Phil Mickelson’s billion-dollar bets and Ryder Cup gamble

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 2, 2023 18:42

Billy Walters is regarded as the greatest American sports bettor of all time. In his book Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk Billy Walters has revealed staggering details about professional golfer Phil Mickelson’s extensive betting habits. According to Walters, Mickelson, a golfing icon with multiple major championships to his name, has wagered an astonishing sum exceeding $1 billion US over the past three decades. 

The world of US gambling

Gambling in the United States is simple, whether sports betting, land-based or online casinos. For example, there are hundreds of online casinos for US players to pick from at, offering a wide range of casino games and generous bonuses. Although gambling is widely acceptable in the country, Walters’s claim that Mickelson wanted to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup, where he represented Team USA, has shocked the golfing community. Mickelson has firmly denied this. 

What the book says about Mickelson

The release of the ‘Gambler: Secrets From A Life of Risk’ shook golf to its core, highlighting a clear issue at the top of the sport. The book suggests that the former major winner bet more than $1 billion during his professional career on the PGA Tour and suffered losses in the region of $100 million. 
However, Walters spoke from experience regarding the bet that centered around the Ryder Cup in 2012, as he claimed that Mickelson asked him to place the wager as he could not do so due to his involvement in the event. Mickelson was captaining the US team in that tournament edition and went on to win the Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club.

Mickelson’s career

Mickelson is one of the best-paid golfers in the world and is highly regarded as one of the finest players to have played the sport, with his swinging action instantly recognizable because he is one of few left-handers on the Tour. During his time on the PGA Tour, Mickelson won six major championships, including the Masters, on three separate occasions. As well as that, he also won the PGA Championship on two occasions and the Open Championship in 2013.

In 2021, Mickelson won the second of his PGA Championships, making history in the process by becoming the oldest player to ever win a major. He holds a number of esteemed records, as he is just one of 17 players to have won at least three of the four major championships. The only major that has eluded him throughout his career is the US Open, but he has finished as the runner-up on six occasions, a record for the event.

Controversial move away from PGA Tour

Mickelson has never been far from controversy, as the latest reports centering around the book are just the latest piece of news headlines that the major winner has made in the last 12 months. The American was criticised in 2022 after announcing he would be the latest star joining the Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Golf League. Mickelson would become the only golfer to win three of the four majors to join the league, ending his 30-year association with the PGA Tour. 
Many heavily criticized the decision, as they questioned his decision to turn his back on the Tour that had supported him throughout his career to take the money from a country attempting to sportswash. His decision also saw him go back on comments he had previously made about Saudi Arabia, as he claimed the nation was ‘scary.’ However, after signing with LIV, he revealed that he accepted the move to reshape the PGA Tour. His decision saw him lose several sponsorship deals, including those from KPMG and Amstel Light. 
However, after being questioned away from the course, he returned to the limelight 2023 on the grandest stage with one of the best weekend performances at the 2023 Masters. He came back from ten shots off the lead to finish tied for second. It was his lowest score in August for over 25 years, and many began to believe another major title may be on the horizon.

Final thoughts

The latest excerpts from the book have once again led to questions surrounding the relationship between sports and betting. However, the ever-increasing popularity of the sector means it is hard to see the industry slowly down over the coming years. But, many believe that more should be done to protect athletes from the industry over the coming years.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 2, 2023 18:42
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