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19th Hole

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



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.”


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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  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

Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas take shots at Bryson’s awkward attempt to own viral rope incident



“If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?”

According to those search engines, both quotes can be attributed to an awful lot of people over the years, including golf legends Payne Stewart and Tiger Woods.

Sometimes, though, others don’t find it as funny.

A week ago, we reported on a viral video from LIV Chicago that showed Bryson DeChambeau losing a battle with one of the gallery ropes .

Despite the histrionics and the supposed loss of vision in one eye, he completed the event at 6-under, and finishing in the top 10.

The incident brought more attention to the tour than anything Chicago winner Cam Smith could do, and the 2020 U.S Open winner probably thought he was onto a winner when recreating the event in a re-run of Bryson v Rope.

In it, the 29-year-old prepares for the challenge like a pro boxer, before ducking under the rope with no personal damage – to the whoops of the ‘onlookers’.

It was a bit of fun, but recent BMW PGA champion, and 2022 Masters third, Shane Lowry, wasn’t at all impressed.

The 2019 Open Championship winner has always stayed fairly neutral about the Greg Norman-led tour, but there was never a doubt that he was fully behind his good friend Rory McIlroy with his views.

However, after the win at Wentworth, Lowry was a tad more open with his views:

“I just think [LIV Golf] is bad for the game. I have always said I play for trophies, not for money. That’s why I didn’t entertain it, to be honest. The reason I have never even contemplated it is I don’t think it is good for the game.”

Whilst we can’t be sure if this had any effect on his Twitter post today, it was clear what he thinks of DeChambeau’s latest stunt:

Then JT got involved and made it clear what camp he was in…

The long-standing Dunhill Links weather is always unpredictable, but home players seem to thrive whatever the conditions.

What is definite is that Lowry will not stomach much more of the clownery on show, and probably won’t be cheering Bryson on as he reached the last 64 of the World’s Longest Drive Championship.

Just as we thought things might have been calming down…..

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19th Hole

Why Phil Mickelson decided to drop out of lawsuit against PGA Tour



Whatever the whys and wherefores, the disputes and disagreements, the one thing the LIV series has done is get people thinking.

Much water has crossed under the bridge and a recap could go on for many hours, but it remains that something somewhere caused the PGA Tour to look at a revised schedule.

Behind all this were a number of court cases, the first being 16 players fighting their cause against a DP World Tour ban, before 11 PGA Tour players sought temporary injunctions against the tour, seeking allowance into the FedEx Cup.

Since then,  Abraham Ancer, Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez have dropped out of the suit, the trial scheduled to commence in 2024, and now four more have fallen by the wayside.

Those four are Ian Poulter, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and more vitally, Phil Mickelson.

The idea of a series challenging the golf status quo was always in the mind of Greg Norman and his backers, and Lefty was certainly the one player that launched the idea into orbit, after a revealing interview with golf writer Alan Shipnuck.

That now leaves just three of the original 11 – Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein – who are still being backed by LIV Golf.

The organization released a recent statement, commenting:

“Nothing has changed,’” confirmed LIV. “The merits of the lawsuit—the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive conduct—still stand and will be fully tested in court, and we look forward to it.”

The statement confirmed the reasons why they believe they have a strong case.

“We stand by the players who the PGA Tour has treated so poorly, but we also recognize to be successful we no longer need a wide variety of players to be on the suit. We have our players’ backs and will press our case in court against the PGA’s anti-competitive behavior.”

Losing the bigger names might be a blow to the plaintiff’s case, and Mickelson’s comments were always going to be of interest.

Lefty explained the reasons for his withdrawal to Sports Illustrated:

“I am focused on moving forward and extremely happy being a part of LIV, while also grateful for my time on the (PGA) Tour. I am pleased that the players on Tour are finally being heard, respected and valued and are benefitting from the changes recently implemented.”

He summed up:

“With LIV’s involvement in these issues, the players’ rights will be protected and I no longer feel it is necessary for me to be part of the proceedings.”

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19th Hole

Patrick Reed includes three golf journalists in fresh defamation lawsuit



Last month, Patrick Reed filed a defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee. The suit has since been withdrawn, but the former Masters champion isn’t done yet.

Reed has just filed a new lawsuit against golf journalists Damon Hack, Shane Bacon and Eamon Lynch. In addition to the writers, the suit includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour and their commissioners Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley.

The suit alleges that those mentioned are guilty of “conspiracy, defamation, injurious falsehood and tortious interference”.

The lawsuit is a whopping 96-pages long and it lists 42 “causes of action.” The causes of action include “a pattern and practice of defaming Mr. Reed.”

“These malicious attacks have created hate, aided and abetted a hostile workplace environment, and have caused substantial financial and emotional damage and harm to Mr. Reed and his family,” Reed’s attorney Larry Klayman said in a statement.

The suit claims that the defendants have cost Reed opportunities at multi-million-dollar sponsorships over the course of his career.

The documents also allege that the defendants have been “intentionally and maliciously destroying” the reputation and sales of Reed and his wife’s company, grindworksUSA, which distributes golf equipment made by the Chinese company.

Reed was set to tee it up at the Alfred Dunhill Links this week, but was forced to withdraw due to back issues resulting from a soft mattress at a French hotel.

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