Phil Mickelson apologized Tuesday for comments about the Saudis and a proposed super league, which he claims were off the record and not meant to be shared publicly.
Mickelson also said in a statement he has felt pressure and stress affecting him at a deeper level over the last 10 years and he needs time away. However, he did not say if he would be taking a break from golf.
“I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this,” he said.
Also, KPMG became the first of Mickelson’s corporate sponsors to announce an end to their partnership, a decision the company said was mutual.
Most damaging about Mickelson’s remarks to author and golf writer Alan Shipnuck was referring to the Saudis financing a proposed breakaway league as “scary mother (expletive)s.” He also told Shipnuck, who is writing a biography on Mickelson due out in May, that it was worth getting in bed with the Saudis, despite their history of human rights abuses, if it meant a chance to change the PGA Tour.
The interview took place last November.
“We know they killed (Washington Post columnist Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay,” he said. “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.”
Mickelson said he has always put the interests of golf first, “although it doesn’t look this way now given my recent comments.”
“There is the problem of off record comments being shared out of context and without my consent,” he said. “But the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.”
Mickelson said he was “deeply sorry” and said his comments were reckless.
Shipnuck wrote on The Fire Pit Collective, where he published Mickelson’s comments last week, that “not once did he say our conversation was off-the-record or on background or just between us or anything remotely like that. He simply opened a vein.”
Shipnuck tweeted Tuesday that Mickelson’s claims he spoke off the record were “completely false.”
KPMG, meanwhile, said the company and Mickelson agreed mutually to end a sponsorship that had been around since 2008. “We wish him the best,” KPMG said in an email.
Mickelson’s statement, received about the same time as KPMG’s announcement, said he has given his partners the option to pause or end their relationships “as I understand it might be necessary given the current circumstances.”
Still unclear is where Mickelson might play next. His statement concluded, “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.”
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