Unfortunately, many players feel they can no longer trust the
people who are covering the PGA Tour, and at a recent players'
meeting there was talk of banning reporters from our locker
rooms. I don't think that's going to happen, but just the fact
that it was discussed underscores how our attitude toward the
press has changed.
Traditionally, golf writers have been player-friendly, much more
so than reporters who cover other sports. The trouble began in
the weeks before the Ryder Cup in 1995, when some members of the
U.S. team were derided for not being tough competitors. The
magazines made it seem as if we weren't good enough. Then when
we lost, the defeat was portrayed as the end of the world. Last
year there were several instances in which a reporter overheard
comments in the locker room and printed them without talking to
the player. Mike Sullivan became an object of national ridicule
for a remark he made in jest about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the
former Denver Nuggets player and devout Muslim who refused to
stand when the national anthem was played. I got into trouble at
the British Open. I told Davis Love III, facetiously, "I can't
believe Jim Gallagher's not here. Why would he have a baby the
week of the British Open?" That ran in USA Today as if I were
serious. I called Jim when I got home and apologized, but it's
never been the same between us.
The growing popularity of the game has created conditions that
have contributed to this feeling of mistrust. There are more TV
cameras and writers. I guess they all have to try to get
noticed, but there's too much sensationalism. Writing about a
golfer's love life is wrong. I'm talking about those Nick Faldo
stories last year and that item in a golf magazine about Ted
Tryba dating Deborah Couples. Months later the magazine ran a
letter from Ted saying that he had never even met Deborah
Couples. Even if the magazine had been right, that sort of thing
doesn't belong in print.
A year ago I lost a playoff to Jim Furyk at the Hawaiian Open
and was interviewed by Sports Illustrated. I was upset about
losing, but was open and honest. SI wrote that the reason
everyone on Tour likes me is that I'm not a threat to take prize
money from them, that I'm a choker who doesn't win
enough--things that never came up during the interview. Other
writers told me not to take it personally, but it's hard not to.
Kicking reporters out of the locker room won't solve the
problem. I like talking to the press, and think it's important
to be accessible. The problem is, there are getting to be fewer
players who agree with me.
Brad Faxon served on the PGA Tour policy board from 1993 to '95.
COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Faxon: Some news isn't fit to print. [Brad Faxon playing golf]