For the golfing world, June is associated with the U.S. Open. This time of year is also starting to become associated with stories about shady financial dealings linked to Phil Mickelson.
Last year, the five-time major champion was teeing off at the U.S. Open just as the New York Times clarified that earlier reports about him being investigated for insider trading of Clorox stock were “overstated.” At that time, though, he was said to be still under federal investigation for other trading of Dean Foods stock.
On Monday, little over a week after the Open memorably ended with Jordan Spieth winning and Dustin Johnson tying for second, ESPN reported that Mickelson was the source of nearly $3 million in gambling proceeds that were at the center of a federal money-laundering case. A California man named Gregory Silveira has pleaded guilty to accepting, and subsequently moving to other accounts, a wire transfer of about $2.75 million that he knew came from an unnamed “gambling client” and “represented proceeds from illegal sports betting.”
Although the final plea agreement reached between Silveira and the U.S. Department of Justice does not name the “gambling client,” an initial plea agreement signed last month by Silveira and his attorney, James D. Henderson Sr., contained a reference to the “money laundering of funds from P.M.” After Outside the Lines inquired about Mickelson’s potential role in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office on June 17 filed a motion to have the original plea agreement stricken. The next day, it filed an amended version minus any reference to “P.M.”
ESPN claimed that “two sources” told the network’s “Outside the Lines” program that Mickelson was, in fact, that client, in transactions that date back to March 2010. The golfer himself is under no threat of conviction in the money-laundering case, but it shines a light on what have previously been rumors and anecdotes about the popular PGA Tour player’s gambling habits.
The left-handed golfer is known for rarely shying away from a money match, and his affinity for sports gambling is no secret, either. In 2001, he was reprimanded by the PGA Tour after winning $500 from Mike Weir in the players’ lounge at the NEC Invitational: Mickelson had wagered $20 at 25-1 odds that Jim Furyk would hole a bunker shot.
Mickelson has won far larger sums betting on major sporting events like the Super Bowl; three Las Vegas gaming sources told Outside the Lines that Mickelson still bets on sports in Vegas.
Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, declined to comment on the Silveira matter and the Tour’s gambling policies.
Mickelson would presumably be able to easily afford gambling a sum as large almost $3 million. According to Forbes, he earns around $40 million annually in endorsements, and he raked in a total of $51 million last year alone.