Did Phil Mickelson take multimillion-dollar offers from Saudi Arabia because he’d lost a lot of money gambling?
In an excerpt from his upcoming Mickelson biography, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar,” Alan Shipnuck of Fire Pit Collective reveals that the six-time major champion may have had financial difficulties due to eight-figure gambling losses.
According to financial records disclosed to government auditors as part of an insider trading case (the Dean Foods investigation) in which notorious professional gambler Billy Walters was found guilty on all 10 counts against him, fined $10 million, and sentenced to five years in prison, while Mickelson was ordered to pay back trading profits totaling $931,738 plus interest, Shipnuck claims Mickelson lost more than $40 million in gambling losses between 2010 and 2014.
“Mickelson’s income was projected to be just north of $40 million per year during those prime earning years,” Shipnuck said. “That’s a lot of money, but after he paid his taxes (including the California tariffs he publicly chastised), he was left with, what, the low-twenties?” Then there was his agent, caddie, pilots, chef, personal trainer, swing instructors, and a slew of other people to consider.
“Add up all the other costs of a big life — like a T. Rex skull as a birthday present — and you’re left with, what, $10 million?” According to the federal audit, Mickelson’s annual gambling losses totaled around that much. (Plus, we have no idea what we don’t know.) To put it another way, it’s possible he was barely breaking even, if not in the red. Mickelson’s earnings plummeted during his winless years from 2014 to 2017.”
Shipnuck also discusses Phil’s 25-year relationship with his caddie, Bones, claiming that Bones dismissed Phil after the 2017 Memorial and that money was “a huge part” in their breakup.
Shipnuck, who previously published a book excerpt with Mickelson’s unvarnished thoughts on the Saudi breakaway league, which resulted in sponsors abandoning ship and him leaving the game, also explains why he waited three months to publish his original story and speculates on why Mickelson chose to make such comments to him.
“He could have phoned any reporter to tell the truth about the Saudis, but he chose the man writing his biography.” “He used the word “reckless” to describe his behavior in his statement, and maybe that’s the idea,” Shipnuck added. “He’s an adrenaline junkie, so revealing his deepest, darkest secrets with me must have given him a rush, knowing what was at stake.” Or was it sheer calculation: by not establishing any ground rules for our chat, he was able to record his actual thoughts for posterity while later claiming that he didn’t intend for them to be made public? Even (particularly!) to me, his acts are perplexing.”
“There is something Shakespearean about Mickelson’s arc,” Shipnuck says of the controversy surrounding Mickelson, who missed the Masters and may miss his PGA Championship title defense. He appeared to have it all, but greed, vanity, and irresponsibility (and possibly desperation) cost him everything, at least temporarily. But he will return, as he has in the past, despite several controversies and heartbreaks.”
The unauthorized biography of Mickelson by Shipnuck will be released on May 17, the Tuesday before the PGA Championship.
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