Phil Mickelson isn’t just a great golfer, he’s a scratch public relations specialist too. After ruffling plenty of feathers with his recent
complaints comments about the high tax rate in his home state of California, Mickelson handled questions from the media at the Farmers Insurance Open on the topic with the same brilliant deft touch he has shown for years around the greens.
When asked about his comments, Phil smiled and referenced his infamous collapse on the 72nd hole of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, “[At Winged Foot] I hit a drive way, way left…this time I hit it way, way right.” This was received with laughter from the assembled golf scribes. Phil continued by saying “This time, instead of trying to carve a 3-iron around a tree, I’m going to wedge out.” And he did. Phil said that his mistake was talking about his tax situation publicly. He went on to say that his comments were insensitive to families struggling paycheck to paycheck. “I love this country and the opportunities it affords me…I’ve never had a problem paying my fair share.” Although he did not say what he thought his fair share ought to be.
Regarding his future plans and perhaps moving from California Phil said ” Although I went to college in Arizona, I dreamed of moving back [to San Diego]. This is my home. My family is here, [his wife] Amy’s family is here. Our kids’ grandparents are here.” Phil did not say what his exact plans are, only that he has discussed it privately.
Mickelson was also asked about the previous night’s player meeting with USGA head Mike Davis regarding the ban on anchored putting. Phil clearly stated his position:
“Players should not be making the rules. The PGA TOUR should not be making the rules. We need and independent body to make the rules, be that the USGA or R&A…Anchoring was allowed 30 years ago. I think it should not have been allowed then. But you can’t take it away now.”
Near the end of his press conference Phil joked “I’ve said stupid things in the past that caused a media uproar. That’s a part of me.” When asked what the second dumbest thing he’s ever said was he remarked, “Probably ten years ago here in San Diego, talking about equipment.” This was a reference to his infamous “inferior equipment” comments regarding Tiger Woods. At the time Tiger was among the last Tour players to switch from steel shafted woods to graphite shafts. Phil was also referencing that Tiger was playing with fairly new Nike clubs instead of the [at the time] superior Titleist clubs that Phil used and Tiger had recently switched away from.
Notice anything missing from Phil’s presser? If you said that he didn’t talk about his own game, you’re right! Phil was brilliant with his handling of the tax comments and making fun of himself through it. He carefully maneuvered around the hot topic with honest responses, but did not evade any questions. And he did it all with a smile on his face. After this week we won’t hear anything more about Phil’s taxes.
[Photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images]