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Phil Mickelson regrets airing opinion on taxes

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Phil Mickelson regrets airing opinion on taxes

SAN DIEGO (AP) 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 career 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 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.

A majority of PGA Tour players live in Florida and others in Texas, two states that have no state income tax. Tiger Woods grew up in Southern California and played two years at Stanford. He was a California kid when he won an unprecedented three straight U.S. Amateur titles, but when he made his professional debut in Milwaukee a week later, he was listed as being from Orlando, Fla.

``I moved out of here back in `96 for that reason,'' Woods said Tuesday.

``I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was - I think - trying to say,'' Woods said of the Mickelson comments. ``I think he'll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.''

Mickelson deflected questions at the Humana Challenge by saying he would prefer to elaborate at his news conference at Torrey Pines.

That couldn't wait.

``I know I have my usual pre-tournament press conference scheduled this week but I felt I needed to address the comments I made following the Humana Challenge now,'' Mickelson said in his statement. ``I absolutely love what I do. I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I'm as motivated as I've ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships.

``Right now, I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family.''

Mickelson's news conference Wednesday will come after his pro-am round in the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he first won 20 years ago.

``He definitely showed a lack of sympathy for the plight of a lot of people, unemployed and all that sort of stuff,'' Geoff Ogilvy said. ``But everything is relative. He's verbalized when he's thinking, and you shouldn't get in trouble for verbalizing what you're thinking.''

Texas Gov. Rick Perry even weighed in with this tweet: ``Hey Phil....Texas is home to liberty and low taxes...we would love to have you as well!!''

Mickelson is among the most famous athletes to come out of San Diego. He went to school at Arizona State and lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the first decade of his career until moving back home to Rancho Santa Fe.

He was part of the group that bought the Padres, saying that it would be a ``significant investment'' for him but that he saw it as a great opportunity to get involved in his hometown. Asked if the tax changes were why he withdrew, Mickelson said, ``Absolutely.''

Mickelson has earned just under $70 million in PGA Tour earnings for his career, which doesn't include corporate endorsements (Callaway, Barclays, Rolex) or his golf course design company, which is thriving in China.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, the first statewide tax increase since 2004. It raises the rate on earnings over $250,000 for seven years.

``If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent,'' Mickelson had said. ``So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do.''

The reaction to Mickelson's comments from the California legislature split along party lines, with Republicans saying they expect more high-earners to follow and Democrats saying multimillionaires can afford to pay more.

``You know, it's sad,'' said Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare. ``And I think it'll be the first of many.''

Democrats said there is no evidence in the U.S. or California of mass departures in the wake of higher taxes on the wealthy. State Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, called Mickelson ``the exception rather than the rule.''

This is not the first time Mickelson's opinions have brought him attention. Ten years ago, he came to Torrey Pines and apologized for Woods for saying in magazine article that the world's No. 1 player was using inferior equipment.

These comments on paying taxes were sure to resonate with far more people.

Ogilvy recently moved from San Diego County to Scottsdale, though his reason was more about golf than taxes. He bought a home in Del Mar and lived with his wife and three kids for about four years, knowing there were other states he could live with lower tax rates.

``It's a little bit of one negative to a lot of positives,'' Ogilvy said. ``If the tax rate in California was the same as it was in Texas, half the tour would live here. The lifestyle is impressive. The climate is impressive. But even the ones who grow up here move away.''

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Juliet Williams and Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this story.

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

Of the Wizards' players set to hit free agency on June 30, one who has a good chance to return is point guard Tomas Satoransky. He and center Thomas Bryant are atop the team's priority list with Bobby Portis likely too expensive and Jabari Parker set to enter the market unrestricted.

Satoransky will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards can match any offers made by other teams. And in talking to members of the Wizards' coaching staff and front office, they speak of Satoransky like he is part of their future.

Still, nothing can be assumed and especially in a year in which many teams have money to spend. As Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer noted this week, there is more cap room available this summer than the previous two combined. That could lead to 2016-level contracts where role players get paid like starters and average starters get paid like stars.

What will make Satoransky's market interesting, though, is the fact there are some much bigger names available at his position. At point guard, teams with the most money can go after All-Stars like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. There is then a robust second tier that includes Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier and Ricky Rubio. Then you have Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, Patrick Beverley, Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo.

It is a great year to be a free agent, but maybe not the best year to be a free agent point guard. The position class is absolutely loaded.

Satoransky, though, will still draw plenty of interest and among the teams expected to check in on him are the Mavericks, Pacers, Magic and Celtics, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Celtics have already been tied to Satoransky by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. But they also have their sights set on some of the bigger fish at point guard with rumors linking them to Walker, in particular.

The Utah Jazz were also set to pursue Satoransky, but their trade for Mike Conley Jr. has taken them off the list. The Phoenix Suns could also emerge as a suitor, though they are being linked to higher profile free agents at this point.

Both the Wizards and Satoransky expressed interest in a contract extension midway through the 2018-19 season, as NBC Sports Washington reported, but those talks didn't get much further. The Wizards ended up putting a lot of things on hold once they drifted out of the playoff race and ultimately fired team president Ernie Grunfeld.

With senior vice president Tommy Sheppard serving in the interim, though, Satoransky has a big proponent calling the shots in the Wizards front office. Sheppard scouted Satoransky before the Wizards drafted him and was key in convincing him to leave Europe for the NBA.

Satoransky likes playing in Washington and recognizes an opportunity at point guard with John Wall set to miss most of next season due to Achilles surgery. But he also recognizes this as a chance to earn the biggest payday of his career.

How much money Satoransky will ultimately receive is hard to predict. Those in his camp are apprehensive to throw numbers out there because even they aren't sure.

One potential comparison could be Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who makes just over $9 million per year. Though VanVleet is arguably better, Satoransky is hitting the market with more money to go around. 

Many have tried to project Satoransky's market in the past few months. Soon we will find out just how valuable he is.

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