Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Hank Haney got himself into hot water last week for comments he made on his Sirius Radio show about the LPGA and its players. Haney was asked who might win the US Women’s Open and he jokingly said he would “predict a Korean” to win the event, then followed up with, “I couldn’t name you, like, six players on the LPGA Tour. Nah, maybe I could,” Haney continued. “Well, I’d go with ‘Lee.’ If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right. I don’t know … Lexi Thompson … Michelle Wie’s hurt. I don’t know that many.” His comments were labelled as sexist and racist. Ironically, a Lee did win the US Women’s Open, Jeongeun Lee6. What’s your take on Haney’s comments?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Well, let’s see, where do I start? Ignorant, arrogant, misogynistic, xenophobic, condescending, ill-advised, ill-informed, inappropriate, typically American, and just plain stupid. Beyond that, and the unfortunate fact that his comments were unintentionally accurate, I won’t dignify them with further assessment.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: Hank Haney should know better! There is a lot of excellent golf being played around the world and not just on the PGA TOUR. When you become an announcer/expert in a subject you owe to yourself to be informed in as many aspects as possible. In this case, we aren’t talking about a 3rd or 4th tier event! We are talking about the Women’s US Open – the single most important event in women’s golf in the world. While I’m in a ‘Haney bashing’ mood, I don’t understand how people get these jobs when they can’t string more than a few words together without repeating themselves, struggling to grasp a simple word or slurring words. Gone are the days of articulate presentations by Jack Whitaker, Pat Summerall or Henry Longhurst. And, so it seems, gone are the days when a commentator studied and prepared to deliver their work in an informed, well-researched manner.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think his first point, about the current Korean dominance of the game, was fair although he could have worded his thoughts substantially better . . . perhaps in a way that commended the South Korean junior golf program for consistently churning out so much all-world talent. His joke about not knowing anyone on the LPGA Tour and the majority of its participants being named “Lee” is the type of old-timey racist garbage we need to root out of all sports—not just golf! There’s no room for that type of claptrap in the game, and the PGA Tour was right to take away his access to a microphone a result.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): What an idiot. And now he’s attacking Tiger for a casual comment that Haney’s comments were not appropriate. Wow, this guy really is trying to make himself obsolete in the golfing world and doing a good job at it. Sadly, there will be people that agree with him (just look at the comments on social media), so he won’t feel as bad or inappropriate as he should.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Haney came off as another clueless blowhard with a microphone. It’s not the worst thing anyone ever said about the LPGA Tour or its players but someone in his position should know better. Yet while his remarks were ignorant and insensitive, they were accurate too. The LPGA Tour does have an identity problem for most Americans. Is it because South Koreans players are dominant or because Americans are not? Neither fact sits well with with American audiences for very different reasons but the LPGA is a business and that lack of fan engagement for whatever reason makes it increasingly hard to attract sponsors or market their product. The LPGA is a world Tour, not an American one, and it plays a vital role in developing golf outside the 48 states. One would hope that Haney would use his position to promote the worthy efforts of the LPGA, rather than showcase a narrow xenophobic worldview.
Patrick Cantlay won the Memorial on Sunday with a final round record score of 64. He passed third round leader Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott like they were standing still and demonstrated to many that he may yet live up to the potential he showed during an illustrious amateur career. Already he’s being touted as a favourite for the US Open in two weeks. Is this more “flavour of the week” hype or do you see Cantlay as a future superstar?
Deeks: Flavour of the week, although I do agree that Cantlay is, among many, a future superstar. But then, if you have so many guys being described as either “superstars” or “future superstars”, does that description mean anything anymore? Frankly, I get a kick out of every winner of an event just before a major being touted as a favourite for the major… like, duh. Just watch… whoever wins at Ancaster will be touted as a possible winner at Pebble Beach. Unless, of course, John Daly shows up in his cart.
Schurman: Finally! I keep picking Cantlay to ‘win, place or show’ and all I do is ‘pay, pay, pay’. He just looks soooooooo good to me with every part of his game. Perhaps his little foray into the mind of Jack Nicklaus (apparently, he called Nicklaus and asked for help) was the right medicine.
Kaplan: This is not some mere flavour of the week. I have picked Cantlay for just about every major over the last three years and I will continue to do so until he breaks through and assumes his rightful spot as one of the top players in the sport. Few players on the PGA Tour these days are hunters, players that will chase down leaders in the final round of the tournament once they smell some blood in the water. Cantlay is a hunter through and through. He’s shown his predatory nature numerous times now in his young career—his pursuit of Adam Hadwin at the Valspar Championship in 2017 comes to mind as do his rounds of 64 and 68 in the final two days of this year’s Masters to climb into the Top 10—and it was on full display yet again this weekend. The sky is the limit for him.
Rule: He’s had the pedigree ever since he came out of USC after a stellar amateur career, one of the best ever. He’s definitely a top talent and should be a great player for a long time, but to say he’ll be a superstar is tough. It’s just so hard to stay at the top in the game these days. So, I’d probably put him somewhere between flavour of the week and superstar and say he’ll be a very good player, and at times playing to superstar levels, for a long time, but never separate himself from the pack.
Mumford: Cantlay has an amazing story – top college player, World #1 amateur, missed the better part of three years with a back injury, saw his caddie killed in a hit-and-run accident, eventually gets healthy and starts to rack up top 10’s and finally a big win. This guy has talent galore and more determination than almost anybody on Tour. He plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder like the current World #1 too. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t become a superstar.
The RBC Canadian Open is on this week at Hamilton Golf & Country Club and features some of the game’s biggest stars including Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. Who do you like to win and who’s your sleeper pick?
Deeks: I like Nathan Green to win. Sleeper pick – Scott Piercy. Permanent sleeper pick – Bob Murphy. Cutest wife (I know, you didn’t ask) – tie: Paulina Gretzky, Erica McIlroy.
Schurman: The one comment I hear about Hamilton Golf Club is that is a traditional, old-style layout without a premium on length off the tee. Theoretically, that should increase the number of potential winners. Supposedly the long hitters are not as accurate off the tee. First, this is no longer as true as it has been over the past 20 years with Phil and Tiger placing among the worst long drivers (for accuracy). The new breed Koepka, McIlroy and Johnson are very long and very accurate some they don’t give anything away on a shorter, narrower course. Second, when they are confronted with a narrow hole, they can select a club to lay-up with that will provide more accuracy and they still have an equal length to a shorter hitter. Last, the top players are so incredibly good with the short irons they will be hitting into the greens it is getting more and more difficult to ‘handcuff’ them. I like Rory this week. He has played well this year and won The Players on a course that in many ways is like Hamilton G.C.
Kaplan: I’ve got a feeling that McIlroy is going to come out on top this week. I can’t justify it; call it an inkling. I’m not taking a Canadian as my dark horse. Every time I try that, I get burned. So, I scanned the list for the funniest name and Bronson Burgoon nearly jumped off the screen, so I’m going with the Burgeyman this week at Hamilton even though he’s missed the cut in 10 of his last 12 starts!
Rule: This tournament needs a big-name winner in my mind, so it would be nice if one of those heavy hitters pulled out a victory at Hamilton. DJ has to be one of the favourites, after all it’s almost a home-in-law game for him, right? So, he’s my pick to win, and my sleeper pick is Corey Conners. Let’s see a Canadian win to follow up on Brooke’s win last summer!
Mumford: Even if you win four majors, people wonder why you don’t win more regular Tour events. So now Brooks Koepka has something else to prove. I expect him to win this week in Hamilton and next week at Pebble Beach. For a sleeper pick, I’ll take David Hearn. Don’t ask why. It’s just a hunch.