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New York Times says Mickelson's connection to insider trading is weaker than initially reported

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Is this the week for Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open? — Getty Images

PINEHURST, N.C. - It appears someone owes Phil Mickelson an apology.

The New York Times has reported that Mickelson did not buy stock in Clorox at the same time as investor Carl Icahn was seeking to purchase the company. Four different individuals familiar with the matter verified to the Times that there is no evidence Mickelson purchased the shares, despite earlier reports that he had done so.

Mickelson has maintained his innocence in the investigation, which hinged on the theory that Icahn tipped off Vegas gambler Billy Walters, who in turn tipped off Mickelson, to the impending surge in stock price. Sources indicated to the New York Times that investigators erred in looping Mickelson into the Icahn investigation.

However, Mickelson is not completely out of the investigation. He and Walters are still the focus of an investigation into trading in shares of Dean Foods in 2012. Walters made $15 million and Mickelson made $1 million on those trades.

According to the Times, the FBI is looking into Walters, and is seeking information from Mickelson about him. Mickelson has been told that he will not be charged, and indeed it is possible that there will be no civil or criminal charges filed in the case at all.

FBI agents have approached Mickelson without advance notice twice, once last fall at a New Jersey airport and more recently after his first round at the Memorial. Those moves have drawn criticism as being unnecessarily confrontational, and the lack of followup in the form of subpoenas or charges has only increased suspicion that the government's case was not as strong as it could, or should, have been.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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