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Clorox Insider Trading or More Golf Course Chatter Among the Big Dogs?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sports, business and gambling and are no strangers to each other, especially on the golf course where "gentleman" bets can be made on a hole-by-hole or even shot-by-shot basis. Just ask Michael Jordan what the action on the course can be like.

The latest convergence was when FBI investigators turned up with questions for golfer Phil Mickelson last week in Ohio before the start of the 2014 Memorial Tournament.

In question was a 2011 transaction involving Clorox (CLX - Get Report) stock just days before activist investor Carl Icahn announced his interest in acquiring a larger stake of the home goods company in July 2011. The connection between Mickelson and Icahn is professional gambler William "Billy" Walters, owner of three golf courses in Las Vegas.

In the days leading up to Icahn's unsuccessful buyout offer, Clorox saw its stock raise in value as an inordinate number of call options were placed on the Oakland, Calif. based company. Both Mickelson and Walters, among other investors, got  millions of dollars in profit from the deal.

Icahn allegedly discussed his plans with Walters, who then allegedly passed on the information to Mickelson. Transactions that took place in 2012 involving Mickelson, Walters and Dean Foods (DF) are also facing scrutiny from investigators.

The investigation involves the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the office of Manhattan U.S Attorney Preet Bharara who recently secured a guilty plea with SAC Capital Management Companies last November. Neither Icahn, Mickelson nor Walters face any immediate charges at the moment.

Mickelson and Icahn are two of the most notable figures in their respective trades and while he remains somewhat of an unknown outside gambling circles, Walters is considered by those in the industry to be among one of its leaders.

Paul Bessire from the handicapping Web site PredictionMachine.com said of Walters to CNBC, "He's unanimously considered at the top of his profession, yet for someone with such a high profile few people know much about him."

A five-time major champion and fan favorite, Mickelson, known as Lefty, has found himself in an unusual situation of defending himself for his life off the golf course as he tries to take advantage of a Tiger Woods-less PGA season this year.

"I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Mickelson said in a statement Saturday morning after his discussions with the FBI. "I have cooperated with the government in this investigation and will continue to do so. I wish I could fully discuss this matter, but under the current circumstances it's just not possible."

Icahn also denied any wrongdoing to the Wall Street Journal.

"We do not know of any investigation," Icahn said on Friday. "We are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our activities." The suggestion that he was involved in improper trading, he said, was "inflammatory and speculative."

Walters told CNBC that he was innocent. "Those who know me best know that it is preposterous to think that I would involve myself in insider trading."

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

Follow @sidf8

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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