Open champion Collin Morikawa puts majors before money as breakaway gains pace

Open champion Collin Morikawa insists winning major titles will always matter more than money as a series of new Saudi-backed events gains momentum.

Phil Mickelson’s agent revealed on Monday that the six-time major winner has requested a release from the PGA Tour to play the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in June.

Mickelson has been taking a break from golf since the fall-out from his explosive comments about the PGA Tour and the rival tournaments spearheaded by Greg Norman, which boast a prize fund of $25million.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has asked for a release from the PGA Tour to contest the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in June (Richard Sellers/PA)

The 51-year-old accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” and acting like a “dictatorship”, while also admitting he was well aware of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record but was using the threat of a breakaway to “reshape” how the Tour operates.

Mickelson lost several sponsors as a result and with top stars pledging their loyalty to the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy felt the proposed breakaway was “dead in the water”.

However, with a league shelved until 2024 in favour of hugely lucrative individual events, 15 of the world’s top 100 players have reportedly sought releases from the PGA and DP World Tours in order to play at Centurion Club from June 9-11.

Asked on a teleconference to promote his Open title defence at St Andrews if he was intrigued by the ongoing situation, Morikawa said: “No.

“I said at Riviera earlier this year (in February) that my alliance is to the PGA Tour. Will I still watch what’s going on? I mean, yeah. You’re curious to what’s going on. But do I care who’s going to be playing or do I care who’s going to be making money? No, not at all.

“At the end of the day I’m here to win majors. I’m here to win PGA Tour tournaments. Hopefully return and defend my Race to Dubai title. There’s a lot of other things that are on my mind and a lot of goals that I set at the beginning of the year that I look forward to.”

Morikawa believes he is not alone in prioritising tournament victories over money, but the 25-year-old concedes that he has not looked too closely at whether players deserve a greater share of the revenue generated by major championships.

“Sure, I’m guessing that the majors do make a lot of money and there’s never anything bad about making more money, but when you say something like that and you put us in the boat of the only other thing that could keep us here is the money, then that’s just not true,” the world number three added.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa celebrates winning The Open at Royal St George’s (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Because if that were the case, then you would have had 100 out of 100 sign up for this other Tour that’s happening, but you don’t, right? You have the 15, the unknown 15.

“When it comes down to it, it’s just the love for the game. I think what the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have aligned themselves to do and what we’re going to be growing into is great.

“I’m not complaining about where I’m at right now, and I love the position where I’m at, and I want to keep winning more. Obviously money is a great second part of it, but at the end of the day I didn’t finish The Open last year asking what I made.

“I could not tell you what I made last year at all. At the end of the day, I’m telling you about the memories of holding the Claret Jug and showing it to people and bringing it around town and showing it to family.

“Those are the memories you’re going to make, not hey, I made X amount of dollars.”