Rory McIlroy wanted to make sure he got one last shot in after carding a 3-under 67 in the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship Thursday in Memphis. Presented with a question about the excerpt from a new book written by Phil Mickelson’s former gambling partner, McIlroy almost gleefully fired back at his LIV Golf antagonist.
“At least he can bet on the Ryder Cup this year,” McIlroy cracked, “because he won’t be a part of it.”
In the excerpt, Billy Walters claims Mickelson made tens of thousands of six-figure bets and alleged Mickelson called him from the 2012 Ryder Cup and asked him to place a $400,000 wager for him on the U.S. team to win. Mickelson was one of 12 members of the team.
Mickelson subsequently released a statement on the matter: “I never bet on the Ryder Cup,” he wrote. “While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game. I have also been very open about my gambling addiction. I have previously conveyed my remorse, took responsibility, have gotten help, have been fully committed to therapy that has positively impacted me and I feel good about where I am now.”
Though Mickelson is no longer part of the PGA Tour, the latest revelations about his life off the course became the talk of the golf world Thursday and therefore unavoidable as the first FedEx Cup playoff event began at TPC Southwind.
“The truth, I don’t know what the truth exactly is, but from what everyone has reported, that’s a lot of bets per day. I don’t know how I’d be able to play,” Collin Morikawa said, laughing.
Jordan Spieth, who finished Thursday in the lead after carding a 7-under 63, indicated the excerpt had been discussed by some golfers in the clubhouse before first-round action commenced later than expected due to inclement weather.
“I mean, I would say people were maybe a bit surprised at the amount of … ” Spieth said before cutting himself off. “I haven’t really seen a whole lot on it. I just saw what some people sent me and stuff, and it was so quick this morning that even if I wanted to comment, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
McIlroy thought otherwise.
“Had to get that one in there,” he said as he left the podium, once his jab at Mickelson had landed. “Glad someone asked me.”