Phil Mickelson-Brooks Koepka had a fun moment at LIV Golf

If the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV Golf press conferences proved anything to do with the circuit’s first year, it was theatre.

From the swindlers (players say they didn’t quit the league for the massive money thrown their way), to the outright propaganda (sport laundering Saudi Arabia’s abhorrent human rights record), the sessions provided a certain degree of insight. But Wednesday’s season-ending installment at Trump’s National Doral outside Miami at least provided some steam.

When LIV unveiled their team showdowns for their final tournament of the year starting Friday, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka couldn’t help but dig each other.

In a format allowing the higher seeded team, led by Kopka, to choose which team they wanted to play, it ended up that Mickelson’s team would instead face the team led by world No. 3 and British Open champion and player Cam Smith. As the captains sat down to see who they would play in the singles playoffs that are part of the format, the 52-year-old Mickelson noted that he beat the 20-year-old Kupka at the 2021 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island by two.

Phil Mickelson during a press conference prior to the LIV Golf Series at Trump National Doral.
Phil Mickelson during a press conference prior to the LIV Golf Series at Trump National Doral.
USA Today Sports

“If you want a PGA 21 rematch, you can choose our team,” Mickelson said.

To which Kupka replied, “…you were never #1 in the world.”

Mickelson, who counts six majors among his 45 PGA Tour victories, has only finished second, while Koepka reached number one in 2018. He also noted that Mickelson has never won the US Open, a tournament for which he is best known for finishing as runner-up. in six times.

Never at a loss, Mickelson replied, “It’s a nice green shirt; do you have a green jacket?”

Mickelson has of course won the Masters on three occasions. Koepka’s majors have come at the US Open and the PGA Championship, both of which she won twice.

The top 4 4-man teams in LIV this season received a bye into the semifinals on Saturday. Friday’s action will involve teams ranked No. 5 through 12 with three matches to take place: two singles matches and a four-way match. The team that collects two points advances to the semi-finals on Saturday.

As the rules required that the captains play each other in a head-to-head match, Mickelson’s first match would be against Smith. Meanwhile, Kupka will face Harold Varner III.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka
USA Today Sports

Teams will play for a whopping $50 million in purse, with $16 million of that being paid to the winning team, divided among four players.

Although Mickelson struggled throughout his first season on the Leaf, he won at Doral in 2009.

“Twenty years ago,” said Smith. “I was two years old when Phil won here.”

“I think you were in that clinic that I did,” Mickelson replied. “It’s good to see you’ve been paying attention.”

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