LIV Golf London tournament begins Friday.

This time wearing white and decked out in his HyFlyers team gear, Mickelson presented a more positive front. He’s not said much in the five weeks since the shocking disclosure that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia—LIV’s financial supporter—had come to a "framework agreement" that would see them become partners.

But one senses he feels good about what it all means for LIV Golf and it’s future.

"I’m excited about the direction of professional golf," Mickelson said. "I'm optimistic about the future. I’m optimistic about the growth of LIV and I'm optimistic about the global growth of the game."

Mickelson wasn’t talking like someone who believes LIV Golf will be shuttered, despite language in the framework agreement that says the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan will have the final say over its future.

While he wasn’t willing to speak in detail about the situation, Mickelson did direct a reporter to Twitter, where earlier on Thursday he had retweeted a long entry by a Portland, Ore., real estate investor who attempted to explain what the agreement really means and started by writing: "A message to the players of the PGA Tour: You all are in trouble & screwed if you don’t support the Framework agreement."

The poster, who goes by the Twitter handle Bob "Golf" Ball, laid out in detail why he believes the agreement means that LIV Golf is not going anywhere.

"All of the nonsense that PGA Tour brass is going to get rid of LIV when they are in control is a fool's wish," Ball wrote, also saying that the new board of directors to be formed as part of a for-profit company "won’t have the power to sell anything, spend a certain amount of money, enter into certain types of binding agreements, merge with another tour, sign contracts over certain dollar amounts, or come close to even touching LIV without PIF’s consent."

It is one man's opinion, spelled out succinctly. But it got the endorsement of Mickelson, who wrote on Twitter: "This thread is long and accurate FULL truth (not half truth) of the LIV/PGA Tour agreement if you’re interested. Well done BobBall and thank you."

Later, during the pro-am, Mickelson reiterated what he said last week in Spain, where he along with Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Cam Smith met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF. "It's his baby," Mickelson said.

Al-Rumayyan was at Centurion Club on Thursday, jumping around to various holes to play a hole two with different groups.

Another interesting participant was Pawan Munjal, who at $3.55 billion is considered to have the highest net worth of anyone in India, according to Forbes. He is the chairman, managing director and CEO of Hero Motor Corp.

If you’ve ever watched any of Tiger Woods's pre-tournament news conferences in advance of the Hero World Challenge dating to 2014, Munjal is the man typically sitting by his side, often opening the session with his own comments.

Hero MotoCorp managing director Pawan Munjal (left) and Tiger Woods (right) address the media in a press conference at the 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Hero Moto Corp. managing director Pawan Munjal and Tiger Woods address the media in a press conference at the 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Hero also sponsors an event on the DP World Tour called the Hero Indian Open and before this week its officials had never been to a LIV Golf event.

"We have a big involvement with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour," Munjal said. "On the day of the announcement, I was very happy. This will be good for golf."

Mickelson took Munjal's presence at a LIV event as a sign "that some of the hostilities have waned."

There’s still a long way to go. Monahan has been out with an undisclosed illness and the framework agreement needs to turn into a formal deal that spells out exactly how things will work. It could take months.

Meanwhile, Mickelson believes LIV Golf is here to stay, and could even see the addition of teams and players, although he noted that such talk is premature. He wasn’t saying much else but his actions spoke louder than his words.