Roundtable discussion: Nicest guys on TOUR
November 04, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- November 04, 2019
- Rickie Fowler has been known to sign for hundreds of fans at a single PGA TOUR event. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Golf Digest recently published an updated list of the Top 30 nicest guys on the PGA TOUR. Our PGA TOUR writers – Mike McAllister, Sean Martin, Ben Everill, Cameron Morfit – held a roundtable to discuss their views of golf’s nice guys.
MIKE McALLISTER: OK, Golf Digest’s list is out. What's your reaction? Any surprises?
SEAN MARTIN: I want to know why ties weren't resolved. Charles Howell III and Peter Malnati should have to duke it out for 19th and 20th place. A nice-off.
CAMERON MORFIT: Most glaring omission is Ben Crane, who is the only player I ever interviewed who insisted on making me lunch. He also wanted to play tennis after.
BEN EVERILL: It's brilliant to see Gary Woodland get a place on this list [at No. 2]. He's a quiet guy who has been through a lot but those close to him have always known he's a class act. The world saw more of it with his relationship with Amy Bockerstette. Also, I'm proud to see four Aussies on the list -- even though I could make a case for a few more!
MARTIN: It's a strong list, but the amount of nice guys on TOUR isn't limited to 30.
EVERILL: Sean is right. You could add many more to the list. I have a soft spot for Cameron Smith. Many don't know this guy hosts young Australian amateurs from his home state, at his house, in Ponte Vedra Beach each year. Takes them out on TPC Sawgrass and gives them a real taste of TOUR life. He also likes to buy me coffee ... so maybe I am extra biased.
McALLISTER: I'm actually surprised Paul Casey is that low [26th]. Was at a dinner prior to Masters last April where he spoke to a small group of writers and he was so personable, so honest, told some great stories and seemed to actually enjoy himself. He's always been a go-to guy for me. Alas, he opened with an 81 and missed the cut, but I don't think he'll hold it against us.
MORFIT: Yeah, Mike, I agree on Casey. I can't think of anyone happier to be out there, or more approachable. Stewart Cink didn't make the list, and probably should be on there. He was so accommodating and introspective for a long Q & A years ago. He posed for a picture lying down on a couch as if he was in therapy. After the article ran, Zach, his ski buddy, called him the Basket Case.
McALLISTER: Why am I not surprised that Ben pointed out the Aussies. Honestly, though, I think there should be five. Geoff Ogilvy is always interesting to talk to, and he's the most recent winner of the GWAA ASAP/Jim Murray Award for interaction with the media. Maybe it’s because he’s taken a step back from playing this year after he moved home to Australia.
EVERILL: John Senden, Greg Chalmers ... I could go on ... but let me throw up an American then. Great to see Harold Varner III so far up on the list [No. 7 on the list]. He's a genuine champion of a human.
MORFIT: Harold is amazing. When he says he's in it to help people, you believe it.
EVERILL: Yeah, Cam, for sure. And HV3 always comes at you with a smile and questions of his own about you before you can even try to ask about him.Harold Varner III is known as a fun-loving player on the PGA TOUR. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MORFIT: I've never dealt with Jason Bohn for anything substantive, but every time I talk to him, he smiles and seems delighted to talk. The youngest and best player on TOUR who didn't make this list but should is Keith Mitchell. Fabulous guy.
EVERILL: I would make an early vote for Viktor Hovland. I reckon he will make the list next year. Kid’s smile is infectious.
MARTIN: I always enjoy talking to Charles Howell III because he may be the biggest golf nerd on TOUR. He just loves talking about the game and engaging in conversation about it. I approached him after he shot a good score in the first round of THE PLAYERS and told him, "I don't have any questions about you. I just have a question about Tiger." He didn't blink an eye, then told a great story about how he cried when he lost to Tiger at the 1996 U.S. Amateur.
MORFIT: Yeah, Howell always says hi. Of course, he calls me "Bud," but that's OK.
McALLISTER: As media types, we probably view the "nice" factor in a slightly different way than the fans behind the ropes. Given his popularity with fans, it doesn't surprise me that Rickie is No. 1. Of course, from that same fan perspective, I’m surprised Phil’s not on the list. Phil and Rickie share the same kind of appreciation for their fans.
MORFIT: Rickie is serious when he says he models himself after Arnold Palmer. You can really see it.
EVERILL: Rickie is a class act. No doubt about that at all. I already liked him but when my old mate Jarrod Lyle was sick and eventually passed away, Rickie was a driving force behind helping out with his family. Didn't matter what the ask was, he did double.
McALLISTER: We’ve already mentioned a few guys who aren’t on the list. Any others?
