• PGA Tour

Mickelson admits "big mistake" over tax talk

ESPN staff
January 24, 2013 « Etim: Renee Forte gets punished at Wembley Arena | Chartbeat test »
Phil Mickelson admits he was wrong to air his tax concerns in public © Getty Images
Enlarge

Phil Mickelson turned to his biggest blunder on the golf course to apologise for his latest mistake with his mouth.

Mickelson caused a sensation this week by saying new federal and state tax rates kept him from being part of the San Diego Padres' new ownership group and might cause him to move away from his native California as part of "drastic changes" brought on by the political climate.

Mickelson manoeuvred around the tax controversy he stirred up earlier this week with the deft touch of one his famous flop shots. He said on Wednesday it was a "big mistake" to go public with his views, and he illustrated it with his worst moment in golf.

Mickelson was on the verge of finally winning the US Open when he had a one-shot lead on the final hole at Winged Foot. He drove left onto the corporate tents, and then tried to hit 3-iron around a tree. It led to a double-bogey that cost him the championship.

"This reminds me a lot of Winged Foot in 2006, where I hit a drive way left of the tents. So this happened to be way right," Mickelson said, a playful reference to his position on the higher taxes. "I've made some dumb, dumb mistakes. And obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them."

Golf Digest magazine listed Mickelson's earnings on and off the golf course last year at $47 million, and millionaires complaining about their taxes is sure to be a polarising topic. Mickelson figured that out quickly, issuing a statement on Monday night that he should have kept his opinion to himself.

He said: "I think that it was insensitive to talk about it publicly to those people who are not able to find a job, that are struggling paycheck to paycheck. ... I shouldn't have taken advantage of the forum that I have as a professional golfer to try to ignite change over these issues."

For all the talk about the tee shot at Winged Foot, what cost him the US Open was trying to hit onto the green with a 3-iron instead of playing out to the fairway and trying to get up-and-down for his par.

"I think I'm going to learn my lesson and take a wedge and get it back in play," Mickelson said, sticking with the golf analogy. "I made a big mistake talking about this stuff publicly, and I shouldn't have done that."

One concern for Mickelson was the fans. He is one of the most popular figures in golf, famous for signing autographs for up to an hour after just about every round. Asked about the prospect of alienating fans, Mickelson said: "I knew that would happen, and again, I should not have talked any type of politics or financial or taxation stuff publicly."

This story originally appeared on ESPN.com

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Close