Phil Mickelson apologizes for Saudi tournament comments

Phil Mickelson apologized on Tuesday for comments about Saudi Arabia which he thought were off the record, and said he needed “some time” away from professional golf.

Catch up fast: Mickelson landed in hot water last week when an excerpt from an upcoming biography about him was released, ESPN reported. In it, Mickelson discussed his decision to get involved in a potential new Saudi-backed golf league – despite Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

  • “They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have an awful human rights record,” Mickelson told the author in an interview, per ESPN. “They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because it’s a unique opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour works.”
  • Mickelson also expressed dissatisfaction with other aspects of the PGA’s operation. “The Tour likes to pretend to be a democracy, but it really is a dictatorship,” he told the book’s author.

What they say : “While it may not look like it now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been in the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors and fans,” Mickelson said in his statement.

  • He lamented that the use of “off the record” was shared out of context and without his consent, before adding that “the biggest problem is that I used words that I sincerely regret and that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions”.

But, but, but: Mickelson argued that “Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption”.

  • “I always knew criticism would come with exploring something new. I still chose to put myself at the forefront of inspiring change, taking successes publicly to get the job done in behind the scenes.”

The bottom line: The professional golfer concluded by noting that over the past decade “pressure and stress” had affected him on a “deeper level”.

  • “I know I haven’t been at my best and I desperately need time to prioritize those I love the most and work to be the man I want to be.”

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