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Zach Johnson gets revenge on controversial sports writer over 15-year-old insult

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When Zach Johnson won the 2007 Masters, he had the likes of then-world number one Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose and Vijay Singh behind him. It was a convincing performance from a player that had two below-average previous outings at Augusta (missed-cut/32) and had missed seven of the last 11 cuts in all majors.

Whilst it impressed most, sportswriter and then ESPN columnist Rick Reilly was unconvinced by the performance, commenting on Dan Patrick’s radio show that, “I think Zach Johnson–in 10 years–has a real chance to be your server at Olive Garden.”

Oops.

After three further wins , including back-to-back victories at the Texas Open, Reilly was on a visit to Johnson’s home town, Iowa, to host a television show about quarterback Kurt Warner, and was forced to admit, “Of course, it turned out to be the dumbest comment in the history of golf commentary. Good for (Zach), he shut me up.”

When an ESPN reader emailed in to call him out for his bad read, Reilly conceded he blew this one and wrote, “If I don’t shut up, I’ll be working for him.”

Johnson won seven further titles, his last victory being the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, venue for this year’s 150th Open, making it 15 professional victories with a highest world ranking of 7, and end-of-season 9th.

And Zach has never let Reilly forget it.

On Monday, Reilly was once again in Johnson’s hometown on a publicity tour for his recently released book, So Help Me Golf, an insight into everything he’s thought of and experienced in his many years involved with the game we love. Johnson saw his chance.

While speaking at Cedar Rapids Country Club, Johnson left Reilly a present  – a gift card for the Olive Garden – at a value equivalent to the price of his book.

“Uh, I was WAY wrong,” Reilly tweeted on Wednesday. “Monday night I was back in Iowa. Waiting for me was a present from him, a $30 gift card to fill my big mouth with.”

 

15 years ago, Rick Reilly had Zach Johnson down as a server. Today, Zach Johnson is the winner of more than $47 million, stands in the top-15 of the PGA all-time money list, and is preparing to lead the US team at the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Way wrong!

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Brian

    Jun 17, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Rick Reilly is still a piece of shit

  2. Chuck

    Jun 17, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Reilly is responsible for a far worse golf writing sin. Also Masters-related,

    It was Reilly who put into print the never-substantiated mythical statement he attributed to ANGC Chairman Clifford Roberts. Reilly claimed that Roberts said, “As long as I am Chairman, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.”

    It is a statement that none of Roberts’ friends, acquaintances, or any others connected with the tournament or the club ever confirmed. Most said it didn’t sound like a quote that Roberts would utter. Reilly has never proven or sourced the quote.

    • Peter McGill

      Jun 20, 2022 at 3:18 am

      It’s referenced in an Associated Press article from 1973. It needs a subscription to open, so I can’t add anything further.

  3. John

    Jun 17, 2022 at 10:50 am

    At least Riley was man enough to admit he was wrong and has had a sense of humor about it. Unlike clowns like Skip Bayless who’ll never admit they are wrong about anything and usually are.

    Zach should be considered a HOFer. His resume is at least as impressive as Couples is.

    • Rich

      Jun 17, 2022 at 11:39 am

      Pretty sad that Zach remembered a 15 year insult.

      • Uhwhat

        Jun 17, 2022 at 9:17 pm

        Do you really get the impression he remembered it because he legitimately is upset by it, or because at this point it is a joke between the two of them.

        Based on the tone of this it is just a joke between them rather than Zach sitting around still fuming about a 15 year old comment that was obviously wrong, and which he openly admitted he was really wrong on.

    • William

      Jun 17, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Regardless that I like him as a player, Couples in the HOF is an insult.

      Tom Weiskopf had a similar career in half the time and has designed the best golf course of any player-turned-architect.

  4. Get Real

    Jun 17, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Reilly certainly does come off as a bit of a jerk. I guess it’s easy to build a name for yourself by trying to tear other people down. Especially when you write about those people who do things you could never do in your dreams. But hey, it’s 2022, and apparently this is what the cool kids are doing these days.

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19th Hole

Report: Jared Kushner pushed for LIV Golf media rights deal with Paramount

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LIV Golf seemingly has all the money they could ever need when it comes to offering contracts to players.

