In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on June 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm

It’s almost U.S. Open week at Congressional, and in a shameless effort to spur sales of my latest book, “Golf List Mania” co-authored by Ed Sherman, here’s a list of big-time golfing jerks, some of whom might even be in town for golf’s big show. If so, avoid them like the plague.

It’s really easy to find the nicest guys and dolls on the men’s and women’s tours (we’ll offer our class acts later in the week), but any golf writer worth his laptop also can identify more than a few pluperfect horse’s rear ends, at least in locker rooms, executive suites and interview areas where the general public rarely has access. If they did, they might not appreciate the following:

Rory Sabbatini – He’ll be here, and hopefully won’t humiliate his playing partners the way he did at Congressional a few years ago in Tiger’s annual tournament, the AT&T National. Paired with slower than slow Ben Crane, Sabbatini walked far ahead of Crane on the 17th hole, finished out and stormed over to the 18th tee while he was still was in the fairway.

Steve Elkington The often uncooperative Aussie’s post-round demeanor might best be illustrated by an exchange with a writer from the Australian AP a few years ago. After playing poorly, Elkington headed to the parking lot with steam coming out of his ears when the poor fellow from the wire service approached. The reporter’s first words? “Do you want to tell me to bleep myself now, or later?” To his credit, this time Elk smiled and actually answered.

Scott Hoch – He once went into no-comment mode for several years over who knows what, declining to speak with reporters no matter how well he happened to  play. Maybe he never liked his “Hoch as in choke” label after he missed a 2 ½-footputt in a playoff that cost him the 1989 Masters. One year, a representative of theGolf Writers Association approached him at Riviera to tell him he would behonored at an upcoming  GWAA dinner for his charitable work in supporting a local hospital. Hoch, as in mope, saw the man’s press badge and simply walked away.

Carolyn Bivens – She never played the game as a pro, nor was she particularly professional in her disastrous three-year stint as commissioner of the  LPGA. Bivens began her reign of error by announcing ridiculous new media regulations for a tour that desperately needed all the coverage it could get,  alienated many sponsors and tournament directors by imposing onerous new fees  and caused a huge uproar when she threatened to throw players off the tour for not speaking passable English. At her own LPGA Championship in 2009, she declined interview requests and refused to show up in the press room. Within a month, she was fired, and hasn’t been heard from since. What a relief!

Colin Montgomerie – While the Scotsman, runner-up in the ’97 Open atCongressional,. can be quite the charming fellow at times, Monty can sulk with the very best of them, particularly when things are not going very well on the golf course. A spectator moving in his line of sight 250 yards away has been known to distract a rabbit-eared man who surely must have eyes in the back and side of his head, for all the distractions that put him in a dither. Caddies, marshals, scorekeepers and pesky photographers have often drawn his considerable wrath, and it’s never Monty’s fault when things go awry.

Christie Kerr – One of her playing colleagues once said of the LPGA star and former U.S. Women’s Open champion: “She was a bitch when she was fat, and she’s still a bitch skinny.” Since her marriage a few years ago, Kerr has mellowed somewhat, but catch her on an off day and it’s every man/woman for himself/herself.

Leonard Thompson – When Thompson, now a senior golfer, said during a news conference that he’d had some injury problems over the previous few years, a reporter asked him exactly what those injuries were. “None of your goddamned business,” Thompson growled. Marshalls all around the Champions Tour know it’s a good idea to head for the closest available rest room or duck behind a nearby tree when Thompson is approaching their hole. His rotten disposition is known far and wide.

Sergio Garcia – Cried in his mama’s arms when he didn’t break 80 in his first British Open, constantly whines about bad breaks and blames everyone but himself when things aren’t going his way, which is usually the case in major championships. He’s too good a player not to win a major championship or two, but champagne toasts in the press room are never going to happen.

Steve Williams – Tiger Woods’ long-time caddie fancies himself as a bag-man and a bodyguard, a surly presence inside and outside the ropes who berates spectators, badgers, press photographers and once purposely knocked a camera out of one shooter’s hands at a U.S. Open, bruising the poor fellow’sye. Just stay out of his way or face the consequences.  Talk about a bully pulpit.

Vijay Singh – The day he clinched the $10 million prize for winning the FedEx Cup in 2008, he never bothered to show up in the press room to talk about the accomplishment, just as he constantly refuses interview requests and media sessions, even when he’s the leader at a major championship. When an Associated Press reporter quoted him as saying Annika Sorenstam shouldn’t have been invited to play in the 2003 Colonial, he moaned to the world that he’d been misquoted, at least until the reporter played the tape for anyone who wanted to listen revealing that’s exactly what Singh had said.L


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: