Golf great Phil Mickelson has fiercely denied he sought to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup, amid revelations in an upcoming book published by a former gambling associate that the 53-year-old had placed bets totalling as much as $1.5 billion throughout his playing career. In 2022, following the publication of a seperate book by US golf writer Alan Shipnuck, Mickelson described his gambling as 'reckless and embarrassing' after it was claimed he had racked up losses worth as much as $40 million over the years.
The claims Mickelson had looked to bet on the Ryder Cup were made by Billy Walters, a former associate of the golf great who is often regarded as one of America's biggest gamblers. The pair ended their association in 2014, when Walters was investigated and subsequently convicted and jailed over an insider trading scam.
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In his upcoming book "Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk", Walters claimed that Mickelson was supremely confident that the US would regain the Ryder Cup in 2012, and requested that Walters place bets worth $400,000 on them doing so. Walters, in the excerpts published prior to the book's release, said it was gobsmacked by the request and suggested to Mickelson that such a bet would place his entire career at risk.
Walters said he asked Mickelson where he had 'lost your f***ing mind', and reminded him of his incredible standing in the sport. He said if it ever emerged that he did place the bets (which he ultimately decided against doing), that it would draw comparisons to former Cincinnati Red baseball manager Pete Rose, who was handed a lifetime ban for betting on his own team.
"I could not believe what I was hearing," Walters wrote, claiming he told Mickelson: "'Have you lost your f***ing mind?' I told him, 'Don't you remember what happened to Pete Rose?'"
"'You're seen as a modern-day Arnold Palmer,' I added. 'You'd risk all that for this?' I want no part of it."
Mickelson didn't comment on the excerpts following after his pro-am round ahead of the LIV Golf event in New Jersey. Instead, he later took to social media with a statement denying the story, re-iterating that he had sought help for his gambling addiction.
"I never bet on the Ryder Cup," Mickelson said. "While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game.
"I have also been very open about my gambling addiction. I have previously conveyed my remorse, took responsibility, have gotten help, have been fully committed to therapy that has positively impacted me, and I feel good about where I am now."
Phil Mickelson denies Ryder Cup bet push amid allegations
Mickelson was one of a number of professional golfers to spark controversy when he signed a lucrative deal with the LIV Golf series, with his contract reportedly worth roughly $200 million. He said, in the wake of his gambling problem going public, that while it had become a serious issue it had not affected his ability to provide for his family.
"My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time," the six-time major winner said. My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing.
"I had to address it. And I've been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy.
"Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember but about a decade ago is when I would say it became reckless. It isn't a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions."
Nevertheless, Walters also claimed that Mickelson's losses were likely much higher than what has been reported in the past. Mickelson served as a relief defendant in Walters' insider trading trial, and was forced to pay back roughly $1 million made in a stock deal, however no charges were brought against him.
"Based on our relationship and what I've since learned from others, Phil's gambling losses approached not $40 million as has been previously reported, but much closer to $100 million," Walters wrote. "In all, he wagered a total of more than $1 billion during the past three decades."
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