Sports Betting Legend Billy Walters Details Golfing Great Phil Mickelson’s High Stakes Gambling Habits in New Book
Phil Mickelson, the esteemed three-time Masters-winning golfer, allegedly spent a massive $1 billion on online sports betting over a decade.
The claims come from a new book by famous sports bettor and convicted insider trader Billy Walters, titled Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk. An excerpt from the autobiography was recently leaked ahead of the planned August 22 release.
The excerpt goes into detail on the once long-term friendship between Walters and Mickelson.
Among other high stakes bets, it alleges that Mickelson called Walters during the 2012 Ryder Cup tournament in Chicago, which Mickelson was playing in, and asked where he could put a $400,000 bet on team USA.
Mickelson has vehemently denied the Ryder Cup betting claim.
“I never bet on the Ryder Cup. While it is well-known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game,” he said in a statement, as reported by Alternative Press.
Walters’ new book comes hot on the heels of his release from prison. In 2017, he was convicted of insider trading on stocks of what was then the U.S. largest dairy corporation, Dean Foods.
Mickelson was mentioned in the indictment, which alleged Walters provided information to the golfer on the Dean Foods stock trade.
Mickelson did not attend court to defend himself, and instead paid a $1 million fine to avoid any admission of guilt. Walters says this lack of a defense partly led to his eventual five-year sentence.
“All Phil had to do was publicly say it. He refused,” Walters’ book says.
“The outcome cost me my freedom, tens of millions of dollars, and a heartbreak I still struggle with daily. While I was in prison, my daughter committed suicide — I still believe I could have saved her if I’d been on the outside.”
Mickelson’s Betting Habits Unveiled
Among the most explosive allegations in the excerpt details the 2012 Ryder Cup tournament in Chicago.
Walters alleges that Mickelson approached him to place a $400,000 bet on his own U.S. team. At the time, such bets would have only been at offshore sportsbooks.
“Have you lost your f–king mind?” Walters recalled asking Mickelson. “Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose?”
In August 1989, then-Cincinnati Reds manager and former team legend Rose was fired for suspicious betting activity, which was then confirmed in 2004.
The case has echoes of this year’s college baseball betting scandal of the legal sports betting era, in which Alabama’s baseball coach was fired after an alleged associate placed a “reckless” $400,000 bet on a college game while at the Reds’ Great American Ballpark stadium.
Back in 2012, Walters says he declined Mickelson’s request to bet on the Ryder Cup, and it remains uncertain if Mickelson pursued the bet through other avenues.
Outside of that allegation, the book also takes a deep dive into Mickelson’s betting habits, providing staggering figures.
Between 2010 and 2014, Mickelson allegedly placed bets of $110,000 to win $100,000 over 1,110 times, and wagered $220,000 to win $200,000 nearly 900 times. In 2011 alone, Mickelson is said to have made more than 3,000 bets, averaging almost nine bets per day. On one particular day, he reportedly lost $143,500 after placing 43 bets on baseball games.
Walters was privy to this information because he was so successful at sports betting that bookmakers often banned him. That means he frequently used other high stakes bettor’s accounts, including, he says, Mickelson’s.
The pair reportedly formed their betting partnership around 2008, with Walters providing betting info and Mickelson placing the wagers.
This partnership came to an end in 2014, two years before Mickelson became a relief defendant in Walters’ insider trading case.
“In all the decades I’ve worked with partners and beards, Phil had accounts as large as anyone I’d seen,” Walters’ book says. “You don’t get those types of accounts without betting millions of dollars.”
Mickelson himself has not been without controversy in recent years. In 2022, he was suspended by the PGA Tour for working with rival Saudi-backed golf league LIV Golf. Shortly after, he signed a $150 million contract with LIV for the 2023 season.
Fellow legendary golfer Rory McIlroy couldn’t resist a jab at Mickelson this week over the alleged gambling revelations.
“At least he can bet on the Ryder Cup this year, because he won’t be part of it,” said McIlroy, speaking from the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee.