Golfer Phil Mickelson is in hot water after making controversial comments to journalist writing an unauthorized biography about him, Alan Shipnuck. Commentary is costing Mickelson’s sponsors dearly, and he’s forced himself on a hiatus from the PGA Tour.
This week, Shipnuck joined the Maggie and Perloff show and share his thoughts on the golfer, why he shared the feedback in the first place and what makes him one of the most fascinating and frustrating athletes in the world.
Phil Mickelson has been America’s biggest voice pushing PGA golfers to leave the Tour and join a Saudi-backed Super League.
The six-time major winner was such a big fan of the new (big money) league that he decided to share his unfiltered thoughts on the subject with golf journalist Alan Shipnuck. The longtime journalist writes an unauthorized biography of Mickelson.
Shipnuck, in turn, shared the quotes on his website, The Firepit Collective. Mickelson told him:
They are some scary ****** mothers to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a unique opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works. They were able to get by with manipulative, coercive and heavy-handed tactics because we players had no recourse.
Phil Mickelson on working with the Saudi government
Mickelson’s thoughts on the Saudi government and the PGA Tour didn’t sit well with nearly everyone. And Lefty now suffers the consequences.
His first step was an apology, and now he’s given himself a break from the Tour. To further explain why the legendary golfer would speak so freely to a reporter, Shipnuck joined Maggie Gray in giving her general thoughts on Phil Mickelson the person.
Mickelson’s unauthorized biographer has shared his thoughts on Mickelson
After Phil Mickelson’s comments began to get national attention, Alan Shipnuck joined Maggie Gray on the Maggie and Perloff radio program.
The author of the unauthorized biography explained why he thought the golfer felt comfortable sharing his uncensored thoughts with someone who was writing a book about him:
Phil likes to stir the pot, and he’s a counter-intuitive thinker. And he likes to be at the center of everything. But, for him, telling a journalist is something totally different. He’s always been a guy who isn’t afraid to take advantage of his bullying pulpit. Every time he opens his mouth, he usually has an agenda. … He thought he was just the smartest guy in the room, as usual. But this one kind of exploded on him.
Alan Shipnuck on Phil Mickelson
Gray asked Shipnuck who was Mickelson’s “biggest enemy” in all of this, and the reporter replied, “Oh, himself, clearly.”
Shipnuck praised Lefty as a golfer and for his personality, but was not so charitable when describing Mickelson as a person.
“He’s a fun character in there, he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, but he’s smart, and he’s irreverent, and he’s an expert talker. And he’s not afraid to say what he thinks,” Shipnuck said. “But there’s another side to him, and he’s constantly getting in his own way and creating these controversies and setting himself on fire.”
While Mickelson has always recovered from his missteps in the past, this one is different. This time he may not have simply set himself on fire. He may have burned what is left of his career.
Lefty continues to lose sponsors
After Phil Mickelson’s comments to Alan Shipnuck came to light, sponsors, even long-time ones, began to push their marks away from the golfer.
The first shoe to fall was professional services firm KPMG. The company and the athlete have made a “mutual decision” to sever their relationship, and KPMG’s public relations wing said they “wish him the best”.
Mickelson’s sponsorship issues didn’t end there. Amstel Light and Workday both severed ties with Lefty within a week of posting the comments, and Callaway Golf “suspended” its sponsorship deal, according to ESPN.
In conjunction with a break from competitive golf, the loss of those deals could have a huge effect on Mickelson’s bottom line. The golfer had a net worth of $400 million in 2021. With these massive offers gone, or at least on “pause”, the comments will undoubtedly cost the golfer millions.
At 51, with all this controversy surrounding him, it’s fair to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Lefty headlining the PGA Tour.
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