From MoTown to No-Mo-Town for Phil Mickelson.
“Lefty” is playing in his first Rocket Mortgage Classic this weekend, but it’ll be the last time the championship-winning golfer will participate in the tourney, and for an interesting reason.
Earlier in the week, the Detroit News reported on an incident that happened over 20 years ago, attaching Mickelson to a Detroit-area bookie which took half a million dollars from Mickelson’s pocket. The bookie, who is now dead, allegedly had ties to the mob.
Mickelson, who didn’t deny the veracity of the story, questioned its timing.
“It was so much effort for me to be here and to have that type of unnecessary attack,” Mickelson said (via ESPN). “Not like I care, it happened 20-something years ago, it’s just the lack of appreciation. Yeah, I don’t see that happening. I don’t see me coming back. Not that I don’t love the people here, they have been great, but not with that type of thing happening.”
In a statement this week to ESPN, Mickelson’s attorney Glenn Cohen says the sole purpose of the story was to “embarrass” his client.
“I’m disappointed they would curiously pick this week to write an article about a bet that was made over 20 years ago and a jury trial that took place in 2007, where the guy who was convicted is dead and where the only purpose for this article is to embarrass Phil Mickelson,” Cohen said.
The trial, which took place in 2007, revealed that the bookie, “Dandy” Don DeSeranno, hadn’t paid out a bet that Mickelson won years earlier.
Mickelson, who won the 2021 PGA Championship, hadn’t been able to replicate that success at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, sitting at T43 entering Friday.
UPDATE: Mickelson made the cut Friday afternoon and then left open the possibility of changing his mind about playing in Detroit again. He told media that he’d come back if enough people support a a GoFundMe campaign by Mike Sullivan, co-founder of Metro Detroit Golfers, to get Mickelson to reconsider.
“The people here were so nice that I’ll make a deal with them. There’s a guy named Mike Sullivan that’s trying to raise 50,000 signatures. If he gets 50,000 and all of those 50,000 agree to do one random act of kindness for another member of the community, I’m in,” Mickelson said, per Golf Digest.
Golf Digest also noted that there’s something in it for Mickelson:
Sullivan reported that for every person who donates $3.13 or more (313 is Detroit area code), he would give half to the Phil Mickelson Foundation and the other half to the Rocket Mortgage “Change the Course” initiative.