The second major of the week is almost upon us and, of course, the golfing world is already starting to build-up for the US Open at the Pinehurst No. 2 course. This week the PGA Tour goes walking in Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Let’s be perfectly frank here though, it’s pure pre-amble. It’s the calm before the storm with many players opting not to play so that they can head to Pinehurst and hone the specific shots required to go low round there. Speaking of pre-amble…
A huge story hit the golf press this week. The FBI, yes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the Federal Bikini Inspectors, paid a wee visit to Phil Mickelson. Why?! Well it seems that gambling may have gotten the big lefty in more trouble. Let’s take it back a few years. It’s 2010, and the golf is building up to the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. Mickelson, a flagship player of Titleist, is earning circa $4 million per year from his club manufacturer and had won the US Masters that year. He’s a talisman for Team USA and will be looking to lead from the front. Completely out of the blue comes an announcement that he has switched from Titleist to Callaway Golf just before the event. Cue a barrage of questions. We all witnessed what happened to Rory when he went from Titleist to Nike. So why did this happen?
Vegas baby! Turned out that Mr and Mrs Mickelson were both huge fans of sin city and had built up huge debts, something in the region of $80 million! Cue the canny and opportunistic Callaway Golf. Phil had a few years left on his current contract, however Callaway offered to clear the debts in exchange for him switching to their equipment on Ryder Cup week of all weeks!
Turn the clocks forward to the present day. Phillip has now been accused of insider trading on the stock market. Silly boy! The allegation is that Mickelson has been working with two others on this. Carl Icahn, an activist investor and William Walters, a pro-gambler are also involved. That’s right big Phil has turned into Martha Stewart. The allegation involves a trade made on Clorox (CLX) shares 3 years ago. The share-price spiked and the idea is that anyone knowing this trade was imminent could get in before it and sell-up for a handsome profit during the rise and before the fall.
Now of course Mickelson fervently denies any wrongdoing, and this kind of thing is very, very difficult to prove. How can the FBI prove that Phil didn’t invest in CLX through his own volition? You see it’s tough. Phil has said that he’s putting this to one side so that he can focus on the US Open and completing his career Grand Slam. He has made no secret of the fact that this is the one tournament he wants this year and it is getting every ounce of attention he can give.
Who knows what the result of the investigation will be. I certainly hope that it is just wild rumours. Just think, people say golf is boring!!
Photo Credit: gpgolfreport.com