Mickelson Hints At Break From Golf Amid Saudi Controversy

The six-time Major winner has hinted at a spell away from the fairways after widespread criticism over his recent comments

Phil Mickelson headshot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson says he "desperately" needs some time away amid controversy over his recent comments on the PGA Tour and the rumoured Saudi-backed super league.

Lefty issued a statement to say he was "deeply sorry" for his comments, which he said he "sincerely" regretted. His comments appeared in a Fire Pit Collective article by Alan Shipnuck, the author of an upcoming Mickelson biography. Lefty spoke about how he has been involved with LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund start-up headed by Greg Norman, and the start of a rumoured Saudi-backed breakaway golf league but was only doing so for leverage against the PGA Tour. He also referred to the Saudis as "scary mother*******," after recently accusing the PGA Tour of "obnoxious greed."

It appears that he may step out of the limelight for an unknown period of time, raising question marks over when the reigning PGA Champion will next tee it up on Tour.

 “For the past 31 years I have lived a very public life and I have strived to live up to my own expectations, be the role model the fans deserve, and be someone that inspires others,” Mickelson said in his statement.

“I've worked to compete at the highest level, be available to the media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my incredible fans. I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too.

“The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level. I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

Mickelson has "mutually" split with his long-time sponsor KPMG and said in his statement that he had given all of his sponsors "the option to pause or end the relationship" as he understands "it might be necessary given the current circumstances."

The 51-year-old golfing great has played in every single Masters Tournament since 1995 so we do expect him to return to action then, although he may opt to take a longer period of time away from the game.

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