Phil Mickelson Biographer Alan Shipnuck Removed from LIV Interview Area After Event

Doric SamJune 10, 2022

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC speaks to the media during day one of the LIV Golf Invitational - London at The Centurion Club on June 09, 2022 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images

Golf writer Alan Shipnuck was inexplicably removed from the interview area at the LIV Golf Invitational Series inaugural event at Centurion Golf Club near London.

Shipnuck, who wrote Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar, had been following Mickelson for his opening round. When Mickelson finished playing and went to speak to reporters, Shipnuck was not allowed to join, per Golfweek's David Dusek.

Afterward, Shipnuck insinuated LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman had something to do with his removal:

Alan Shipnuck @AlanShipnuck

Well, a couple of neckless security dudes just physically removed me from Phil Mickelson's press conference, saying they were acting on orders from their boss, whom they refused to name. (Greg Norman? MBS? Al Capone?) Never a dull moment up in here.

Shipnuck told Golfweek he reached out to Norman directly and Norman replied that he hadn't heard about the situation. However, it was later revealed that Norman witnessed the whole thing:

Alan Shipnuck @AlanShipnuck

Oh, mystery solved!🙄 <a href="https://t.co/6eML5RIQbq">https://t.co/6eML5RIQbq</a> <a href="https://t.co/dsr7XycPXo">pic.twitter.com/dsr7XycPXo</a>

As far as Shipnuck knows, he didn't break any rules. He told Golfweek in a text message, "I was credentialed and I was standing in the flash area at the start of Phil’s presser when they came for me."

An extract from Shipnuck's book released in February led to a raft of criticism for Mickelson and LIV Golf. While discussing potentially participating in the breakaway golf league, which is funded by the Saudi Arabian government, Mickelson was reported to have said:

"They're scary motherf--kers to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

Mickelson apologized for the remarks following some of the reaction. He was also asked to elaborate on the comments Wednesday:

"I don't condone human rights violations at all. Nobody here does, throughout the world. I'm certainly aware of what's happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it's terrible. I've also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history, and I believe that LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I'm excited about this opportunity, and that's why I'm here."

Mickelson refused to detail specifics of his issues with the PGA Tour, but many have speculated that money is the primary reason for players switching over to LIV Golf and resigning from the PGA Tour. According to Golf Channel's Brentley Romine, Mickelson—who has also refused to give up his membership to the PGA Tour—is being paid around $200 million to play in LIV Golf events.

Shipnuck said in an email to Golfweek that he is unsure who made the call to have him removed.

"I have no ill will toward Phil," he wrote. "I just wanted to ask him one boring golf question, which is my job. Either he is being way too sensitive or the LIV folks are being too overprotective but, either way, they are overreacting."

Shipnuck also indicated that officials used intimidation to get him to leave the area.

"The security guards were inappropriately aggressive and physical, considering I was just standing there trying to make sense of the bizarre reasons they were citing for wanting to remove me," he said.

This isn't the first incident a media member has had to deal with this week at the event. According to Dusek, Associated Press reporter Rob Harris was cut off and removed from LIV media center. LIV officials reportedly reprimanded Harris for not being "polite." Harris was eventually allowed to return to the media center.

The second round of the LIV Golf event is set to begin on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET. For his part, Shipnuck said he will remain undeterred.

"This whole situation is messy and ridiculous," Shipnuck said to Golfweek. "If I have another boring golf question for Phil I’ll ask it because I did fly 6,000 miles to be here and I’m not inclined to be silenced by Greg Norman and his goons."