Golf: PGA Tour event severs ties with Phil Mickelson, his foundation

Phil Mickelson has already lost multiple sponsors over his recent comments about the proposed new Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Phil Mickelson has already lost multiple sponsors over his recent comments about the proposed new Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League (SGL), and now he has lost his ties to a PGA Tour event.

The American Express tournament in La Quinta, California, will no longer employ the six-time Major champion as its host, and his foundation will no longer be a beneficiary of the event, the PGA Tour confirmed to local daily The Desert Sun on Saturday.

The reigning PGA Championship winner began his involvement with the Coachella Valley event, which was long named after Bob Hope, in 2020.

According to The Desert Sun, the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation's deal with The American Express - a title he has twice won - was due to run through 2024.

On Saturday, the 51-year-old's long-time sponsor Callaway also said the club manufacturer was "pausing" their relationship, joining Workday, KPMG and Amstel Light in severing their ties.

In recent comments to author Alan Shipnuck, who is writing a book about Mickelson, the veteran American discussed his potential interest in the proposed SGL, essentially admitting that he liked having a potential rival circuit to put pressure on the PGA Tour.

But despite praising its Saudi backers, he also made bizarre contradictory comments about them, saying that they were "scary m***********s" and he had only used them for leverage.

"We know that they killed (Washington Post columnist and United States resident Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights," he added.

"They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

After coming under heavy criticism from fellow golfers, and with more star players backing off their flirtation with the SGL, Mickelson issued a mea culpa last week.

"Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans," Mickelson said.

"There is the problem of off-record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.

"It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words.

"I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this."

He added that he would take time away from golf - a period that apparently will include not hosting The American Express next January.

Before his alienating comments, "Lefty" was considered to be one of golf's most popular players, boasting 45 career PGA Tour wins.

He made an estimated US$50 million (S$67.6 million) in sponsorship earnings last year and the vast majority will have been down to the four companies who have now cut ties.

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