Phil Mickelson says he might be "more shocked than anyone" to learn that a college consulting company he has used the last three years has been accused of orchestrating a massive bribery scheme.
He said he never contributed to William "Rick" Singer's foundation tied to his California-based company, Edge College & Career Network, but used the service to find the right fit for his children.
His oldest daughter is now a sophomore at Brown.
"We're not part of this," Mickelson said. "Most every family that has used his company are not a part of it. That's why I think we're all so surprised."
Federal prosecutors said parents paid Singer millions of dollars to bribe their children's way into college. Some of the payouts went to coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes, and Singer also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students and paid off insiders at testing centers to correct students' answers, authorities said.
More than 50 people have been charged.
A note from Mickelson and his wife, Amy, appears as a testimonial to Singer on a website for "The Key," another name for his company. They thank him for his support in finding their daughter the right college.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"The college process is so layered and confusing. I don't know what we would've done without your insight and belief in our daughter," said the note, which Mickelson said was a text his wife sent to Singer.
"We, along with thousands of other families, hired he and his company to help us guide through the college application process, and we're probably more shocked than anyone," Mickelson said after his first round of The Players Championship. "We've been dealing with it the last few days, but that's about it."
Mickelson had to go through random drug testing Thursday, and he tweeted that he was not part of "this fraud" before meeting with reporters.
His daughter attended Pacific Ridge School in San Diego, where she was a co-captain of the tennis team and the school president. He has two other children, a sophomore and junior in high school, and says he has been using Singer's company to find them the right colleges.
Mickelson said Singer never approached him about any fraudulent charges involved in the case. Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
"Our kids ... schools are like fighting to get them," Mickelson said. "I say that as a proud dad. But their grades, their outside activities, their worldly views on things, have colleges recruiting them. We weren't even aware, really."
He said Singer's company helped to find the right college for their personalities and to make sure they knew what they needed academically and with test scores to be accepted into the college of their choice.
Asked about Mickelson's daughter on Thursday, Brown spokesman Brian Clark declined to disclose student names but said university officials reviewed a student's application material and academic credentials and that the review "raised no concerns at all."
Clark said the school has completed "a case-by-case review" of all of its athletes, which "generated zero concerns" related to the college admissions scandal. He said the review looked at every varsity athlete admitted and enrolled as part of the athletic recruitment process over the last four years. He said it was part of an effort to verify the integrity of the admissions process.