Hank Haney has been more of a huckster than an actual golf instructor for a while now. One of the things he has established with his suspension from his PGA Tour SiriusXM Radio show is that he can’t really think or speak English, which begs the question of whether he is really qualified for employment. “Isn’t there a lot of girls on the LPGA Tour with the same name, right?” he asked on the air. One of them just won the U.S. Open, didn’t her?
As far as Haney was concerned, the victory by Jeongeun Lee6 was proof of his exact point: She’s just another nameless face among all those girls. Aren’t she?
Haney has gone all-in on defending his remarks and exercising his free speech on Twitter, and that’s fine. But he better be prepared to accept the forces of the free market, too. The consequences of saying something utterly stupid in public is that the audience can exercise its free will to conclude you know nothing about anything, including golf, and turn you off.
“I couldn’t name you, like, six players on the LPGA Tour,” Haney said last week, and then added that, well, maybe he could if he was allowed to just “go with Lee” and not have to “name a first name.” So, when 23-year-old Lee6 of South Korea hoisted the trophy at the Country Club of Charleston on Sunday in South Carolina, Haney naturally accepted the event as total exoneration, evidence that he is not a mushmouthed ignoramus.
“I knew you’d win,” he tweeted at her, and added, “Who’s the Great Predictor Now?”
That might have been funny if Haney had showed even an inkling that he knew who she was. But she was just part of a horde, weren’t she? Haney takes himself serious, don’t he?
“My prediction that A Korean woman would be atop the leader board at the Women’s U.S. Open was based on statistics and facts,” he wrote, citing South Korean dominance of the LPGA.
Actually, just two players named Lee rank among the top 20 in women’s golf at the moment. The other Lee in the top 20 is Minjee Lee, who is not South Korean at all. She’s Australian.
Let’s see if we can’t help Haney separate Lee6 out so that he might actually recognize her as a person. She is the daughter of a truck driver, Jung Ho Lee, who was paralyzed in an accident when he fell asleep during an overnight haul. She has traveled the tour alone much of the time because it’s too difficult for her parents to accompany her overseas with his wheelchair.
“By looking at my family situation back then, I thought about wanting to play golf because I wanted to support my family no matter what,” Lee6 said in her post-trophy interview.
Lee6 has a numeral attached to her name because in South Korea, more than 40 percent of families are named Lee, Kim or Park. Haney seems to think it’s a defense to point out there were multiple Lees in the U.S. Open field, six to be exact. Alas, just four of them were actually Korean.
Another Lee was Andrea Lee. She’s a Californian, an amateur. The senior at Stanford briefly made the leader board with a round of 69, despite the fact that she had to write a bioengineering essay the night before.
Interesting stories, all of these Lees, if Haney cared to pay attention, which he doesn’t. Haney is right that South Koreans are dominating women’s golf: Nine of them are among the top 20 at the moment. But since he has made it clear that he can’t tell a Lee apart from a Lee, you can be pretty certain that he doesn’t know four Americans are in the top 20 — and that two of them are named Korda. Nelly and Jessica, the daughters of former tennis player Petr Korda.
These are things a golf analyst presumably would pick up by doing even a passing amount of real work in the profession. But that’s just it: Haney doesn’t, not any more. He has become a stunt who tinkers with celebrity swings, Charles Barkley’s or Mario Batali’s. At this point, the Adam Levines and Ray Romanos are more serious about golf than Haney. Isn’t they?
If the PGA Tour and SiriusXM decide to dispense with Haney’s services, it should be because his first offense, ahead of sexism or bigotry, is pure professional laziness. Just listen to how Haney got into the whole troublesome conversation in the first place. His co-host on the channel said, “This week is the 74th U.S. Women’s Open, Hank.”
To which Haney replied, “Oh, it is?”
Then he asked, “Where are they playing, by the way?”
Listeners may experience a certain relief by tuning Haney out. No longer should any of them feel obliged to listen to torturous discussions of swing planes and shaft angles and ball-flight correction. Or to purchase his Stance Minder, or Swing Band, or Grip Strength aid. You can just assume he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Do he?