Golfing legend Phil Mickelson talks a lot, usually giving the media some tasty soundbites.
But this time, Lefty’s comments have him in very hot water. Last week, Mickelson’s comments to Alan Shipnuck of the Fire Pit Collective got everyone in a tizzy.
Mickelson was discussing the new Saudi Golf League on a phone call with Shipnuck in November, which will rival the PGA Tour. Mickelson has been rumored to be one of the players the Saudi League is going after, to which Mickelson responded by saying it gave him “leverage” over the PGA Tour.
“They’re scary motherf***ers to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “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. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.”
“As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right,” he continued. “And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the SGL] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”
His comments caused a handful of PGA Tour players to come out against the league, with four-time major champion Rory Mcllroy calling Mickelson’s comments “ignorant.”
“I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down obviously, but I thought they were naïve, selfish, egotistical, ignorant,” McIlroy told reporters at the Genesis Invitational. “A lot of words to describe that interaction he had with Shipnuck. It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I’m sure he’s sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”
On Tuesday, Mickelson apologized for his comments, but it was too little too late, as longtime sponsor KPMG cut ties with the six-time major winner.
“KPMG U.S. and Phil Mickelson have mutually agreed to end our sponsorship effective immediately. We wish him the best,” the company said in a statement.
In his apology, Mickelson indicated that he would be taking some time away from the game of golf.
“Although it doesn’t look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interests of golf, my peers, sponsors and fans,” Mickelson wrote. “There is the problem of off-the-record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.”
“It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words,” he continued. “I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.”
“The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level,” Mickelson added. “I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be.”
A Statement from Phil Mickelson pic.twitter.com/2saaXIxhpu
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) February 22, 2022
Shipnuck has disputed Mickelson’s claim that his comments were off-the-record.
Monahan — the PGA Tour commissioner — has threatened to ban any player who joins the Saudi League for life from the PGA Tour. The league is backed by golfing great Greg Norman, and has reportedly reached out to most of the PGA Tour’s biggest names about making the jump.
This article has been updated to include pushback to Mickelson’s claims.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
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