2014 was a weird year. I teamed up with Grantland and Paste writer Shane Ryan to talk through our top 10 weird drama moments of the year, with our sweltering takes.

Phil and Tom Watson Spat at the Ryder Cup

Read about it here.


Soly: I’ve been back and forth on this one. Part of me thinks Phil didn’t need to take Tom Watson out behind the shed and pull an Old Yeller on him on (inter)national TV. But part of me thinks it was a calculated move by Phil because he knew the best chance for change was for him to call out Watson for the worst captaincy in Europe since the Costa Concordia disaster. Was this worth it? You gotta think about how often Phil and Tom are going to see each other. How awkward is this Masters dinner going to be?

Shane: Hey, come on Chris, Watson released a statement after the Ryder Cup saying he and Phil resolved everything with an “open and candid conversation.” Why do you have to stir up drama just because a couple of old pals gave each other the needle? (In reality, I loved what Phil did, and thought Watson was such a disastrous captain that nothing short of an open mutiny would have been appropriate in the circumstances.)

Ted Bishop Calls Ian Poulter a ‘Little Girl’

Read about it here.

(Golf Digest)

Shane: I’d like to point out that the actual word he used was not “little,” but “lil.'” The creepy shortening of the word was something I found more offensive than the term itself. I also think that if everyone at the PGA of America didn’t already despise Bishop, he probably could have survived this and served out the last 29 days of his term. As it was, the way he mugged for the cameras and his unilateral approach to picking Watson—a disaster—made him the kind of enemies that were ready to bury him at a moment’s notice.

Soly: Looking back at this a few months later, it’s even more entertaining to me now than it originally was. As I said at the time, I’m just going to give Ted the benefit of the doubt that he was drunk. We’ve all done plenty of dumb stuff when we’re drunk, and I’m certainly no exception to that. I’ve even tweeted some dumb stuff after a little too much of the sauce. But I’m also not the president of the PGA of America. If there is one thing I can sympathize with, it’s harassing Ian Poulter on twitter (which I’m now blocked from being able to do). But for a guy that makes it SO EASY to make fun of him, you have to at least come up with something better than “lil girl.” The whole thing was so hilariously amateur that he deserved to be fired, but mostly for the lack of creativity.

Playing the 18th Hole of the PGA in the Dark

Read about it here.


Soly: The whole incident just reeked of amateurism. Who was in charge of this? Oh, that’s right! The guy that called Ian Poulter “lil girl!”(Seriously though, great season Ted.) The big mistake was not moving up tee times at the beginning of the day, which is why they got put in this situation. Undiscovered tribes in the Amazon were aware that there was a storm heading towards Valhalla that day, and Bishop and his crew did nothing about it. So once they sent them out (I believe the leaders teed off around 4:30), we knew it was going to be a race to beat darkness. So while that last hole was complete madness, I’m not sure what I really would have done differently in that particular situation. Did we really want to make Rory wait to play one more hole the final day? Bishop is really lucky that it didn’t end up affecting the outcome of the tournament, because if Rory had missed a short putt because he didn’t have night vision goggles, Bishop would have somehow had an even worse 2014. The guy I feel for is Fowler, who missed a putt on 18 that cost him about a quarter of a million dollars, if I remember right. (Ok, I don’t feel THAT bad for him.)

Shane: My favorite part of the whole thing was watching Rory essentially bully his way into not only teeing off on 18—which is more or less normal—but hitting his approach before Phil and Rickie finished the hole. The truth is that it wouldn’t have mattered, since Rory’s clutch birdie on 17 sealed the tournament, and he actually almost managed to cost himself the tournament in his haste, with a drive that came a whisper away from falling into the creek on the right side. But it was brilliant to see the Rory/Rickie dynamic at play—Rory basically insisted to Rickie at the tee that he was going to hit, and all Rickie could lamely do was tell him he’d ask Phil. Then, when Rickie and Phil marched to the green after their second shots, Rory yelled after them, and then railroaded the officials into letting him play again. Just more evidence that Rory is the ultimate alpha dog on the PGA Tour…it was so fitting for me that he ended his 2014 season by just annihilating Fowler at the Ryder Cup in the most devastating way possible. He’s a psychological marvel, that one.

Bubba’s PGA Championship Antics

Read about it here.


Shane: Oh boy. Bubba refusing to take part in the long drive competition, despite the fact that he could have earned money for his precious charities, is the most Bubba moment in a year full of Bubba moments. There’s simply no rationale for it besides Bubba being a baby. Here’s a guy who loves attention, but apparently only on his town terms…because God forbid he accede to the PGA of America’s unreasonable demands and hit a driver during a practice round on a par-5 where he would normally hit…driver.

