As if golf fans needed another example of how they might play in a different universe than does Phil Mickelson, there’s this: Mickelson reportedly lost more than $40 million gambling from 2010 to 2014.
According to an excerpt from golf writer Alan Shipnuck’s forthcoming unauthorized biography of Mickelson, the six-time major champion was found to have racked up the huge losses when federal auditors probed his role in an insider-trading scheme. He was not found to be criminally liable in a case that sent renowned Las Vegas sports gambler Billy Walters to prison.
Mickelson, 51, ranks second in career earnings on the PGA Tour, with nearly $95 million. His career endorsement income reportedly vastly exceeds his on-course earnings.
Mickelson is the defending champion for this month’s PGA Championship. He has registered for the event, to be held May 19-22 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but has not confirmed whether he will play. He has not competed since the Saudi Invitational in early February, shortly before Shipnuck posted highly critical comments from Mickelson about the PGA Tour related to his involvement in the upstart LIV Golf initiative (READ MORE).
Greg Norman said he was “disappointed” with the R&A’s decision not to grant him a spot in the 150th Open Championship this summer at St. Andrews, despite his status as a two-time Open champion.
Norman, the face behind the Saudi-financed upstart LIV Golf Invitational Series and a vocal critic of the PGA and European tours, had applied for a special exemption to play at the “home of golf.”
“I have been a staunch proponent of the R&A since 1977 and a proud Champion Golfer of the Year – twice,” Norman told Australian Golf Digest.
A past champion must be 60 or younger or have won the Claret Jug in the previous 10 years to be exempt from qualifying, according to the R&A. Norman, 67, won the Open in 1986 and 1993.
“We have replied to him,” a spokesman told Australian Golf Digest. “There is no change to our position.”
Norman does not intend to try to qualify for the Open.
Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open champion, was granted an exemption to play this year. Calcavecchia, who will turn 62 ahead of the July 14-17 tournament, had his Open sendoff delayed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic (READ MORE).
Pat Rielly, who guided the PGA of America through a national controversy regarding race and club membership surrounding the 1990 PGA Championship, died of heart failure May 4 in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 87.
As the PGA’s 26th president, Rielly was faced with mounting protests when Hall Thompson, the founder of Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Alabama, publicly defended the club’s ban on Black members. With TV advertisers threatening to boycott the tournament and civil-rights groups picketing, Rielly arranged to move the tournament. One week before play, Shoal Creek admitted its first Black member, and the PGA remained at Shoal Creek.
“Shoal Creek was easy for me,” Rielly told Golfweek for a story published in 2015. “I knew what I was going to do. If they didn’t do what they did, we weren’t going to be there. The game is bigger than the PGA. The game is everything.”
The Shoal Creek controversy prompted the PGA Tour, USGA and other golf organizations to change their relationships with clubs that endorsed exclusionary membership practices.
“Pat helped lead the charge for golf in requiring all future PGA of America Championship venues to have open membership policies, a decision the rest of the sport followed shortly thereafter,” PGA President Jim Richerson said in a statement. “Pat also led by example in his efforts to help position PGA professionals as business leaders and to place the best interests of the PGA professional at the center of all important decisions.”
Rielly played football and ran track at Penn State before serving four years in the Marines, rising to the rank of captain. He became a club professional in California in the early 1960s, spending most of his career at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena (READ MORE).
The Lee Elder Internship will provide 25 students from “underrepresented communities” with career training during the week of the U.S. Open next month at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, the USGA announced. Elder, a four-time PGA Tour winner and the first Black golfer to compete in the Masters, died Nov. 28 at age 87. “This bright group of young leaders shows us what the future of golf can and will be,” USGA CEO Mike Whan said in a statement (READ MORE).
The LPGA announced Friday that beginning this year, players must compete as professionals in the tour’s Q-Series, the final stage of qualifying for the LPGA Tour. Should an amateur advance or be exempt into Q-Series, she must turn professional to compete for tour membership. The change ends a policy begun in 2018 by which amateurs who earned LPGA status at the Q-Series could defer membership until July 1 of the next year (READ MORE).
Salimah Mussani has been promoted to women’s head coach for Team Canada, Golf Canada announced. Mussani had been the assistant coach under Tristan Mullally, who became Golf Canada’s national talent identification director. Mussani is a two-time Canadian Junior champion and a former PGA of Canada women’s winner. Jennifer Greggain will become a full-time associate coach for Mussani (READ MORE).
The documentary “Becoming Annika” will premiere at 9 p.m. May 10 on Golf Channel, NBC Sports Group announced. The film, made in conjunction with the USGA, profiles the 72-time LPGA winner and is narrated by actress Hilary Swank (READ MORE).
When James Piot ends his reign as U.S. Amateur champion this summer, he will have to return the Havemeyer Trophy to the USGA. However, the Golf Association of Michigan wanted to leave Piot, 23, of Canton, Michigan, and a fifth-year senior at Michigan State, with a memento. The GAP commissioned a replica of the Havemeyer Trophy for Piot to keep (READ MORE).
The USGA has hired Heather Daly-Donofrio as its managing director of the new Team USA, the association announced. Daly-Donofrio, 52, is a two-time winner in 11 seasons on the LPGA and a former LPGA executive. The Team USA concept will attempt to provide young American golfers with a competitive pathway at the grassroots level, through the junior, collegiate and amateur ranks.
Staff and Wire Reports