The PGA Tour, as part of its television coverage in 2019, will reportedly experiment with mid-round interviews. While some are sceptical of the proposal – including Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, two of the more candid and colourful players in the game – it’s not totally out of left field, as the European circuit has dabbled with in-tournament chats for quite some time. Which got us thinking: which players would be the best, and worst, mid-round interviews? Here is a highly arbitrary ranking of that premise, from least to most interesting:
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
Why we’re (not) intrigued: We saw how this worked – or rather, didn’t – during “The Match.” Even by athlete standards, Tiger is as vanilla a quote as you’ll find, while Phil’s heavy breathing continues to haunt our dreams.
Why we’re (not) intrigued: What we have is already special; let’s not ruin it with words.
Why we’re (not) intrigued: Question be damned, there’s a 95 percent chance Poulter will pepper his Ryder Cup record into his response. No thanks.
Why we’re (not) intrigued: Jason Day is eloquent. Jason Day is thoughtful. Jason Day is accommodating. But Jason Day is not concise, taking 50 words when five will often suffice. Our ideal candidate understands that brevity is a tool and, unfortunately, that’s a club not in Day’s bag.
Why we’re intrigued: On the opposite end of the succinctness spectrum is DJ. No matter the inquiry, each response to Johnson is self-evident, creating some of the highest forms of unintentional comedy in the sport. Like this, from the 2017 Presidents Cup, when a writer asked Johnson about Liberty National:
Q. Were you here in 2009?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think so.
Q. Were you here in 2013?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think so.
Q. If we ask you what hole you’re on, are you going to know?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Probably not. I think I’ve got it somewhat figured out, maybe. Like I said, you probably have them all anyway. I get a little confused on the numbers.
In short, Johnson would be the Gregg Popovich of golf mid-round chats.
Why we’re intrigued: Pat Perez is known as the tour’s bombastic, animated voice, and he certainly is, but Hoffman possesses many of the same endearing qualities. Plus, the 42-year-old would have no issue sharing gambling advice mid-tournament, a sentiment in direct violation of a dozen gaming laws and a fact Hoffman likely wouldn’t give a flying **** about.
Why we’re intrigued: Some European humour falls flat. See anything starring Rowan Atkinson. Stenson’s deadpan wit is the exception to this rule, and it’s a levity baked with audacity. Seriously, it takes gumption to roll down Magnolia Lane listening to “Ice Ice Baby.” Still surprised the Swede wasn’t persecuted at the Hague for such blasphemy.
Why we’re intrigued: Golf has a host of appealing personalities, yet Leishman might be the most affable of the bunch. While he’s funny and reflective, it’s Leishman’s demeanour – which can only be described as carefree and welcoming – that grabs your attention. It’s contagious, which sounds cliché, but it’s absolutely true. The more Leish screentime, the better this world will be.
Why we’re intrigued: If only because his first question would inevitably be, “How many players did you interview before me?”
Why we’re intrigued: Sure, the “Aw schucks” and “Gee gollys” are entertainment in themselves, but Kuch is also a guy who admitted he didn’t know the Olympic golf format despite being picked to represent his country at the Summer Games. Plus Kuch boasts a reputation as one of the best trash talkers on tour. The entire reality TV empire is built off of this wildcard disposition, which is why he earns high grades on our list.
Why we’re intrigued: Dufner does not suffer fools, making it easy to envision the former PGA champ, upon asked a generic question like, “So Jason, what’s the key to playing well today?” responding in kind with a blank stare into the camera.
Why we’re intrigued: Listen, 99.9 percent of the time, Reed spews the same prosaic responses – “The golf course is great,” “I like my chances,” “You have to minimise mistakes” – that have become hymns for PGA Tour players. But that 0.1 percent? Gold, Jerry. Gold.
Why we’re intrigued: What starts out as a soft ball – “How are you feeling today?” or “Do you like your chances?” – could turn into a seven-minute breakdown of how Robert Hooke was wrongfully denied historical accreditation for his experimental proof that gravity follows an inverse square law. Also, Bryson’s ability to flawlessly weave sponsor shoutouts into his speech is on par with a NASCAR driver. There’s a reason he’s called “L’Artiste,” after all.