Mickelson Backs Off ‘Stupid’ Remark Hinting He May Leave State

“I shouldn't have talked about it ... because I don't have a plan formulated yet,” golfer said,

LA JOLLA—On Wednesday, pro golfer Phil Mickelson said he should not have talked politics, financies or taxation publicly.

Mickelson, who makes $40 million to $50 million a year, said he was unsure on Wednesday about whether to leave California for a less taxing state and that it was “insensitive” to air his opinions publicly.   

“I shouldn't have talked about it yet, because I don't have a plan formulated yet on what I'm going to do,” Mickelson said, speaking at Torrey Pines Golf Club after his pro-am round in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Mickelson was asked if this tax discussion was a distraction from his tournament play. He said no.

“I've said some stupid things in the past that have caused a media uproar before,” he said. “It's part of my life, and I'll deal with it. It's just part of the deal. One of the things I pride myself on is whatever it is I'm dealing with in my personal life, once I get inside the ropes, I need to be able to focus on the shot at hand and be able to focus on shooting a low score.”

Mickelson said he and wife Amy, who live in the Rancho Santa Fe neighborhood of San Diego County, would discuss options before any decision was made.  

“I love it here. I grew up in San Diego,” Mickelson said Wednesday at a press conference. “And even though I went to college in Arizona, I dreamed of moving back here, because it's beautiful. My family's here. Amy's family is here. Our kids' grandparents are here. I love the community I live in.”

The 42-year-old native San Diegan, one of the highest paid golfers ever, recently said new taxes that will take more than 60 percent of his annual income were part of the reason he did not become part owner of the San Diego Padres.  

“There were a number of reasons that that just wasn't the right fit,” he said.  “As I said earlier, I wasn't in a position at that time to make a commitment to the team and the community, and the current owners are. They're moving to San Diego. They're getting intricately involved in the community, and I think they're going to be great owners.”

Recently passed Proposition 30 will push Mickelson's state income tax rate from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent, and the “fiscal cliff” deal pushed the top federal rate for millionaires to 39.6 percent.

Though he earlier said his cumulative taxes would amount to 62 percent to 63 percent of his annual income, he declined today to talk about his taxes.

“I've never had a problem paying my fair share,” he said, “because I know that there are very few countries in the world that let you do what you do and live in this environment and have your personal possessions be secured through the court system, through the police, through all the many things this great country offers. So I've never had a problem with that before.”   

Also read: Mickelson Details Plan for Changes at Torrey North and Addresses Rumors of Padres Purchase

The golfer known as “Lefty”—for his swing—held court with reporters while wearing a KPMG hat and Callaway shirt, two of his main sponsors.    He conceded that he's said “stupid things in the past” and caused previous media uproars. One of the PGA tour's most popular golfers said he probably alienated some fans, including those who were unemployed or “living paycheck to paycheck.”   

Tuesday, rival golfer Tiger Woods said he moved from California to Florid because of the lower tax burden.   

“Well, I moved out of here back in ‘96 for that reason,” Woods said in response to a question from a reporter in advance of the Farmers Insurance Open on Tueday. “I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say. I think he’ll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.”

Woods has bagged more than $100 million in prize money during his career, according to Forbes magazine.

Mickelson net worth has been estimated at $180 million.

Golfer Rickie Fowler was even asked about taxes today. He left that question up to Mickelson, but did add that he is a Florida resident and not a California resident.

PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem also addressed the tax debate on Wednesday.

"I don't think there's any issue here about people making decisions based on tax rates," he said. "It happens all the time. New York and California are the leading impacters of that.  But it's not about people that play on the PGA TOUR."

—City News Service contributed to this report.


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