PGA Tour Confidential: Is Tiger Woods heading for breakout in majors this season?

Tiger Woods, Torrey Pines
Robert Beck / SI
Phil Mickelson didn't contend at Torrey Pines, but he did successfully diffuse a controversy surrounding his remarks about his current tax rate.

PHIL’S SORRY DISPLAY
Morfit: Tiger’s playing well at Torrey isn't news, but the Farmers provided plenty of headlines thanks in part to Phil Mickelson's apology for his tax comments. I was there at his press conference, and I was among those who were a bit stunned that the whole thing was "live" and he took all questions. In the end, I thought he played it quite well: He kept the issue in play, while at the same time apologizing to those who don't have jobs or are living paycheck-to-paycheck. What was your take? Why did he bring this up in the first place, and how do you think he did on the damage-control front?

Hanger: I thought he handled this week’s presser perfectly, making fun of himself a little and delivering a pretty good line about missing way right this time. I don’t know that he really needed the formal apology that he issued before the presser. After all, he basically just said that his tax bill has gone way up and is making him reconsider some things. Granted, he doesn’t get a lot of sympathy from most because of his massive income, but complaining about high taxes isn’t exactly the exclusive territory of rich golfers.

Herre: Phil put out the fire expertly. I was totally shocked when he first made the tax comments. First, he leads the league in philanthropy. Second, he is smarter than going public with what amounted to political views so close to inauguration day. But he did a great job diffusing the issue by meeting it head-on.

Dusek: I have no idea why any athlete or celebrity would start talking about politics, taxes or religion. It's asking for trouble, but Mickelson handled the fallout perfectly. He didn't apologize for his opinion, but he used self-deprecating humor to apologize for offending those who disagreed with him. The story is almost dead already because he was so effective on Wednesday.

Reiterman: I love that Phil’s never afraid to stir things up, but it’s usually been about grooves and Tiger’s equipment. It was a bit surprising that he chose to air his frustrations with the tax code given the current economic climate, but he handled it with his usual self-deprecating humor, so it’s all good. And judging by the comments and tweets from our readers, he had nothing to apologize for, anyway.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Some things really push Phil’s buttons: taxes, grooves, cup liners at the Ryder Cup, mandatory pro-am appearances. Sometimes he can't help it, he's just got to speak his mind.

Godich: Just like on the golf course, it was Phil being Phil.

Morfit: I was at the pro-am party Wednesday night. Granted, this was a moneyed crowd, but they were all in Phil's corner, saying he's right on taxes. And of course he's pretty outspoken on issues of math/science and wounded veterans. I'll give Mickelson this, and it's not a small thing: He's more engaged with the outside world than most of the guys on Tour.

Hanger: I think it’s a nice change of pace when guys talk about non-golf issues. Tiger’s been criticized his whole career for punting on issues outside the game. You might not like Phil’s tax opinion, but I kind of admire him for speaking his mind. And like Ryan said, our Golf.com commenters were largely on his side.

Wei: I was there for that initial media scrum, and my jaw dropped when Phil started his mini rant on taxes. It felt like he was trying to start a movement against the State of California. But he sure handled his presser as well as the best of politicians. (After spending almost an hour consulting in the parking lot with his PR man and a Tour media official.) I'd be surprised if Phil doesn't run for office someday.

Van Sickle: Phil should've known better. Most everyone agrees that California's taxes are too high, but when he complained about "my taxes," he strayed too far. In America today, being wealthy and proud is practically a criminal offense. His escape was as good as one of his flop shots.

Walker: He brought it up because he thinks he's paying too much in taxes, which is a position 99 percent of his peers agree with. Then he saw that his initial remarks came across as insensitive to people who are really struggling financially, and he apologized for that. Mickelson doesn't need any lessons in public relations. What I don't get is the people saying Mickelson was wrong about the amount of taxes he's paying. I'm pretty sure he's in position to know.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: How did Phil do in terms of damage control?

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