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Phil Mickelson apologizes regarding Saudi comments, says he 'desperately need(s) some time away '

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Phil Mickelson apologized for his comments regarding both the PGA Tour and the Super Golf League, lamented the use of “off the record comments,” and revealed he needs “time away” from professional golf, in a 530-word statement released Tuesday.

“Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans,” the statement read. “I used words I sincerely regret 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. I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.”

Mickelson was at the center of the super league conversation until a story last week on the Fire Pit Collective was published that included criticism of the Saudi Arabians, who are backing the super league through LIV Golf, and the Tour.


Mickelson takes step back amid increased pressure

Mickelson takes step back amid increased pressure

“[The Saudis] are scary motherf---ers to get involved with,” Mickelson said on the website. “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. 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.”

Mickelson appeared to double down on his criticism of the Tour and Monahan in his statement.

“Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption. I have always known that criticism would come with exploring anything new,” he said. “I still chose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, taking the hits publicly to do the work behind the scenes.”

He also didn’t appear to distance himself from LIV Golf or the super league like other stars including Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.


Chamblee: Mickelson apology was damage control

Chamblee: Mickelson apology was damage control

“My experience with LIV Golf Investments has been very positive. I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context,” he said. “The specific people I have worked with are visionaries and have only been supportive. More importantly they passionately love golf and share my drive to make the game better. They have a clear plan to create an updated and positive experience for everyone including players, sponsors, networks, and fans.”

Mickelson hasn’t played a Tour event since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open last month and suggested in his statement that he plans to step away from the game.

“I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too,” Mickelson said. “The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level. 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.”

Here is his full statement:

Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans. There is the problem of off record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret 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. I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.    

 Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption. I have always known that criticism would come with exploring anything new. I still chose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, taking the hits publicly to do the work behind the scenes.   

 My experience with LIV Golf Investments has been very positive. I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context. The specific people I have worked with are visionaries and have only been supportive. More importantly they passionately love golf and share my drive to make the game better. They have a clear plan to create an updated and positive experience for everyone including players, sponsors, networks, and fans.     

I have incredible partners, and these relationships mean so much more to me than a contract. Many have been my most influential mentors and I consider all to be lifelong friends. The last thing I would ever want to do is compromise them or their business in any way, and I have given all of them the option to pause or end the relationship as I understand it might be necessary given the current circumstances.  I believe in these people and companies and will always be here for them with or without a contract. 

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public. My intent was never to hurt anyone and I’m so sorry to the people I have negatively impacted.  This has always been about supporting the players and the game and I appreciate all the people who have given me the benefit of the doubt.    

Despite my belief that some changes have already been made within the overall discourse, I know I need to be accountable.  For the past 31 years I have lived a very public life and I have strived to live up to my own expectations, be the role model the fans deserve, and be someone that inspires others. I’ve worked to compete at the highest level, be available to media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my incredible fans. I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too.  The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level.  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.