Netlore Archive: Did pro golfer Phil Mickelson really rack up a $200,000 debt betting on his own performance in a practice round against three other players in Augusta, Georgia?
Description: Web hoax / April Fools joke
Circulating since: April 2008
Email example contributed by Tim H., April 9, 2008:
MICKELSON'S GAMBLING DEBTS CAUSE UPROAR AMONG AUGUSTA MEMBERS
Last week Phil Mickelson was playing a practice round at Augusta and went away from protocol and convinced his playing partners to up the stakes in the usual $1 game. It was Mickelson versus the other three which included some of the deepest pockets among the membership. The stakes: $5000 skins and a pot of $130,000, $100,000 of which was contributed by Mickelson for the low net score - Mickelson would play off scratch.
According to one of the threesome which obviously will remain anonymous, "everything was going great until the back 9 when Mickelson really could not believe the good fortune of 'chuckie'. He was draining everything on the greens and when he missed the green twice he had two chip-ins. Phil's lead on the scorecard looked safe but in the clubhouse we added it up and lo and behold, Phil owed $200,000." And then it got ugly. The stories by witnesses conflict, but in effect Mickelson tried to pass the bets off as laugh on the first tee and insisted "there was no way he would bet hundreds of thousands on golf." Mickelson believed the standard one dollar game was in effect.
The threesome was having none of it and before you know it the foursome was sitting in the office of Billy Payne who was none too happy about the loud conversations taking place in the dining room. But even in the privacy of the office, Mickelson was being very difficult. According to the same anonymous member: "Phil slipped up and admitted that he initiated the stakes and set the terms of the bet. Then he protested at having to pay so much and offered 30 cents on the dollar right then and there, take it or leave it. Billy was aghast and told Phil, you will arrange to pay every dollar or you will never be welcome at Augusta again, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. Mickelson tried to protest and even made a snide remark that Billy couldn't stop him from being welcome at Augusta every April. Billy simply asked are you taking it or leaving it."
Mickelson later called his accountant with the banking details of 'chuckie' and an arrangement was made for a wire transfer of an undisclosed amount. The worse of this may not be over as the other member of the threesome was upset enough to call the PGA Tour. When contacted for a comment, the PGA Tour declined to comment and would not even acknowledge whether or not they have been contacted about the conflict at Augusta National.
From GolfWeek Insider....
Comments: Tales of golfers and their gambling exploits are legion, and PGA pro golfer Phil Mickelson has a more storied reputation than most. "Mickelson is ... known as a player who seldom -- if ever -- backs off from a challenge," wrote Don Wade in Wanna Bet? The Greatest True Stories About Gambling on Golf, "and that includes a bet." Wade recounts a 1998 incident in which Mickelson and his partner John Huston laid a side-bet against their opponents in a practice round on who could score the most birdies. Mickelson and Huston walked away with $27,000.
That said, it is our task to differentiate between the legendary and the just plain false, and the story before us, in which Mickelson supposedly racked up a $200,000 debt during a 2008 practice round in Augusta, Georgia, is the latter -- just plain false. It was an April Fools' Day joke, in fact, concocted by person(s) unknown and distributed on the Internet with a bogus attribution to "GolfWeek Insider."
"Not true," responded Golfweek editor Jeff Babineau in an April 9 posting on the Golfweek Tour Blog. "As the editor of Golfweek, I can assure that nobody at our magazine or website had anything to do with the ruse, which was posted, go figure, on April 1."
Sources and further reading:
Statement from Golfweek Editor Jeff Babineau
Golfweek Tour Blog, 9 April 2008
Clarification - Mickelson Story Not Ours
Golfweek, 10 April 2008
Wanna Bet? : The Greatest True Stories About Gambling on Golf...
By Don Wade, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005 (p. 100-101)
Last updated: 04/22/08