Phil Mickelson opened up about his "reckless" and "embarrassing" gambling addiction for the first time in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated/Morning Read’s Bob Harig.
Mickelson, 51, is set to make his debut in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf’s inaugural invitational tournament on Thursday. He will compete in the 54-hole, 48-man field for $25 million in prize money. His interview with Harig breaks four months of silence, a withdrawal from the public eye brought on by disparaging comments Mickelson made about the PGA Tour’s "dictatorship."
Mickelson addressed his 30-plus years on the PGA Tour and his involvement with LIV Golf, but questions eventually turned to speculation surrounding Mickelson’s financial well-being.
"My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing," Mickelson said. "I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there. My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time.
"Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember. But about a decade ago is when I would say it became reckless."
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In an excerpt from golf writer Alan Shipnuck’s Mickelson biography published to FirepitCollective.com, Shupnick estimates that Mickelson accrued gambling losses upwards of $40 million between 2010 and 2014. In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Mickelson made nearly $1 million off a stock tip, using the gains to pay off a gambling debt.
"It’s embarrassing. I don’t like that people know," he said. "The fact is I’ve been dealing with it for some time. Amy has been very supportive of it and with me and the process. We’re at place after many years where I feel comfortable with where that is. It isn’t a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions."
Mickelson was also well-known among golfers for placing bets during practice rounds as a way to prepare.
"On the golf course, it’s creating competition. But it’s the anxiety, the other things that come across with gambling off the course and addiction off the course that I really needed to address."
Mickelson, who has won six majors on the PGA Tour, will join the likes of Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Kevin Na and Louis Oosthuizen at LIV Golf's inaugural tournament.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Phil Mickelson discusses 'reckless,' 'embarrassing' gambling addiction