Soly: The best part is that this was maybe the third or fourth douchiest thing he did during the PGA. And we’re still talking about it! This was one of the best majors of the last five years (at minimum), and we’re talking about Bubba’s antics in a Tuesday practice round! And then we have this from the actual tournament:

"Water on the clubface, bro… water on the clubface. I got no chance!" Bubba to caddie Ted Scott #PrayForTedScott

— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) August 8, 2014

"It doesn't matter what I do man. It doesn't matter. It's f*cking horseshit."

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) August 8, 2014

Ugh Bubba to Teddy after missing the green on 16, "I can't play golf man. I got nothing."

— Amanda Balionis (@Amanda_Balionis) August 8, 2014

"Nobody wants to move man…. you'd think I was speaking English."

Bubba is at it again…

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) August 7, 2014

He’s just the worst. Unfortunately for us, the blowback was so hard from these incidents that Bubba, the master of public relations, apologized and vowed to clean up his act. Just like that, all of our free material went out the window. Well, until #BubbaFraud has his next meltdown (1/5 odds that it happens before the Masters).

Rory and Wozniacki Split

Read about it here.

Soly: As much as I love nitpicking professional golfers in any way, shape, or form, I really don’t enjoy the TMZ side of golf. Part of me thinks that golfer’s (and athletes in general) personal relationships should be more private. But part of me also acknowledges that Rory and Woz were ALL OVER social media with their relationship. And another part of me thinks that the way Rory did it was so coooooooold blooded that maybe it even deserved more attention. I touched on it when it happened, but I had heard some rumors (from a very, very good source) that Rory did not feel that he was able to get the proper practice time in this relationship. Whether that was due to travel to attend her events, or Caroline’s lack of cooperation in his practice schedule, I do not know. But Rory chose his career over a relationship that his heart truly wasn’t in, which is a mature decision to make for a guy his age. And I realize that your travel schedules made it difficult to see each other face to face, but you just can not make that move over the phone.

Shane: I agree that he made the wise decision, but speaking of rumors, I think we haven’t heard the last of what caused the actual break-up. From my experience, Rory never struck me as an excessively mean person, and he always seemed thoughtful, which made the phone dump so strange—it doesn’t jive with the rest of his personality. I’ll leave that alone for the minute, but, uh…stay tuned, golf fans. In any case, you get the sense that Rory learned his lesson from Tiger Woods, and just in the nick of time. What I want answered is WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED IN HAIR-GATE?!?!

Dustin Johnson Takes a “Leave of Absence”

Read about it here.

Shane: DJ obviously has a huge problem, but the really fascinating part of this for me was how the PGA Tour’s policy of not publicizing suspensions for recreational drugs completely backfired. The last time DJ got suspended, he and his people could invent a story about a jet ski injury, and even though the people in the know recognized it as bullshit, the general public bought it. The problem arises when an enterprising reporter like Bamberger at SI develops a source, and that source later blows the story out of the water and makes a liar out of everyone involved. The PGA Tour’s policy is meant to preserve reputations and give players an easy out, but with the threat of leaks retroactively embarrassing them, I bet we’ll be getting more of the truth in the future.

Soly: What’s interesting to me about the policy is that (in one pro’s opinion) the overwhelming majority of players do not like the policy, and the fact that the tour puts up with and enables behavior like DJ’s. While it may seem like this type of thing is pretty rare, I’m sure the clean players don’t like the cloud of suspicion that comes with a real actual injury that makes them miss a tournament.

Tiger Rips Into Dan Jenkins

Read about it here.

(Golf Digest)

Soly: Not True, Not Funny. To be fair to Tiger, both of these statements are accurate. Jenkins’ SATIRICAL piece on Tiger was not true. It was also not funny. Jenkins is a legend, but this was far from his best work. Tiger’s reaction was a comically poor move, which makes me think that he has no one in his corner that has the ability to stand up to him and tell him no. He called attention to a piece that no one was probably going to even bat an eye at (Golf Digest didn’t even have it online until after Tiger’s letter). Jenkins’ piece is about Tiger being a dick, and Tiger responded by being a dick, and showed just how miniscule his sense of humor is.

Shane: You almost have to laugh at Tiger and whichever agent or handler actually wrote this piece, but my laughter stops short when I realize the subtext of the whole thing, which is that they’d happily revoke certain important aspects of free speech and the free press if they had the chance. Satire is fair game, and always has been, and I thought it was so disingenuous for “Tiger” to write from this hurt, naive perspective, as though he had never even conceived of this kind of foul play. Deadspin had the absolute perfect response, writing a satire using Woods’ infamous text messages to his mistress to really skewer him. But the letter from “Tiger” was just another example of corporate interests trying to police the tone of the golf media, and make life difficult for any writer who isn’t a natural-born lackey.

