Phil Mickelson didn’t wait for his normal pre-tournament press conference to address his comments about looming tax questions that he will face in his native California.
On Tuesday morning, he released this statement:
"I know I have my usual pre-tournament press conference scheduled this week, but I felt I needed to address the comments I made following the Humana Challenge now.
"I absolutely love what I do. I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships.
"Right now, I’m like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I’ve been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don’t have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family.
"Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again."
Mickelson is scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday at Torrey Pines, a day before he begins the Farmers Insurance Open about 10 miles south of his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
The response to Mickelson’s opinions on taxes ranged from mocking a guy who has become a multi-millionaire by playing golf for a living to support for having such a high tax rate and not being afraid to speak his mind. A majority of PGA Tour players live in Florida and others in Texas, two states that have no state income tax.
Tiger Woods grew up in Southern California and moved to Florida when he turned pro in 1996.
”I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods said. ”I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was — I think — trying to say,” Woods said of the Mickelson comments. ”I think he’ll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry even weighed in with this tweet: ”Hey Phil….Texas is home to liberty and low taxes…we would love to have you as well!!”
Mickelson has earned just under $70 million in PGA Tour earnings for his career, which doesn’t include corporate endorsements or his golf course design company, which is thriving in China. Forbes magazine reported Mickelson earned more than $40 million in endorsements last year, trailing only Tiger Woods among golfers.
”He definitely showed a lack of sympathy for the plight of a lot of people, unemployed and all that sort of stuff,” fellow pro Geoff Ogilvy said. ”But everything is relative. He’s verbalized when he’s thinking, and you shouldn’t get in trouble for verbalizing what you’re thinking. I assume it’s less of a personal thing and more of a political-type statement, maybe? . . . He probably shouldn’t have said it the way he said it.”
Mickelson was raised in San Diego and, after playing golf at Arizona State, settled in the Phoenix area when he started his career before moving back home to San Diego County.
In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, the first statewide tax increase since 2004.
”If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent,” Mickelson had said. ”So I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”
He said taxes ”absolutely” were a factor in his decision not to become part of the San Diego Padres’ new ownership group.