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Phil Mickelson apologized on Tuesday for comments about the Saudis and the proposed Super League, which he claimed was unpublishable and not meant to be shared publicly.
Mickelson also said in a statement that he has felt the pressure and stress that has affected him on a deeper level over the past 10 years and needs time away. However, he did not say if he would take a break from golf.
“I am very disappointed and will do everything in my power to reflect and learn from this,” he said.
Also, KPMG became the first of the Michelson companies’ sponsors to announce the termination of their partnership, a decision the company said was reciprocal.
Most pernicious in Mickelson’s comments to author and golf writer Alan Shipnock was referring to the Saudis funding a proposed separatist league called “The Scary Mother (expletive)”. He also told Shipnuck, who is writing a biography on Mickelson in May, that it would be worth sleeping with the Saudis, despite their history of human rights abuses, if it meant an opportunity to change the PGA Tour.
The interview took place last November.
“We know that they killed (Washington Post columnist Jamal) Khashoggi and they have an appalling human rights record. They execute people there for being gay,” he said. “Knowing all this, why am I even thinking about it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.”
Mickelson said he always puts golf interests first, “although it doesn’t seem that way now given my recent comments.”
“There is a problem with sharing unofficial comments out of context and without my consent,” he said. “But the bigger issue is that I used words that I sincerely regret and do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.”
Mickelson said he was “deeply sorry” and said his comments were reckless.
Shipnuck wrote in The Fire Pit Collective, where he posted Mickelson’s comments last week, that he “never once said our conversation was unpublishable, in the background, just between us, or anything like that. He simply opened the vein.”
Shipbank tweeted on Tuesday that Mickelson’s claims that he had spoken informally were “completely false”.
Meanwhile, KPMG said the company and Mickelson had mutually agreed to end the sponsorship that had been in place since 2008. “We wish him the best,” KPMG said in an email.
Michelson’s statement, which was received at the same time as KPMG’s announcement, said he gave his partners the option to pause or terminate their relationships “as I understand may be necessary under the current circumstances.”
It remains unclear where Mickelson might play next. “I know I haven’t been at my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love the most and work towards being the man I want to be,” he concluded.
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