Vijay Singh found an unlikely ally in Phil Mickelson after his decision to enter an event on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour.
The 57-year-old Fijian golfer was roundly criticised by Korn Ferry Tour player Brady Schnell in a series of now-deleted tweets after entering an event on the PGA Tour's feeder series, which is normally meant for players seeking to earn or regain their Tour cards.
"Hey @VijaySinghGolf you are a true piece of trash if you except money playing in a Korn Ferry Tour event and I'll say it right to your face," Schnell wrote.
As a 34-time PGA Tour winner with $70 million in earnings, Singh has a lifetime Tour exemption, but he didn't qualify for the Charles Schwab Challenge starting 11 June, the first event back in action following the coronavirus suspension.
Schnell was incensed by Singh's decision to enter the field for the Korn Ferry Challenge in the same week instead, thereby robbing an up-and-coming golfer of a chance to play, but Mickelson doesn't see it the same way.
Singh and Mickelson once clashed over the length of Lefty's spikes at the Masters, of all things, and the two haven't exactly been the best of friends since.
Nevertheless, Mickelson believes Singh has earned the right to play wherever and whenever he wants.
"It's no secret VJ and I aren't close," he wrote on Twitter, "but I'd like to say on his behalf that in addition to being a member of the HoF (Hall of Fame), he's a big part of the PGA Tour's success which financially subsidizes, and always has, the KFT (Korn Ferry Tour). He has earned the right to play when and where he wants."
Other players have also come out in defence of Singh, including former Open champion David Duval and Australian golfer Steve Elkington.
"You don’t take a spot away from someone who doesn’t have one," said Duval, who works as an analyst for Golf Channel. "You either have a spot or you don’t. I’ve never agreed with the argument you’re taking away a spot. You’re either exempt or you’re not and if you’re not exempt you’re in the same boat as everyone else."
Responding to Mickelson's tweet, Elkington wrote: "Phil’s right of course, you can’t stop someone from going to work."
Singh has missed the cut in all six of the previous PGA Tour events he has entered.