Rory McIlroy might be a champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but as he met the media Wednesday in advance of the event, the topic instead swirled back to a controversy the PGA Tour might not shake for some time.
McIlroy was again asked about the recent statements made by Phil Mickelson and the swift condemnation that ensued from players and sponsors of the eight-time major winner.
"Look, we all make mistakes; we all say things we want to take back," said McIlroy, the 2018 winner at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida. "No one is different int hat regard. But we should be allowed to make mistakes, and we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and for people to forgive us and move on.
"Hopefully, he comes back at some stage, and he will, and people will welcome him back and be glad that he is back."
Mickelson's exile might not end quickly. He was quickly vilified for comments regarding support of a Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League, saying he was willing to overlook humanitarian atrocities in order to get a negotiating upper hand on the PGA Tour.
"It is unfortunate," McIlroy said about the backlash Mickelson has absorbed."I think Phil has been a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf, still is a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf. It's unfortunate that a few comments that he thought he was making in confidence or off the record got out there and were -- not used against him, but this whole situation is unfortunate."
Mickelson said his November interview with writer Alan Shipnuck, that led to his controversial comments, was off the record. According to Golf Week, Shipnuck said that "not once" did Mickelson go off the record with his comments.
Shipnuck had been working on a book titled "Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar."
Yet, while McIlroy seemed ready to get past the Mickelson controversy, PGATour pro Pat Perez still had some harsh language left over the entire incident.
"His apology was such horse (expletive)," Perez said on GOLF's Subpar podcast."In the fact that he thought he was trying to make it better for the players.He was in it for one reason. If anybody thinks he wasn't in it for his own pocket, and his pocket only, is (expletive) high. They are (expletive) crazy.
"He was in it for himself. Why he went down two different avenues and basically buried himself on both, I can't figure it out."
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