On Thursday the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged PGA star Phil Mickelson made nearly $1 million on an insider trading tip and used that money to pay off a debt to known sports gambler Billy Walters.
Golf Analyst Robert Lusetich told The Jim Rome Show on Friday that the PGA Tour is “no commenting” on the allegations that surround Mickelson and his connection with one of the biggest whales in Las Vegas.
“When we hear in the filing that he owed money to Billy Walters, what was it for? What were the bets?” Lusetich said. “Because this now puts the PGA Tour really in a difficult place, because the day before this news broke, Phil Mickelson was announced as the tournament host, taking over for Bill Clinton for the Old Bob Hope in Palm Springs in the dessert in California. It’s just very messy.
“They just don’t want to comment, but I’m not sure if they can just continue the no comment line, because it’s very very clear if you look at the PGA Tour player handbook that you just can’t be associating with known gamblers.”
The silence is only hurting the Tour, Lusetich said. When one would think any major sporting league would come out and denounce a star player appearing to have a connection with a known gambler, let alone the one that appears Mickelson had a gambling connection with.
“I think, frankly, it’s embarrassing. I don’t think they know what to do. Phil Mickelson is a star, is a star in the game of golf, has certainly done a lot of positive things. He’s an integral player. I know he’s inching towards 50, but he’s still a focal point of the PGA Tour,” Lusetich said.
It appears the PGA Tour may be giving Mickelson preferential treatment, according to Lusetich.
“It’s obvious to me that what’s happening here is big names don’t get treated the same as others, and I think that the Tour is going to bury its head in the sand and hope this goes away, but I just don’t see how it could go away.”
Lusetich hopes the Tour questions Mickelson about that alleged debt to Walters.
“This is the information that we need, answers to that nobody is willing to provide. I think the PGA Tour should be asking these questions, and I hope that they are, instead of telling me no comment,” Lusetich said. “Clearly right now, this is not good for the PGA Tour, it’s not good for Phil Mickelson. More information, it’s not a question of burying this, it’s a question of becoming more transparent. If he was gambling, what was he gambling on. I read the filing, it said he used the proceeds of this insider trading deal for $930,000. Those proceeds were used in part to pay off his debts. Does that mean his debt to Billy Walters was bigger than $931,000 dollars? I don’t know, but certainly there are many, many question marks floating around this one.”
Lusetich again hit home the point home of someone needing to find out what Mickelson was allegedly gambling on.
“What I do have some issues is if Phil is making bets with Billy Walters, what is he betting on?” Lusetich said. “If he’s betting on the Chargers than whatever, that’s his prerogative, but certainly but just the specter of potentially betting on golf, I think we’re going down the Pete Rose road here.”