Phil Mickelson Reveals ‘Reckless’ And ‘Embarrassing’ Gambling Addiction

The six-time Major champion has revealed his gambling woes ahead of a return to competitive action

Phil Mickelson smiles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson has given his first interview ahead of a return to competitive action at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event at Centurion Club where he opened up about the “reckless” and “embarrassing” gambling addiction that he “needed to address.” 

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Mickelson said: “My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing. I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there. My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time.”

The American added: “Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember. 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 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.’’

Mickelson is known for his on-course betting antics during practice and social rounds but it would appear they too have been a contributor to Lefty’s current state. “On the golf course, it’s creating competition,” he said. “But it’s the anxiety, the other things that come across with gambling off the course and addiction off the course that I really needed to address.”

The 51-year-old is purported to have gambling losses in excess of $40m in a four year period between 2010–14.

Lefty has not featured since the Saudi International in February after controversial comments from an upcoming biography were made public, in which the American admitted his involvement with the Saudi-backed Series was purely for leverage against the PGA Tour before declaring the Saudi Arabians as “scary mother f****** to get involved with.”

His comments now seem to be water under the bridge with the American set to tee it up at the Centurion Club later this week. These past four months however, have given him opportunity for reflection. Speaking of this time, Mickelson said: “It's been a tremendous opportunity for me to spend time with Amy and loved ones that I’ve never really had this opportunity to do in my life. I’ve been able to be much more present and engaged when I’m with the people I love. I feel much more health and at peace. I’ve spent a lot of time doing therapy and dealing with issues that I have. But I’ve come away with a balance in my life and a renewed excitement and energy to get back to playing golf.’’

Lefty will join the likes of Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia in the LIV Golf Invitational Series field for the $25m curtain raiser at the Centurion Club.

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.