News Of The First World: HatGate Is Here To Stay
A veteran writer cites three witnesses suggesting Patrick Cantlay arrived at the Ryder Cup first tee with remuneration in mind. The story also makes NBC's coverage look even more problematic.
In a story denied by Patrick Cantlay’s representation as “fictitious” and “completely false”, The Fire Pit Collective’s Michael Bamberger reports there was substance to the initial report of a hat-related protest over Ryder Cup compensation.
In a nutshell: Cantlay arrived at the first tee Friday of the 2023 Ryder Cup and is purported to have made a flippant remark in response to an innocent observation about his lack of team USA headwear.
“I’ll wear a hat when I’m paid to be here like he is,” Cantlay is believed to have said to NBC’s Steve Sands while pointing to Julius Mason, the longtime PGA of America public relations executive. The remark came after Sands commented on Cantlay’s lack of traditional pro golfer headwear and probably amounted to nothing more than nervous banter as 5,000 or so fans screamed pro-Europe taunts in the surrounding grandstand.
Bamberger notes he was not present and his sources gave slight variations in the exact wording of Cantlay’s response referencing Mason, who traditionally manages America’s Captain while being one of the cooler, calmer and nicest individuals in the golf industry. Mason was present at the first tee because it’s part of his job and not there to somehow draft off of the American players.
Bamberger reports that, in one version of the flippant remark by Cantlay, Mason was cited by name. “But there was no material differences in what [Cantlay] was quoted as saying as he walked on to the first tee,” Bamberger writes.
The report gives validity to the original Twitter report by Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir suggesting some sort of hat-related protest statement over Cup profit points. Bamberger’s story also follows a post-Ryder Cup revelation from the father of Xander Schauffle, Stefan. He raged to anyone with an ink stain and notebook about concerns over organizations taking advantage of Ryder Cup participants, including confirmation that his son and Cantlay demanded and received special agreements when Netflix wanted to shoot inside the “sacred” team room. It is now clear the two players had issues over Ryder Cup revenues and participation in Netflix’s docudrama, Full Swing. The latter a legitimate gripe given the streamer’s profit motives, while the former concern remains an almost-guaranteed disaster for players based on past gripes over a lack of Ryder Cup pay.
Stefan Schauffele has already confirmed the conflict over wording in the specially drafted documents kept the duo of southern Californians from joining the team on a pre-Cup practice trip to Rome. He suggested the demands even threatened to jeopardize Schauffele’s place on the team.
The story broken last weekend by Bamberger creates problems for those attempting to make the kerfuffle go away via adamant denials, suggestions of perfect team harmony, and attacks on media for suggesting Cantlay revisited the previously no-win stance of Ryder Cup pay.
Besides potentially staining the credibility of numerous figures who suggested the hat protest and dissension story was a complete fabrication, Bamberger’s report also confirms previous concerns about the residual damage caused by NBC’s relentless streamlining. The story further highlights the network’s increasing inability to credibly cover its partners and player misbehavior.