Phil Mickelson is making his Rocket Mortgage Classic debut this week. He says it will also be his last.
Mickelson confirmed after his 3-under 69 Thursday at Detroit Golf Club that he doesn’t see himself returning to the tournament because of an article published earlier this week in The Detroit News titled, “Lefty and Dandy Don: How a Grosse Pointe bookie allegedly cheated Phil Mickelson.”
The story, written by Rob Snell, details the 2007 federal racketeering trial of Jack Giacalone during which a Detroit-area bookie named Don DeSeranno was accused of cheating the major-winning golfer out of $500,000.
Mickelson initially took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the piece, responding to several tweets on Wednesday. In one response, Mickelson wrote, “Took place 23 years ago. Had I not come here to Detroit it wouldn’t have ran. My mistake making the effort to be here and have my foundation look into ways to help the local community. Didn’t even think of the opportunistic Rob Snells in the area would try and take advantage.”
A day later, during a weather delay, Mickelson responded to a tweet by Chad Livengood, senior editor for Crain’s Detroit Business, in which Livengood writes in quote-tweeting a photo of Mickelson on the course Thursday, “Is that @PhilMickelson before or after he got done rage-tweeting at @robertsnellnews for doing his job?”
“I haven’t tweeted anything yet,” Mickelson tweeted to Livengood. “I’ve only responded to other’s tweets. You and Rob do what you need to do (report something from over 20 years ago) and I’ll do what I need to (let everyone know why I won’t be back).”
After his round was finished, Mickelson was asked by reporters about the situation. Mickelson explained how “it was a lot” for him to fit the Rocket Mortgage Classic into his schedule coming off of his PGA victory and U.S. Open preparation and entering a busy stretch that includes the Open Championship. But he also said he liked Rocket Mortgage’s community involvement in Detroit and wanted to be a part of the event.
“I felt like as the PGA champion, I would be able to bring some value and maybe help the tournament out,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson, who hadn’t competed in Michigan since the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, then addressed the story.
“I feel that Rob Snell made an article this week that was very opportunistic and selfish and irresponsible,” Mickelson explained. “I just, you know, I was looking at some ways that my foundation might be able to get involved. When you have a divisive voice like that, you can't bring people together, it's very hard to bring people together, and that needs to change because the people here are great, but when that's your voice, it's hard for me or somebody to come in and bring other people and bring other entities involved to help out because you're constantly being torn down as opposed to brought together and built up.
“It was so much effort for me to be here and to have that type of unnecessary attack. 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 and they haven't been great, but not with that type of thing happening.”