Phil Mickelson likely not guilty of insider trading

Phil-Mickelson-Claret-JugA bombshell report that was published by the New York Post and other media outlets recently indicated that Phil Mickelson was at the center of an ongoing FBI investigation into a possible insider trading scheme. The New York Times, which also ran the original Mickelson story, admitted on Wednesday night that Mickelson’s role in the investigation has been “overstated.”

Mickelson was originally believed to be tied to the investigation through his alleged relationship with Las Vegas sports gambling guru Billy Walters. Initial speculation was that billionaire investor Carl Icahn may have tipped off Walters when he made a $10 billion offer to buy Clorox Inc. in 2011, causing the company’s stock to skyrocket. Mickelson would have then gotten the information from Walters.

However, the Times now claims Mickelson did not trade in his shares of Clorox at the time Icahn was preparing his massive bid. The government is reportedly seeking information from Mickelson regarding Walters, but he has been informed that there are no plans to criminally charge him.

The new details, provided in the interviews with the people briefed on the matter, indicate that Mr. Mickelson’s ties to the investigation are weaker than previously reported. The details may also raise questions about the government’s decision to deploy what appear to be unusually aggressive tactics in the investigation, particularly when the F.B.I. agents publicly approached Mr. Mickelson even though he is known to have a lawyer and a sports agent.

Mickelson, who has maintained that he has done nothing wrong, was approached by FBI agents after he finished a round at The Memorial Tournament in Ohio late last month. Several former federal prosecutors who spoke with the Times speculated that the government officials may have been aiming to embarrass Mickelson so he would be more inclined to cooperate against Walters.

While it appears Mickelson will not be charged with anything in relation to the Clorox trading situation, he may not be completely out of the woods. Investigators are still reportedly looking at separate trades he and Walters made in Dean Foods in 2012.

Mickelson is attempting to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the US Open this weekend. He has finished second in the event six times during his career.

Phil Mickelson going back to claw grip to fix ‘poopy’ putting


Phil Mickelson is one of the greatest putters to ever live, and he has been known to switch up his mechanics from time to time. When Mickelson felt like he was striking the ball too hard on the greens a couple of years ago, he switched to what is known as the “claw grip.” He went back to it last week for the final round of the St. Jude Classic and is sticking with it for the US Open.

By gripping the putter in a way that makes his bottom hand a claw, Mickelson can take the hand and wrist action out of his putting stroke and isolate his shoulders. That helps him hit putts with more consistent pace. It also stops the poopiness, as he phrased it on Tuesday.

“I should have won that last week by eight shots if I putted worth — decent,” Mickelson told reporters, via Eye on Golf. “I saw Stockton this morning and really the reason why I went to the claw is that I just have been a little bit too poppy, if you will, I’ve been popping at it. And not making a long kind of smooth, brush stroke. When I take the bottom hand off it allows me to do that.”

Phil obviously wanted to use another word but stopped himself just in time.

Mickelson explains the reasoning behind the claw grip in this video.

Mickelson is easily the biggest story heading into the US Open at Pinehurst this week. A win would complete the career Grand Slam for the 43-year-old, who has finished in second at the US Open a whopping six times in his Hall of Fame career. I’ll be one of the thousands who are pulling for Phil.

Report: FBI investigating Phil Mickelson for possible insider trading

Phil-Mickelson-Claret-JugPhil Mickelson is reportedly at the center of a federal investigation into a possible insider trading scheme. According to the New York Post, Mickelson may have taken part in illegal trading based on nonpublic information from billionaire investor Carl Icahn and Las Vegas sports gambling guru Billy Walters.

The investigation is said to have started in 2011, when Icahn made a $10 billion offer to purchase Clorox. Investigators say Icahn’s offer caused Clorox stock to skyrocket and that he may have tipped off Walters — who passed the information along to Mickelson — ahead of time. Investigators are in the process of trying to determine if Mickelson’s and Walters’ trading habits indicate they profited from the spike in Clorox stock caused by Icahn’s offer.

Mickelson acknowledged that he has spoken to government officials but maintained he has done nothing illegal.

“I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” the reining Open Championship winner said. “I have cooperated with the government in this investigation and will continue to do so. I wish I could fully discuss this matter, but under the current circumstances, it’s just not possible.”

Icahn claimed to have no knowledge of any ongoing investigation.

“We don’t know of any investigation,” the 78-year-old told The Post. “Further, we are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our actions,” Icahn said. “I’m very proud of my record and I’ve never given out insider information. I’m very careful. That’s why I have an unblemished record.”

Despite Mickelson’s admission that he has cooperated with investigators, his lawyer Glenn Coehn told The Wall Street Journal that Mickelson is “not the target of any investigation, period.”

Sources also told The Post that investigators approached Mickelson during the first round of the Memorial Tournament on Thursday. Mickelson started his round on fire and was 5-under after 15 holes. He finished with a bogey on 16 and double bogeys and 17 and 18.

