Phil said ... "We know they killed (Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape how the PGA Tour operates."
Mickelson apologized for his comments after playing a round in the Saudi league, saying he was taken out of context and his statements were supposed to be off the record ... though he admitted his words were regrettable and offensive.
In his mea culpa, Phil said ... "It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words," Mickelson said in his statement. "I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this."
He continued, "My intent was never to hurt anyone and I’m so sorry to the people I have negatively impacted. This has always been about supporting the players and the game and I appreciate all the people who have given me the benefit of the doubt."
Phil also hinted he could take a step away from the game for a while following the firestorm ... including the fact he "desperately" needs "some time away."
Now, Callaway is taking some time away from Mickelson after a 17-year partnership.