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Mickelson loses $5K bet to 17-year-old Aussie amateur

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Original story: Jan. 16, 2:00PM ET

Phil Mickelson is known for taking gambles on the course. Quite literally.

So this story, while interesting, isn't exactly shocking.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, during a practice round while trying to recruit 17-year-old Aussie Ryan Ruffels to Arizona State University where Lefty's brother Tim is the head coach, Mickelson proposed a friendly wager, and then promptly lost.

“We get on the first tee, it’s pretty early in the morning and he says, ‘I don't wake up this early to play for any less than $2,500,’” said Ruffels.

The 42-time PGA Tour winner gave Ruffels 2 to 1 odds, offering him $5,000 if he lost and letting the amateur defer his payment until he turned pro, decisions that proved costly considering the kid shot an opening-round 66 at last year's Canadian Open and made the 36-hole cut. 

"I was a few down through nine but then I birdied six of my last seven to win by one shot and took his money, so that was pretty cool," Ruffels said.

Not only did Mickelson lose the bet, but he also lost the prospect. Ruffels has since turned pro and will make his first two PGA Tour starts on special exemptions at the Farmers Insurance Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

h/t to Golf Digest


Update: Jan. 17, 10:19AM ET

After a media maelstrom following the release of the original story about Ryan Ruffels playing with the Mickelsons, Ruffels' manager, Bud Martin of Wasserman Media Group, sent this statement to Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte: 

"Upon reading the January 15th “Next Big Thing” article in the Sydney Morning Herald and absorbing the subsequent media fallout, we wanted to set the record straight as it pertains to Ryan’s December 21 practice round at Torrey Pines with Phil Mickelson and his brother Tim who is the head golf coach at Arizona State University. While it's no secret both Phil and Tim would love to have had Ryan attend ASU and become a Sun Devil, the timing in the Sydney Morning Herald story was off, and in no way was either [Tim or Phil] recruiting him to do such at Torrey Pines. Ryan had months ago decided he was turning professional at the upcoming Farmers Insurance Open and that it would be announced yesterday in Melbourne, Australia, at a media conference at Victoria Golf Club Ryan’s home golf course. Both Phil and Tim were well aware this was the case. As for the actual round, Ryan jumped at the chance to get in a practice round for the Farmers with one of golf's legends and a real pro from whom young players can gain valuable experience. The “friendly wager” and the "birdie barrages” reporting is a bit overdone and becoming a media fish story, but rest assured Ryan had a great time, appreciates Phil and Tim and their willingness to support him during an important step in his development and looks forward to his career as a professional which begins at Torrey Pines later this month."