He might win.
Why not, in this week of weeks, even by his outrageous standards. Heading into Sunday and the final round of LIV Golf’s Bedminister event, Phil Mickelson is tied for second, four strokes out of the lead, and he’ll play in the final grouping.
Wacky thing is, a victory may be only the fourth or fifth notable thing over just the past five or so days. Let’s review, in order of occurrence.
Twitter, 5:03 p.m. Tuesday. Hours earlier, in a press conference ahead of the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, Jon Rahm was asked to name a change he would make, in light of the Tour’s recent proposed deal with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, and the thought that everything was possibly on the table. Would it be more money? Or more time off? No, no. But his request was dire.
“I know this is going to sound very stupid,” Rahm said, “but as simple as having a freaking port-a-potty on every hole. I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t choose when I have to go to the bathroom. I’ve told the Tour this many times, as simple as that.”
Mickelson caught wind of it all over Twitter. Over the past year, the Tour and LIV, also funded by the PIF, have bickered over player wellness, among other topics, and what followed from one of LIV’s biggest stars was just another log on the fire.
“It’ll never happen,” Mickelson tweeted. “UNLESS, LIV starts doing it. Then it’ll happen immediately.”
There was more.
Bedminster press conference, Wednesday. And this exchange, also in light of the proposed agreement, along with changes the Tour and its commissioner, Jay Monahan, have made during its fight with LIV. We’ll just note that Mickelson believes he’s been a catalyst.
“What’s your reaction been when you’ve seen how it’s unfolded, because really it’s unfolded the way it was proposed to some degree in the first place to Jay and whatnot, and as you’ve seen the Tour react to the success of LIV, what’s been your reaction to that, since you were in the belly of the beast from the start here?”
“Yeah, so prior to this,” Mickelson said, “Jay and I had four three- or four-hour meetings, and all the notes I look back on, I’d say 85 or 90 percent of them are happening, and I think that’s really cool, and I’m happy for the PGA Tour. I wish them all the best.”
“Do you find yourself shaking your head at all?”
“Well, I mean, I chuckle,” Mickelson said. “I certainly am chuckling, yes.”
There was more.
An excerpt from old friend and legendary bettor Billy Walters’ forthcoming book, Gambler, which was published by Golf Digest, Thursday. It was damning. Mickelson has already acknowledged his gambling addiction, but Walters’ account provides more color as to the scope of Mickelson’s habit. Walters alleges that Mickelson had gambled more than $1 billion and lost more than $100 million. Walters also alleges that Mickelson wagered upward of nine $110,000 bets a day, and on one occasion placed 43 bets on Major League Baseball games in the same day. More troubling still, Walters claims to have fielded a request from Mickelson to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup, at which Mickelson competed on the U.S. team.
Early Thursday night, through Twitter and statements to multiple outlets, Mickelson offered this response:
“I never bet on the Ryder Cup. While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game. I have also been very open about my gambling addiction. I have previously conveyed my remorse, took responsibility, have gotten help, have been fully committed to therapy that has positively impacted me and I feel good about where I am now.”
There was more.
On Friday, during round one of the Bedminster event, Mickelson shot a one-under 70.
On Saturday, during round two, he birdied his first hole, the par-5 18th. (LIV plays with a shotgun start format.) Then his third hole. Then his ninth. And his 12th and 13th. He bogeyed his 15th. He narrowly missed a birdie on his 18th.
And he might win.
He’s never done that in the year he’s been on LIV. His last Tour win came at the 2021 PGA Championship. Is he summoning showmanship here? Maybe. Is he flipping his driver off at all the noise? Maybe that, too. Would he go quietly into the New York metro-area night with a victory? Probably not.
“Yeah, it would mean a lot to me to win one of these events,” Mickelson said afterward on Saturday. “I am really trying hard. That’s a strong goal of mine. I’m working really hard to do it.
“This is a great stepping-stone for me to build on and to have that opportunity tomorrow, and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
“This has been a lot of fun.”