His adreneline must be pumping. As he lies second going into the final round of tonight’s St Jude Classic in Memphis, Phil Mickelson looks to be writing another chapter in his dramatic life. I am expecting him to finally win the US Open at Oakmont next week at the age of 45, so that he can heroically complete the film script of his life. But what has prompted this adreneline rush, which leads to his dramatic victories on the golf course, is the danger of his gambling – and getting away with it.
This week, for the second time in less than a month, criminal court proceedings against one of Mickelson’s gambling associates have taken place. Gregory Silviera was sent to prison for a year for money laundering after transferring $2.75 million between bank accounts in 2010 for a client, identified by a long standing friend of Silviera’s, as Mickelson. Mickelson, as in the Billy Walters case, has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but his ties to the two men clearly break the PGA Tour Player Code of Conduct which tells players not associate with gamblers who might reflect adversely on the game. In Silviera’s case the transfer of $2.75 million from his gambling client was, according to court documents, to cover ‘losing wagers on high level sports betting’. Apparently Silviera did this as a personal favour to an individual who did not wish his wagering to become public knowledge so he handled the payment of funds.
Mickelson’s gambling is now public knowledge. According to the Wall Street Journal from 2000-2003 he lost up to $2.5 million in Las Vegas Casinos.
The backdrop to this is that the PGA Tour have recently been seeking proposals from data companies to submit bids to package real time tournament data into real time betting feeds for gambling houses. This has the problem that players could be influenced to miss putts or pull drives, it looks to put the players into a vulnerable situation.
As for Mickelson, his hard core fans will just ignore the latest saga and continue to worship the ground he walks on. The wider golfing audience may be less forgiving and it remains to be seen whether his financial partners will stick with him, as it may affect their image. As for Phil, he studied psychology in college, and he will know why he does it. These dramas, and there have been plenty of them over the years, do seem to kick start his performance on the golf course.
Looking forward to him lifting the US Open trophy next week, he’s given himself the thrill to get himself over the line.