Phil Mickelson wagered $1 billion over three decades on sports betting and tried to stake $400,000 on the result of the Ryder Cup, according to the forthcoming autobiography of one of America’s most renowned gamblers.
Las Vegas legend Billy Walters makes the sensational claims in ‘Gambler, Secrets of a Life at Risk’ published later this month. Mickelson last year admitted that his gambling became “reckless” and “embarrassing” after another expose estimated his losses at $40 million, but the long-awaited Walters account takes the deficit to a new level.
The 77-year-old struck up a friendship with the six-time major winner in 2006 and alleges that he and Mickelson would bet together. Walters also asserts that the left-hander would frequently stake at least $100,000 on individual matches in American football, baseball and basketball and, in all, lost close to $100 million between 2010 and 2014.
But it is Walters’s excerpts, published by the Fire Pit Collective, regarding the Ryder Cup in 2012 that might raise the most eyebrows. “Phil called me from Medinah Country Club just outside Chicago, site of the 39th Ryder Cup matches… He was feeling supremely confident that the American squad led by Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, and Phil himself was about to reclaim the Cup from the Euros,” it reads. “He was so confident that he asked me to place a $400,000 wager for him on USA to win.
“I could not believe what I was hearing. ‘Have you lost your f—— mind?’ I told him. ‘Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose?’ [The former Cincinnati Reds manager was banned from baseball for betting on his own team.]
“‘You’re seen as a modern-day Arnold Palmer,’ I added. ‘You’d risk all that for this? I want no part of it.’ ‘Alright, alright,’ he replied.”
Europe, of course, won that match with a famous fightback featuring Mickelson losing his singles to England’s Justin Rose.
In April 2017, Walters was sentenced to five years on insider trading charges. Mickelson was also mentioned during the trial as “someone who had traded in Dean Foods shares and once owed nearly $2 million in gambling debts to” Walters. Mickelson “made roughly $1 million trading Dean Foods shares; he agreed to forfeit those profits”. In a related civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mickelson’s agent and management company have been contacted for comment by Telegraph Sport. The 53-year-old, who last year signed up for the breakaway LIV Golf League with a reported signing-on fee topping $100 million, revealed in a recent interview that he has been “addressing it [his gambling] it for a number of years… and for 100s of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at.”