The Saudi-backed golf league has already reportedly given Dustin Johnson $125 million, Phil Mickelson $200 million, Bryson DeChambeau $100 million, and are now rumored to be giving Cameron Smith $110 million. They’ve also spent plenty on other players and give a tremendous amount of guaranteed money for each event.

While money can clearly buy talent, one important thing it’s yet to buy is a television contract for LIV Golf.

According to Sports Business Journal, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attempted to change that.

Shortly after the LIV Bedminster event, Kushner put in a phone call to some of the top executives at Paramount, which is a television network owned by CBS.

The source told Sports Business Journal that Kushner has no official position with LIV Golf but made “One phone call. Totally informal. It lasted a very short amount of time to make an introduction.”

Thus far, LIV Golf has been streaming on both YouTube and Facebook but hasn’t appeared on traditional television as of yet.

Donald Trump owns two of the golf courses that LIV is utilizing in their 2022 season, so it isn’t entirely surprising that his family would attempt to help the controversial golf series.

Kushner also has a previous connection with the Saudi’s who’ve funded LIV Golf. He owns a private equity firm called Affinity Partners which received a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund; the same source that directly funds LIV Golf.

However, per Sports Business Journal’s source, Kushner “is not expected to make more outreach on behalf of LIV or play an ongoing role in future media discussions.”

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19th Hole

The awesome fan gesture from Cam Smith that went unnoticed in Memphis

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Cameron Smith is the gift that keeps giving.

Outstanding winner of The Open Championship, the world No. 2 has been catching the headlines not only with his golf, but talk of him having signed for LIV and the subsequent reaction from the crowd at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first of three events to find the FedEx Cup champ.

In between that, the Australian star has found himself the subject of a two-shot penalty, notified just hours before his final round yesterday, and on Monday he had to withdraw from this week’s BMW Championship with what his agent calls a “hip discomfort,” something he has suffered with for “several months.”

Apart from winning the fourth and oldest major, the 28-year-old, also the winner of the Tournament of Champions and The Players Championship in this stellar year, has continued to face a barrage of questions from reporters keen to establish just where we are with all the news on his impending move.

Almost as if to deflect that story, Smith caught the headlines again when, after striking a Southwind patron during last night’s final round, he offered a most generous apology.

Present at the event, tweeter Tanner Dillard posted a photo of Smith chatting to the unharmed fan after he had unwittingly knocked his phone out of his hand.

As can be seen, Smith felt the need to go above and beyond the usual signed glove or golf ball, take the ‘victim’s’ number and offer to buy him a new phone.

The man at the center of it all, Blake Krassenstein confirmed to GolfWRX’s Matt Vincenzi that Smith had since contacted him and ordered him a brand new phone.

All class.

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19th Hole

Cam Percy clarifies ‘they’re gone’ comment regarding Cam Smith and Marc Leishman

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Last week, a report from The Telegraph that claimed Cameron Smith was joining LIV Golf for a contract north of $100 million took the golf world by storm.

And at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the world No. 2 didn’t deny the reports.

“I’m ready to cop some heat. I understand that’s what I said, but like I said I’m here to win the FedEx Cup playoffs that’s my No. 1 goal and whatever happens after that will come from me.”

Smith also said, “I have no comment to that,” he said. “I’m here to play the FedExCup Playoffs. That’s been my focus the last week and a half, that’s what I’m here to do – I’m here to win the FedExCup Playoffs.”

Many of the rumors regarding Smith began with an interview that fellow Australian Cameron Percy did with the radio station RSN where he said “Unfortunately, yeah, they’re gone,” speaking about both Smith and Marc Leishman.

After a week of constant rumors and reports, Percy stood behind his comments in an interview with Australian Golf Digest.

“Look, I was just conveying what was said in the locker room during the many rain delays we’ve had on tour the past few weeks,” Percy said.

With both the reports of Smith’s joining LIV, Percy’s comments, and Smith’s lack of denial, it seems quite probable the Champion Golfer of the Year will be taking his talents to LIV Golf when the PGA Tour season concludes. That said, only time will tell.

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