DETROIT — Phil Mickelson’s first appearance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be his last.
The reigning PGA Championship winner confirmed that on Thursday after his first round at the Detroit Golf Club. Mickelson cited what he called an “unnecessary attack” in a Detroit News story published on Tuesday.
The story showed Mickelson was cheated out of $500,000 roughly 20 years ago by “Dandy" Don DeSeranno, a mob-connected bookie from Grosse Pointe Park who testified in a 2007 racketeering trial of Jack Giacalone, a reputed organized crime leader in Metro Detroit.
Mickelson has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Though the trial occurred in 2007, the transcript mentioning Mickelson did not appear in Giacalone's court file until 2018. It was discovered as Giacalone faced prison time last month in connection with an overdue tax bill of more than $537,222. The details involving Mickelson were previously unreported.
“It was so much effort for me to be here and to have that type of unnecessary attack — not like I care, it happened 20-something years ago — but just the lack of appreciation, yeah, I don’t see that happening,” Mickelson said when asked if he’d return to the third-year PGA Tour event. “I don’t see me coming back. Not that I don’t love the people here and they have been great, but not with that type of thing happening.”
Mickelson has a well-publicized history of high-stakes gambling. According to a Wall Street Journal story from 2016 that cited a report used by casinos to evaluate customers, between October 2000 and June 2003, Mickelson lost nearly $2.5 million gambling in Las Vegas casinos.
He also was involved in a 2017 insider trading case that led to him paying a $1 million settlement to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that case, federal prosecutors broke down a series of stock trades by Mickelson in 2012 during the trial of Las Vegas businessman and renowned gambler William "Billy" Walters.
Walters, who was found guilty of insider trading, passed information he received from a former executive at Dean Foods to Mickelson before the golfer purchased about 200,000 shares. Mickelson sold his shares a week later for a profit of $930,000, which authorities said he used to pay gambling debts. Mickelson was absolved of any wrongdoing.
“It would be disappointing if Phil Mickelson chose to snub Detroit because of a clearly newsworthy story about his past associations,” said Gary Miles, Editor and Publisher of The Detroit News. “Neither he nor his associates have challenged the veracity of the reporting, which came into focus following a court action last month and was confirmed by his representative just this week.”
Mickelson had just finished his round, posting a 3-under 69, but during a nearly three-hour rain delay, responded to various posts on Twitter, as he did on Wednesday evening, criticizing the News report.