Phil Mickelson apologizes for supporting the Saudi Golf League

Phil Mickelson said on Tuesday he regretted his recent comments in support of a separate round of golf backed by Saudi Arabia, and suggested he might take time off the golf course “to prioritize those I love most and work towards becoming the man I want to be.” . “

“I have used words of sincere regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions,” Mickelson said in a statement. “It was reckless, I offended people and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I am very disappointed and will do my best to self-reflection and learn from this.”

The proposed Super Golf League, whose main source of funding is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, a sovereign wealth fund worth more than $400 billion, has tried over the past year to lure high-profile golfers like Mickelson away from the long-running PGA Tour. .

In an interview with an unauthorized biography due out in May, Mickelson told journalist Alan Shipnock, the book’s author, he was aware of the kingdom’s “terrible human rights record”, but said he was willing to help the new union because it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Once in a Lifetime” to dramatically increase the income of PGA Tour players.

In a story published last week on The Firepit Collective, a golf website, Shipnuck quotes Mickelson, the six-time golfer, as saying that Saudi authorities were “intimidating” and using profanity to describe him. Mickelson also referred to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was assassinated in 2018 with the approval of the kingdom’s crown prince, according to US intelligence officials, and hinted at the criminalization of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, where it is punishable by death. .

Mickelson’s comments elicited raucous reactions from top players on the PGA Tour, nearly all of whom have publicly rejected the new alternative league. Rory McIlroy, a four-time winner and one of the Tour’s most respected players, called Mickelson’s comments “naive, selfish, arrogant, ignorant.”

McIlroy’s contemporaries, a young dynasty now representing the professional golf hierarchy, were similarly dismissive of the comments attributed to Mickelson, 51.

“I don’t do this for the money, and that for me is the only calling to go there,” John Ram, 27, said of the Super Golf League. Ram, who tops the men’s golf rankings, added, “They’ve thrown numbers at you that are supposed to impress people. I’m in this game for the love of golf, the love of the game and being a champion.”

Mickelson’s longtime rival Tiger Woods has also declared his allegiance to the PGA Tour, which is based in America. And Mickelson’s comments may have cemented more support for her as two of the best golfers, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeShampoo – Both were non-committal about the new league – announced that they were holding out for the tour.

Late Tuesday afternoon, KPMG, a professional services company and longtime sponsor of Mickelson’s, announced that it would terminate its effective relationship with Mickelson with immediate effect.

Mickelson’s statement on Tuesday could be an attempt to stave off any possible suspension from the tour. He said his actions were always “in the best interests of golf, my teammates, sponsors and fans”.

He also noted that his remarks were “informal comments shared out of context and without my consent.”

Minutes after Mickelson released his statement, Shipnuck, on Twittercalled Mickelson’s claim that his comments were unpublishable “completely false”.

While Mickelson’s statement on Tuesday was muddled, he appeared to be trying to prove that the alternatives to the PGA Tour were not without merits.

“Golf is in dire need of change,” he said, “and real change always precedes turmoil.” “I have always known that criticism will come with exploring anything new. I continue to choose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, and take public beats to do the work behind the scenes.”

Mickelson, a famous player who won the PGA Championship in 2021, addressed his company’s sponsors who might not want to continue their relationship with him.

“The last thing I would like to do is compromise on them or their business in any way,” he said, “and I have given them all the option to pause or terminate the relationship,” adding, “I believe in these people and companies and will always be here for them with or without a contract.”

Mickelson concluded his statement by discussing his victories and setbacks.

“I have had many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but have often let myself and others down as well,” he said. “Over the past 10 years, I have felt pressure and stress slowly affecting me on a deeper level. I know I was not at my best and I desperately need some time away to prioritize those I love most and work on being the man I want to be.”