Gambler tied to Mickelson convicted of insider trading

By Associated PressApril 7, 2017, 7:09 pm

NEW YORK – A Las Vegas gambler linked to golfer Phil Mickelson saw the jury verdict convicting him of insider trading charges Friday as only a gambler could.

''I just lost the biggest bet of my life,'' William ''Billy'' Walters said outside Manhattan federal court minutes after the jury returned its verdict after two days of deliberations.

''To say I was surprised would be the biggest understatement of my life,'' Walters said in the Southern drawl that reflects his Kentucky birth and considerable time spent in Texas. ''Frankly, I'm in total shock.''

Prosecutors said Walters made over $40 million illegally from 2008 to 2015 trading on the stock of Dean Foods Co. Thomas Davis, a former Dean Foods board chairman, testified that he fed Walters tips about major developments involving the company before they became known publicly. The Dallas-based Dean Foods is one of the nation's largest processors of milk for retailers.

As the verdict was returned on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud, Walters shook his head repeatedly.

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel set sentencing for July 14 and agreed to prosecution demands that Walters submit to electronic monitoring and give up use of his private plane. Over a prosecutor's objection, Castel permitted Walters to return with his family on his plane to southern California, where he will reside until sentencing.

His lawyer, Barry Berke, promised an appeal.

The verdict capped a three-week trial. Mickelson never testified, though he had been on a list of prospective witnesses.

A prosecutor had said Mickelson earned nearly $1 million after Walters told him to buy Dean Foods stock in 2012. The prosecutor said Mickelson gave the profits to Walters to cover gambling debts. The Securities and Exchange Commission cited Mickelson for the trades in a lawsuit and Mickelson agreed to repay the money. Mickelson was not charged.

During the trial, Berke used Mickelson as proof that his client was innocent, saying that if Walters had inside information, ''the last thing you would do is give it to Phil Mickelson, one of the most famous athletes in the world who is going to attract regulatory scrutiny.''

Walters, 70, has built a sprawling business of auto dealerships, car rental agencies and golf courses worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Berke said he routinely makes multimillion-dollar bets on companies in the stock market.

Davis testified under a cooperation deal that he met Walters while golfing. He has pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and is likely to receive leniency at sentencing as a result of his testimony.

Getty Images

Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm