Phil Mickelson loves throwing boulders into the placid pond that is golf, and watching the ripples spill over the sides. Whether it's rules changes or course design, Mickelson isn't shy about speaking his mind. And now he's stepped outside the ropes, straight into the political arena.
Speaking after Sunday's Humana Challenge, Mickelson hinted at what could be a "drastic" change for the world of golf, and himself in particular. Thanks to his substantial earnings and his residency in California, Mickelson now falls into two sets of laws that substantially increase his taxes ... and he's not pleased.
"If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent," he said. "So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do."
He acknowledged that he could end up leaving his home state of California. And he further agreed that the financial issues were the reason why he pulled out of an ownership team that purchased the San Diego Padres back in August.
"There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now," he said. "So I'm going to have to make some changes."
As with everything in politics, there are (at least) two ways to look at this issue. On one hand, Mickelson is one of the highest-paid athletes in sports, with earnings from tournaments and sponsorship in excess of $40 million per year. Even at 63 percent taxation, that's probably still enough to scrape by. On the other hand, why should Mickelson have to give up almost two-thirds (or whatever the final figure may be) of his income, whatever that income may be?
Mickelson has promised to address the issue in further detail at this week's Farmers Insurance Open.
UPDATE: Mickelson offered the following statement on Monday night:
"I know I have my usual pre-tournament press conference scheduled this week but I feel I need to address the comments I made following the Humana Challenge now.
"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.
"Right now I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family.
"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 not to let it happen again."
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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