Phil Mickelson wishes he had never uttered a public word about taxes. Then again, if he could, Lefty would also take a mulligan on a shot that cost him the 2006 U.S. Open.
"I've made some dumb, dumb mistakes and talking about [taxes] was one of them," Mickelson told reporters Wednesday ahead of this week’s Farmers insurance Open.
Mickelson, who made more than $45 million on and off the course last year, according to Golf Digest, took considerable heat from several quarters for complaining on Sunday about the reach of Uncle Sam into his very deep pockets. The 42-year-old four-time major champion had lamented, following the Humana Challenge, that new federal and state taxes would force him to make "drastic changes," including a potential move out of California, and had deterred him from becoming part owner of the San Diego Padres.
Two days later, he issued a statement through his spokesperson T.R. Reinman in which he apologized for his comments. By Wednesday, Mickelson conceded that his comments were "insensitive to those without jobs and those who live from paycheck to paycheck."
Mickelson sought to defuse the stir he caused by joking about one of his lowest instances as a golf pro -- a drive that missed way left, leading to a double bogey and costing him the title.
"This reminds me a lot of Winged Foot in 2006, where I hit a drive way left off the tents. So this happened to be way right, but way off the tents," Mickelson quipped. "I think I'm going to learn my lesson and take a wedge and get it back in play. I made a big mistake talking about this stuff publicly, and I shouldn't have done that."
Mickelson, of course, would hardly be the first person to change official residences to avoid taxes.
Tiger Woods grew up in California, won U.S. Amateur tournaments in the state, and spent two years at Stanford. Ever since he turned pro, however, he has made Florida, where there is no state income tax, his home.
''I moved out of here back in '96 for that reason,'' Woods said Tuesday.
And PGA Tour commission Tim Finchem, who served as an economist under President Jimmy Carter, termed a potential relocation by Mickelson "not a unique thing.
"There are businesses relocating out of California because they can operate better in states that have lower tax rates," Finchem said.
Mickelson, however, backed off any such speculation. And while some observers believe the 40-time tour winner may have a future in politics, for now, Mickelson rued taking a stand on any controversial issue outside the ropes.
"I shouldn't take advantage of the forum that I have as a professional golfer to try to ignite change over these issues," he said, explaining that he had no firm plans about moving out of state or otherwise dealing with an issue about which and his wife were clearly concerned.
"Amy and I have talked about it, and we've been working through this for a while, and I'll be able to talk more about it publicly then," said Mickelson. "But I shouldn't have brought it up publicly and used this platform as a way to say what I had to say."
About that brain cramp at Winged Foot -- Mickelson said it took him some time to realize he should have used a wedge to get his ball back into play, make a bogey, and perhaps end up in a Monday playoff.
When, exactly, did he come to that conclusion?
"About an hour ago," he said with a smile.