Phil Mickelson called his gambling habit “reckless and embarrassing”, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig.
Hours after LIV Golf announced on Monday that Mickelson would return to competition this week, Harig spoke to Mickelson as he headed to the London event.
Mickelson has been in voluntary exile since early February, after being cited for making derogatory comments on both the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series and the PGA Tour.
In his interview with Harig, Mickelson touched on a number of topics, from his status on the Tour to his relationship with the Saudis. But it was his statements about his longtime gambling habit that stood out the most.
Asked about his difficult financial situation, Mickelson told Harig: “My game has become reckless and embarrassing. I had to approach him. And I’ve been dealing with it for several years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I am. My family and I have been and have been financially secure for some time.
“Gambling has been a part of my life since I can remember. But about a decade ago I’d say it got reckless. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like people knowing. The thing is, I have been dealing with this for a while Amy has been very supportive of this and with me and the process After many years we are where I feel comfortable This is not a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of bad decisions.
Mickelson also noted that he sees a difference between playing on and off the course.
“On the golf course, it creates competition. But it was the anxiety, the other things that happen with off-course play and off-course addiction that I really had to address,” he said.
Alan Shipnuk, author of a recent biography of Mickelson, wrote in his book that Mickelson lost around $40 million between 2010 and 2014.
After competing in this week’s inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event, which offers a $25 million purse, Mickelson said he plans to compete next week at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
“I can’t wait to play the US Open and I will be there,” he said. “I am under the understanding that I am capable of playing.”
The 51-year-old said he also understood he could have played in the first two majors of the season, but “I really needed time”. He said he watched both the Masters, which he won three times, and the PGA Championship, of which he was the defending champion.
As for his status on the Tour, Mickelson said he hopes to retain his lifetime membership, which he earned through his win tally and service. He said he had no conversations with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, but spoke to officials among the organizations that run the four majors.
“I did not resign from my [PGA Tour] membership. I have worked very hard to earn this lifetime membership. And hopefully I’ll have the ability to play wherever I want, wherever it’s the PGA Tour, LIV or wherever else,” he said.
That relationship with LIV Golf appeared to be strained when Mickelson was quoted in a Fire Pit Collective story earlier this year as saying, among other things, “[The Saudis are] scary mothers to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because it’s a unique opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.
Asked by Haring how he can “reconcile that relationship” between playing for a new league – albeit backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund – Mickelson replied: “I certainly don’t condone human rights violations. man. And talking about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is awful. But I saw the good that [the] game of golf has done throughout history. And I really believe that LIV can also be good for the game of golf.