'I’m Surprised All These Companies Are Fleeing Phil' - Shipnuck

Shipnuck has recently released snippets from his upcoming book on Mickelson, in which the six-time Major champion makes controversial comments about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia

Mickelson stares
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The golfing world has been hit with a number of controversies throughout the last fortnight, with talks of the breakaway Saudi Golf League dominating proceedings throughout the majority of 2022.

Phil Mickelson has perhaps been the biggest talking point over that period. Previously, the six-time Major champion accused the PGA Tour of "obnoxious greed" over their media rights, before admitting his allegiance to the reported Saudi Golf League is a ruse to leverage the PGA Tour

The 51-year-old appeared to be all in on the breakaway Saudi League but, in an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming book, titled ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar’, the six-time major winner made it clear he thinks it's merely an attempt to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia's reputation, and that they are "scary motherf*****s to get involved with.”

Mickelson and Norman talk

Mickelson chats to Greg Norman, CEO of Liv Golf Investments, during a practice round prior to the 2022 PIF Saudi International

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following the release of the excerpt, Mickelson issued a statement to say he was "deeply sorry" about the comments he made to Shipnuck, but also stated that the comments were made "off the record" and "shared out of context and without my consent."

The reaction from Mickelson caused Shipnuck to respond, with the well-known golf sports journalist and author stating that: "The 'off the record' piece of this is completely false" and that “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.”

Because of the fallout, the six-time Major champion is set to take a break from the game, with 'Lefty' also losing a number of high profile sponsors including KPMG, Amstel Light and Workday in the process. Along with the trio of sponsors, Callaway, who have backed the 51-year-old since 2004, have announced that they will "pause their partnership" with Mickelson.

See more

For Shipnuck though, it comes as a slight surprise that sponsors are backing away from Mickelson, with the author and journalist tweeting: "I’m surprised all these companies are fleeing Phil. Saudi Arabia is certainly toxic but it’s also now part of the Euro and Asian Tours. What were Phil’s crimes? Hardball negotiations, sure. Disloyalty to the Tour? Maybe. Profanity? Who cares. They don’t feel like capital offenses."

Along with the post on Twitter, Shipnuck also responded to one comment on the thread, revealing: "I knew there was going to be a reaction. I’m surprised at the intensity of it."

Other users didn't seem to agree with Shipnuck's statement though, with one Twitter individual stating: "Once you squeeze the toothpaste you can’t put it back in the tube. Sometimes it’s better not to squeeze so hard," whilst another commented: "You fully understood what you had, stand behind the blowback."

See more

As stated above, companies have pulled the plug on sponsoring the 45-time PGA Tour winner, but multiple Tour players have also publicly stated their stance on Mickelson's comments, with Rory McIlroy calling them "Naive, selfish, egotistical and ignorant." 

Along with McIlroy, Justin Thomas branded the comments as "egotistical," with Billy Horschel stating on the Golf Channel podcast that the actions of Mickelson were: “A little bit idiotic to tell you the truth."

Matt Cradock
Matt Cradock

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.