Phil Mickelson said his public complaints about income taxes were insensitive and amounted to a “dumb mistake” similar to his final-hole play at the 2006 U.S. Open, where he lost the tournament with a double-bogey.
Mickelson, the winner of four major golf titles, received public criticism after saying at a U.S. PGA Tour event last weekend that he’d have to make “drastic changes” due to new U.S. and California tax laws. He apologized in a statement two days ago, saying finances and taxes are a personal matter.
Mickelson, 42, was ranked as the seventh highest-paid athlete in 2012 with $47.8 million in earnings, according to Forbes, including $43 million in endorsements from sponsors. He’s won $67.7 million in PGA Tour prize money over his career and apologized again for his comments at a news conference yesterday ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, California.
“It was insensitive to talk about it publicly to those people who are not able to find a job, who are struggling paycheck to paycheck,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson, a San Diego native, said he shouldn’t have taken advantage of his forum as a professional golfer to try to ignite change over financial issues. He never publicly disclosed what his changes might entail.
He said it was a mistake similar to the one he made on the 18th tee at the Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. Needing a par to win, Mickelson tried to carve a 3-iron around a tree, but had it ricochet 50 yards wide of the fairway. He made a double-bogey on the hole to tie for second place and afterward called himself “an idiot.”
“I’ve made some dumb, dumb mistakes and obviously talking about this stuff is one of them. Like Winged Foot,” Mickelson said. “I’m going to learn my lesson, take a wedge and get it back in play. I made a big mistake talking about this publicly and I shouldn’t have done that.”
Mickelson begins his first round at the $6.1 million Farmers Insurance Open today, playing in a group with defending champion Brandt Snedeker and reigning Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson.