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Mickelson apologizes for PGA, Saudi comments, loses sponsor

Phil Mickelson apologized on Tuesday for comments about the US PGA Tour and Saudi supporters of a proposed rival tour, saying he will “desperately need some time” from golf.

The 51-year-old southpaw, winner of six major titles and the reigning PGA Championship title holder, also lost longtime sponsor KPMG after a lengthy apology on Twitter.

Author Alan Shipnuck last week released excerpts from his upcoming book on Mickelson, the American star who calls the Saudis “scary” with a “terrible human rights record.”

“If I know all this, why should I even consider it?” Mickelson said about the potential to participate in the Saudi tour.

“Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour works,” he said. “They managed to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.”

Mickelson was quoted as saying he was willing to work with the Saudi Golf League despite human rights issues, as it would be leverage to bring about change on the PGA Tour.

“I have used words that I sincerely regret and that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions,” Mickelson said Tuesday.

“It was reckless, I offended people and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I am beyond disappointed and will do everything I can to reflect on myself and learn from this.”

Mickelson said off-the-record comments were shared out of context and that his actions “have always been in the interest of golf.”

Rory McIlroy was one of several players torn Mickelson apart over his comments, with Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson stepping away from the Saudi league last weekend after Mickelson’s comments were revealed.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public,” said Mickelson. “It was never my intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry for the people I negatively influenced.

“This has always been about supporting the players and the game and I appreciate all the people who gave me the benefit of the doubt.”

Still, Mickelson criticized the way the game is run — without being specific.

“Golf urgently needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption,” Mickelson said in his apology.

“I’ve always known that there would be criticism if you explore something new. I still chose to put myself first in this to inspire change, by making the hits public to do the work behind the scenes.”

Three-time Masters champion Mickelson became the oldest major winner in history on Kiawah Island last May when he won the PGA at age 50.

‘I have often failed myself’

But he said pressure and stress have worn him out over the past decade and he needs a break from the touring rut.

“I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have also often let myself and others down,” wrote Mickelson.

“Over the past 10 years I have slowly felt the pressure and stress on me on a deeper level. I know I haven’t been my best and I desperately need some time to prioritize those I love most and work on becoming the man I want to be.”

Mickelson said his experience with the Saudi LIV Golf Investments group has been “very positive” and “I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context.”

He called those he worked with on the project “visionaries” and “supporters” who “share my drive to make the game better.”

Speaking of his sponsors and business partners, Mickelson said, “I’ve given each of them the option to pause or end the relationship, as I understand that this may be necessary given the current circumstances.”

In a statement from KPMG, the Global Audit and Tax Advisory Service and Mickelson “have agreed to end our sponsorship with immediate effect. We wish him the best.”

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