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Pro Golfer Phil Mickelson Reveals Struggles with Gambling Addiction

The golf legend has opened up about his problem with gambling in a 414-word social media post, saying how it distracted him to the point of never being genuinely present with his close ones.

Golf legend Phil Mickelson has opened up his problem gambling.

Phil Mickelson, the 53-year-old professional golfer, recently published a lengthy post on X and Instagram, discussing how much harm sports gambling caused him and his family. His detailed confession comes as a warning for other bettors after the 2023 NFL season started on September 7.


"Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment," Mickelson said, adding that he won't be betting this year.


"I crossed the line of moderation and into addiction, which isn't any fun at all."


Mickelson's story is a reminder that money isn't the principal cause of why one starts or continues to gamble.


"The money wasn't ever the issue since our financial security has never been threatened, but I was so distracted that I wasn't able to be present with the ones I loved and caused a lot of harm."


According to the Yale Ledger, problem gambling typically occurs because pathological betters use it as a form of escapism or because it gives them a sense of control. Some like the challenge of beating the odds and winning money, while others see it as the only way to win the money they lost.


Regardless of the cause, gambling addiction can quickly become a vicious circle, where gamblers fear facing the harm that it causes.


Unawareness of how problem gambling affects those on the outside


For most, Phil Mickelson's social media confession wasn't a surprise. He's been open about his passion for gambling, making multiple headlines throughout the years.


However, like many pathological gamblers, he never acknowledged it as an addiction until this Monday.


Mickelson publicly asserted his gambling problem over a month after Billy Walters, a famous gambler, revealed in his book that Mickelson had bet over $1 billion in the past 30 years and considered placing a $400,000 wager during the 2012 Ryder Cup when he was part of Team USA.


Mickelson dismissed claims that he had ever bet on the Ryder Cup and was relatively low-profile since Walters' remarks surfaced. Right before disclosing his struggle on social media, he returned to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf competition outside Chicago.


Controversies regarding Mickelson's choices and gambling issues are not a novelty.


In 2022, Alan Shipnuck's biography of the golfer delved into Mickelson's personal life and revealed the severity of his addiction. It shed light on the troubling connections he formed due to his gambling habits. One of Shipnuck's sources claimed that Mickelson lost over $40 million from 2010 to 2014.


However, Mickelson's latest social media post doesn't address his participation in the LIV Golf tour or Alan Shipnuck's claims. Yet, he might have alluded to Walters when explaining how gambling can cloud one's judgment.


"If you ever cross the line of moderation and enter into addiction, hopefully you won't confuse your enablers as friends like I did," Mickelson wrote. "Hopefully, you won't have to deal with these difficult moments publicly so others can profit off you like I have.''


He added that having an understanding spouse has made all the difference and likely saved him from a point of no return.


''But hopefully, you WILL have a strong and supportive partner who is willing to help you through being your worst self and through your worst moments like I have in Amy,'' Mickelson spoke of his wife, adding that she loved and supported him through his darkest and most difficult times.


Yet, he wasn't always aware of that, as his gambling addiction was consuming him. Mickelson wrote that his lack of presence was hurtful and that his loved ones told him he was there but not really with them.


''It affected those I cared about in ways I wasn't aware of or could fully understand,'' he wrote. ''It's like a hurricane is going on outside, and I'm isolated in a shelter, oblivious to what was happening.''


That fear of the aftermath often makes acceptance and recovery slow and painful.


''When I came out, there was so much damage to clean up that I just wanted to go back inside and not deal with it,'' Mickelson admitted.


The post-addiction tranquility


Mickelson, the 2021 PGA champion, further said that he was receiving help for his gambling addiction for many years. But his wife's love helped him get back on track to being the person he wanted to be.


After a long time of not betting and recovering from his problem gambling, Phil finally feels confident enough to speak of it and what happens afterward.


''I'm now able to sit still, be present in the moment, and live each day with an inner calm and peace,'' he said. ''I still have a lot of cleaning up to do with those I love the most, but I'm doing it slowly and as best I can.''


As the football season just kicked off, Mickelson advised (potential) gamblers to enjoy themselves with moderation so that it doesn't detract from their ability to be present.


''In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph,'' he concluded.


Not everyone endorsed Mickelson's social media post, some accusing him of airing dirty laundry. But Mickelson is not alone.


Gambling addiction is at an all-time high; nearly six percent of the population worldwide struggle with it.


Hearing stories of other people going through the same may encourage gamblers to look on the outside and acknowledge there's an exit.


If Mickelson's social media post resonated with you, know you can get support and relevant resources to fight it.


Reach out to learn more about how to get help for problem gambling.

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