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Could Phil Mickelson Become The Next Great Golf TV Analyst?

  • PGA Tour Vs. LIV Golf peace treaty brings Mickelson in from the cold.
  • Before LIV, Lefty was viewed as a potential ‘Tony Romo of golf.’
Phil Mickelson
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

The stunning merger of The PGA Tour and rebel LIV Golf could pave the way for another sports media shocker: How about Phil Mickelson as your next great golf TV analyst?

Only two years ago, TV networks viewed Mickelson as the future “Tony Romo of Golf.” His agents were holding exploratory talks with networks. If the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf war had never erupted, the golf legend might have taken Sir Nick Faldo’s lead analyst role at CBS Sports that went to Trevor Immelman, said sources. 

But then Mickelson took a “heel turn,” as they would say in pro wrestling. 

He signed with LIV for an astronomical $200 million in 2022 – despite referring to LIV’s Saudi Arabian sugar daddies as “scary m—–f—–s” to golf writer Alan Shipnuck.

Overnight, the beloved Mickelson was vilified as an amoral carpetbagger, eagerly selling out his brethren on the All-American PGA Tour for foreign blood money. 

There was so much bad blood between Mickelson and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan that the chances of him being hired by one of the Tour’s U.S. media partners (CBS Sports, NBC Sports/Golf Channel, and ESPN) were slim and none. The heat got so hot Mickelson disappeared from public view for months. 

But what do you know? Monahan and PGA Tour just did exactly what they vilified Mickelson and other LIV golfers for doing: They eagerly took the Saudi petro-dollars. Their hypocrisy could enable the 52-year-old Mickelson to come in from the cold. 

The charismatic “Lefty” is precisely the kind of personality who can bring casual fans and younger viewers to golf TV. 

After decades as a fan favorite, Mickelson still has a reserve of goodwill. Remember the roars at Augusta National Golf Club as he charged to a second-place finish at The Masters in April behind winner Jon Rahm?

“He’s a person who has the skills to reinvent himself – and quickly be embraced by the people again,” said LeslieAnne Wade, founder of White Tee Partners and a former senior vice president at CBS Sports. “A percentage of people missed not being able to fully root for Phil. He’s been an American hero for a lot longer than he’s been a villain.”

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Don’t forget, the six-time major tournament winner already showed his chops as a golf TV announcer. 

During CBS’ coverage of the 2020 PGA Championship, Mickelson joined play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and Faldo in the broadcast booth for an extended appearance.

Wrote Golf.com: “Mickelson’s hour-plus in the chair was a revelation: He was insightful, honest, funny — everything you could want from a golf broadcaster — and golf fans ate it up.” 

He also co-starred in four made-for-TV golf events from Warner Bros. Discovery Sports dubbed “The Match” and was the “heartbeat” of the event, according to Golf.com.

The question now is, what does Mickelson want to do? And will he stick his foot in his mouth, again, with “I Told You So” gloating over the PGA-LIV merger?

With his $200 million payday from LIV, Mickelson doesn’t have to do TV. Add that pile to his $105.7 million in career earnings, and he’s one of the wealthiest athletes in sports history.

And there’s a segment of the fan base will never forgive him. Bottom line, Mickelson helped a foreign dictatorship take over a storied American golf league. The families of 09/11 victims are furious about being used as PR pawns by the Tour. They won’t forgive and forget.

So Mickelson probably won’t do TV in 2024. Instead, look for him to take take a victory lap on both tours. And try to score another tournament victory that would complete his rehabilitation from pariah to fan favorite.

Only two years ago, Mickelson became the oldest major winner in history by claiming the PGA Championship at age 50. Given his Masters finish, he still has plenty in the tank.

But by 2025, who knows? 

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Mickelson will be 55 years old by then. He’s always been a showman. He might love being the face of national broadcasters like CBS, NBC, or ESPN. 

Wouldn’t it be sweet revenge for Mickelson to turn his critical eye on players, a Commissioner, and a Tour that painted him as a villain? Especially when he make a strong argument that his actions will generate more money for his fellow players than any golfer since Tiger Woods?

Plus, viewers would get a different Mickelson: a scarred, seasoned veteran who has been through the wars both on the course and in the boardroom.

As Wade noted: “Phil has been through all the ups and downs with this sport. He could be really compelling on TV – if that’s what he chooses to do.”

Since Tuesday’s monster announcement, Mickelson has taken the high road, tweeting: “Awesome day today.”

But he did “like” a meme from the 2015 movie “The Big Short,” where Ryan Gosling’s character spikes the football

“So I was right. I took a rash of shit for two years,” he says. “But I was right – and everyone was wrong. And yeah, I got a bonus check for it.”

Or as Lefty would like to say: I told you so.

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