Mickelson maintains innocence after Saturday 72 at Memorial

By Rex HoggardMay 31, 2014, 7:40 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – At first blush, it was a normal Phil Mickelson round - three bogeys, three birdies combined with twice as many cheers and groans that added up to an even-par 72 on a perfect Ohio day at the Memorial Tournament.

But Mickelson’s Saturday was anything but status quo.

Two separate reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times revealed on Friday that Mickelson was the subject of an investigation by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission involving possible insider trading.

Following his round on Saturday, Mickelson maintained his innocence and deferred to a statement he issued early Saturday morning.

“I can’t really go into much right now, but as I said in my statement, I have done absolutely nothing wrong. 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,” said Mickelson, who was tied for 49th when he spoke briefly with reporters at Muirfield Village. “Hopefully it will be soon, but for right now I can't really talk much about it.”

According to the WSJ report, authorities are “examining a series of well-timed trades” involving Mickelson, high-profile Las Vegas gambler William “Billy” Walters and investor Carl Icahn.

Neither Mickelson, Walters nor Icahn has been accused of any wrongdoing.

Mickelson confirmed that he was approached by two federal agents after his round on Thursday, but wouldn’t comment on when he first learned of the investigation.

According to the New York Times report, authorities have been investigating two separate stock transactions involving Mickelson and Walters for two years and that the three-time Masters champion was approached by the FBI last year at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to discuss the investigation.

Mickelson was also asked if the investigation has been a distraction and if it has impacted his game.

“Not until Thursday,” said Mickelson, who doesn’t have a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season.

“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. 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.”

Mickelson, who said he never considered withdrawing from this week’s event, arrived an hour before his 10:27 a.m. (ET) tee time on Saturday and met with his manager, Steve Loy with Lagardere Unlimited, for 30 minutes before heading to the practice range for an abbreviated warm up.

Mickelson was greeted with warm applause on the first tee on Saturday at Muirfield Village and a predictably large gallery that normally follows one of the game’s most popular players. After his press conference, he signed autographs for about 30 minutes.

He turned in even-par 36 after hitting his approach shot into a water hazard at the ninth hole, and followed back-to-back birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 with bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes.

In his statement on Saturday, Mickelson said his legal counsel has advised him to make no further statements. His attorney, Glenn Cohen, told the WSJ, “Phil is not the target of any investigation. Period,” and added that an FBI agent told him Mickelson wasn't a target.

Icahn told CNBC’s Scott Wapner that he’s never met Mickelson and that he has not been contacted by the FBI or been served any subpoenas.

“We don't know of any investigation. We’re proud of our 50-year unblemished record. I have never given out inside information,” Icahn said.

When contacted by the WSJ Walters declined to comment.

Mickelson is scheduled to play next week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis followed by the U.S. Open, where he will be seeking to complete the career Grand Slam with a victory.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”