MORFIT: I would definitely add Crane, and I think he's top 10, maybe top five. I'd add Cink. Sam Ryder is a good guy, very down to earth. I would add him. And I might add J.T. Poston, although I don't know him that well. Can we add Parker McLachlin? His status isn't that great, but he's a super good guy. Oh, and definitely add Keith Mitchell.
MARTIN: Kevin Na. He's become a fan favorite because he's open and honest about his struggles and is willing to accept criticism.
McALLISTER: Na was great at Colonial. Of course, it helps that he won. Everybody's happy after a win. But I like his honesty. Always good for us.
EVERILL: I agree on Na, Sean. He's always just so open and fun to talk to, and I think that goes for his interactions with the fans, too.
McALLISTER: As a proud Texan, I'd include Ryan Palmer. Spent some time earlier this year at his house where he did a shoot for PGA TOUR Entertainment. Has a great family, heavy into the charity side. You can tell he's one of those down-to-earth guys who'd be great to have a beer with at the nearest sports pub. Plus, he cooks a mean BBQ, and he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. I’ll forgive him for going to Texas A&M and not my alma mater, Texas Tech.
MORFIT: I like Palmer, too. Easy guy to talk to.
EVERILL: For me, guys I would have advocated for include Smithy, John Senden and Snake Chalmers like I mentioned above. At the 2013 Masters after his first round, Sendo reached into his bag and pulled out a stuffed Masters bear. He'd signed it. It was for my first kid I had few months earlier. He had forgotten to give it to me on practice days but put it in his bag, for the round, because he knew he'd see me after. Doesn't seem like much but I found that amazing. I also think Anirban Lahiri is a legend. He's gone out of his way to approach me a few times in places like airport restaurants to talk cricket and other things. Abraham Ancer is another I'm starting to like a lot.
MORFIT: Lahiri! Gotta have him on the list. He's top 10 for sure.Jordan Spieth has long been known as one of the nicest players on TOUR. (Tyler Lecka/Getty Images)
EVERILL: I do have one from left field, though ...
McALLISTER: Go on …
EVERILL: Tiger. He was certainly not the nicest guy for some time. He was so insular. So focused. But now, he's different.
McALLISTER: I can see it. Tiger's underrated, especially when you factor in the demands on his time. I didn't cover him back in his heyday – the first major I covered for the PGA TOUR was the 2008 U.S. Open; I didn’t expect it to take 11 years before I’d see him win another -- but people who did cover him in the early 2000s say he's more approachable now. Glad to see him wearing a smile on his face more often.
EVERILL: Padraig Harrington says something great in an article about Adam Scott. "Relative to ability to play ... he's a world beater." The sentiment is the better the player, the harder it might be to seem nice.
McALLISTER: Speaking of Harrington ... well, you guys probably aren’t surprised I’m advocating his name big-time. My personal favorite. I always learn something from him every time I interview him. He's been at the top of my list ever since 2008. Of course, he won two majors that year. Ah, the good ol’ days.
MORFIT: I'm really championing Ben Crane. This is a guy who is blindingly nice on the personal level, but also, with his wife, Heather, is trying to make the world a better place, too. Close runner-up: Jay Haas. I still remember how bad he wanted me to try fried chicken gizzards and experience the splendor for myself.
MARTIN: I'm going to go with Webb Simpson. I've always enjoyed walking pro-ams with him and his caddie, Paul Tesori. He's another guy who has been through some struggles. I think there's a theme here. The hard times can humble us and help us become better, kinder people. And those All-Star Kids Clinics that Tesori's foundation puts on for kids with special needs are a great act of service. Several players on this list, including Simpson and Spieth, help with those.
McALLISTER: Webb is No. 5 on the Golf Digest list. The four ahead of him are Rory (4), Spieth (3), Woodland (2) and Rickie (1). Can't argue with any of them. Of course, I've got a fondness for the Texan. I went to one of Spieth's junior clinics at the AT&T Byron Nelson one year. He was really engaging with the kids, seemed to be having fun. I feel like he was just an older version of them. He's good with the kids -- that's a big plus in anybody's book. Anybody have a good personal story about any of those top 4?
MORFIT: I was out to dinner with some other writers at THE PLAYERS Championship last year and we all sort of noticed Jordan was there. He noticed us. We exchanged nods. He was there with his wife, and they got up to leave. When we went to pay, we were told he'd taken care of the drinks. Wait. Ben, were you there at dinner? I think it was me and you and the Big Man (Mark Cannizarro of the New York Post) and Evin (Priest of Australian Associated Press).
EVERILL: I was at that dinner, Camo! Yeah, that was awesome of Spieth.
MARTIN: Sensing a common theme that if a player bought your food ...
McALLISTER: Don’t make me go back and check if you guys expensed drinks that night.