Comparing his comments he made last Sunday about threatening to leave California because of the state's high tax rate to his infamously wild tee shot on the 18th hole at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, golfer Phil Mickelson said his remarks were a "big mistake" and "insensitive" in a press conference on Wednesday.
Mickelson, who was speaking at Torrey Pines before this weekend's PGA Tour event and addressing the media for the first time since Sunday's remarks, said his drive at Winged Foot was "way left" and his comments last Sunday were "way right."
"I made a big mistake talking about this publicly and I shouldn't have done that," Mickelson said, noting his comments were "insensitive" to those who are struggling to find jobs in the bad economy.
In 2006, Mickelson arrived on the 18th hole on Sunday of the U.S. Open with a one-shot lead. He hit his tee shot off of a hospitality tent, way to the left of the fairway. And instead of hitting a wedge back into the fairway, Mickelson, who could have gone to a Monday playoff with just a bogey on the hole, tried to heroically--and unnecessary--hit his ball around a tree, only to have the ball hit the tree and ricochet back to him. He double-bogeyed the hole and lost the U.S. Open.
On Wednesday, Mickelson said he would be hitting the equivalent of a wedge and chipping out to the fairway in addressing questions about his comments on Sunday. And that is what he did.
"I shouldn't take advantage of the forum I have as a professional golfer to try to ignite change," Mickelson said, backtracking. "I shouldn't have brought it up and used this platform to say what I have to say."
On Sunday, Mickelson said California's high tax rate (California voters passed Proposition 30 last November, which raised taxes on those making over $1 million to 13.3% and Congress and the White House--in a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff--raised taxes on individuals and families making more than $400,000 and $450,000, respectively, to 39.6%) combined with the increase in his federal tax rate would force him to either leave California or make "drastic changes."
"There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now," Mickelson said on Sunday. "So I'm going to have to make some changes."
When asked if he was planning on leaving California on Wednesday, Mickelson replied, "I'm not sure we're going to do yet."
"I love this state, and I am certainly concerned for it," Mickelson said.