Phil Mickelson’s many misdemeanours: The top seven episodes when he courted controversy

From Ryder Cup wrangles to financial investigations via equipment changes and rules infractions – the brilliant lefty has never been shy of inviting criticism.

With the announcement that he is taking time out from the game, Phil Mickelson admitted: "I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public."

In the midst of his latest controversy some have doubted the absolute veracity of his words, but nothing in that sentence can be argued with.

The lefty has never been anything other than a remarkable character: brilliant, mercurial and always unpredictable, both on and off the course.

His sensational short game, adventurous long game and capacity to card a double bogey when least needed matched by a personality that is often typified by a twinkle in the eye, sometimes prompts suspicions of phoniness and is occasionally guilty of utterly bizarre examples of bad judgement.

Let's take a look at this top seven.

7. Dissing Hal Sutton's captaincy

The 2004 Ryder Cup did not go well for US captain Hal Sutton. His team got thumped in four out of five sessions, the contest was a damp squib and the contrast between Bernhard Langer's forensic leaderships skills and his own cartoon-ish ones was vast (specifically in the catastrophic Tiger Woods-Mickelson pairing).

"It all starts with the captain," Mickelson later said of Sutton. "That put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally, absolutely." Sutton, asked for his response, said: "Somebody's got to be the fall guy. If it needs to be me, I can do that."

6. Loadsamoney

When The Match was revealed in 2018 there was a frankly staggering lack of interest from the contestantans (Mickelson and Tiger Woods) or the PGA Tour in hiding the underlying motives.

Sure, there were a few mealy-mouthed words about the game, but even the promotional imagery couldn't be bothered to hide the truth, showin Mickelson gleefully hugging a huge pile of money. He won the match and with it the $9 million prize fund.

5. Switching equipment before the 2004 Ryder Cup

The 2004 Ryder Cup was a fractious one for Mickelson and Sutton and on the Friday night Thomas Boswell wrote on NBC: "Phil Mickelson took cash over country. Lefty rolled the dice. It may prove the worst gamble of his risk-taking career.

"Of course, with about $80 million of Callaway Golf's money under his pillow, maybe Phil will sleep like a baby."

What had happened? He'd switched equipment just two weeks before the match and after a disastrous first day Sutton had been asked about that decision.

"We'll all be left scratching our heads on that," he said. "We'll all want answers to that. I wouldn't have done it. But I'm not Phil Mickelson and I'm not in his shoes. But it's not going to cause us any grief in the morning because he's going to be cheering instead of playing."

Yup, Sutton had benched him and the rumours about exactly why Mickelson had needed $80 million rumbled on.

4. Throwing Tom Watson under the bus

At least when Mickelson took aim at Sutton's captaincy he waited for his victim to be out of the room. At the 2016 Ryder Cup, following another US defeat, he voiced his criticism of Tom Watson's leadership in the post-match press conference.

"Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best," he said and then did little to suggest, when prompted, if the criticism was firmly targeted at Watson.

The winning captain, Paul McGinley, later reflected: "Phil had a right go at (Tom) in the post-match press conference and all hell broke loose. It was wrong for him to bring it all up at the press conference. There's a time and a place. (But ) he shoots from the hip. He's very opinionated."

3. Hitting a moving ball

We've come to expect hard and fast greens at a US Open, but no-one quite expected the response to those conditions of Mickelson at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.

Already 10-over par and putting from 18-feet for a bogey at the 13th he chased after the ball when it missed the hole and putted it again but before it had stopped rolling.

Clearly it had been about to roll off the green and he initially scratched a nine his card for the par-4, later altered to a 10.

All hell broke loose on TV, social media and around the course. He was not disqualified, but plenty thought he should have been - and many others believed that anyone other than Mickelson would have been kicked out.

He was initially unrepentant, but would later say that his actions towards Sutton and Watson, plus hitting the moving ball "are the three things I regret most in my career".

2. The stock shock

Not content with all shorts of on-the-course shenanigans and off-the-course trash talk, in 2016 Mickelson had to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission nearly $1 million (plus interest) for profits he made via insider trading.

And it could have been worse: he was not charged criminally, but the other two men involved were.

"Phil understands and deeply respects the high professional and ethical standards that the companies he represents expect of Phil," a statement read. "He regrets any appearance that, on this occasion, he fell short. He takes full responsibility for the decisions and associations that led him to becoming part of this investigation."

1. The Saudi Golf League

Initially his involvement with the Saudis seemed little more than an opportunity to cash more money. Rumours circulated that he might be rather more involved, but when Alan Shipnuck and The Firestop Collective revealed exactly what he thought of the Saudis, the League and his own reasons for getting involved he caused the entire golf world to stop in its tracks.

"They're scary motherf**kers to get involved with," he told Shipnuck. "We know they killed 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 reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They've been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse."

Rory McIlroy was among those astonished and he said: "I don't want to kick someone while he's down, obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant (words)."

Soon after Mickelson, learning that his remorse for all those past mistakes had failed to teach him anything, was apologizing yet again - and this time his reputation might have been sullied forever.

READ MORE: Phil Mickelson admits to "mistakes" after quotes revealing his true feelings about Saudi Golf League

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