Phil Mickelson has been open about his gambling addiction, saying on Monday that it has been like a “hurricane” that has “caused a lot of damage” in his life.
Mickelson, who has previously spoken about his struggles with sports gambling, posted on X — formerly known as Twitter — about his journey with his addiction in connection with the start of the NFL season.
“Most of you will enjoy this football season in moderation and have a lot of fun and entertainment at the same time,” the six-time major winner wrote. “Fantasy leagues will be fun between friends, and winning or losing bets won’t affect you.”
Mickelson explained that he decided not to bet on the NFL this season because of how it had affected his life and relationships before. He described the problem as slipping through sobriety and into addiction, “which is no fun at all.”
“It was never about the money because our financial security was never in jeopardy, but I was so distracted that I couldn’t be present with the ones I love and I caused a lot of damage,” Mickelson added.
“This absence of presence was so hurtful. “You’re here, but you’re not with us,” is something I was often told during my addiction. It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware of or could fully understand. It’s like there’s a hurricane going on outside and I’m isolated in the shelter oblivious to what’s going on. When I came out, there was so much damage to clean up that I wanted to go back in and not deal with it.”
The 53-year-old paid special tribute to his wife Amy for helping him through his “darkest and hardest times”.
“I couldn’t have done it without her,” he said. “I am so grateful for her strength to help us overcome the many challenges I have created for us. With her love, support and determination, I am back on the road to being who I want to be.”
Last month, Mickelson denied claims he was considering betting on the 2012 Ryder Cup – which he attended.
According to a book published by professional gambler Billy Walters, Walters claims that Mickelson’s gambling losses were close to $100 million and he wagered “a total of more than $1 billion over the past three decades.” Walters also claims to have placed more than 7,000 bets between 2010 and 2014.
CNN was unable to independently verify these claims. Mickelson denied claims he tried to bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup.
“While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the field, I would never undermine the integrity of the game,” he wrote on X.
In his post Monday, Mickelson said that thanks to the professional help he’s received over the years for his addiction, he is “now able to sit still, be present in the moment, and live each day with inner calm and peace. ”
“I still have a lot of cleaning to do with my favorites, but I’m taking it slow and the best I can,” he added.
Mickelson went on to offer his advice to others who might have gambling problems.
“Have fun in moderation this football season and beyond so it doesn’t diminish your ability to be present,” he said. “In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be remembered far more than any winning bet or fantasy league triumph.”
Mickelson did not qualify for the USA team that will compete against Europe at the Ryder Cup in Rome later this month and was also not selected as a captain’s choice by Zach Johnson.
Mickelson was one of the first golf superstars to join the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Tour in 2022, sparking controversy at the time after he decided to join the breakaway venture instead of staying on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.