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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

The hilarious reason why Kevin Kisner asked to sit the afternoon at the 2017 Presidents Cup

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Golf is changing, as always.

While the best of the team events – the Ryder and Presidents Cup – give rookies the chance to shine, both events often rely on the experienced players to steady the ship through the early stages.

This week’s Presidents Cup is the 12th run-out of the U.S v International match-up, and the first since 2019.

The 2021 event was, of course, cancelled because of Covid and the teams look very different to how they may have looked a year ago, mainly because of the ineligibility of any players that have chosen the LIV path for their recent careers.

Played at Quail Hollow this season, the teams are a mix of the plainly obvious and those with zero experience, with 14 of the 24 players making their debuts in the event, including world number one Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa, winner of the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s often best to turn to the older members for the stories, and 38-year-old Kevin Kisner has never been short of a tale or two.

With an enviable record at the World Matchplay – one win and two finals appearances in six starts – Kiz appears the type to thrive at all aspects of the team challenge. However, back on his 2017 Presidents Cup debut, he wanted to be left off the roster for day three.

His event started brightly for the rookie, when playing alongside Phil Mickelson, a Thursday half in the foursomes followed by a win in the following day’s fourballs.

Day three again started well for the pairing, beating Jhonattan Vegas and Emiliano Grillo 2&1 and taking their record to 2-1-0, before that strange request.

Golf writer Brentley Romine posted a tweet on Thursday revealing that Kisner approached the then U.S captain Steve Stricker and asked for Saturday afternoon off, because:

“Because Georgia played Tennessee. Strick is like. ‘Seriously?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, man, that’s my squad.'”

This is not the first time that golf took a back-seat to a Bulldog game.

In the same year, while competing at the Tour Championship, Kisner took to social media to arrange a flight to a Georgia-Mississippi game, eventually finishing tied third at the lucrative season finale.

The mid-event break clearly does him good as he also profited at Liberty National, halving his Sunday singles game with Anirban Lahiri and keeping intact an undefeated record as his team thrashed the Internationals 19-11.

Kisner didn’t take part in the opening day of this year’s Presidents Cup and there is no knowing whether he will play when Davis Love requires him to. Better check the football schedule first.

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19th Hole

‘It’s a slap in the face’ – Patrick Reed hits out at DP World Tour over treatment at latest events

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This week, Patrick Reed is playing in the Cazoo Open De France at Le Golf National. The course is where the 2018 Ryder Cup was held. The European Team won the trophy, and Reed was only able to muster one point in three matches.

This week however, Patrick Reed was the betting favorite entering play. Despite being somewhat of a regular on the DP World Tour, Reed feels as though the treatment he’s received this week has been “a slap in the face”.

Reed is by far the biggest name in the field, but wasn’t asked to play in the pro-am or conduct a pre-tournament press conference. Of course, this treatment is a result of the 33 year old’s decision to join LIV Golf.

According to The Telegraph, Reed told Journal du Golf: “It’s a slap in the face not to invite me to do a press conference here, or as happened in Wentworth, not to have me play the pro-am and all those things. At the end of the day, it’s just my golf that I have control over. I’m here to support the Tour, France and all the people who are here.”

“But I don’t see why we can’t move from the LIV to the European Tour like we usually move from the PGA Tour to the European Tour. A lot of players understand and support my choice and have nothing against me. I didn’t feel any animosity against me from them.”

While there have been some players who have publicly stated they have no issues with the players who’ve chosen to go to LIV, there have also been a number of players who have done the opposite.

LIV golfers are currently able to participate on the DP World Tour due to a temporary court order until it is resolved legally. A decision on their eligibility going forward is expected to be given in February.

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19th Hole

Congress members blast ‘pimp’ Greg Norman in meeting at Capitol Hill

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On Wednesday, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman met with members of congress to discuss LIV’s current dispute with the PGA TOUR.

It didn’t go very well.

According to multiple sources, Republican Tim Burchett of Tennessee walked out of the meeting due to an inability to understand Norman due to his accent as well as the “propaganda” he felt Norman was sharing.

Burchett later sent a tweet himself about the meeting with “The Shark”.

Burchett wasn’t the only member of congress to give Norman a hard time.. Chip Roy of Texas said to reporters of the meeting: “Don’t come in here and act like you’re doing some great thing, while you’re pimping a billion dollars of Saudi Arabian money,”

It’s unclear whether or not any of the lawmakers gave Norman the reception he was looking for, but he did later thank them for meeting with him via an Instagram post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Greg Norman (@shark_gregnorman)

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