A few weeks back, PGA star Rory McIlroy called Phil Mickelson's comments about the Saudi-backed Super Golf League “naive, selfish, egotistical and ignorant.” But earlier today, he took a much more sympathetic tone when talking about the 51-year-old tour legend.
Mickelson faced swift and heavy backlash from the golfing world after his comments, leading to the end/pause of multiple major sponsorship deals.
At the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Wednesday, McIlroy was asked about how fast fans and players turned on Lefty.
“It is unfortunate,” he said. “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 – not used against him, but this whole situation is unfortunate.”
Fans from around the golfing world took to Twitter to react to McIlroy's statements.
"Rory is right both times. Phil has done a lot for golf," one wrote.
"I agree Rory. My respect for you just grew," another said.
Included in his apology last week, Mickelson said he planned to take “some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be.”
McIlroy hopes the six-time major champion will return to the PGA TOUR soon.
“Phil will be back. I think the players want to see him back,” McIlroy said. “We all make mistakes. We all say things we want to take back. No one is different in that 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.”