Phil Mickelson apologized again for his complaints about his tax bracket, using humor and empathy to make up for the hit his reputation took earlier in the week.
Mickelson, who said over the weekend that he was considering “drastic changes” because of higher tax rates on the wealthy, joked in a press conference preceding the Farmers Insurance Open about one of his worst moments on a golf course.
“I’ve made some dumb, dumb mistakes, and obviously talking about this stuff was one of them,” Mickelson said of his complaints about being taxed at more than a 60-percent rate. He compared his comments were like the double-bogey meltdown that cost him the U.S. Open in 2006.
“I hit a drive way left off the tents [then],” Mickelson joked. “So this happened to be way right, but way off the tents.”
After the laughter subsided, he added: “Like Winged Foot, where I tried to carve a three-iron around a tree and get it up by the green, I make double-bogey and lose the U.S. Open, I think I’m going to learn my lesson and take a wedge and get it back in play.”
Mickelson had apologized Monday, but, with the Farmers beginning today at Torrey Pines, he had to face the music — and the microphones — again. He earned over $43 million last year and seemed to realize how comments sounded.
“I think that 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.”
Mickelson lives in the San Diego area and his comments left people speculating that, like Tiger Woods and others before him, he might move to Florida or consider semi-retirement at 41. He didn’t rule out leaving his home state Wednesday.
“We have talked and will continue to talk to the best tax advisors and what have you,” said Mickelson, who has a sponsorship deal with KPMG, a global audit, tax and advisory firm. “I love [California]. I grew up here. … and I’m certainly concerned for it.”
Mickelson finished 37th in the Humana Challenge and hopes now to focus just on golf.
“I’ve said some stupid things in the past that have caused a media uproar before,” he said. “It’s a part of my life, and I’ll deal with it. One of the things I pride myself on is whatever it is I’m dealing with in my personal life, once I get inside the ropes, I need to be able … to focus on shooting a low score.”