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Report: Phil Mickelson’s Interest in Saudi Golf League Could be Tied to Over $40 Million in Gambling Losses

Report: Phil Mickelson’s Interest in Saudi Golf League Could be Tied to Over $40 Million in Gambling Losses article feature image
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Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson has applied to participate in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series, and a new report could explain why.

Mickelson, who has not played in a professional golf tournament since the Farmers Insurance Open in January, has been rumored for months as the new league’s top potential brand. The looming payday may explain Mickelson’s interest.

Of course, the enormous purses are one of the main reasons why most of the interested players are considering the jump from the PGA TOUR. But Mickelson’s financial interests go deeper than most.

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According to an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming biography on Mickelson, which was released on Fire Pit Collective, Mickelson’s gambling losses are a major factor.

“Based on his comments to me, he clearly enjoyed the idea of sticking it to the PGA Tour, but the real motivation was plainly the funny money being offered by the Saudis,” Shipnuck wrote.

The author goes on to write that, according to documents examined during the notable Billy Walters insider trading investigation, Mickelson lost more than $40 million gambling between 2010-2014.

Estimates show Mickelson earned $40 million per year during that stretch, but after taxes and other payments and fees, he may have been clearing $10 million per year. That’s a break-even rate if the losses are true.

Mickelson’s gambling is not — and never has been — a secret. However, this is the first time any specific number has been put on the potential damage. And the damage is huge, even for someone with the worth of Mickelson.

Lefty faded in recent years and struggled to compete on the TOUR. However, for four magical days, he found enough to win the 2021 PGA Championship as a major longshot. In addition to his application for the Saudi league, Mickelson has also entered his name into the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, although his management team said no official decision on his playing intention has been made.

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