Phil Mickelson had an interesting and entertaining media session this weekend at the Memorial, which is almost always the case when the lefty meets the press. But the reasons for the entertainment value were a bit different.
The reports of an SEC and FBI investigation into potential insider trading involving Mickelson did not drop until after the five-time major winner had finished his round and bolted from the Memorial premises on Friday night. But even at the late hour on the what's generally conisdered the best day to get bad news, the reports immediately became the biggest story of the golf weekend, even with big names in contention at Muirfield Village.
So Mickelson had to know what was coming on Saturday when he showed up, played his round, and went to the usual post-round media scrum around the clubhouse. But when he saw the media horde, made up of many new, non-golf press members, he blurted out a a facetious "Awesome" and knew where things were headed.
Phil walks into post-round media horde and says "awesome'' when noticing how many. Not there to talk about shooting 72.— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) May 31, 2014
Funny moment when Phil Mickelson walked out of scoring and saw massive scrum & all the cameras and says, "Awesome!" pic.twitter.com/xIGGkzX3GB— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) May 31, 2014
Mickelson, through his spokesman, initially declined comment on Friday but his attorney, Glenn Cohen, said his client was "not the target of any investigation. Period." We had yet to hear from the superstar golfer himself, but as you'd expect, we got plenty of "no comment" style responses.
The first nine questions to Phil all focused on the investigation, which the Wall Street Journal and New York Times described as a couple "well-timed trades" involving Carl Icahn and Clorox in 2011 and Dean Foods in 2012. Mickelson immediately maintained his innoncence but said he couldn't go into much more detail. "I have done absolutely nothing wrong," he said. "And that's why I've been fully cooperating with the FBI agents, and I'm happy to do so in the future, too, until this gets resolved.But for right now‑‑ and hopefully it will be soon‑‑ but for right now I can't really talk much about it."
While Mickelson continued to state he would keep cooperating with the FBI, he wasn't going to give much to the reporters and a PGA Tour moderator had to step in on a couple occasions to try and steer the session towards golf. The game's most famous lefty said the investigation, which has been ongoing since 2011, hadn't been a distraction or affected his golf "until Thursday." With news of the investigation now public, it should suffocate every Mickelson media session going forward. And while he called his first round with this now out there "interesting," when asked whether he considered withdrawing, he promptly responded, "No, of course not."
Phil is 10 shots back of Bubba Watson so he's not really playing to win on Sunday and hasn't been all weekend at Muirfield Village. But this will hound him all week at the U.S. Open, which has been the main target of his schedule and almost a singular purpose to his 2014 golf season. Mickelson, now a six-time runner-up, had said he would alter his schedule just to peak and prepare for his national championship at Pinehurst. It's the white whale of his career, and when asked whether he'll be able put this past him in less than two weeks, he seemed confident that he'd be able to get back on plan. "Yes, I do. I think that as a player you have to be able to block out whatever is going on off the golf course and be able to focus on the golf course. And it's not going to change the way I carry myself. Honestly, I've done nothing wrong. I'm not going to walk around any other way."