Mickelson won't expand on 'drastic changes'


Phil Mickelson won’t be going into any further details on the “drastic changes” he intends making to his life as a result of new tax laws in the United States and California.

Mickelson had indicated he would elaborate on his comments – that the political landscape in the United States was causing him to seriously contemplate his future in golf – at a scheduled press conference today ahead of the Farmers Open at Torrey Pines.

Instead he issued a statement apologising for the remarks he made on the day when US president Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term.

“Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson announced in a statement released today by his management company. “I apologise to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.”

Following his final round at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta on Sunday, Mickelson suggested he was prepared move away from California to avoid paying as much tax as he is currently liable for.

“I’m not going to jump the gun, but there’s going to be some drastic changes for me, because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted federally and by the state,” Mickelson said. “It doesn’t work for me right now, so I’m going to have to make some changes.

“I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do yet. If you add up all the federal [tax] and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate is at 62 to 63 per cent. So I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”

Mixed reaction

The comments drew a mixed reaction from golf fans. Many of the more than 1,200 comments received on a GolfChannel.comarticle about his remarks were critical of his plan, while others said it would be “hard to blame” him for wanting to move out of California.

California’s Proposition 30 raised state taxes on income over $1 million annually to 13.3 per cent from 10.3 per cent. The top rate under new federal laws is 39.6 per cent on taxable income above $450,000 for married couples, up from 35 per cent in 2012.

In December, Mickelson, who was part of a group that had bought the San Diego Padres four months earlier, abruptly announced that he was no longer involved in the business deal. His reversal came shortly after California voters approved Proposition 30. Asked after his final round at Humana if the new tax laws affected that decision, Mickelson said, “Yeah, absolutely.”

Tour career

Forbes magazine ranked Mickelson the seventh highest-paid athlete in 2012 with $47.8 million in earnings, including $43 million in sponsor endorsements. He has won $67.7 million in prize money during his PGA Tour career.

A San Diego native, Mickelson will play in this week’s PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines golf club near his hometown. He originally said he planned to address his recent comments during a press conference before deciding to issue a statement.

“I absolutely love what I do,” he said. “I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships.

“Right now, I’m like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I’ve been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don’t have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family.”

Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia makes his first appearance of the season in the Qatar Masters which starts today in Doha. Among those also taking part are British Open champion Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen.

Ireland will be represented by Gareth Maybin, Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey, Peter Lawrie and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

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