Phil Mickelson caused a firestorm with his recent comments about the PGA Tour and Saudi Golf League and has now released a statement after the controversy.
While Joaquin Niemann was winning the Genesis Invitational and the PGA Tour continues to move forward with a wildly entertaining start to 2022, Phil Mickelson was at the center of the golfing world this past week as comments from a November interview regarding his desire for change in the PGA Tour and his interest in the Saudi Golf League ignited a massive controversy.
Since the release of those remarks, Mickelson has been dragged by his golfing peers and numerous figures in the media.
And now, Mickelson is seemingly feeling the effects of that. On Tuesday, he released a statement via social media that apologized (in a way) for his word choice and the controversy he created before saying that he was going to take some time away, seemingly as a result of the backlash he received.
What did Phil Mickelson say about the PGA Tour and Saudi Golf League?
For those who are unaware, the 51-year-old reigning PGA Championship winner conducted an interview with golf insider Alan Shipnuck in November for a book that Shipnuck is writing. Amid rumors about Mickelson and several others jumping ship to the proposed Saudi Golf League, Shipnuck released a piece containing a portion of that interview.
Here’s what Mickelson said that sent the golfing world into a frenzy:
"“They’re scary m***********s to get involved with,” he said. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. 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. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the SGL] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”"
In the week prior, Mickelson also drew ire as he called out what he said was “obnoxious greed” by the PGA Tour while claiming they were withholding $20 billion (his estimate unbacked by any substantiation) of digital assets from the players.
Phil Mickelson statements doesn’t seem to be him backing off from remarks
While Mickelson is clearly affected by the backlash that he brought about with his SGL comments, his statement isn’t one that appears to see him backing down from the hill he put himself on with this. Perhaps more importantly, the beginning of the statement pertaining to his comments being “off the record” were immediately refuted by Shipnuck.
As pointed out by Daniel Rapaport of Golf Digest, though, this isn’t Mickelson wholly backtracking. Instead, he still tries to paint himself as a pioneer for change on the PGA Tour while still talking about the LIV group that is helping to create the Saudi Golf League and their plan for positive change in golf.
With all of that being said, it’s interesting to see that type of stance that Mickelson is taking given that the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and others joined top players like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and more in committing to the PGA Tour and seemingly placing the nail to be put in the coffin of the SGL’s hope.
This certainly won’t be the end of this story, though. And we will certainly be waiting to see what the next words or move for Phil Mickelson will be.