Phil Mickelson hasn’t been able to get a tee time at Pinehurst

Phil-Mickelson-Claret-JugPhil Mickelson made nearly $50 million in 2013. According to Forbes, he was the seventh highest paid athlete in the world. Anyone who makes that kind of money can pretty much do whatever they want, right? Wrong. In fact, the second richest golfer in the world can’t even get any tee time he wants.

Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Mickelson, who is in North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow this week, has been looking to sneak in a practice round at Pinehurst — the site of this year’s US Open. Believe it or not, he claims he has had no luck.

“I’ve tried to get down there three times now, and the course has been booked all three times,” Mickelson said. “So I don’t know when I’ll get down there.”

Imagine being the guy on the phone who has to say, “Sorry Mr. Mickelson, we’re all booked up for the next few days.” Granted, Mickelson is probably looking to get out by himself and take his time working on certain shots. That probably makes it more difficult for the course to find time for him.

The US Open is the only major tournament Mickelson has never won. He has finished in second place a whopping six times at the event, and a Grand Slam would really complete his career. Don’t the course managers know what’s at stake for Phil? Make some room for the guy!

H/T Devil Ball Golf

Phil Mickelson almost forgot to register for PGA Championship, showed up in flip-flops


Phil-Mickelson-Claret-JugPhil Mickelson is looking to win back-to-back major championships for the first time in his career at Oak Hill this week, but the 2013 British Open winner nearly cost himself the opportunity with forgetfulness. According to the Golf Channel, Lefty signed up for the PGA Championship at the last second on Wednesday.

Players are required to register for PGA tournaments up to a day before the opening round. Mickelson chose not to play a practice round at Oak Hill on Wednesday, which resulted in the registration nearly slipping his mind. He strolled into the clubhouse with a hop in his step and wearing flip-flops at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Is that proper golf attire? Since Mickelson wasn’t heading out onto the course and he’s, well, Phil Mickelson, I’m sure nobody gave him any grief.

Believe it or not, Mickelson’s flub is not unprecedented among professional golfers. Last year, Rory McIlroy nearly missed his Ryder Cup tee time after he showed up late and had to rush to the first tee. McIlroy also overslept before the final round of the PGA Championship last year and then went on to win, so this could be good luck for Phil. As long as you avoid pulling a Jim Furyk, there’s no harm done.

GIF via SB Nation

Phil Mickelson incurs 61% tax rate after winning British Open

Phil-Mickelson-Claret-JugPhil Mickelson made headlines earlier this year when he ranted about his astronomically high tax rate in the state of California. While no one wants to hear one of the wealthiest athletes in the world complain about money, I can see how the tax rate he incurred after winning The Open Championship might be a bit frustrating.

The week before he won his first Open Championship, Mickelson also won the Scottish Open. Between the two tournaments, he earned $2,167,500. Not bad for two weeks of work, but the 43-year-old will take home well under half of the earnings.

As Forbes pointed out, the United Kingdom has set Scotland’s tax rate at 45% for people who make over 150,000 pounds ($230,000 US), meaning Mickelson had to leave $954,000 of his winnings in Scotland before he left. In addition to that 45%, the UK also taxes the endorsement income of non-resident athletes. Mickelson will be taxed for any bonuses he receives for winning the tournaments in addition to ranking bonuses he receives at the end of the year. Those taxes will be 45% as well.

Forbes went on to note that Mickelson can take a foreign tax credit on his 2013 US return so he is not taxed twice at the federal level for the money he earned overseas. However, he will still have to pay a 2.9% unemployment tax and 13.3% tax for the state of California. All of that math adds up to a 61.12% tax on everything he earned while dominating in Scotland. Of the $2,167,500 he earned, Mickelson will take home about $842,700 before expenses (which include paying his caddie).

Is Phil hurting for money? Hardly, but I guarantee you 99 out of 100 people who were in his position and being taxed over 60% would whine about it. As regular middle-class citizens, we just don’t want to hear it.

Phil Mickelson talks about reporter who asked him a ‘dumbass question’ (Video)

Phil-Mickelson-dumbass-questionPhil Mickelson is generally regarded as one of the more polite and soft-spoken people in sports. Despite the fact that he makes around $60 million a year through tournaments and endorsements, Phil comes across as a pretty humble guy. That doesn’t mean he’s immune to getting frustrated with reporters who ask useless questions.

During the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on Thursday, Mickelson was speaking with a reporter from the Golf Channel about being asked dumb questions. He said the most useless question he was ever asked was if he was looking forward to Augusta.

Since Phil has had some of the most exciting moments in his career at The Masters, which happens to be the most important golf event of the calendar year, the question can be seen as a waste of time. Clearly that’s exactly how Mickelson viewed it.

Video via Game On!