Introducing: The Professional Golfer Villain Rankings
There is a strange thing about cheering for professional golf that doesn’t happen in a lot of other moderately popular sports: not having a clear team / person to cheer for. In most standard sports like football or basketball, the choice typically is related to the city that a team is headquartered in. A person from Cincinnati likes the Bengals, a person from Atlanta likes the braves – pretty simple stuff.
In other sports, like tennis, where city affiliations aren’t tied to a sport, there are still head-to-head matchups, so a choice must be made at some point. Are you a Rafa guy or a Roger girl? Do you like that player’s country of origin vs. the other player’s country of origin? (If you are an American, this is a particularly tough choice, since none of our tennis players make it very far in meaningful tournaments.) When it comes to golf, however, whom are you supposed to cheer for? This is an age-old question.
I am not going to be in charge of you and tell you whom to root for. There are too many professional golfers with too many cool stories and I don’t want to be the boss of you. Instead, I am going to try and help you figure out whom NOT to root for. The way that I am going to do this is provide an occasional updated villain rankings so you know who sucks and who doesn’t. Sometimes the reasons are going to be abundantly clear – other times, you are going to have to figure it out on your own.
Also, it should be noted, that villains are what makes a sport great. This is not a complete condemnation of these players. I acknowledge that these guys work hard and, if they make it onto the rankings, they are probably world-class players. This is also a very fluid system. Plenty of golfers go from villain to hero over the course of their careers, and there is nothing wrong with that either. Some golfers, like number 3 on this list, wear the hero cape every two years in a certain international team event.
5. Grayson Murray
This pick might make a couple of the less-avid PGA tour fans scratch their heads a little bit, but I need to assure you that Grayson Murray is a big time villain. He has had way too many issues on social media for him to fly under this radar. He is an awesome golfer, but spends way too much complaining and he clearly is an “irrational confidence” kind of guy. Which most people on Tour probably are, but it’s bad when you use that irrational confidence to hit on an underage girl on twitter (or any girl on twitter, for that matter). And it’s not like he didn’t know that the girl was in high school either – he expressly made the point that it was a shame she was in high school because she was pretty hot. This dude is a stud golfer, but a complete idiot. It’s hard to cheer for a guy like that.
4. Ian Poulter
This is fairly obvious. The man has been a complete thorn in the side of every American golf fan for years due to his antics at the Ryder Cup. He absolutely has the reputation to be the marquee villain on Tour. He once said that the conversation on Tour should basically be between himself and Tiger Woods – he considers himself an equal with the Big Cat. Sure, all golfers have a little too much confidence, but that’s just completely nuts. He also said he would strip down naked and play in a major if England didn’t beat USA in a World Cup group stage game. First of all, when the match was a draw, he basically waived it off and did nothing. Second, that pick was like picking the Bulls in the ‘90’s to win the NBA Championship – what a brave and bold move.
The guy should be higher up in the ranks for the stupid chest-pounding move that makes it look like he is trying to perform the Heimlich maneuver on himself. The only thing really holding him back is that he has struggled with injury and has actually proven himself somewhat gritty in his comeback efforts. Still, I can’t wait to cheer against him in the Ryder Cup and I hope Patrick Reed completely incinerates him, leaving only his dumb visor in a pile of ashes.
3. Patrick Reed
Speaking of Captain America, Patrick Reed is certainly one of the best candidates for the Tour’s biggest freak. The only person who actually thinks this guy is Captain America, is himself. Again, a theme of irrational confidence is bucking its head with this list. But what makes Reed so twisted is that his confidence doesn’t really have anything to do with his golf game. He tries to wear red and black on Sundays, which is a pretty crazy move for someone who has a reputation for not closing on Sundays. He has plenty of “off-the-field” issues, such as getting caught cheating and stealing while he was at Georgia, getting kicked out of school, transferring to Augusta State, and making even fewer friends during his time there.
He also has a reputation for being one of the biggest turds on Tour. He was asked who is best friend on Tour was, and he said “Henrik Stenson”, to which Henrik replied “haha yeah dude whatever just stop texting me” (not an exact quote). The thing that really redeems Reed is that the guy just doesn’t seem to care all that much. He has weird family issues that people always ask him about and he seems relatively unperturbed by the entire situation.
This guy is essentially the anti-Jordan Spieth: fiery personality, terrible family values, awful reputation among other pros, mediocre ballstriker, great head of hair, etc.
2. Bubba Watson
Two-time Masters Champion has some things to really like, like the fact that he is mostly self-taught, or that he absolutely pummels the ball while still shaping it with ease. But that’s pretty much where the list stops. He is very well known for throwing tantrums on and off the course. He is always yelling at his caddy and belittling poor Ted Scott in front of live TV audiences. In 2017, Bubba signed a contract with Volvik to play with their vivid tour golf balls, and things did not go well. It’s cool that Bubba got paid, but he also derailed his career so he could play putt-putt golf balls.
Gerry “Bubba” Watson has never really had a period where he was likeable. That’s what makes him such a great villain: the longevity of his career. He has been around, in the thick of things, for such a long, consistent time that it’s hard to forget what a world without him crying on the golf course is like. You really just have to respect his persistence. Also, why do I get the sneaking feeling that he is trying to tear apart the U.S. Ryder Cup organization from the inside out?
1. Bryson DeChambeau
The Scam Artist. The Mad Scientist. Bryson DeChambeau had already built a reputation on Tour before he even went pro. As a highly-touted amateur, all of Golf Media was talking about how he was a big science nut and how he had invested time and resources into developing a scientifically proven new golf swing. He had looked at the game from a new perspective and he found a new way to get the ball in the hole. Hell, he even had these new goofy single-length clubs! How refreshing! Except, after a couple of tournaments in contention and a few too many IBM commercials, golf fans quickly came to a realization: Bryson was either (i) full of shit or (ii) on to something, but in an extremely annoying and in-your-face way.
It is really had to stress how annoying it is to hear this guy in a press conference. Everything he does has been calculated, supposedly, in his high tech golf lab. He is performing complex formulas on the fly in order to pull off some high-flying golf shot during a tournament. He is the master of his universe, and all of us rubes are stuck scratching our butts wondering how the smart man does it. What’s worse, is that it is entirely possible that Bryson is a genius. The problem is, he acts like it.
He even compared himself to George Washington and Albert Einstein, saying that he is thinking differently from the rest of humanity. First, you are just playing golf, not founding a country or developing the theory of relativity. Second, you had won exactly zero times on Tour when you said this. Third, who compares themself to those two people???
What is really crazy about Bryson, is he just really, really good. He has had a solid year on Tour and his game is very versatile. He doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses and he should be hanging around on Tour for quite some time. I think that’s what is the most frustrating of all.