Is Phil Mickelson a Victim of Affluenza?

This Wednesday’s National Signing Day for football creates the perfect backdrop for the Phil Mickelson Arizona State recruiting scandal.

Seventeen-year-old kids change their minds.  That’s hardly news.  In fact, with college footballs National Signing day coming Wednesday, football writers have started speculating which ones are most likely to change their minds (for example, SI’sNine Big-Time 2016 Recruits Who Could Flip Their Commitments By Signing Day“):

For most teams and coaches, a pledge from a highly touted recruit can spark a sense of comfort, if only temporarily. But nothing truly matters until a player signs on the dotted line. And with only a few days remaining until National Signing Day, coaches all over the country find themselves delivering last-minute sales pitches—even to committed prospects.

So who has a chance to flip their commitment? offers nine players, listed alphabetically, who could surprise with a late change in their college decisions on or before Signing Day.

We’re told Mickelson did nothing wrong because, they now tell us, “Ryan had months ago decided he was turning professional.”

Okay, now re-read the bolded sentences above.

Nothing matters until a players signs.  Coaches deliver last-minute sales pitches even to committed prospects.

Many commits have flipped at the last minute.  Here’s a famous one:

Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio, 2011: On National Signing Day, Kouandjio announced he was heading to Auburn to join the defending national champions. But after the national television announcement, the five-star offensive lineman did not sign his national letter of intent. Three days later it was announced he would be joining the Crimson Tide instead, and he has since become a key piece of two national championship teams.

So, here’s the situation, as best as we could determine:  Ryan Ruffels was still eligible to play collegiate golf.  Ruffels played a round with Phil Mickelson and his brother, the Arizona State golf coach.  For money.  At Phil Mickelson’s insistence (according to what we’ve been told).  Mickelson lost and handed over $5,000 (they now claim it was less, but, interestingly, not that it was nothing) to a recruit.

As Bob Dylan put it, You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

Will the NCAA investigate Arizona State, or will they sweep Mickelson’s shady behavior under the rug?  Time will tell.

Mickelson is accumulating quite a reputation for shady behavior.  Billy Walters, money laundering, FBI investigating insider trading.  Toss in whining about taxes.  He grew up rich and has made hundreds of millions from golf.  Does he feel wronged by the tax code and therefore validated in ignoring rules?  Is it affluenza?  Does he feel the rules apply only to the little people?

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3 Responses to Is Phil Mickelson a Victim of Affluenza?

  1. Sports-realist. says:

    Phil is starting to remind me of a Kennedy family member…….When Phil gets bored(which seems like alot), instead of prostitutes like Woods, he decides to gamble about, uh, SOMETHING…..Now don’t get me wrong, a 17 year old KNOWS what they are doing in today’s world…Heck, in today’s US, I believe consensual sex with an adult is legal by the time you are 17…..So if you can have sex and drive—–well, you know…I also think Phil has proven to be a generous guy too, so I’m not painting him as a jerk, but perhaps more ‘out of control’ when it comes to money matters….Remember the $10 mill he sup lost a few years ago in gambling(not that I am judging the guy, just remembering that factoid)…..You wonder if Phil will join the BROKE club, if he ever could NO longer play pro golf….Ofcourse the SENIOR circuit would help him earn more milions, so prob not….
    I don’t think Phil will do a Chappaquiddick or anything, but like MOST rich/famous people, Phil probably views himself ABOVE the law….Worst case scenario is he knows he pays a FINE and moves on…..This again shows that wealth/money/fame is NOT all it’s cracked up to be…..

    • lannyh says:

      What’s weird to me is that Mickelson makes, what, 40 million a year? Five grand to him is $5 to a guy making $40,000.

      My point is that Phil making a big deal out of the amount he wagers strikes me as his way of telling his competitors how much wealthier he is than them. Bill Gates, who gives hundreds of millions to charity, could tell Mickelson, “Let’s play bridge. I don’t get out of bed for less than 100 million, though.” He could, but he wouldn’t. Mickelson’s insistence on betting fellow pros shows a certain classlessness on his part. Like when he made Watney pay in Euros instead of dollars.

      The media acts as an enabler, too, by glorfying his “exciting” bets. But they don’t much talk about the $3 million he sent to the money laundering bookie, nor much about Dean Foods. And I’ve never once heard anyone mention the weirdness of Mickelson doing all these shady financial dealings while representing KPMG, a tax/audit/accounting firm, for whom a pristine reputation is vital.

      He deserves prison for Dean Foods, but he’ll probably flip to avoid it. Martha Stewart did time for a far, far smaller ill-gotten profit. I don’t see why KPMG continues to pay him. Hard to imagine they’ll renew.

  2. Jim Gaulin says:

    Great about a column regarding the affluenza affecting pga golf tournaments!..I just attended the “Farmers” at Torrey and could not get anywhere near my favorite players because Hospitality tents with the “corporate dollars” and wannabe no caring “fans” have totally pushed the real golf fans out of bounds!! Sorry PGA, I am just a middle class retired golf fan with no fancy credentials!..shame on me…sounds a lot like the Stuper Bowl, doesn’t it!!!

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