Bettor Lands 300k After Backing Phil Mickelson to Win PGA Championship

For the last eight years, Phil Mickelson repeatedly maintained he was still capable of winning a major.

A New Jersey bettor who shared his beliefs was handsomely rewarded on Sunday, turning a $1,000 bet into a $300,000 payout as the American made history at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, by becoming the oldest player to win a major tournament and the first claim one of golf's four more prestigious tournaments after turning 50.

Mickelson finished 2-under par to clinch his second PGA Championship crown and his first major in eight years, the sixth of an extraordinary career. His triumph spelt bad news for bookmakers, as Lefty, as Mickelson is colloquially known, was a 200-1 outsider at the beginning of the tournament with some sportsbooks offering even longer odds.

According to data from ESPN Stats & Information, Mickelson is the first golfer with odds of at least 200-1 to win a major since Louis Oosthuizen went off at the same odds when he won The Open Championship in 2010.

The South African, incidentally, was one of Mickelson's closest challengers on the Ocean Course on Sunday, finishing tied for second alongside Brooks Koepka, two shots behind the winner.

DraftKings had Mickelson at 300-1 before the start of the tournament and paid out $300,000 to an unnamed bettor, who wagered $1,000 on Mickelson before the PGA Championship got underway.

The bookmaker shortened Mickelson to 250-1 before the opening round on Thursday and then to 90-1 after he finished the first round tied for third. By the time third round on Saturday, he was down to 12-1.

"Let's just say some of our customers will have an enjoyable Sunday," said DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello.

William Hill suffered more contained losses, with two bettors in Iowa and in Nevada both staking $100 on Mickelson at 200-1, which returned $20,000 payouts.

"We lost low six figures overall [in Nevada]," William Hill assistant director of trading Adam Pullen was quoted as saying ESPN. "We lost over a million dollars when Tiger [Woods] won the Masters a few years ago [in 2019]. I think this is probably the second-biggest [golf] loss after Tiger that we've had."

Remarkably, Mickelson had attracted just 1 percent of pre-tournament bets and 1 percent of the total money wagered at the sportsbook ahead of the PGA Championship after last registering a win over two years ago and failing to finish in the top-20 of a PGA Tour event for almost nine months.

It was a similar scenario at BetMGM, where 31 other players had more tickets on them to win than Mickelson.

By Sunday, however, the 50-year-old had the sixth-most tickets and the third-highest handle—the amount of money staked on a particular player—at the bookmaker, account for 4.3 percent of total tickets and 6.5 percent of total handle respectively.

The figures made Mickelson the largest liability for BetMGM entering the final round.

A bettor in New Jersey, meanwhile, won a net $37,500 after betting $12,500 on Mickelson at 3-1 at FanDuel. By comparison, odds on the six-time major winner had drifted as high 420-1 after a wayward start to his opening round on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson of the United States celebrates on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Patrick Smith/Getty Images