Altvater: Mickelson offers apology for tax commentsWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Phil Mickelson stirred up the golf world Jan. 20 with his comments concerning California and federal income tax laws in the higher tax brackets. His comments completely dominated the news cycle from the Humana Challenge.
The Humana offered lots of low scores on Jan. 20. Brian Gay shot 63 in the final round and still had to win in a playoff. The message from tournament sponsor, the Clinton Foundation, promoting health and wellness got pushed to the small print because of Mickelson’s “drastic change” statement.
While talking with the media after his round on Jan. 20, Mickelson, who earned an estimated $47 million in 2012, said: “There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that (tax) zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now, so I’m going to make some changes.”
Mickelson went on to add, “My tax rate is 62-63 percent, so I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”
Evidently Mickelson’s public relations team made it evident to him that his tax comments would be very detrimental to his image and the image of the PGA Tour because, on Jan. 21, Mickelson recanted his statements.
As reported by Ryan Lavner at Golf Channel, (http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golftalkcentral/mickelson-apologizes-for-tax-comments/?hj=xfs) Mickelson’s spokesman T.R. Reinman released this apology:
“I absolutely love what I do. I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships.”
Mickelson went on, “I’m like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I certainly don’t have a defense plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family”.
He concluded, “Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.”
Tiger Woods is respected, but Mickelson has always been beloved by golf fans. His comments can be construed as whining and unwarranted by Americans who just can’t relate to earning $40 million annually and the inherent tax liabilities.
The fact was very clear on Jan. 20 that Mickelson is frustrated with the current tax rates and policies in California. So much so that he made comments that overshadowed a golf tournament that is trying to make a comeback and create its own buzz.
Mickelson is playing this week in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and will address the media Jan. 23.
He will undoubtedly reinforce his apology and try to get the focus back to golf.
Should his comments be a reason for fan abuse and a poor performance by Mickelson at Torrey Pines? That is very doubtful as it is his hometown. He is very comfortable at the golf course and fans will certainly be supportive of him there.
The beneficiary of all this uproar is obviously the Farmers Insurance Open. Media attention will be focused on Mickelson and, with the tour invading Torrey Pines this weekend, it couldn’t have happened at a better time for this event.
By the weekend, a new Farmers Insurance Open champion will be crowned and the Mickelson tax comments will get pushed to the back pages.
All we have to do now is wait for Mickelson’s announcement to retire from golf and seek public office.