Major champion rips Phil Mickelson, calls him ‘disappointing figure’ in golf

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In an appearance on Golf Channel's Golf Today, Lanny Wadkins didn't hold back on his criticisms of Phil Mickelson.

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Phil Mickelson’s name has become central to the golf conversation yet again. And now more big-time names — most recently Lanny Wadkins — are making their thoughts known about the six-time major champ.

The backstory

Last Wednesday, Lefty’s old pal Billy Walters released an excerpt for his upcoming book, Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk, and it had some inflammatory allegations about Mickelson’s betting history. Walters wrote that Mickelson’s gambling losses were close to $100 million, and that he had bet nearly $1 billion on various sporting events over the years.

Phil Mickelson at Medinah in 2012.
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The most shocking accusation of all, however, stems from a story Walters states happened way back in 2012. Walters claims that in the fall of that year, Mickelson approached him hoping to place a $400,000 bet on a a U.S. victory at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah — a competition in which Lefty was competing.

The below is from the excerpt.

I could not believe what I was hearing.

“Have you lost your f—ing mind?” I told him. “Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose?” The former Cincinnati Reds manager was banned from baseball for betting on his own team. “You’re seen as a modern-day Arnold Palmer,” I added. “You’d risk all that for this? I want no part of it.’’

“Alright, alright,” he replied.

I have no idea whether Phil placed the bet elsewhere. Hopefully, he came to his senses.

For over 10 years, the public has not been privy to that tale. But with Walters book set to release this month, the story is now out in the open.

Mickelson has not spoken to media about the situation in the time since the excerpt dropped, although he did respond with a statement on social media.

“I never bet on the Ryder Cup,” Mickelson wrote. “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.”

The allegation has shocked the golf world and once again put Lefty in the center of controversy. The response from players and the media has been mixed, with some taking the political high road, while others, like Rory McIlroy, have taken shots at Mickelson.

Wadkins’ thoughts

Lanny Wadkins is the latest to make his thoughts known about the incendiary accusations. In an appearance on Golf Channel’s Golf Today, the former Ryder Cup captain didn’t hold back in his criticisms of the six-time major winner.

“Very disconcerting,” Wadkins said. “”I don’t know if there has ever been a more disappointing figure in golf than Phil Mickelson, seeing what’s transpired with him over the last 10-plus years. He was the beloved figure for a long time. We all marveled at the way he could play. But nothing looks kosher about what he’s doing these days.”

Wadkins went on to speculate that Mickelson has blown his chance to ever be Ryder Cup captain. As a player, Lefty appeared on 12 Ryder Cup teams, amassing a career record of 18-22-7.

“He probably would’ve been a two-time captain,” Wadkins said. “Now he’s not going to be involved. It’s really kind of a shame. He’s really self imploded, and he just continues to do it at every turn.

“It’s disappointing and sad,” he continued. “It’s sad that we have people in our game that think they’re bigger than the game, and obviously Phil thinks he’s bigger.”

The PGA of America and PGA Tour both declined to comment on Walters’ accusations, but if they turn out to be true, it’s hard to believe that Mickelson will ever have a substantial role in the Ryder Cup moving forward.

“I don’t know where that mindset is coming from,” Wadkins said. “But it’s a little unsettling to us who have been around the game for a long time.”

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at