Patrick Reed Claims to be a Top 5 Player in the World

Read about it here.

(SB Nation)

Shane: Poor Reed. Even when the guy’s not being a villain, everybody’s ready to turn his words against him. I love the fact that Reed is winning golf tournaments and bringing a bit of spice to the golf world, and I hope he stays brash in the face of the avalanches of criticism that are coming his way. But he’s a clear case of a guy who can’t do anything right in the public eye. I thought the top-5 comment was presumptuous, but mostly harmless, and there were no real “victims.” My favorite part of the aftermath was learning that Henrik Stenson would go up to him on the range, watch him hit balls, and evaluate each shot, out loud, on whether it was top-5 quality or not.

Soly: One of my favorite moments of the year. Reed stomps all over a ridiculous field in a World Golf Championship, then goes all Ricky Bobby on Steve Sands with no hesitation. I had no problem with Reed’s original statement, but once he started listing off his accomplishments, you could tell that he wasn’t nearly as confident in just letting his game do the talking. I’ve made it pretty clear that I’ve come around on Reed (complete overreaction to the Ryder Cup), but it was real hard to like him at the time (with the exception of the material he provided us). The scary thing is that I could see him rising into the top 10 category this coming year. Not bad for a guy I hadn’t heard of two years ago.

Patrick Reed Drops a Gay Slur

Read about it here.

Soly: I’m not going to defend what Reed said. As a professional golfer, he should be aware that his shots are going to be on TV, and that there are microphones all over the place. If you’re going to call yourself a top 5 player, you’re going to bring extra attention on yourself, so you need to be prepared to handle that. On the other hand, this was Reed talking to himself after a missed putt. It’s not the same as Kobe Bryant shouting this same slur 50 feet across the floor at another person (oops, this is one of those Kobe things we’re not allowed to talk about, are we?). Golfers talk to themselves, and say things that aren’t meant to be heard on TV. He just needs to take that word out of his vocabulary next time.

Shane: Deep down in the recesses of my brain that rarely see the light of day in any published format, I’m so insanely sick of the liberal reactionaries that patrol the Internet looking to ruin the lives and careers of anyone who has an unfortunate moment that I feel like I’m turning into a Obama birther or something. The fact is, I can’t muster any outrage over this. I don’t care. I don’t care what Reed says in a moment of intense, self-directed anger, and I don’t think you can say that it reflects his worldview or anything like that—the dude just got lost in his emotions. I think the real lesson here is, like you said, microphone awareness. Also, what bothered me the most about this episode wasn’t the first part of what Reed said, but the second: “Go fucking hang yourself.” Underneath everything Reed does, there’s an intense sort of self-hatred that’s more disturbing than any one word he might say, and I feel like that might lead to something really unfortunate in his future.

Webb Simpson Texts His Way on the Ryder Cup Team

Read about it here.

(Golf Channel)

Shane: The crux of how you feel about this story depends on how much Webb Simpson knew. He admitted at the Ryder Cup that Keegan Bradley had called him on Monday night letting him know that he (Keegan) had made the team, and in his comments about the texting incident on Tuesday morning, Simpson related how he told Watson that he knew he had a tough choice with a lot of good players, like “Kirk, Horschel, and Bill Haas.” We also know that Watson leaked his three original captain’s picks—Mahan, Bradley, and Haas—on Monday night, and that by Tuesday on the range at Denver, they were being discussed as a done deal. Which, to me, indicates that Simpson knew, probably from multiple sources, exactly who Watson had picked. And when he talked to him, the fact that he didn’t mention Bradley or Mahan as alternatives meant he knew they were safe picks, and that he was specifically targeting Bill Haas, the vulnerable third pick. It was a sneaky maneuver if so, and doubly so when you consider that Webb is a bible thumper who, in theory, shouldn’t be scheming at 4:30 a.m.on how to screw over a fellow golfer. Also, Watson is a bonehead for letting himself be convinced by text message.

Soly: As a married, and very religious person, I wouldn’t expect Webb Simpson to be the master of the 4 AM text. As a bachelor myself who tends to overuse this move when too much of the sauce is consumed, it looks like I could learn from Webb on how to get the receiving party to actually respond, much less take you on all expenses paid golf trip across the pond. The part I love the most is when Watson doubled down on his horrific decision to take the struggling (but experienced!) Simpson and trot him out in the opening tee time. Simpson could have been taking a jackhammer to the first tee box and been shaking less than he was as he teed that ball up (still waiting on that tee shot to land by the way). What’s even more hilarious is that if we made a list of the top 5 blunders made by Tom Watson, I’m not even sure this would make the list. What do we think the odds were that Webb used emojis? I’m saying 1/3.