Sports

Phil Mickelson says gambling addiction was like a ‘hurricane’ which ‘caused a lot of damage’ in his life

Phil Mickelson has opened up about his gambling addiction, saying on Monday that it was like a “hurricane” which “caused a lot of damage” in his life.

Mickelson, who has previously talked about his struggles with sports gambling, posted on X – formerly known as Twitter – about his journey with his addiction in reference to the beginning of the NFL season.

“Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment,” the six-time major winner wrote. “The fantasy leagues will provide banter amongst friends and money won or lost betting won’t affect you.”

Mickelson explained that he has chosen to not bet on the NFL this season given how it previously affected his life and relationships. He described the issue as slipping past moderation and into addiction, “which isn’t any fun at all.”

“The money wasn’t ever the issue since our financial security has never been threatened, but I was so distracted I wasn’t able to be present with the ones I love and caused a lot of harm,” Mickelson added.

“This lack of presence has been so hurtful. ‘You’re here but you’re not with us,’ is something I’ve been told often throughout my addiction. It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware or could fully understand. It’s like a hurricane is going on outside and I’m isolated in a shelter oblivious to what was happening. When I came out there was so much damage to clean up that I just wanted to go back inside and not deal with it.”

The 53-year-old paid specific tribute to his wife Amy for helping him through his “darkest and most difficult times.”

“I couldn’t have gotten through this without her,” he said. “I’m so grateful for her strength in helping us get through the many challenges I’ve created for us. Because of her love, support, and commitment, I’m back on track to being the person I want to be.”

Last month, Mickelson denied claims that he considered betting on the 2012 Ryder Cup – in which he was participating.

According to a book released by professional gambler Billy Walters, Walters alleges that Mickelson’s gambling losses were close to $100 million and he wagered “a total of more than $1 billion during the past three decades.” Walters also alleges that he made over 7,000 wagers between 2010 and 2014.

CNN has not been able to independently verify these claims. Mickelson denied the claims he tried to bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup.

“While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game,” he wrote on X.

In his post on Monday, Mickelson said that, thanks to the professional help he has received over the years for his addiction, he is “now able to sit still, be present in the moment and live each day with an inner calm and peace.”

“I still have a lot of cleaning up to do with those I love the most but I’m doing it slowly and as best I can,” he added.

Mickelson went on to give his advice to others that might be struggling with gambling problems.

“This football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so it doesn’t detract from your ability to be present,” he said. “In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph.”

Mickelson did not qualify for the US team competing against Europe at the Ryder Cup in Rome later this month, and was also not selected as a captain’s pick by Zach Johnson.

Mickelson was one of the first of golf’s superstars to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour in 2022, causing controversy at the time after choosing to join the breakaway venture rather than staying with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

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