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Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich

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Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich

It's not always easy being rich, as Phil Mickelson reminded us the other day. There are taxes to pay - apparently lots of them - and the price of a tank of jet fuel seems to go up every day.

A million dollars a week just doesn't go as far as it used to, now that the wealthy are paying more in taxes. For Mickelson, things have gotten so bad that he's thinking of moving from California so the state doesn't get a cut of the $47 million that Golf Digest estimates he made last year.

Thankfully, it's not quite to the point where Tiger Woods and his buddies need to hold a car wash to raise money for Lefty. He has, after all, made an estimated $400 million in the last decade and even the greediest of tax collectors doesn't take it all.

And he does seem to realize - though a bit belatedly - that one thing rich people shouldn't do is complain to people who aren't rich about the taxes they have to pay. Mickelson was barely done moaning about the taxman the other day when he began a round of apologies that continued Wednesday at his hometown tournament in San Diego.

``I've made some dumb, dumb, mistakes, and, obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them,'' Mickelson said.

Not to worry. There are ways to stay put at home and still have enough left over for a few of the Five Guys hamburger franchises he loves so much.

Among them are:

WIN LESS: What good is winning when you have to pay so much of your earnings to the government? Sure, it goes against Mickelson's competitive instincts, but there's a good living to be made in the middle of the pack on the PGA Tour, where almost everyone is a millionaire. This week's winning payout at Torrey Pines is $1,080,000, but why deal with the anguish of giving so much of it away? Luckily Mickelson has already taken an important step in that direction by winning only two times since capturing the Masters three years ago.

THINK SILVER: Back in the days when the Tournament of Champions was held in Las Vegas and people still had silver dollars, the winner was paid every year with a wheelbarrow full of the coins. It might take a dump truck to hold enough silver dollars for today's huge purses, but imagine the fun Mickelson could have when the IRS comes by to take its share.

SMALLER PLANE: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were always plane guys, and so is Mickelson. He saved enough to buy a jet of his own that seats 14, allowing him to do things like play in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and still be home in San Diego every night to tuck the kids in bed. But the Gulfstream 5 is a bit pricey at a reported $60 million, and it sucks up the gas. Maybe Mickelson could downsize to a used Cessna instead, or share a jet with Tiger. If all else fails, Southwest Airlines has a ton of flights out of San Diego every day, and his golf bag can fly free.

GIVE IT UP: Golf memberships are expensive, and Mickelson surely has more than one. But he's always seemed like a man of the people, so why not play golf at the local muni? The downside is six-hour rounds and greens with ruts in them as deep as the divots Mickelson takes with his 64-degree wedge. Still, it's a deal at 25 bucks or so a round, plus a few more for a pull cart.

MINOR LEAGUE: Who needs the Padres when you can have the Quakes? Sure, Mickelson's plans to own part of the San Diego Padres fell apart when his personal financial crisis hit, but that doesn't mean he's out of baseball altogether. Less than 100 miles up I-15 from his San Diego home are the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a minor league team that would be a perfect fit for Lefty, who once had a pitching tryout of sorts with the Toledo Mud Hens. Mickelson could trim player payroll by taking the mound himself every fifth day.

NO GIVEAWAYS: Mickelson has a habit of finding some cute kid every few holes and handing them a barely used ball. That's not only a waste of a perfectly good ball, but can get expensive. From now on just flash that goofy smile, give the kids a thumbs up, and move on to the next hole.

FIRE SALE: Mickelson has had his house outside of San Diego in Rancho Santa Fe on the market now for a year for $7.1 million. That's probably a fair price for a 9,500 square-foot complex perched on a hillside with a big putting green and swimming pool, but maybe it's time to start doing a little bargaining to free up some extra cash. The good news is interest rates are so low some lucky buyer can get a mortgage on the place for only $31,795 a month.

GET A NEW CPA: Mickelson's claim that he will be paying up to 62 percent of his income in taxes this year bears some scrutiny, even with higher federal and state rates for the wealthy. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney - whose net worth is estimated at $250 million - paid an average of 20.2 percent of his income the past 20 years in taxes, and you have to wonder about the math. Maybe Mickelson needs to take his money out of Five Guys and buy H&R Block instead.

Then again, maybe Mickelson should just be like Tiger. He's spent most of his career chasing Woods, so why not follow him to Florida, where Woods moved the day he turned pro so he didn't have to pay higher taxes in his native California.

