Top 10 personalities in the men's game

By Randall MellMay 25, 2012, 8:30 pm

Jason Dufner’s game is on the rise.

So is his persona. We’re learning there is more than meets the eye as we get to know the subtle, wry dimensions of his personality.

NBC analyst Johnny Miller said in a media conference call this week that Dufner was among his favorites at the U.S. Open because he had the game and the personality to win at The Olympic Club. Miller said Dufner is one of those competitors who barely seem to have a pulse, and he likes those guys at a U.S. Open.

Here is one man’s completely subjective listing of the top 10 personalities in men’s professional golf under age 50, guys with a ton of pulse, guys who you eagerly await in the media room after good rounds because you know they’re going to fill up your notebook. They may be on this list because they’re funny, quirky or just gifted with colorful insight into the game and human nature, or maybe all of the above:

1. Bubba the White

Bubba Watson’s personality is much too large to be restrained to a single spot atop this listing of top-10 personalities. Bubba the White, like Gandalf the White in the Lord of the Rings, radiates with a wizardly charm. Watson possesses a quirky but intriguing perspective on life as only Bubba can see it. He’ll make you chuckle at his folksy views. He’ll also awe you with the magic in that pink driver of his.

2. Bubba the Grey

Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s wizard, Bubba has a darker alter ego who fits the author’s description, “. . . quick at times to sharp speech and the rebuking of folly.” Yeah, that’s pretty much Bubba, too, though folly is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

3. Paul Goydos

If this guy won more, he would be a superstar. His wit and dry humor were unveiled for all to see in his playoff loss at The Players Championship four years ago. He’s Bob Newhart in golf cleats. He is self-deprecating and gifted in expressing it with some good one-liners.

4. Rocco Mediate

He is not your ordinary PGA Tour pro, to be sure. For starters, he has a tattoo on his right arm (RNM, the first initials of his three sons). He is a wisecracker who can be brutally honest – just ask Tiger Woods – but in the most disarming fashion, usually. Nobody rambles more delightfully than Rocco. You rarely want him to stop talking when he’s in the media room.

5. Phil Mickelson

Yeah, he’s a lightning rod, but Lefty brings as much game into the media room as he does on the golf course. His messages can be calculating, but he wins us over delivering them so cleverly. There’s a lot of thought that goes into Lefty’s opinions, and they carry considerable weight in the game. When Mickelson makes a stand, he makes it count. And while he may lumber across a golf course, he is as quick as anyone on his feet in the media room, with witty jabs and needles aimed at writers.

6. Boo Weekley

The guy galloped down the first fairway at Valhalla in the shadow of Churchill Downs straddling his driver as if he were riding Secretariat. You don’t see that every day at a Ryder Cup. He was voted Class Clown his senior year at Milton High in the Florida panhandle. He once felt like a clown getting knocked out by an orangutan in a boxing match at a carnival. Weekley tells his stories with a folksy charm that endears him to his audiences.

7. Henrik Stenson

The Swede once stripped to his underwear to hit a shot out of the muck at Doral. He looked completely uninhibited doing so. He was as funny talking about it as he was doing it. Even amid slumps, some nasty ones that might have ended the careers of lesser men, Stenson is a cheerful subject, mostly.

8. Lee Westwood

His sharp, penetrating English wit comes through in most of his media sessions. Westwood is smart, and he knows how to make an important point with levity punctuating his message. That’s a nice trick. His opinions also carry substantial weight because of the respect he has won among his peers.

9. Graeme McDowell

The good-humored Irish outlook passes comfortably through McDowell’s persona. He is candid, with strong opinion, but he has the knack of making you like him even if you disagree with him.

10. Rory McIlroy

The youngest member of this list, McIlroy, 23, can sound wise beyond his years in an interview room, while also being boyishly playful. He is surprisingly unguarded for a No. 1 player in the world, open and eager to share his opinions.

Honorable mention: Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Darren Clarke, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Geoff Ogilvy, Jerry Kelly.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.