Phil Mickelson apologises for 'reckless' comments over Saudi Super League

Phil Mickelson has apologised for comments he accepts were “reckless” and said he “desperately needs time away to work on being the man I want to be”.

Phil Mickelson pictured during the recent PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in KIng Abdullah Economic City. Picture: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images.
Phil Mickelson pictured during the recent PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in KIng Abdullah Economic City. Picture: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images.

The six-time major winner broke his silence on remarks he made about Saudis regarding a proposed Super League in a lengthy statement.

“Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans,” he said.

Referring to an interview with the US golf writer, Alan Shipnuck, for a book to be released this year, he added: “There is the problem of off record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.

“It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.”

While Mickelson made no reference to the PGA Tour, he spoke about LIV Golf Investments, the company that is being fronted by Greg Norman and has been working with the Saudis to try and set up a breakaway circuit.

“Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption,” said the current US PGA champion.

“I have always known that criticism would come with exploring anything new. I still chose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, taking the hits publicly to do the work behind the scenes.

“My experience with LIV Golf Investments has been very positive. I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context. The specific people I have worked with are visionaries and have only been supportive.

“More importantly they passionately love golf and share my drive to make the game better. They have a clear plan to create an updated and positive experience for everyone including players, sponsors, networks, and fans.”

In his interview with Shipnuck, Mickelson referred to the Saudis as “scary motherf***ers” and added: “We know they killed [journalist 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.”

On the back of that, it had been claimed that he might be banned from the PGA Tour and potentially lose some of his sponsors.

Addressing that, he said in his statement: “I have incredible partners, and these relationships mean so much more to me than a contract. Many have been my most influential mentors and I consider all to be lifelong friends.

“The last thing I would ever want to do is compromise them or their business in any way, and I have given all of them the option to pause or end the relationship as I understand it might be necessary given the current circumstances.

“I believe in these people and companies and will always be here for them with or without a contract.”

The 50-year-old went on: “I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public. My intent was never to hurt anyone and I’m so sorry to the people I have negatively impacted.

“This has always been about supporting the players and the game and I appreciate all the people who have given me the benefit of the doubt.

“Despite my belief that some changes have already been made within the overall discourse, I know I need to be accountable.

“For the past 31 years I have lived a very public life and I have strived to live up to my own expectations, be the role model the fans deserve, and be someone that inspires others.

“I’ve worked to compete at the highest level, be available to media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my incredible fans.

“I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too.

“The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level.

“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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