Then on Friday, Mickelson – who’s in Michigan to compete in this weekend’s Rocket Mortgage Classic – reversed course, sort of.
The 51-year-old California native, whose PGA Championship win in May made him the oldest golfer to ever capture a major tournament title, said he would return to the Detroit area on two conditions: that a petition circulated by Michigan golfer Mike Sullivan, calling for Mickelson’s return, reach 50,000 signatures, and that everyone who signs perform “one random act of kindness,” he said, according to ESPN.
Mickelson had reacted Thursday after The Detroit News ran a story about 2007 federal court records it obtained, detailing how years earlier a bookie from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, allegedly cheated Mickelson out of $500,000, FOX 2 of Detroit reported. Mickelson never faced any criminal charges in connection with the case, the report said.
Detroit News reporter Robert Snell, who wrote the story, identified the bookie as “Dandy” Don DeSerrano, referring to him as “one of the biggest gamblers in Detroit,” who has allegedly “handled bets for big shots as a Las Vegas casino host.”
DeSerrano died in Las Vegas in April of natural causes at age 75, Casino.org reported.
Mickelson’s lawyer said the News report was accurate but questioned its timing, which coincided with Mickelson’s appearance in the area, ESPN reported.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mickelson said he didn’t appreciate the newspaper’s “unnecessary attack” with a story from “two decades ago,” and noted that it made him feel unappreciated after juggling his schedule to participate in this week’s tournament in Michigan, FOX 2 reported.
“Not like I care, it happened 20-something years ago, it’s just the lack of appreciation,” Mickelson said, according to the station. “Yeah, I don’t see that happening. I don’t see me coming back. Not that I don’t love the people here, they have been great, but not with that type of thing happening.”
But when Mickelson stepped up to the first tee for Friday’s action at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, played at the Detroit Golf Club, he was met with chants of “We love Phil!” The Detroit News reported.
Later, he shared the terms under which he would return.
“If the members of the community will come together, I’d love to be back,” Mickelson said, according to the News.
“If the members of the community will come together, I’d love to be back.”
Later Friday, the Children’s Foundation of Detroit announced that Mickelson and his wife Amy Mickelson had donated $100,000 to the organization, the newspaper reported.
This weekend marks Mickelson’s first tournament in Michigan since the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, the News reported. He was supposed to play in last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic but the coronavirus pandemic forced a rescheduling to a week when he couldn’t appear, the report said.
None of Mickelson’s 45 career PGA Tour victories have come in Michigan, the report said.