The massive Phil Mickelson U.S. Open bet that would pay out over $3 million was placed by a familiar name

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Nathaniel Welch

Phil Mickelson’s return to Winged Foot started about as magically as any Disney script would’ve imagined it. A wayward tee shot left at his first hole—just hundreds of yards away from his disappointing collapse in 2006—and another bad drive at the second, but Phil walked away with two birdies on the West course’s brutish opening two holes.

Perhaps some golf fans’ minds raced to the news from last week that a gambler placed a $45,000 bet on Mickelson to win this U.S. Open at 75-1, a possible $3.3 million payout on the line—representing the second-highest liability in William Hill's U.S. history, to the massive $100,000 bet on Tiger to win the Grand Slam in 2019.

You could imagine what was going through the mind of the bettor who actually placed the bet. Or actually both bets mentioned in the previous paragraph. It had remained anonymous until this point, but that man who bet on Phil was James Adducci—the Wisconsin native who won $1.19 million on Tiger’s 2019 Masters win, who also placed the Grand Slam bet after. Adducci watched Round 1 of the U.S. Open on Thursday at home, under the same roof where he watched Tiger’s victory a little more than a year and a half ago, hoping for similar magic. And gosh if it didn’t feel like it was meant to be after that birdie-birdie start.

“I was sitting there thinking, watching him play those two holes, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Maybe I got something here,’ I was just imagining what it must mean to him playing at Winged Foot and pulling it off toward the end of his career,” Adducci said on Thursday night when contacted by Golf Digest. “I just tried to put myself in his mind-set of what it would mean to win. And it would be the absolute highlight of his career if he was able to pull it off.”

Believing in a little magic himself, Adducci placed the $45,000 bet with symbolism for what would be Phil’s 45th PGA Tour victory. He flew to Las Vegas last week and placed the bet at William Hill’s sportsbook at the M Resort. Adducci had thought about the bet for months, knowing what history was on the line for Phil—expecting Phil to conjure similar greatness to what Tiger did at the 2019 Masters.

Shooting the third-to-worst round Thursday on a good scoring day at Winged Foot will make it difficult if not near impossible for Phil. Adducci’s holding out hope Phil can grind to make the cut, but he did get satisfaction out of Phil’s comment about his bet when asked about it at the Safeway.

“I thought it was great, he’s such a fan-friendly guy and a likable guy,” Adducci said. “He also has a little bit of a reputation for being a gambler and liking to take chances.

“It was all fun, obviously it would’ve been more fun if he won. But he’ll keep fighting. And really, it was great to be able to show Phil that kind of support when there’s no fans at these tournaments, because I know how much he feeds off of them.”