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LATEST: Collarless Phil Mickelson has undermined golf values

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Nothing too rude, nothing too confrontation, just a snarky bit of fashion subversion

When he strode to the first tee at Hoylake, it was not immediately clear what it was Phil Mickleson was wearing on his upper body.

Tight, dark grey and made of the kind of cling-on material that hugs middle-aged contours in the most unforgiving manner, it looked like something you might pick up in a specialist couturier in Soho.

Worse, it was entirely lacking in the most fundamental requirement of a golf shirt: a collar. This was no formal attire, no evening dress, it wasn’t even a polo shirt. Long sleeved, round and smooth at the neck, it was the kind of thing that, were you to sport it on the morning four balls at your local club, would get you removed from the course before you had left the clubhouse. And rightly so.

Phil Mickelson

Golf attire has modernized in recent years with professional players now allowed to wear hoodies on the course with colorful trainers and mock-neck polos which Tiger Woods himself has made so famous.

But on further inspection, it was clear this was not a simple shirt that Mickelson, the 53-year-old American, was wearing. Rather, this was a statement, a symbol of revolution. The clue was in the large, noisy and in truth rather undistinguished logo spreading across his chest. It was there too on the front of his playing cap. A rather fascistic looking marque, a messy  triangular confluence of the letters HF, it is the brand of the Hyflyers, a LIV Golf affiliate.

“The Hyflyers aren’t content with reaching the summit” is the corporate proclamation on the website. Whatever that means. And the purpose of the shirt was clear. Mickelson might not look as if he surfs the peak edge of fashion. In fact in this shirt he looked rather sheepish. But that was not the point. Instead, the purpose of the outfit was to deliver a subtle undermining of convention.

Phil Mickelson

LIV has styled itself as the revolutionary body, out to change golf with players allowed to wear shorts during rounds with music blaring across the course. And here was the Saudi operation’s most renowned practitioner turning up at the heart of the old golfing establishment for its most historic competition, thumbing his nose at convention.

Nothing too rude, nothing too confrontation, just a snarky bit of fashion subversion. Though the good news was the shirt was so unappealing in design, so unflattering in its execution, those who prefer their golfing attire to be somewhat more conventional can be confident no one else is likely to follow the Mickelson trend.