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Mickelson regrets candid comments about hefty taxes

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Phil Mickelson hits his second shot on the 13th hole dring the final round of the Humana Challenge on Jan. 20, 2013. (Getty Images)

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 7:52 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — Phil Mickelson is talking more about how much he pays in taxes than how many fairways he hits off the tee.

Mickelson, regarded as the “People's Choice” for his connection with fans, put his popularity on the line with polarizing comments about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes. The four-time major champion said it might lead to “drastic changes,” such as moving from his native California, and that it already caused him to pull out of the San Diego Padres' new ownership group.

His only regret was not keeping his opinion to himself.

“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement released Monday night. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”

Mickelson first made a cryptic reference to “what's gone on the last few months politically” during a conference call two weeks ago for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he won last year for his 40th PGA Tour title. After his final round Sunday at the Humana Challenge, he was asked what he meant.

“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn't work for me right now,” he said. “So I'm going to have to make some changes.”

Mickelson said the new federal tax rate and California's voting for Proposition 30 to increase taxes on the earnings over $250,000 contributed to total taxes that tap into more than 60 percent of his income.

Golf Digest magazine, in its annual survey of top earners in the sports, said Mickelson made just over $45 million last year on and off the golf course.

The response to Mickelson's opinions on taxes ranged from mocking a guy who has become a multimillionaire by playing golf to support for having such a high tax rate and not being afraid to speak his mind.

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