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Phil Mickelson Taking Time Away From Golf, Loses KPMG Sponsorship Amid Self-Inflicted Controversy

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Phil Mickelson has dug himself quite a hole. His effort to escape has begun.

The six-time major champion posted a 530-word statement to his social media accounts on Tuesday, apologizing for his "choice of words" and saying he's sorry "to the people I have negatively impacted."

Of course, he spent much of that apology defending himself, criticizing a reporter for publishing off-the-record quotes, and insisting that all of his comments and all of his flirtation with the Saudi league happened in the interest of bettering the game of golf for everybody, not just himself.

The most fascinating part of all of this, of course, is that none of it needed to happen.

It was less than a year ago that a massive throng of adoring fans boisterously celebrated with the then-50-year-old as he made his way toward the 18th green to win the PGA Championship. He was the oldest golfer to ever win the tournament, and the golf world was there to celebrate with him.

Now nine months later, it looks like Mickelson is all alone.

The top players in the world ditched the idea of joining the Saudi league, speaking with reverence but also with pointed comments about Mickelson.

KPMG, a major sponsor of Mickelson's, announced that it had cut ties with the lefty not long after he released his statement.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has yet to officially weigh in, though surely Mickelson will be facing a certain level of punishment for referring to the Tour as a "dictatorship."

Alan Shipnuck, who ran the explosive quotes from Mickelson, stated that the golfer's claims that the comments were off the record are "completely false."

And throngs of Twitter users -- many of whom are actually fans of Mickelson -- can't even read his statement after he went on a Twitter blocking spree after his comments on the Tour and the proposed Saudi league went public. (Author's disclosure: I am among the many blocked by the golfer after lighting a sarcastic prayer candle in mid-February. Unfortunately, I am not in an exclusive club.)

Earlier this month, Mickelson said, "If I don't like what someone says about me on social media, I simply block them." These days, that much blocking may lead to carpal tunnel. Instead, it might be a wiser strategy to take note of the critical commentary.

(Interestingly, Mickelson said he will retire if he wins the U.S. Open. Mickelson, then, will likely be eager to get back in the good graces of the American golf world in time for the tournament in Brookline this coming June.)

It certainly seems bad now for Mickelson, one of the richest and most successful golfers of all time. His statement won't make it much better, as he still seems very much convinced that he's a savior of sorts to golf. In actuality, it was not at all difficult to discern that Mickelson's interest throughout his quest to save golf from the "obnoxious greed" of the PGA Tour only related to his own bank account.

Perhaps, though, with the reflection promised by Mickelson in his statement, he'll at least develop the good sense that he'll actually end up making more money by not trying so hard to make the most money.

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