Phil Mickelson Comes Clean About Excessive Gambling, Admits Addiction

Posted on: June 7, 2022, 07:09h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2022, 12:43h.

Phil Mickelson has earned nearly $95 million on the course during his World Golf Hall of Fame career and an estimated $700 million more from endorsements. But the 45-time PGA Tour winner admits gambling has taken a toll on his fiscal health.

Phil Mickelson LIV Golf Saudi PGA Tour
Phil Mickelson will be without his KPMG and Callaway logos when he tees it up this week in London in the first LIV Golf tournament. The companies have either terminated or suspended their endorsement contracts with Mickelson because of LIV Golf’s financial backing from the Saudi government. (Image: Getty)

Mickelson, affectionately known as “Lefty,” saw his reputation and likeness crumble after the 51-year-old expressed support for the LIV Golf Invitational Series earlier this year. The seven-event tour is partially financed by the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund. The Saudis have long been criticized for human rights violations.

The PGA Tour helped make Mickelson wildly wealthy and one of the most-liked athletes in the world. But that didn’t stop him in February from scolding the Tour by saying the organization has “obnoxious greed.”

Following public backlash regarding his criticism of the Tour and support of the Saudi golf league, Mickelson subsequently announced he’d be stepping out of the public spotlight to “self-reflect and learn.” This week, Mickelson emerged out of isolation to confirm his involvement with LIV Golf.

But he also opened up about his gambling. And it’s those major losses that are shedding some clarity as to why Mickelson might be jumping ship.

Lefty Losses

Mickelson issued a statement yesterday evening regarding his commitment to LIV Golf.

The six-time major winner says he hopes to still play in each of the four majors moving forward after skipping this year’s Masters and PGA Championship, the latter of which he was the defending champion. But Lefty says the opportunity to take a “new path” with a “fresh start” is something that has him excited at this stage of his career.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated golf writer Bob Harig, who recently jumped employment ships from ESPN, Mickelson was asked directly about his gambling.

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. I feel good where I’m at there,” Mickelson answered.

“Amy [Mickelson’s wife] has been very supportive… We’re at a place after many years where I feel comfortable with where that is. It isn’t a threat to me or my financial security,” he added.

Mickelson explained that friendly wagers among his competitors on the golf course during practice rounds — though banned by the PGA Tour — are about “creating competition.” But he says, “The anxiety, the other things that come across with gambling off the course and addiction off the course” is what he needed to address.

In a forthcoming unauthorized biography on Mickelson, golf writer Alan Shipnuck claims Lefty lost around $40 million gambling between 2010 through 2014 alone.

$200M Payday

Mickelson reportedly received somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million from the Saudis to move his loyalty to LIV Golf from the PGA Tour. Greg Norman, the face of LIV Golf and helped organize the tour, said Tiger Woods turned down a “mind-blowingly enormous” offer to follow suit.

LIV Golf begins this Thursday, June 9, with the LIV Golf Invitational London. The three-round tournament uses a shotgun start each day. While most US sportsbooks are refraining from offering lines on the tournament, UK books are taking action.

The top-ranked golfer in the LIV London field, Dustin Johnson, is the betting front-runner at 4/1. Mickelson is at 25/1.

Other major winners in the field include Louis Oosthuizen (10/1), Sergio Garcia (12/1), Charl Schwartzel (30/1), Martin Kaymer (40/1), and Graeme McDowell (50/1).