‘That’s a lot of bets’: Phil Mickelson’s peers react to his alleged gambling exploits
In a bombshell excerpt from renowned sports bettor Billy Walters’ forthcoming book, Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk (Simon & Schuster), Walters alleged that Phil Mickelson’s gambling losses were close to $100 million, and that he had wagered nearly $1 billion on sports bets over the course of three decades.
In addition to placing thousands of bets on collegiate and professional sports like football and baseball, Walters alleged that Mickelson also asked him to place a $400,000 bet on a U.S. victory at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, as detailed in the excerpt that was published by Golf Digest on Thursday.
Mickelson has yet to speak publicly about the allegations, but 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.”
Notably, Walters didn’t allege that Mickelson bet on the Ryder Cup, only that Mickelson indicated that he wanted to.
Reaction from Mickelson’s former peers on the PGA Tour has been mixed. Jordan Spieth seemed like he was ready to share some astonishment at the FedEx St. Jude in Memphis, but caught himself halfway through his thought.
“I mean, I would say people were maybe a bit surprised at the amount of — I haven’t really seen a whole lot on it,” he said. “I just saw what some people sent me and stuff, and it was so quick this morning that even if I wanted to comment, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Collin Morikawa’s reaction was slightly less measured.
“Yeah, look, the truth, I don’t know what the truth exactly is, but from what everyone is reporting, that’s a lot of bets per day. I don’t know how I’d be able to play,” he said. “Look, I have no business commenting on it. I know Phil, but I don’t know Phil that well to know what his personal life was like. I don’t know Billy Walters. I have no spot on commenting.”
The real dagger, though, came from Rory McIlroy, who minced no words.
“At least he can bet on the Ryder Cup this year because he won’t be a part of it,” he said.
Walters’ gambling relationship with Mickelson allegedly spanned five years. Walters was convicted of insider trading in 2017 and served five years in federal prison in addition to paying a $10 million fine. Mickelson was never charged of any wrongdoing, but did agree to return the profit he made from the purchase of Dean Foods shares that Mickelson made on Walters’ advice.