Golf: Mickelson says sorry for rant about soaring tax rates for millionaires

LA QUINTA, California (REUTERS) - Four-time Major champion Phil Mickelson has apologised for publicly venting his feelings about soaring tax rates for millionaires in his native California.

The 42-year-old golfer told reporters after last week's Humana Challenge that he was considering making "drastic changes" because of spiking federal and state tax rates but on Tuesday, he said he should have kept his thoughts to himself.

"Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public," he said in a statement released by his management company. "I apologise to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again."

Mickelson, a 40-time winner on the United States PGA Tour, has piled up career earnings of more than US$67 million (S$82.2 million) and considerably more via corporate endorsements and his golf course design company.

According to Forbes magazine, the American left-hander earned US$43 million in endorsements in 2012, second only to Tiger Woods among golfers and seventh among all athletes.

On Sunday, a frustrated Mickelson had hinted that he might even leave his home state of California, saying: "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 per cent, so I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do."

California voters in November approved Proposition 30, which raised state income tax to 13.3 per cent on earnings of US$1 million or more, a 29.13 per cent increase over the previous "millionaires" tax of 10.3 per cent.

Mickelson will also be affected by the rise in the top bracket of the federal tax code, where rates have gone up from 35 per cent to 39.6.

Many PGA Tour professionals, including Woods, are based in either Florida or Texas, two states which do not charge state income tax.