Phil Mickelson has wagered more than $1 billion over the last three decades and wanted to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup while playing for Team USA, according to a much-anticipated book by renowned gambler Billy Walters.
The reported claim of Mickelson’s betting doesn’t do much to change FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd‘s opinion of the golfer, however. “I’ve been riding this 30-year roller coaster with him,” Cowherd said on Friday’s episode of “The Herd.”
“Talented, reckless, enduring, flawed, interesting, mostly owns it. I’m here for him. He’s a big character who takes big swings. … He’s not a quarterback. He’s not a tight end. He’s not a point guard. He’s not a goalie.
“He’s like a boxer. He’s an independent contractor. He doesn’t have responsibilities to teammates, coaches, coordinators, an owner or a general manager. He’s never gotten along with the PGA [Tour] and the PGA in itself is a charity.”
The stunning betting estimates Walters provides — from his own detailed record from what he describes as two reliable sources — are detailed in an excerpt of Walters’ book, “Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk.”
It is scheduled to be available Aug. 22. The FirePit Collective obtained an excerpt of the book. Mickelson’s management group did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Walters is widely regarded as America’s most famous gambler who claims to have a winning streak of more than 30 straight years.
He said he ended his betting partnership with Mickelson in 2014. Two years later, Mickelson was a relief defendant in Walters’ insider trading case. Mickelson was never charged and had to repay about $1 million he made off a stock deal. Walters was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. He said he could have avoided prison if Mickelson had told a “simple truth.”
Walters said he never told Mickelson he had inside information on Dean Foods stock.
“All Phil had to do was publicly say it. He refused,” Walters wrote. “The outcome cost me my freedom, tens of millions of dollars and a heartbreak I still struggle with daily. While I was in prison, my daughter committed suicide — I still believe I could have saved her if I’d been on the outside.”
Walters said Mickelson told him he had two offshore accounts, and that Mickelson had limits of $400,000 on college games and $400,000 on the NFL.
He said based on his detailed record and additional records provided by sources, Mickelson’s gambling between 2010 and 2014 included:
- Betting $110,000 to win $100,000 on 1,115 occasions, and betting $220,000 to win $200,000 on 858 occasions. That alone comes out to just over $311 million.
- Mickelson in 2011 made 3,154 bets for the year and on one day (June 22) he placed 43 bets on Major League Baseball games that resulted in $143,500 in losses.
- He placed 7,065 bets on football, basketball and baseball.
“Based on our relationship and what I’ve since learned from others, Phil’s gambling losses approached not $40 million as has been previously reported, but much closer to $100 million,” Walters wrote. “In all, he wagered a total of more than $1 billion during the past three decades.
“The only other person I know who surpassed that kind of volume is me.”
Walters said they met for the first time at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and formed a betting partnership two years later.
Most stunning to Walters, he writes in the excerpt, was a phone call from the Ryder Cup in 2012 at Medinah. He said Mickelson was so confident he asked Walters to bet $400,000 for him on the U.S. winning.
“I could not believe what I was hearing,” Walters wrote. “‘Have you lost your (expletive) 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.’’
He said Mickelson replied, “Alright, alright.”
“I have no idea whether Phil placed the bet elsewhere. Hopefully, he came to his senses,” Walters wrote.
Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit on Sunday, staging the greatest comeback by a visiting team. Mickelson and Keegan Bradley won three straight matches before Mickelson urged U.S. captain Davis Love III to rest them Saturday afternoon. Mickelson lost his singles match to Justin Rose, a pivotal moment in Europe’s comeback.
The PGA Tour suspended Mickelson in early 2022 for helping Saudi-backed LIV Golf recruit PGA Tour players. He signed with LIV for a bonus reported to be upward of $150 million.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated last year, Mickelson was asked about speculation he was having financial troubles.
“My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing; I had to address it,” Mickelson said in the interview.
“Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember,” he said. “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 (his wife) 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.’’
Walters was so successful with his gambling operation that bookmakers often limited the amount of his wagers. He would partner with others who had larger limits. He wrote his partnership with Mickelson was a 50-50 split.
“In all the decades I’ve worked with partners and beards, Phil had accounts as large as anyone I’d seen,” Walters wrote. “You don’t get those types of accounts without betting millions of dollars.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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