Phil Mickelson sorry for 'idiotic' comments amid $2 billion golf drama

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·Sports Reporter
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Phil Mickelson (pictured) thanking the crowd.
Phil Mickelson (pictured) has apologised for his comments regarding the Saudi-backed Super Golf League. (Getty Images)

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson said he needs 'time away' from golf after he issued an apology for his bizarre comments made about the Saudi-backed golf league drama.

The Saudi-backed Super Golf League (SGL) was left reeling this week after both Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed their futures to the PGA Tour.

DeChambeau was reportedly offered a $200 million contract to join the SGL, but announced he would be staying on the PGA Tour as long as the world's best remain.

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And to make matters worse, Mickelson became the centre of attention after some bizarre comments about the league.

In a stunning interview, the 51-year-old admitted the threat of a new league has given the players leverage to squeeze more money out of the PGA Tour, and said he is not even certain he wants the breakaway to succeed.

In excerpt from a book, which author Alan Shipnuck shared online last week, Mickelson admitted his concerns about Saudi Arabia's human rights record before adding: "They're scary mother******s to get involved with."

He admitted he was using Saudi interest in launching a rival league as leverage to get players more money.

"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," Mickelson said.

"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."

Rory McIlroy called Mickelson's comments "naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant" and said the proposed breakaway tour was "dead in the water."

Phil Mickelson apologises for comments

Following the criticism, Mickelson issued a statement.

While the six-time champion didn't directly acknowledge the PGA Tour, the Super Golf League or his peers' criticism, he did claim Shipnuck took off-the-record remarks out of context.

"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," Mickelson said.

"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.

Phil Mickelson (pictured) reacts on the 9th hole during day two of the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
Phil Mickelson (pictured) said he will take time away from golf. (Photo by Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

"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."

Author Shipnuck fired back after the accusation.

The author wrote on The Fire Pit Collective, where he published Mickelson's comments last week, that "not once did he say our conversation was off-the-record or on background or just between us or anything remotely like that. He simply opened a vein".

Mickelson claimed his partnership with LIV Golf Investments, the Greg Norman-led group backed by Saudi money, remains "very positive".

The 51-year-old went on to thank his partners and elected to give them an opportunity to pause or end their relationship with him.

KPMG elected to do just this.

Rory McIlroy (pictured) walks onto the 12th green.
Rory McIlroy (pictured) was critical of Phil Mickelson's comments on the Super Golf League. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Mickelson finally said "pressure" on the Tour has taken its toll on him and he would be taking time away from the game.

"The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level," he said.

"I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritise the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

Mickelson, 51, won the 2021 PGA Championship to become the oldest major winner in golf history.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

with AAP

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