Phil Mickelson starts LIV Golf Bedminster event at Trump National tied for 10th at one-under amid betting allegations
- Billy Walters alleged Mickelson has wagered over $1bn over past three decades
- LIV Bedminster event got underway at former President Donald Trump’s course
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If the allegations of gambling have marred Phil Mickelson’s legacy in the eyes of the fans gathered at Trump National Bedminster, it didn’t show. In fact, it seemed to have endeared him to them even more.
Mickelson blocked out the noise during the first round of LIV Golf in Bedminster, New Jersey Friday, one day after his former betting partner Billy Walters’s betting allegations.
He was competing in the 12th tournament of the breakaway’s second season at Donald Trump’s New Jersey course, 24 hours after Walters alleged the 53-year-old wagered over $1billion over the past three decades and racked up gambling losses of nearly $100million.
The Las Vegas businessman also claimed that Mickelson even tried to place a $400,000 wager on his own US team to win the Ryder Cup back in 2012.
The allegations sparked Rory McIlroy to take a savage dig at the lefty, saying he will be able to bet on this year’s edition of the rivalry cup as he won’t play any part in Team USA.
Phil Mickelson blocked out all the outside noise and got a solid start to his round in New Jersey
Mickelson ended the day at one-under at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster
The fans roared cries of approval to ‘Lefty’ – who is currently embroiled in a betting scandal
But Mickelson didn’t seem bothered by McIlroy’s jab. If anything, he appeared to lap it up.
The six-time major winner issued a denial on social media regarding his alleged Ryder Cup wager Thursday night, but he didn’t need words during his round to respond to the claims and digs fired his way.
After hitting his approach shot into the sixth green, two teenage boys shouted out to Mickelson: ‘Rory [McIlroy] doesn’t know s**t. He’s all talk, no bite.’
He acknowledged the support with a wry smile and nod in their direction, which only encouraged the spectators following his group to issue even more enthusiastic cheers.
His golf also appeared to withstand the latest hit to his reputation in the sport. He blocked out the noise – the negative part anyway – to shoot one-under.
He struggled at the start, carding two bogeys within the first three holes on the day but he rallied with birdies at 14 and 15 helping him back into the red.
However, it wasn’t enough to cling onto the coattails of leader Cameron Smith. The Australian singlehandedly carried his team to the top of the standings.
The Ripper GC captain’s round of five-under did all the work to put them atop the team leaderboard at four-under, one ahead of Stinger GC, after round one. It also handed him the sole lead, one shot clear of Charles Howell III.
His round included six birdies, with the only blemish coming at the par-three 16th.
Mickelson started the day rough, carding two bogeys within the first three holes on the day
But the American rallied with birdies at 14 and 15 helping him into the red
‘Just a really solid round,’ Smith said following his round. ‘I wasn’t out of position much. Maybe missed a few fairways, but found myself on the green most of the times and having a look at birdie. A little bit different to last week, which was the goal, especially today.’
Smith played an unbelievable shot off the cart path en route to his early lead, hitting the ball perfectly off the tarmac.
‘I didn’t really have another option,’ he said when asked about the shot post-round. ‘The rough is pretty gnarly out here. The cart path I think is a better option than the rough.
‘I try not to do it too often, but managed to hit a pretty good shot. Probably actually didn’t go as far as I thought it was going to go, but that was about it.’
4Aces teammates Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed both posted rounds of three-under 68 to sit in a tie for third.
Cameron Smith held a slim lead of just one shot at the end of Round One, carding a five-under
Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau teed off on the first under the watch of Donald Trump, looking to back up his win last week at Greenbrier and his historic final round of 58.
But the American could not have suffered a worst start. His tee shot was right. So right that it missed the cart path running alongside the fairway and almost ended up in the adjacent parking lot.
After what appeared to be a baffling discrepancy over identifying and playing the ball, DeChambeau made it out of the woods. He weaved a shot through the trees to the rough at the edge of the fairway before zinging in a wedge 130 yards to within feet of the pin.
However, he has left himself with work to do if he hopes to replicate last week’s success as he shot two-over.
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