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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

‘F*****g hell! That was a low point’ – Rory McIlroy on 2021 matchplay loss to LIV defector

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The 2022 season was an excellent campaign for Rory McIlroy as we saw him rise to once again become the world’s No. 1 player.

The four-time major champion came away with his third Tour Championship victory, a win at the RBC Canadian Open, and another victory at the CJ Cup in October. While he didn’t secure the major championship he’s been coveting since 2014, Rory finished third at The Open, second at the Masters, fifth at the U.S. Open, and eighth at the PGA Championship.

His year full of strong finishes is also backed up by the statistics. McIlroy was the best player for the 2022 season in terms of strokes gained: total.

Prior to his impressive 2022 calendar year, McIlroy struggled in 2021 golf season. Rory recently sat down with Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent to discuss some of the low points he’s had prior to his reclaiming of the top spot on the OWGR. As we’ve grown accustomed to with McIlroy, he was candid and thoughtful in the interview.

After a U.S. Open victory by Bryson DeChambeau in 2020, McIlroy decided it was time to chase more distance. This led to swing changes and difficulties to what eventually led him to his “rock bottom” which he identifies as the 2021 Ryder Cup. He was also beaten 6&5 by Ian Poulter at the 2021 Dell WGC Match Play.

“Yeah, I was beaten by Poulter. F*****g hell! That was a low point.”

Then there was the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, where Rory had won by eight shots back in 2012.

“Kiawah was the perfect example of where my game was; I’d won the PGA there in 2012 by eight shots, but we got there, and I said to Harry: “I don’t remember this course being so difficult.”

The swing changes turned out to be completely unnecessary but having witnessed other players go through them throughout their career, McIlroy was simply doing what he thought was best at the time.

“I’d seen other people do it and thought, at that stage of my career, it was what I needed. It was a difficult summer, but I was having what most people would call a decent year and was starting to think of it that way instead of, ‘It’s decent for most but it’s not good enough for me.’ And I almost needed to hit rock bottom at the Ryder Cup to snap out of it.”

McIlroy enters 2023 as arguably the best player in the world once again and seems primed to make a run at another major championship that he desperately needs. At 33 years old, there’s still plenty of time for the former prodigy to live up to the lofty expectations the golf world once had of him in regard to major championship victories, but it’s time to get going.

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19th Hole

Justin Thomas makes surprising Thanksgiving U-Turn

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Justin Thomas, set to tee it up as part of the select 20 at the Hero World Challenge, has admitted he might have been wrong about Thanksgiving dinner.

The former world No. 1 and winner of the 2022 PGA Championship will look to finish higher than his best-of-event fifth place and secure some momentum towards the 2023 season. With that, the 29-year-old can reach some of the ambitious targets he sets himself each year — falling short of just a few in 2022.

Perhaps more suited to the relaxed, light-hearted nature of Tigers’s invitational, plus the upcoming Match VII and PNC Championship, JT called himself out on a three-year-old tweet about the traditional meal.

Replies were massively in favor of rejecting the turkey, with one response being:

“JT, we do steaks in our house with all the traditional Thanksgiving sides and pies…you can do it…you just gotta make the choice to go for it…don’t lay-up from 200 yds on the par 5,” whilst renown golf story-teller, Ryan French, also agreed with the two-time major winner:

I’m not sure what the poor turkey has done. If done well, it rivals chicken, but JT isn’t having it, politely calling it:

If anything, at least we know what will never be on his Masters champions dinner menu.

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19th Hole

2 Phil Mickelson putters go up for auction…and Phil authenticates them on video

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Last week, we reported on the start of an auction on for one of Tiger Woods’ famous Sunday red shirts.

By Sunday evening, November 27th, there had been 19 bids on the shirt worn during the final round of The Masters 2010, with the current leading offer being $44,771.00. With 13 days left, auction house, Golden Age, will expect bids to reach well in advance of $50k, by some way the biggest price for any of the current ‘Tiger’ memorabilia on the site.

It might have been a good few years since the famed years of the Woods/Phil Mickelson rivalry, but Lefty can’t keep out of the news that his great rival makes, and he too has authenticated some iconic golfing gear – a pair of Scotty Cameron putters.

The first is a handmade Cameron putter that Golden Age can authenticate with photographic evidence.

“We have located loads of photos of Phil Mickelson using this exact putter during that 2002 GHO victory, as well as in the Open Championship, PGA Championship, and Ryder Cup,” the auction house confirms.

“This custom putter is a left handed red dot Circle T Scotty Cameron,” they state, before describing the flat-stick in full. “It has a teryllium face that Scotty Cameron himself personally inserted into this putter. The toe is hand-stamped PHIL.”

Photo-matching is great, but in an era when many are cynical about the provenance of auction items, it is hard to beat video evidence from the player himself.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Golden Age (@goldenageauctions)

In the video, Lefty states that, “They were both handmade by Scotty and I used them in the early 2000s. I definitely won with one for sure,” before confirming, “They were handmade by Scotty and myself around 2001.”

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