SAN DIEGO — Phil Mickelson says he should have kept his opinions on taxes to himself.
Mickelson had suggested “drastic changes” were in store for him — perhaps moving from his native California — because of changes in federal and state taxes that he says tap into more than 60 percent of his income. He said it “absolutely” was a factor in deciding against becoming part of the San Diego Padres’ new ownership group.
The four-time major champion didn’t back away from his outlook, only his decision to talk about it.
“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.”
Mickelson first made a cryptic reference to “what’s gone on the last few months politically” during a conference call two weeks ago for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. After his final round Sunday of the Humana Challenge, he was asked what he meant.
“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 it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”
Mickelson said he would wait until his news conference today at Torrey Pines to elaborate.
“Right now, I’m like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws,” he said.
The response to Mickelson’s opinions on taxes ranged from mocking a guy who has become a multi-millionaire by playing golf for a living to support for having such a high tax rate and not being afraid to speak his mind. A majority of PGA Tour players live in Florida and others in Texas, two states that have no state income tax.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry even weighed in with this tweet: “Hey Phil. ... Texas is home to liberty and low taxes. ... we would love to have you as well!!”
Players at the Farmers Insurance Open privately questioned what Mickelson had to gain by complaining about his taxes.
Mickelson has earned just under $70 million in PGA Tour earnings for his career, which doesn’t include corporate endorsements or his golf course design company, which is thriving in China. Forbes magazine reported Mickelson earned over $40 million in endorsements last year, trailing only Tiger Woods among golfers.