Phil Mickelson opened his press conference ahead of the Scottish Open on Wednesday morning with quite the soliloquy. He basically addressed two topics that he didn’t want to really discuss — but assumed he would be asked about them — and said that was all he was going to say about them.
Firstly, he mentioned the “report” that came out last week, referring to ESPN’s Outside the Lines article that linked Mickelson to an offshore illegal gambling operation. Mickelson has not been charged with a crime, nor is he under investigation, according to the aforementioned report.
“Feel free to ask about it,” said Mickelson. “I probably won’t say anything, but feel free to ask. I understand you have editors and you need to ask questions.”
Well, at least he gets it, which is more than can be said about many of his colleagues.
ESPN reported that Mickelson transferred nearly $3 million to a former sports gambling handicapper, who pleaded guilty to money laundering. The funds were part of an “illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to ESPN.
Mickelson explained that he’s secure enough in his own skin to disregard what the public thinks and/or what the media writes.
“When I started to understand that I was more of an object to be discussed, it took out the personal element of when people say things,” said Mickelson when he was indeed further questioned about the report. “People are going to say things good, they are going to say things bad. They are going to say things true, they are going to say things not true.
“The fact is, I’m comfortable enough with who I am as a person that I don’t feel I need to comment on every little report that comes out.”
Mickelson, however, was a bit more forthcoming about the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants and the PGA of America’s decision to pull the Grand Slam of Golf from Trump National L.A. Initially, he tried to play coy.
“You’re stumping me now with all these questions off-topic,” said Mickelson when asked about the PGA’s call. “I didn’t know. I don’t know what to say about that. I played the course. I thought it was a good golf course. But I don’t know.”
He was pressed on the issue, though, and asked if he thought golf wanted to be associated with someone who makes such comments as Mr. Trump did and if the PGA Tour will try to distance itself from the GOP Presidential candidate.
“I think we were all disappointed to hear his comments,” said Mickelson. “Yet it doesn’t take away from all that he’s done to try to help better golf, and take these properties and turn them around and make them prosperous. Like he did here at the golf course in Aberdeen, it’s just a wonderful golf course.
“And it puts everybody in an awkward situation. Because we don’t agree with those comments, but yet we are appreciative of what he’s done to help promote the game of golf, and that puts everybody in a tough spot.”
Fair enough. Mickelson was also asked for his reaction to Scott Stallings’ three-month suspension for inadvertently taking a supplement that violated the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy.
“I think that everybody is trying their hardest to make it a fair, level, even playing field, and I give Scott a lot of credit for coming forth,” he said. “He’s not trying to hide anything. He made a mistake and he came forth and was very open and honest about it. I like how we have had a drug policy implemented over the last however many years to make sure that from then going forward, we are all on a level playing field, even though I feel that was the case even beforehand.
“But I don’t feel as though he’s saying the right that every other citizen has to take certain things over-the-counter to help their own physical health should be taken away just because we play golf. So he was in my opinion trying to help his overall health doing something that every other citizen in the country has the right to do and it was taken away from him because he played golf for a living and I don’t necessarily agree with that.”
Mickelson was then informed that Stallings passed a drug test while taking the banned supplement DHEA and the Tour specifically tests for higher testosterone levels, which is what Stallings was taking the substance to increase.
“I didn’t know that they were testing for what he took specifically,” said Mickelson. “I thought that that was a precursor for what they tested. So if they are trying to test for synthetic testosterone and he was taking something to increase your testosterone. I eat potatoes, for the simple reason that’s the only food I know that helps increase your testosterone levels. Does that mean I’m violating the policy? Not really, but we are both kind of doing the same thing, trying to increase our testosterone levels for energy. We are just doing it in a slightly different way.”
Meanwhile, Mickelson has fond memories of the Gullane area, as he won the Open Championship in 2013 at Muirfield, which is essentially next door to Gullane Golf Club, the venue of this week’s Scottish Open. He plans to pay homage to the place where he won his last tournament and perhaps what was his most momentous win.
“I am going to stop by (Muirfield),” said Mickelson. “I would love to, at least I’m going to try to stop by and I’d love to just walk the back nine again. It’s probably the best nine holes of golf I’ve ever played, certainly playing the last six in 4-under.
“Bones and I were talking about how we would like to go over and spend some time. It’s a very emotional place for me. It’s probably the most special victory of my career and something that I cherish as much as any tournament victory ever. So, to be this close and not go would be a crime. I will definitely do it.”