LIV Golf: Why was Alan Shipnuck taken out of press conference? Greg Norman texts, Phil Mickelson, other media outlet ejected

A leading American golf writer was “muscled out” of a Phil Mickelson press conference on an eventful first day for Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

Alan Shipnuck did the interview with six-time major winner Mickelson earlier in the year that included him coming out with comments about the Saudis being “scary motherf******”.

Shipnuck, who covered golf for 25 years for Sports Illustrated and is now a partner at the Fire Pit Collective, flew to England at the last minute for the $25million event at Centurion Club north of London.

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He initially said that his request for accreditation hadn’t been acknowledged by the tournament organisers but was granted a press pass on his arrival.

“Haven’t laid eyes on him since last year,” said Shipnuck of Mickelson in a tweet before the first-day action got under way. “I’ve been informed by tournament officials he doesn’t wish to speak to me; we’ll see how it goes post-round.”

Not well was the answer, as he discovered after Mickelson had opened with a one-under-par 69 to sit four shots off the lead, held by South African Charl Schartzel.

In another post on social media, Shipnuck wrote: “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.”He also revealed that he’d sent a text to Norman, the LIV Golf CEO and commissioner, to make him aware of what had happened.

In that, Shipnuck wrote: “Are you aware that I just got muscled out of Phil’s press conference by a couple of goons? Luckily for you guys I kept my cool and deesescalated the situation.”

The first event of LIV Golf takes place at the Centurion Club this week.

In a reply, Norman said that he’d been unaware of the incident, yet Shipnuck later posted a picture of the former world No 1 standing behind him at the time.

“You cannot make this **** up!” he said. “I texted Greg Norman before someone sent me this video – I had no idea he was lurking behind me.”

Earlier in the week, Associated Press reporter Rob Harris was briefly ejected from the media centre after he’d been cut off by tournament officials while trying to ask a question during a press conference.

Soon after the event had got underway, the PGA Tour announced that players taking part this week had been suspended. Some players had already resigned from the US circuit but not Mickelson, who is reportedly being paid $200m to play in the eight-event LIV Golf series.