Why you should never bet Phil Mickelson for dinner, according to Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington is no stranger to Phil Mickelson’s prodigious gambling exploits. The two golfers have competed for the overwhelming majority of their careers, and their friendship extends well beyond the course.

But nobody, not even those who know his tendencies well, can claim to have fully avoided Lefty’s famed capacity as a gambler.

On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar podcast, Harrington explained to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz why you should never make a dinner bet with Phil.

“Phil is one of the few guys who’s got great banter,” he said. “I know it comes across a little bit now, but we’ve had a few good ones at tournaments when we travel the world. Usually it’s loser buys dinner. I’ve caught him once or twice, he caught me in Singapore a few years ago.”

According to Harrington, the dinner bets felt like a fair wager for the two players. Padraig isn’t much of a gambler, but the bets both added meaning to their in-tournament battles and gave a reason for the two to spend time together.

The problem, he later realized, was that he failed to follow a central rule of betting with Phil: always set a fixed price.

“I buy dinner and he organized the steakhouse we went to,” Harrington recalled. “We turn up, private room obviously. I arrive on time but Phil is there already and he’s got the sommelier and he’s got all this wine lined up, and there’s like four of us.”

He gulped. Oh boy. Phil was driving up the tab.

“I don’t drink wine, my caddie doesn’t drink wine, Bones [Mackay] is not a big drinker,” he said with a laugh. “But he’s got four wines already and it’s all talk about the wine.”

A few minutes later, the restaurant manager entered the room.

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“I’m having steak and chips, this is not a big purchase,” Harrington said. “The manager comes in and says this kid out here, it’s his 18th birthday. Can he have a picture? So Phil says, ‘you’re 18, oh you’ll have a bottle of wine.’ So Phil orders the same bottle of wine that we’re having and sends it out to him.”

I paid for that wine, but that kid thinks that Phil Mickelson bought him a bottle of wine. He sends another bottle out to another table, and they’re all thinking ‘Phil Mickelson’s such a nice guy’, but he’s just trying to build up the bill.”

Harrington wound up settling the bill, but for far more money than he’d intended. As for the wine?

“It was as bad as the price, because I was paying,” he said. “I really can’t burn anybody when it comes to buying dinner.”

To hear the rest of Harrington’s Subpar interview, including why he thinks Tiger Woods is a unique threat at this year’s Ryder Cup, check out the video below.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.