September 27, 2022

Phil Mickelson now regrets that his wild quotes about Saudi golf league became public

Mickelson had told a reporter he was eager to use Saudi money to push around the PGA despite myriad human rights issues. (John Minchillo/AP)

Like everyone else involved, Phil Mickelson is now sprinting away at full speed from his comments about a potential breakaway Saudi-funded golf league.

In a blatant attempt to strongarm the PGA, Mickelson told writer Alan Shipnuck that the Saudis are “scary motherf—ers to get involved with” and pointed out that they “execute people over there for being gay.” But to Mickelson, getting in bed with Saudi money would be worth it for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Mickelson’s peers bashed him as “naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant” as even the golfers rumored to be joining him fled from the concept, seemingly killing it on arrival.

Now Phil is very sorry — to the Saudis who he openly said “have a horrible record on human rights” — and to his current sponsors who fill up his bank account.

“My experience with LIV Golf Investments has been very positive,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context.”

Mickelson blamed the reporter for accurately quoting him. He said that Shipnuck’s story was “off record comments being shared out of context,” which Shipnuck immediately said was “completely false.”

The 51-year-old Mickelson, notorious for his enormous gambling debts, blamed vague “pressure and stress” for his unusually frank comments about the Saudi league.

“I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public,” he said in Tuesday’s statement. “The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level. I know have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on the man I want to be.”

According to Mickelson, before he lit the Super Golf League on fire, he had “20 guys who want to do this” to reclaim money and power from the PGA Tour, which he called a “dictatorship.” His financial claims were questionable, telling Shipnuck that “The Tour is sitting on multiple billions of dollars worth of NFTs.” And he openly admitted that the Saudi money was explicitly there to get the PGA to improve (in his view) on issues of money and governance.

“I’m not sure I even want it to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the Tour,” he said last week. The league is certainly not going to succeed, as the interview pushed the players rumored to be joining Mickelson to back the PGA. And it left everyone else fed up with Mickelson and supporting his opponents more strongly that they would have otherwise. “Who’s left to go? I mean, there’s no one. It’s dead in the water, in my opinion,” Rory McIlroy said over the weekend. “I just can’t see any reason why anyone would go.”

Mickelson admitted as much Tuesday, saying the investors and other players could walk away from the deal. “I have given all of them the option to pause or end the relationship,” he said. “I understand it might be necessary given the current circumstances.”