Last week, during the Thanksgiving holiday, Phil Mickelson took to social media to disclose his true feelings about renowned golf writer Alan Shipnuck.

Mickelson called Shipnuck the “worst liar and a pathetic human.” He then referred to the author as a ‘lying POS’ in a since-deleted post.

Shipnuck, of course, has authored a couple of best-selling books over the past two years. He wrote a detailed, honest, and at some points scathing biography on Mickelson, which included the six-time major winner calling the Saudi Arabians “scary motherf***ers.”

Shipnuck then wrote a thorough recount of golf’s great schism, titled LIV and Let Die, detailing the ongoing war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Being a central character in the development of LIV Golf, Mickelson also played a role within that book.

So, on Monday, Shipnuck decided to fire back and he brought receipts. He posted email exchanges between him and Mickelson from late 2021 when he was finishing up Mickelson’s biography.

Shipnuck wrote to Mickelson indicating that the book was complete. In doing so, the author noted that “your many fans are going to love it.” As someone who has read the book, it is indeed a thrilling read with many amazing stories told within.

Yet, before publishing, Shipnuck, true to journalistic standards, wanted to clarify four points with the left-hander.

He asked what Mickelson did with his golf flags instead of lending them to his former caddy, Jim “Bones” McKay. Typically, when a player wins a major golf tournament, the caddy takes the 18th flag home as a point of pride. Look no further than the 2021 Masters, when Hideki Matsuyama’s caddy, Shota Hayafuji, famously bowed to the course at Augusta National after removing the flag.

The Masters

Shota Hayafuji, Hideki Matsuyama’s caddy, bows to the course on the 18th green after Matsuyama won the 2021 Masters.
Getty Images

Alas, Shipnuck brought up the time when McKay and Mickelson parted ways. The two had been together for two decades, which included five major victories, but the electric combo did not part amicably—a departure from what was initially reported.

Then, Shipnuck had a question about Billy Walters, the renowned gambler who accused Mickelson of wagering close to $1 billion over the past three decades.

Finally, Shipnuck asked a delicate question about an individual’s sexuality. That person had ties to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom that “executes people for being gay,” according to Mickelson. But Shipnuck removed that line about this individual within the book, per Mickelson and his attorney’s request.

Yet, instead of receiving a direct response from Mickelson himself, one of his alleged attorneys, Pat Swan Jr., replied to Shipnuck, saying, “Phil has asked me to talk to you about your inquiries below.” These two then had a conversation on Jan. 1, 2022.

Mickelson famously said he wanted “to reshape how the PGA Tour operates” when talking with the Saudi Arabians throughout 2021 and 2022. Hence, Shipnuck included a response to his original post, indicating that Mickelson wanted to talk about “[PGA Tour Commissioner Jay] Monahan and the Saudis.”

Perhaps most importantly, within all of this seesawing, are these lines that Shipnuck included within his post Monday morning:

“After his comments were published in an excerpt on FirePitCollective.com, creating an intense controversy, Mickelson claimed our conversation had been off-the-record,” Shipnuck said.

“I had previously asked him three times face-to-face to sit for interviews; we both knew this phone call was for the book, and everything he told me was going in its pages. He never asked to go off the record. If he had, I would have pushed back hard because this was my one chance to interview him for the book. In October ’22, Mickelson made another confounding statement: ‘So I will reiterate, I never did an interview with Alan Shipnuck.’”

Alan Shipnuck, Amy Mickelson, Ryder Cup

Alan Shipnuck stands next to Amy Mickelson, Phil’s wife, at the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Getty Images

Obviously, Mickelson has been the center of numerous controversies during his career. Whether it be his gambling accusations, his alleged role in insider trading, the post-tournament press conference at the 2014 Ryder Cup, or his support for LIV Golf, Mickelson is undoubtedly one of the more contentious, yet influential, figures in all of sport, let alone golf.

But he has repeatedly called out Shipnuck for his supposed fallacies.

“Phil can say whatever he wants, but that doesn’t make it true,” Shipnuck added in his lengthy post on Monday.

“He has lied maliciously about me and I think his current comments should be seen through that lens.”

Funny enough, this spat derived from the rumors of Jon Rahm heading to LIV Golf. Shipnuck indicated to his audience that Mickelson has said “Rahm to LIV” was a done deal. And that is when ‘Lefty’ called Shipnuck’s integrity into question.

Who knows if this back-and-forth will continue, but one thing remains certain: a source can never say a conversation was off the record after the fact.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.


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By David

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