As an added benefit it could finally get Mickelson an invitation to the Tavistock Cup, which features rich players from one elite country club facing off against rich players from another elite country club.

The beauty of that? No state tax on the winnings.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org orhttp://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin had two goals, the puck on his stick and an empty-net yawning. The Caps held a 4-2 lead on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks late in the third period and the win looked all but secured. The only thing still up for grabs was the exclamation point empty-net goal.

Ovechkin took the puck in the defensive zone and weaved his way through the neutral zone. Once he hit center ice, there was only one player between him and the net. The hat trick looked all but certain…until he passed the puck away.

He easily could have taken the puck himself and fired it into the empty yet, but instead he chose to pass it off to T.J. Oshie on the wing.

Oshie delayed, but with the trailing Vancouver players skating into the passing lane, there was no way for Oshie to try to pass it back to Ovechkin and he very reluctantly shot the puck into the net.

When the players returned to the bench, the disappointment on Oshie’s face was clear to see. He wanted Ovechkin to get the hat trick, but Ovechkin wasn’t having it.

After the game, head coach Todd Reirden praised Ovechkin for his leadership.

“He could have easily got in the red and tried to score himself and it wasn’t even a thought,” Reirden said. “He passed right to Osh and Osh couldn’t go back to him and that’s the way it worked out. It doesn’t bother him one bit and I think that’s where you see a different player than maybe you saw three or four years ago that is not focused on individual stuff. He’s doing the right thing and he feels if you do the right thing for long enough, you’re going to get rewarded.

“We were benefactors of that last season with being able to win out at the end. He’s really got a lot of buy-in right now for doing the right thing. I think his leadership is really in the last probably year, year and a half has really gone to a new level.”
 
Reirden saw leadership on the play. Oshie saw disappointment.
 
Ovechkin offered his own explanation for giving up the shot as he said, “Save it for next time.”

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Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Most nights, with little variance, the Wizards know what they are going to get from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. They are consistently what they are, both good and bad, and mostly good.

The same cannot always be said about Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Both are capable of brilliance, it's just those moments come and go and sometimes with mysterious timing. Both players help the team more often than not, but can be unpredictable and enigmatic.

Monday night saw both Morris and Oubre at their best as the Wizards topped the Blazers 125-124 in overtime at the Moda Center. It was a worthy reminder of how much the two of them can change the outlook for the Wizards as a team on any given night.

Let's begin with Morris because this may have been the best game he's played with the Wizards since joining them in a Feb. 2016 trade. On both ends of the floor, he  was a force, but particularly on offense.

Morris erupted for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. His six threes were a career-high. He also had 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.

It was the most efficient night in Morris' career and, by one measure, one of the most efficient in franchise history. His 28 points were the most by a Wizards or Bullets player in 25 minutes or less since A.J. English dropped 30 points in 23 minutes in 1990.

Morris' threes were well-timed. He hit two in the extra period, including one with 38.5 seconds remaining to put the Wizards up four. He also made one with 1:04 left in regulation and another right before that with 1:39 to go, both to give the Wizards a lead at the time. 

The clutch threes invoked memories of a game-winner Morris hit in the very same building two seasons ago. That also happened to be his best year with the Wizards.

Morris has improved his three-point shooting in recent years with a career-best 36.7 percent last season. When he's knocking them down, the Wizards can be uniquely good at spacing the floor, as Wall and especially Beal and Porter can be dangerous from three.

What Morris did against Portland was a major departure from a pair of uninspired games to begin the season. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds total in his first two games, both losses, as he failed to compensate for Dwight Howard's absence. On Monday, he stepped up and helped lead the Wizards to victory.

Like Morris, Oubre had been scuffling through two games. A different version of him showed up in Portland.

Oubre amassed only 17 points in his first two games and shot just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from three. Against the Blazers, Oubre scored 22 points and shot 9-for-13 overall and 3-for-3 from long range.

Oubre added six rebounds, a block and a steal and a host of winning plays that didn't show up in traditional stats. He drew a loose ball foul on Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter and took a charge on C.J. McCollum with under two minutes in overtime.

Oubre played pretty much exactly how head coach Scott Brooks often says he should. He ran the floor in transition and attacked the rim when the ball swung his way. He was more selective with his three-point attempts than usual. He wreaked havoc on defense with deflections, didn't gamble for steals and he hustled for rebounds. 

Monday night showed the perfect version of both Morris and Oubre. The Wizards need that to be the model for how they aspire to play every single night. If they do, this team's ceiling is significantly higher.

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