DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Phil Mickelson ended a peculiar week at the Memorial on Sunday. He had one round under par, one visit from FBI agents and lingering questions about in insider trading investigation that he says he won’t discuss until it’s over.
One day after Mickelson said he had done “absolutely nothing wrong” in the trading probe, he closed with a 1-over 73. Mickelson was so far out of contention that he finished his final round about the time the leaders were starting.
“From a golf standpoint, it wasn’t a bad week, as far as I started to hit the ball well,” Mickelson said.
A federal official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are analyzing trades Mickelson and Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters made involving Clorox at the same time activist investor Carl Icahn was attempting to take over the company. When Icahn’s intent became public, the stock price jumped.
Mickelson said the investigating was not a distraction “until Thursday,” when FBI agents approached him after his opening round at Muirfield Village. It was not clear if they met him at the golf course or off property.
The five-time major champion made it clear that his schedule would not change. He is playing the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, next week before he goes to Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina for the U.S. Open. Mickelson was a runner-up at Pinehurst in 1999. He needs to win the U.S. Open to become only the sixth player to capture golf’s four major championships.
Mickelson made no reference to the investigation after his final round, and there were no questions about it.
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus said he doesn’t think Mickelson’s golf will suffer from any distraction associated with the investigation. Nicklaus said the only outside distraction he faced was in 1981 when son Steve was 18 and was involved in single-car accident in Ohio — on Jack Nicklaus Boulevard, no less — while Nicklaus was at the British Open. Nicklaus shot 83 in the opening round, his highest score in a major.
“That had nothing to do with Steve. I just played (badly),” Nicklaus said. He shot 66 the next day.
“In Phil’s case, I think when Phil gets on the golf course, he’ll play golf,” Nicklaus said. “He’s a golfer first. Does he have an issue with what’s going on? Probably. Their (the FBI) timing was not exactly courteous. But I don’t know enough to comment. I think Phil will play and be fine playing.”
Mickelson has not won since winning the third leg of the career Grand Slam at the British Open last summer. This is the first time in 11 years that he has gone this deep into a season without winning.
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