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Phil Mickelson apologizes for comments about California taxes

01.23.13 at 11:05 am ET

Phil Mickelson said he regrets speaking publicly about his issues with California’s high taxes, but his reluctance to pay heavy taxes on the approximately $45 million he made last year is hardly a minority opinion in the golf world.

Mickelson said after his final round at the Humana Challenge on Sunday that he was in the income zone being “targeted both federally and by the state,” and that “changes” might be ahead for him, which most took to mean that he’d be moving away from his hometown of San Diego. On Monday, he apologized in a statement.

“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in the statement. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”

The new federal tax rate, plus California voting for Proposition 30 to increase taxes on the earnings over $250,000, contributed to total taxes that Mickelson said apply to more than 60 percent of his income.

Whether or not he moves, his displeasure for California taxes has already caused Mickelson to withdraw from the Padres’ new ownership group.

Many professional golfers live in Florida and Texas, which have no state income tax. Tiger Woods, who grew up in Southern California and went to Stanford, now lives in Florida.

“I moved out of [California] back in `96 for that reason,” Woods said Tuesday. “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.”

Mickelson’s comments drew various reactions, from support from those who agree with his position on taxes to derision from those who think a multimillionaire doesn’t have much reason to complain about his financial situation. According to the AP, Mickelson has earned just under $70 million on the PGA Tour in his career, in addition to anything he’s earned from corporate endorsements and his golf course design company.

“He definitely showed a lack of sympathy for the plight of a lot of people, unemployed and all that sort of stuff,” said Geoff Ogilvy. “But everything is relative. He’s verbalized when he’s thinking, and you shouldn’t get in trouble for verbalizing what you’re thinking.”

In his statement, Mickelson said he doesn’t know what shape the “changes” in his life may take, but he’s weighing his options.

“Right now, I’m like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws,” he said. “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.”

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