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Phil Mickelson sorry for 'reckless' comments, to take break from golf

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Phil Mickelson sorry for 'reckless' comments, to take break from golf
Phil Mickelson apologized Tuesday for comments about Saudis he recently made during an interview when talking about the breakaway Super Golf League. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Veteran golfer Phil Mickelson is sorry for "reckless" comments he made about the PGA Tour and the organizers of a Saudi-backed breakaway league and will take a hiatus from golf, he announced on social media.

Mickelson, 51, posted the announcement Tuesday on Instagram and Twitter. The apology comes in response to an article, which was released Thursday from author Alan Shipnuck.

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Shipnuck is writing an unauthorized biography about the golfer.

Mickelson described the Saudis as "scary [expletives]" in the article, published on the Fire Pit Collective website, when speaking about the Super Golf League. He also criticized for a "horrible record on human rights."

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"Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interests of golf, my peers, sponsors and fans," Mickelson wrote on social media.

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"There is the problem of off-the-record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words 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."

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Shipnuck later said on the Fire Pit Collective podcast that Mickelson reached out to him to talk about the PGA Tour and other issues. He said Mickelson never told him their discussion was off the record and that Mickelson knew it would be used in the book.

The Super Golf League is owned by LIV Golf Investments and backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. The league has attempted to pry away several of the PGA Tour's top golfers.

Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments. Several PGA Tour stars, including Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau recently reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-based golf league amid rumors about the new breakaway league.

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McIlroy criticized Mickelson comments when he spoke with reporters Sunday at the Genesis Invitational.

"I don't want to kick someone while he's down, obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant," McIlroy told reporters.

"A lot of words to describe that interaction he had with Shipnuck. It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I'm sure he's sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here."

Mickelson wrote Tuesday on social media that he knew he would face criticism. He admitted to Shipnuck that he used the breakaway league to leverage additional benefits from the PGA Tour.

"Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption," Mickelson wrote. "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."

KPMG released a statement Tuesday to announce a mutual split with Mickelson and an end to their sponsorship, which lasted more than a decade. Mickelson said he gave his sponsors the "option to pause or end" their relationship as he understands "it might be necessary given the current circumstances."

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"I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public," Mickelson wrote.

"My intent was never to hurt anyone and I'm sorry to the people I have negatively impacted. This has always been about supporting the players and I appreciate all the people who have given me the benefit of doubt."

Mickelson joined the PGA Tour in 1992. He earned his first of 57 career victories in 1993. He went on to win six major titles, including the 2021 PGA Championship. That win made Mickelson, at the time 50, the oldest major champion in PGA Tour history.

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