Phil Mickelson accepts that his gambling became ‘reckless’ and ultimately ‘embarrassing’ but says he’s had it under control to a point where he and his family have been financially stable for a number of years.
In a Q&A with Sports Illustrated ahead of his competitive return to the fairways at this week’s opening LIV Golf invitational, Mickelson admitted to a number of mistakes in his past, most notably his gambling issues, with author Alan Shipnuck claiming the six-time Major winner had lost over $40 million in just four years.
When asked if he had signed up to the LIV Golf project due to financial issues, Mickelson, who reportedly accepted a $200m offer from the Saudi-backed series to join, seemed to suggest he’s been on a stable financial footing for a number of years now.
“My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing,” Mickelson said. “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.’’
One obvious poor decision was going on the record, knowingly or not, with Shipnuck in February where Mickelson acknowledged the Saudis were “scary mother-f***ers” to be going into business with while accepting that the motivation behind the series was “sports-washing” and that he wasn’t even sure he wanted it to succeed.
“I certainly do not condone human rights violations,” Mickelson stressed to SI.
“And addressing what happened to [Washington Post reporter] 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.”
It remains unclear as to what sort of disciplinary action the likes of Mickelson will face for defying the PGA Tour and competing in the LIV Golf series. Many have called for defectors to be banned from competing in the Majors but Mickelson has no intention of giving up his tour membership and insists that he’ll be competing in next week’s U.S. Open, the only event standing between Mickelson and the career grand slam club.
“I’ve had many conversations with the organisations that run the majors. And I do want to keep those conversations private,” he said.
“But I am looking forward to playing the U.S. Open and I’ll be there. I’m under the understanding that I’m able to play.’’
As for what the last four months have been like, Mickelson added:
“It’s been a tremendous opportunity for me to spend time with Amy and loved ones that I’ve never really had this opportunity to do in my life.
“I’ve been able to be much more present and engaged when I’m with the people I love. I feel much more health and at peace. I’ve spent a lot of time doing therapy and dealing with issues that I have. But I’ve come away with a balance in my life and a renewed excitement and energy to get back to playing golf.’’