Phil Mickelson opens up on gambling and is hopeful of PGA Tour return

Phil Mickelson has opened up more about his gambling issues ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 7 Jun 2022
Phil Mickelson opens up on gambling and is hopeful of PGA Tour return

It took nearly four months, but Phil Mickelson finally decided to break his silence after going all in with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Related: Sergio Garcia resigns from the PGA Tour

And it has been reported that Lefty, 51, will benefit to the tune of $200million to compete in the eight-event global series starting this week. 

Mickelson's name was confirmed late last night and he's given an exclusive and extraordinary interview with Sports Illustrated's Bob Harig over the phone. 

In it, he claims that his gambling was "embarrassing" but he's tried to confront his habit through hundreds of hours of theraphy. He's also not resigning his PGA Tour membership.

Mickelson told Harig that he's excited that he's found balance in his life and that LIV Golf has energized him and compelled him to "work hard" again. 

He admitted that there were things he regrets, adding: "Certainly there's a lot of things I regret. I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt a lot of people and I'm really sorry." 

Mickelson was up front about some issues but provided some non-answers to others. He didn't not open up about what could happened with his current sponsors. 

Pressed again about human rights violations, Mickelson told Harig

"I certainly do not condone human rights violations. And addressing what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is awful. But I have seen the good that game of golf has done throughout history. And I really believe that LIV can be good for the game of golf as well."

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He told Harig that he's grateful for his 30-plus year career with the PGA Tour, but went further by claiming that he still believes players should have the right to play where they want.

Mickelson has also not spoken to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. At TPC Sawgrass in March, Monahan said the "ball was in court" with regards to a potential return for lefty, though now this looks unlikely. 

Tiger Woods, when asked about Mickelson at the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills, described Mickelson's comments as polarising. 

Woods suggested that players should be motivated by legacy and go out and "earn" the big money the PGA Tour offers. The pair have not spoken, Mickelson said. 

Mickelson also declared that he's playing the majors. "I'm under the understanding that I'm able to play," he said. 

Of the PGA Tour, he told Harig:

"I have not resigned my membership. I worked really hard to earn that lifetime membership. And I'm hopeful that I’ll have the ability to play wherever I want, where it’s the PGA Tour, LIV or wherever else I want."

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Mickelson's gambling issues have also hit the headlines in recent months. It was reported by The Firepit Collective that at one point in time he racked up a debt of $40million. 

Lefty addressed this aspect, claiming that his behaviour in that regard was also reckless.

He told Harig: 

"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. My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time.

"Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember. But about a decade ago is when I would say it became reckless. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like that people know. The fact is I’ve been dealing with it for some time. Amy has been very supportive of it and with me and the process. We’re at place after many years where I feel comfortable with where that is. It isn’t a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions."

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