Where would Mickelson be without golf? Ryder Cup legend: "Gambling in a ditch"

Former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Lanny Wadkins has doubled down on his criticism of Phil Mickelson, saying the LIV pro would be 'in a ditch' without golf. 

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 15 Sep 2023
Where would Mickelson be without golf? Ryder Cup legend: "Gambling in a ditch"

Would it be unreasonable to suggest U.S. Ryder Cup legend Lanny Wadkins isn't a big fan of Phil Mickelson these days?

Wadkins, a 21-time PGA Tour winner and former Ryder Cup captain, caught the headlines last month with his comments about Mickelson. 

To remind you, Wadkins described the golfer as 'a disappointing' figure after shocking revelations emerged about Lefty's gambling. 

Extracts from Billy Walters' book about his relationship with Mickelson alleged he had gambled up to $1bn over three decades, with $100m losses. 

To make matters worse Walters - his former gambling partner - claimed Mickelson wanted to wager $400,000 on the 2012 Ryder Cup. 

Mickelson did not deny wanting to make the wager, only releasing one post on X to say he 'never bet on the Ryder Cup'. 

Wadkins previously told Golf Channel:"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."

These days is a clear reference to Mickelson's association with the LIV Golf League

Mickelson signed up to play in LIV Golf events in June 2022 for a reported $200m fee, prompting speculation that part of why he joined the breakaway tour was to pay off some gambling debts. 

Wadkins was asked to clarify the comments he made about Mickelson in an interview with Golfweek

Turns out Wadkins was blindsided by the question. "I was supposed to be on the show answering a question about my PGA win and they throw that out there," he said. 

But instead of backtracking, Wadkins doubled down. 

Then went in hard. 

He told the publication:

 "I mean we all love Phil and watched him play. He was a rookie on my Ryder Cup team and played very well. He went 3-0. He and Amy were dating, they weren't even married at that point in time.
"But to do the stuff he's done and, you know, cause the problems he's caused and the friction he's caused, and the divisiveness in golf he's caused.
"If it wasn't for golf, where would Phil Mickelson be? You know, he'd be gambling in a ditch somewhere. So, you know, it's not good. I think he owes more to the game than what he's done. 
"No question he would have been a captain, probably a two-time captain. He probably would have been the captain next time at Bethpage Black when it comes over here. Instead, it'll probably be Tiger."

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Wadkins was the team captain in the 1995 defeat at Oak Hill. 

Both Wadkins and Mickelson have earned a total of 21.5 points in Ryder Cups, the most of any living American. 

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