Phil Mickelson apologizes again for comments on taxes

Phil Mickelson tries to find the line for a putt during the final round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club last year.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

LA JOLLA -- Media members from all over the world packed the press tent at Torrey Pines on Wednesday to hear star golfer Phil Mickelson speak about...taxes.

Yes, it’s already been a strange week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Following up on a statement he issued late Monday night, Mickelson offered a personal apology for comments he made about California’s tax system.

“You know, I’ve made some dumb, dumb mistakes and, obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them,” Mickelson said.


Mickelson said after Sunday’s PGA event in La Quinta he might have to take “drastic measures” that could include leaving the state because of the increased financial burden he has incurred due to recent changes in California’s tax laws.

Mickelson reiterated Wednesday he should not have made those comments in public.

“My apology is for talking about it publicly, because I shouldn’t take advantage of the forum that I have as a professional golfer to try to ignite change over these issues.”

Mickelson said he understood immediately that his comments could be seen as unsympathetic.

“I think 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,” he said.

Mickelson jokingly compared the blunder to his last hole in regulation at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, N.Y., when his errant drive on No. 18 cost him a chance to win the tournament.

“I hit one way left off the tents,” Mickelson said. “So this happened to be way right, but way off the tents.”

Mickelson said he should have used common sense after his bad drive and tried to salvage a bogey that would have put him in a playoff. Instead, he compounded the mistake by staying aggressive and ended with a double bogey.


Using his tax comments as an analogy, Mickelson said, “I think I’m going to learn my lesson and take a wedge and get it back in play.”

Mickelson said he has not made any decision yet about possibly moving to a place without state income taxes. Several players, including Tiger Woods, have relocated to Florida to avoid taxes.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson said he has never before had a problem paying his fair share of taxes.

“But you do now?” he was asked by San Diego Union Tribune sports columnist Nick Canepa.

Mickelson: “I’ve never had a problem paying my fair share. I don’t know what that is right now, but I’ve never had a problem paying my fair share.”

Mickelson, who was raised in San Diego and attended Arizona State University, mentioned in his original comments that his tax payments this year could balloon to “62 or 63” percent of his total income.

Mickelson said this was not the first dumb comment he has made, nor will it likely be the last.

“I’ve said some stupid things in the past that have caused a media uproar before,” he said. “It’s part of my life, and I’ll deal with it.”



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