He's like that on the golf course, too.
Mickelson left everyone scratching their heads during an 18-hour mystery tour in which he beat Tiger Woods in a riveting battle outside Boston; used a national television interview to air his complaints about PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem; showed up in Chicago for a corporate outing; and withdrew from the BMW Championship by saying he wasn't trying to send a message.
'This decision was not an easy one to make,' Mickelson said in a statement.
It was even tougher to interpret.
Mickelson had no intention of playing a third straight week in the PGA TOUR Playoffs even before he teed it up Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, with Woods and Vijay Singh at his side.
Perhaps one reason was his paltry record at Cog Hill, where he has never cracked the top 25 in 10 starts. Maybe he was starting to feel fatigued, knowing that a full schedule through the Presidents Cup would mean seven tournaments in nine weeks. Or he could have wanted to join Woods and Ernie Els by skipping one playoff event.
All of those reasons would have been acceptable.
Anyone who thinks this FedExCup finale isn't working because one player stays home hasn't been paying attention. These 'playoffs' are bringing together a great collection of players and producing exciting golf. Through two weeks, there is no denying that.
No one remembers that Woods skipped The Barclays. No one knew Els was missing last week at the Deutsche Bank. And the BMW Championship will get by just fine without Mickelson.
For some reason, though, Mickelson wanted to make it personal.
His two-shot victory while playing with Woods in the final round at the TPC Boston gave him a platform to celebrate his biggest victory this side of a major, and he elected to turn that into a soap box.
Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports, aware of the rumors that Mickelson might miss Chicago, asked him if would play.
'I'm really torn, because I feel like there's an obligation for me to play,' Mickelson said. 'I'd be paired with Tiger again. I think it would be really great for the game and the tour and the FedExCup. Another part of me is really frustrated because for the past year, I've been asking the commissioner to do a couple of things, and I told him I would play the last four events, and he has not done that.
'So I'm kind of torn.'
On one hand, he was quick to finger Finchem as the villain. But after griping that Finchem didn't live up to his end of the bargain, Mickelson left everyone guessing what kind of deal they had -- if they had one at all.
When asked to elaborate, Mickelson went into 'Family Affair' mode by mentioning he has a lot going on, from taking the kids to their first day of school Wednesday to going to their soccer games. In subsequent interviews, the closest he came to explaining his beef was when he said his frustration stemmed from 'asking for a couple of things in the FedExCup that weren't done.'
Finchem did not respond. The TOUR released a statement Tuesday saying it was disappointed Mickelson would not be at Cog Hill, but it was looking forward to another exciting chapter in the playoffs.
Lefty once was known as the guy who was 0-for-42 in the majors until winning the Masters. In his eyes, he's probably 0-for-20 when he goes to Finchem with a suggestion. Maybe that makes him the greatest player to never get his way on the PGA TOUR.
The suggestions range from simple to complex.
Mickelson doesn't like that the $10 million payoff for the FedExCup champion is deferred -- and he's not alone on that point. He has argued that the TOUR should designate 20 tournaments a year in which the top players must compete, and he has never been a big fan of being required to play in pro-ams. He doesn't believe the TOUR should subsidize the purses at events opposite the World Golf Championships.
Which issue became the trigger, only Mickelson knows. The surprise was the shot across the bow, especially considering how guarded Mickelson is when the lights come on.
For a guy who fiercely protects a polished image, Mickelson risked that by taking a sucker punch at Finchem on national TV.
His statement Tuesday didn't help, particularly when he said that withdrawing from Chicago 'in no way is meant as disrespectful to the TOUR or 'sending a message' to anyone.'
Mickelson said he's looking for balance, and that his family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. But this is the same guy who said at the PGA Championship last month that he was excited for the FedExCup because of all the time he lost this summer with a wrist injury.
It probably didn't help that when Mickelson announced he was pulling out of the BMW Championship, he was a half-hour away at Medinah Country Club playing in a corporate outing. The outing was planned long ago, but it didn't look good.
Tournament director Jon Kaczkowski was asked how he felt about Mickelson being at Medinah and going home without stopping at Cog Hill. Although his answer was polite, it spoke volumes.
'It's hard for me to interpret some of his thoughts,' he said.
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