News & Tours
Phil Mickelson apologizes for 'reckless' Saudi golf comments, says he needs 'time away'; KPMG ends relationship with Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has issued an apology for his comments regarding his involvement with a proposed Saudi-backed golf league.
In a November interview that was made public last week, Mickelson told golf writer Alan Shipnuck that he acknowledged the Saudi government are “scary mother****ers” and that “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.” However, Mickelson said he was involved with the potential breakaway league in order to “reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
After his comments were made public, multiple players denounced Mickelson for his insensitive remarks and pledged that they were committed to playing on the PGA Tour. Among them were Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, two players believed to be weighing offers for the "Super Golf League," striking a massive blow to the SGL's prospects.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mickelson released a statement via social media on the matter. Here is the statement in full:
“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. 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.
“Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption. 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.
“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.
“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.”
Following Mickelson's statement, KPMG—one of Mickelson's primary sponsorships—announced it has ended its relationship with the six-time major winner.
“KPMG U.S. and Phil Mickelson have mutually agreed to end our sponsorship effective immediately. We wish him the best,” read a statement from a company spokesperson. “KPMG continues to sponsor brand ambassadors on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour and is the title sponsor of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a major on the LPGA Tour.”