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May 25, 2022
Phil Mickelson Apologizes For Saudi Golf League Comments As KPMG Ends Long-Time Sponsorship
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Phil Mickelson Apologizes For Saudi Golf League Comments As KPMG Ends Long-Time Sponsorship

Topline
Pro golfer Phil Mickelson apologized Tuesday following backlash from his recently released comments on the “Super Golf League,” a Saudi-funded competitor to the PGA, issuing the statement the same day longtime sponsor KPMG announced it was parting ways with Mickelson “effective immediately.”

BRANSON, MO – AUGUST 25: Phil Mickelson of the United States hits his tee shot on the 14th hole … [+] during the second round of the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National on August 25, 2020 in Branson, Missouri. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

On Thursday, Alan Shipnuck, who is writing Mickelson’s upcoming biography, released an excerpt from the book in which Mickelson in November called Saudi Arabians “scary motherf-ckers,” acknowledged the Saudi government killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi and “execute[s] people over there for being gay,” before stating he’d consider joining the PGA competitor because it is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Mickelson apologized for the statements in a release sent out Tuesday, writing, “I am deeply sorry for my choice of words,” though he said the comments were off record and released without his consent. 

Following the statement, Mickelson’s sponsor KPMG, which has worked with the six-time major winner since 2008, told Forbes in a statement Tuesday the company and Mickelson “have mutually agreed to end our sponsorship effective immediately.”

Mickelson did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Key Background
Mickelson has been one of the few prominent golfers open to the idea of the Super Golf League, stating in the excerpt it gives players leverage over the dominant PGA. The league, founded by former golfer Greg Norman and LIV Investments with ties to Saudi backers, has been attempting to poach the PGA’s top players away for hefty sums, to largely no avail. No. 6-ranked Dustin Johnson joined the rest of the PGA’s top eight players in allegiance to the association Sunday, writing in a statement, ““I am fully-committed to the PGA Tour.”

Chief Critic
Rory McIlroy, the world’s no. 5-ranked golfer, shamed Mickelson for his statements when asked about them at Sunday’s Genesis Invitational: “I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down, obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant,” he said according to Golf Digest, adding “I’m sure he’s sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”

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