It has been, if you are in the golf journalism business, the most amazing summer ever. The summer of “you cannot make this stuff up” because no one would believe it. Not even the most coked-up Hollywood screenwriter would try to sell this script.
It culminated, at least for now, last week when former PGA Tour player Patrick Reed, once known as “Captain America” for his Ryder Cup prowess, filed a defamation lawsuit against Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel for $750 million. The complaint identified Reed as “the youngest World Golf Champion” (whatever that is) and put him in the same sentence as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.
It also points out – because it is relevant, apparently – that Chamblee, a one-time winner on the PGA Tour, was never as good of a player as Reed, whose nine tour victories include the 2018 Masters, has become. Go figure.
It seems as if Reed feels “defamed” by Chamblee and Golf Channel, accusing them of advancing the notion that Reed cheats at golf. All Reed has done with this frivolous lawsuit is ensure that the word “cheat” will appear in every paragraph ever written about him for the rest of his playing career.
Reed’s lawyer is a guy named Larry Klayman from Florida. According to Wikipedia, Klayman filed 18 lawsuits against the Clintons. He tried to have former President Obama deported. Klayman, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “pathologically litigious,” once sued his mother for $50,000. This year, he sued the PGA Tour as a fan, saying that player suspensions would dilute his onsite tournament experience.
Discovery in this case, if it doesn’t get tossed quickly by a judge, will be well worth the price of admission.
In match-play terms, Norman’s legal team got beat, 10 and 8, in U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman’s courtroom this month.
Earlier this summer, there were the remarks by LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, who famously declared that people could learn from their mistakes. The mistake to which he was referring is the conclusion reached by U.S. intelligence officials that Norman’s financial underwriter, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Saudi journalist, in the most gruesome manner possible. So disgusted was Norman’s talented second-in-command, former ESPN executive and serious golfer Sean Bratches, that he quit days later. Suddenly and quickly.
Remember, you cannot make this stuff up.
This madness dates to February, when Phil Mickelson went off the rails. That’s when his now famous phone conversation with writer Alan Shipnuck became public. In that conversation, Lefty called his future employers “scary mother------s” while defending his departure from the PGA Tour. The tour that made him famous and enabled him to build a brand and earn a few hundred million dollars on and off the golf course. The tour that made him a World Golf Hall of Fame member.
Also in February, Norman penned his famous “surely you jest” letter to commissioner Jay Monahan. Norman suggested the PGA Tour lawyers “must be holding their breath.” At other times, Norman expressed great confidence in his legal team … the team that said in federal court that the Arnold Palmer Invitational is played in Ohio. And the team that contradicted LIV claims that contractual upfront player payments were not advances against future winnings on the LIV circuit. In match-play terms, Norman’s legal team got beat, 10 and 8, in U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman’s courtroom this month.
David Feherty, marooned by NBC Sports and Golf Channel, of course weighed in, and he was the most honest of all those who gravitated to LIV. Simply stated, he said it is about the money. Not growing the game, not playing less, not an exciting new format, not 54 holes. It’s the money, something not one of the defectors was willing to admit publicly. Say what you will about Feherty, but he speaks the truth.
Norman repeatedly has characterized professional golfers as “free agents” and “independent contractors.” That may be true, except upon signing a deal with LIV. Northern Ireland’s native son Graeme McDowell was not permitted to play in this year’s Irish Open because he signed a deal with LIV Golf and was required to play in the tour’s inaugural U.S. event, in Portland, Oregon, that same week. So much for independent contractors and free agency.
This is the same Greg Norman who sat atop the Official World Golf Ranking for 331 weeks from 1986 to 1998 and now claims that the ranking, which helps determine fields for major championships and other top events, is irrelevant without his LIV Golf players being listed.
Norman has spoken about how “impressed” he was to see women in restaurants in Saudi Arabia. I guess dinner out is acceptable in the kingdom for women these days. But recently, a 33-year-old female Saudi who was a Ph.D. student in her final year at Leeds University in England was sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.
One wonders when the adults at the Saudi Public Investment Fund will scratch their heads and ask: How and why did we get into business with all these misfits?
It’s been an amusing year. If it weren’t so serious.
Top: Patrick Reed is trying to shush his critics via lawsuit the way he once shushed his rivals in the Ryder Cup.