The humor roll: Who are the funniest golfers on tour?
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When I sat down for an hour-long interview with Jonas Blixt in West Virginia in 2014, I hoped for the best. His countryman Henrik Stenson was easily one of the funniest golfers in the sport, and I had a stereotype in my head that all Swedes had the same deadpan, dry-but-also-sort-of-goofy sense of humor. There was also an old quote I’d dug up where, showing a flair for absurdity, Blixt once claimed he was wearing Rickie Fowler’s clothes during a round, and planned to burn them after (the truth: they’re both sponsored by Puma).
I came in with high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed. One of the first things Blixt told me was that the girls at his primary school used to call him “the tomato” because he blushed so easily. They’d run up to him and hug him just for the pleasure of watching him turn tomato-red, and he’d never gotten over his fear of women.
“I’m still scared of them,” he said, and went on to tell the story of the only two times he’d gathered his courage to approach a woman at a bar. The first time, he’d barely started speaking when his hope was crushed by an expression of pure ridicule, making it crystal clear that his overtures weren’t welcome. The second potential conquest was even less subtle—she reached out and pushed him away by the forehead.
It was one of my favorite interviews of the year, and one of the few times I’d seen a golfer display even a trace amount of self-deprecation. Later, reading through his transcripts, I saw that he was giving out gold even in his press conferences. There were stories of how he ended up accidentally living in a retirement community in Jacksonville because of bad advice from a swing coach, how he asked a mechanic neighbor to look after his car for a few weeks while he was on tour, and came back to find 2,700 extra miles on the odometer, and how his immediate emotion after winning his first PGA Tour event was terror at the prospect of having to make a speech.
Blixt was funny in an easy, self-aware way that made me like him instantly. I was forced to cut him out of the book I was writing (at gunpoint) since he didn’t win anything that year, but my time with him stood out in stark contrast to the dozens of other golfers I got to know in 2014. Many of them were interesting, some were not, but almost none were truly funny.
There’s nothing worse than explaining a joke, and analyzing humor is almost as bad, so rather than try to rank the players or score them on their comedic abilities, I’ve decided to simply present a list of the golfers who seem to have demonstrated actual senses of humor in a sport that can be too dry. If you hear any of these guys being asked a question, stick around to listen for the answer. It will probably make you laugh, sometimes really hard.
When I asked Patrick Reed if he had any friends on tour, he flailed around for a second before coming up with Henrik Stenson. Here’s what Stenson had to say about that, tongue firmly in cheek:
“I wouldn’t say that we go way back. I played one practice round with him at Wells Fargo a couple years ago. And … well, it’s nice if he thinks that everyone he knows a little bit is one of his friends. That’s obviously a way to look at it.”
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Someone who can sting with that kind of vicious understatement (it’s practically British in its lethal restraint!), but who will also play golf in his underwear has clearly mastered every part of the comedy spectrum. Someday, I will write a 9,000-word essay on every funny thing Stenson has said or done, but for now I’ll have to settle for assuring you that his press conferences are unmissable.
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Jamie Donaldson and Thomas Bjorn
After the 2014 Ryder Cup win in Gleneagles, Donaldson came into the team press conference riding Bjorn piggy-back style and slapping his butt while Bjorn neighed like a horse. That’s all you need to know for this one, right?
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I only had to go like 10 tweets down in his timeline to find the tweet below. Pepperell is probably the most philosophical golfer around, but he can also drop the comedy when necessary:
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Billy Hurley III
I think his caddie wrote most of this, but I’m still giving Hurley props for going with it. It shows, at the very least, a familiarity with humor:
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Confession: I had no idea Hadley was funny until GD’s own Joel Beall cued me in. Skeptical, I watched this video, and I am SHOCKED at how good he is. That’s some bona fide talent. Also, he earns eternal comedy legend status for this:
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The wonderful, hilarious thing about Phil is that he can simultaneously present himself as an unrepentant know-it-all, a flamboyant risk-taker and a grinning avatar of his own relentless self-belief, yet also wink at you—without breaking character, even a little!—to let you know that yes, this is all pretty funny. It’s one hell of an act.
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I hate doing this, believe me, but you need one “dumb funny” guy. Bubba sometimes captures that “defensive southern boy cracking an accidental joke that makes you laugh in spite of yourself” vibe, like Will Ferrell doing a George W. Bush impression. Here he is in that same Ryder Cup, after getting beat two days in a row by Stenson:
Q. I know you’re here to talk mainly about your own performance, but can you throw any light at all on Henrik Stenson’s injury?
BUBBA WATSON: On his what?
Q. He has a back injury apparently.
BUBBA WATSON: I didn’t see it. He beat me pretty good two days in a row (laughter). I don’t know anything about it, so I wouldn’t know. Obviously he beat me. Maybe I’ve got an injury.
That’s an annoyingly decent line. Let’s move on.
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This deserved more than 113 likes:
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This is one of my favorite examples of golfer self-deprecation ever, and I’m still convinced it’s why the karma gods let him win at Augusta:
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Perez is like John Daly, but without the uncomfortable sense of witnessing human decay. This interview takes an excellent turn at 1:55.
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All four of these guys
I had to include an Irishman in Paddy Harrington, but I’m particularly impressed with Kaymer’s perfect delivery. Germany is the new Sweden: