Phil Mickelson will tee off on Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit for the first time.
Yet ahead of his inaugural stop in one of the newer PGA Tour events, Mickelson isn’t happy with The Detroit News for a story it ran on Tuesday about previously unreported gambling allegations linking him to a former “mob-connected” Detroit area bookie.
Though his attorney told ESPN that nothing in the story is inaccurate, they are mad that it came out now.
"He didn't say anything [in the story] that wasn't true; I'm not complaining about that," Glenn Cohen, Mickelson's attorney, told ESPN. "But why? Why are you going to embarrass Phil Mickelson when he's there to support your tournament and the charities it supports and the [PGA] Tour? Rocket Mortgage is a Detroit-based company. Phil has never played there before.
"I'm disappointed they would curiously pick this week to write an article about a bet that was made over 20 years ago and a jury trial that took place in 2007, where the guy who was convicted is dead and where the only purpose for this article is to embarrass Phil Mickelson."
Detroit bookie cheated Mickelson out of $500,000
The Detroit News obtained court records from a racketeering trial of organized crime leader Jack Giacalone in 2007. “Dandy” Don DeSeranno, described as “one of the biggest gamblers in Detroit history,” testified in that trial.
Mickelson, who didn’t do anything wrong, was brought up in the trial during a cross-examination of DeSeranno used to try and “damage the bookie’s credibility.”
The transcript, from The Detroit News:
"Did you cheat — do you know Phil Mickelson, the golfer?" Giacalone's lawyer, Neil Fink, asked.
"Who?" DeSeranno said.
"Phil Mickelson," Fink said, "the golfer."
"Yes," DeSeranno said.
"Lefty?" the lawyer said, using Mickelson's nickname.
"Yes," DeSeranno said.
“Did you cheat him out of $500,000?” Fink said.
“I wouldn’t say I cheated him,” DeSeranno said.
"What would you call it?" Fink said. "What did you do?"
“I couldn’t pay him," DeSeranno said.
“You booked his action, correct?” Fink said.
“Yes,” DeSeranno said.
In short, Mickelson placed a large bet with DeSeranno and was never paid out. It's unclear specifically what bet that was.
Mickelson, an avid gambler, was not the subject of the investigation. As a federal prosecutor told The Detroit News, “it is not a crime to be a bettor.”
“Phil and a bunch of his buddies back then were betting on sports, and Phil was the guy placing the bets,” Cohen said Tuesday, via The Detroit News. “They got this guy’s name and had no idea what his background was.
“The guy didn’t pay him. Phil says it was a significant amount. He never got paid, and that was it."
Mickelson, 51, picked up his 45th career PGA Tour win in May when he won the PGA Championship — which made him the oldest golfer in history to win a major championship. That victory marked the Hall of Famer’s first victory on Tour in two years.
Cohen said that there is “no earthly reason whatsoever” that Mickelson would address the story while playing at the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week — where he’s set to tee off on Thursday morning alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler.
"The bottom line is Phil wasn't paid,” Cohen said, via ESPN. “The guy who took the bet turned out to be a crook and Phil didn't know it. But it's irrelevant. Whether this guy was the worst human being alive ... what is the newsworthiness of this article now? There isn't any."
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