Phil Mickelson had to be thinking to himself, “not again.”
Despite having the lead for the majority of last weekend’s U.S. Open at Merion, Mickelson found himself in a familiar position at the end of the weekend: second place. For a record sixth time in his career, Mickelson finished as the U.S. Open’s runner-up.
Lefty could not have been happy with the finish, but he only needs to look as far as his tax return when searching for some solace.
By tying for second at the Open, Mickelson earned $696,104, noticeably less than the $1.44 million he would have received had he held on to the lead.
While one could lament the loss of money, there is another way to look at it.
Mickelson’s home state of California happens to have the nation’s highest tax rate. It is a concern that Mickelson has previously taken issue with, vowing to “make some drastic changes” to reduce his tax burden.
Clearly not a fan of California’s taxation, Mickelson saved himself big time in that area by finishing as the Open’s runner-up. By finishing second overall instead of first, Lefty saved himself around $76,100 in tax dollars according to Forbes.
Furthermore, Mickelson's endorsement contracts include bonuses for winning majors. Forbes "estimates Mickelson’s total bonuses for winning the Open would have been $2.5 million–triggering a California tax bill of more than $300,000."
By coming in second, he likely saved himself $400,000 in California taxes. While he probably would have preferred the hardware and his place in history, Mickelson was at least able to avoid paying an even higher tax bill, which may count as a “drastic change.”