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Phil Mickelson signs up with Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour

Phil Mickelson signed on with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series on Monday after months of speculation.

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The six-time major winner will make his debut with the tour at this week’s inaugural event outside London.

“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation,” LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said in a news release.

“His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He strengthens an exciting field for London where we’re proud to launch a new era for golf.”

Mickelson, 51, has not played in a tournament since competing in the Saudi International in February. His last event on the PGA Tour was the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

“I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, one that is exciting for me at this stage of my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself, but ideally for the game and my peers,” Mickelson said in a statement.

Last week, LIV Golf announced 42 of the 48 players who were participating in the LIV Golf International starting on Thursday at the Centurion Club.

Dustin Johnson, the biggest name on that list, was offered $125 million by LIV Golf to join its rival tour, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The sum negotiated for Mickelson was not disclosed, but Tiger Woods turned down an offer in the “high nine digits” to join LIV Golf, Norman told the Washington Post.

Other notable names in this week’s field include Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.

Garcia, Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and Grace resigned from the PGA Tour to pursue LIV, their manager told media outlets later Monday. They followed Na, who made his resignation announcement Saturday.

Garcia, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel have won one major apiece in their careers. Garcia made his feelings toward the PGA Tour clear during last month’s Wells Fargo Championship, when he was heard on a television feed telling a rules official that he “can’t wait to leave this tour … just a couple more weeks and I won’t have to deal with you anymore.”

In addition to Mickelson, the remaining five entrants announced Monday were Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, India’s Viraj Madappa, Australia’s Travis Smyth and Kevin Yuan and South Africa’s Ian Snyman.

Rickie Fowler denied the rumors he is jumping to the LIV tour — at least for now — when he spoke to the Golf Channel last week at the Memorial.

“I’ve been in talks with them for a long time,” Fowler said, per ESPN Radio. “It’s something to definitely look at. At this point, it wasn’t the right move or decision for us, but I’m not saying I’m for sure here or I’m going to go there. I’m going to just kind of leave my options open and see how things play out.”

The PGA Tour did not grant its members a release to play in the event, which will be contested opposite the RBC Canadian Open. Johnson — who won the Canadian Open in 2018 — and other members could face punishment for choosing the LIV Golf event without the tour’s permission.

“I am thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved,” Mickelson said on Monday. “I also intend to play the majors. I fully realize and respect some may disagree with this decision and have strong opinions and I empathize with that. I have a renewed spirit and excitement for the game.”

Mickelson is a 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, including three wins at The Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), two at the PGA Championship (2005, 2021) and The Open Championship in 2013.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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