Alan Shipnuck Hits Back At Mickelson Over 'Off The Record' Comment

The journalist and author of Mickelson's new biography says Lefty's controversial comments were not "off the record"

Alan Shipnuck and Phil Mickelson montage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alan Shipnuck has hit back at Phil Mickelson after the six-time Major winner said that controversial comments he told the US journalist on the PGA Tour and a potential Saudi-backed golf league were "off the record." Shipnuck, author of an upcoming Mickelson biography, called Lefty's 'off the record' claim "completely false."

Mickelson issued a statement to say he was "deeply sorry" and that he "sincerely" regrets the comments he made to Alan Shipnuck where he revealed he had been in contact with the Saudis over a breakaway super league as "leverage" over the PGA Tour. 

"There is a problem of off the record comments being shared out of context and without my consent," Mickelson said in his statement.

"The 'off the record' piece of this is completely false and I'll have more to say on that shortly," Alan Shipnuck said on Twitter in response to Mickelson's lengthy statement.

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“Not once in our texts or when we got on the phone did Mickelson request to go off-the-record and I never consented to it; if he had asked,” Shipnuck told the Telegraph (opens in new tab).  “I would have pushed back hard, as this was obviously material I wanted for the book.  Mickelson simply called me up and opened a vein. To claim now that the comments were off-the-record is false and duplicitous.”

Mickelson has been heavily criticised from all over the golfing world, most prominently by Rory McIlroy who called his words "naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant."

Lefty, who recently described the PGA Tour's greed as "beyond obnoxious", reiterated that "golf desperately needs to change" in his statement whilst also praising LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Funded-start-up company headed by Greg Norman that is speculated to be behind a new super league.

He has also revealed that he "desperately" needs some time away to "prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be," meaning that it is unclear when we'll next see the reigning PGA Champion. His public dispute with the PGA Tour and his desire to take time away means he will almost certainly miss the Players Championship next month. It is likely his next start will be at The Masters in April.

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x