GULLANE, Scotland (REUTERS) - Phil Mickelson says Donald Trump's disparaging remarks about illegal immigrants have put many in golf in a "tough spot" because of their appreciation for what the US presidential candidate has done for the game.
The real-estate tycoon has become a major player in the golf industry by building up a large portfolio of courses, including the famous Doral layout in Miami, at a time when many clubs are closing due to financial pressures.
His declaration as part of his presidential campaign that Mexico is sending criminals into the United States, however, has upset many in a sport that is trying to encourage diversity.
The 2015 Grand Slam of Golf has been moved from the Trump National Golf Club and other bodies are under pressure to switch their tournaments away from courses owned by the billionaire.
"I think we were all disappointed to hear his comments," five-time Major champion Mickelson told reporters ahead of the Scottish Open on Wednesday. "Yet it doesn't take away from all that he's done to try to help better golf and take these properties such as the revamped Doral and turn them around and make them prosperous.
"It puts everybody in an awkward situation because we don't agree with those comments but yet we are appreciative of what he's done to help promote the game of golf and that puts everybody in a tough spot."
Mickelson is playing in the Scottish Open, which gets under way at Gullane Golf Club on Thursday, in preparation for his bid to win a second British Open title next week at St Andrews.
Scottish Open: Day 1 (StarHub Ch204, July 9, 5.30pm)