Golf fans were shocked, even shocked, when news broke on Monday that Phil Mickelson would not play in next month’s Masters.
They shouldn’t have been.
Mickelson has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent months. His comments to Golf Digest about the PGA Tour being “disgustingly greedy” were just the beginning, coming from a World Golf Hall of Famer who has earned nearly $95 million from a tour that has given him the platform to earn an estimated $700 million or more. in guarantees.
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Mickelson did not stop there. He said during an interview with veteran golf writer Alan Shipnuck featured on the Fire Pit Collective website that he was interested in joining the Saudi-backed LIV International Golf Series despite expressing that the Saudis were “a scary mother (beep)” due to its history of human rights violations. He even admitted recruiting three other top players to pay lawyers to write the upstart tour operating agreement.
Another Lefty low point, perhaps the biggest flop of his career.
Never mind that Mickelson has won three green jackets, including his long-awaited first big race in 2004; that he has become one of the most popular players of his generation; that he made PGA Championship history less than a year ago when he became the oldest player to win a major championship at age 50.
Mickelson accomplished these feats with a club in hand. It’s when the six-time Grand Slam champion starts talking that he gets into trouble.
Mickelson didn’t withdraw from the Masters all that much: He was told or strongly encouraged by Augusta National officials not to come, according to multiple sources. The last thing they want is Mickelson driving down Magnolia Lane knowing the circus was coming with it.
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Also, the PGA Tour will never admit this, but according to those same sources, Mickelson has been suspended from the tour for his “disgustingly greedy” comments and for admitting that he helped a rival tour gain ground. Why else would he miss the Players, with the largest purse for a US golf tournament?
When asked at the Players if Mickelson had been suspended, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monaghan did not answer the question. The PGA Tour has a long-standing policy of not announcing disciplinary action against players.
The Masters, because it’s run by the powers that be at Augusta National and not the PGA Tour, has the ability to invite, or uninvite, whomever it wants.
But the reason Mickelson is in this sticky spot isn’t so much because of his recent comments. It’s about his actions over the past two decades.
Mickelson is the subject of two upcoming books, one a biography of Shipnuck due out in May. The other, perhaps more revealing, book is co-written by former friend and legendary gambler Billy Walters, who was sentenced in 2017 to five years in jail for making more than $43 million trading Dean Foods through insider trading.
At Walters’ urging, Mickelson made more than $931,000 trading Dean Foods stock in 2012. The SEC named Mickelson a “relief defendant,” meaning the agency believed he benefited from insider trading at Dean Foods. , even if he himself did not participate. . Mickelson agreed to turn over his business profits, plus interest of more than $100,000, without admitting or denying the allegations.
Walters is co-writing his book with respected investigative journalist Armen Keteyian. The book, which is expected to be available in December, is not specifically about Mickelson, but will likely include information about her relationship. Mickelson once owed Walters nearly $2 million in game losses.
There’s a reason nearly all of Mickelson’s major sponsors have terminated their deals or, in Callaway’s case, put him on hold, and it’s not just his inflammatory comments.
They have a good idea of what’s coming in these books, and it’s not going to be pretty.
When Mickelson issued a public statement last month, he admitted to some tough times when he wrote: “The last 10 years I felt pressure and stress slowly take a toll on me at a deeper level. I know I haven’t been at my best and I desperately need some time off to prioritize the ones I love the most and work to be the man I want to be.”
Is it just Mickelson’s betting history that will appear in the books? Mickelson has never hidden his love for gambling, often telling reporters who he bet on in the next Super Bowl. His advisers finally told him to stop talking publicly about his gambling.
What has been notable over the past two months is the lack of support Mickelson has received from his fellow players. No one came to his defense apart from Rory McIlroy, and that was only after McIlroy called Mickelson’s comments “naive, selfish, selfish, ignorant.”
Is this the legacy of Phil Mickelson?
Mickelson has long been one of the most controversial players in professional golf. Fans love him for his go-anywhere style, his willingness to sign autographs, his ever-present smile, and his constant “thumbs up” gesture on the field – a heavy borrowing from Arnold Palmer’s signature move – while most the players have rolled. her eyes at his antics. A long time ago he was nicknamed “FIGJAM”, the last five words being “I’m fine; just ask me.”
It is a shame that it has come to this. No one likes to see legends exposed for their weaknesses. Mickelson has done countless good deeds during his career, he raised a lot of money for charity, but that’s not what is remembered these days.
Mickelson said two years ago that he would join the growing list of the world’s best golfers in moving to South Florida (World No. 2 Collin Morikawa will be the last; he’s moving to Jupiter), but it’s unclear. if that will happen. happen. Mickelson’s family remains in California and many wonder if he will ever move to Jupiter Island.
We know that he will not play in the Masters. The next question is, will Mickelson defend his PGA Championship in May at Southern Hills? That is no longer a certainty.
“What will Phil do next?” it is no longer a marketing slogan, but a real concern.
This article originally appeared on the Palm Beach Post: Augusta National officials don’t want Phil Mickelson to play in the Masters