Patrick Cantlay at the 2023 Travelers Championship. Jun 22, 2023; Cromwell, Connecticut, USA; Patrick Cantlay plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

There have been plenty of spicy takes from Golfweek writer and Golf Channel host and contributor Eamon Lynch over the years, perhaps especially when it comes to LIV Golf. Lynch has been a long-time critic of that Saudi Arabia-backed series, and was even one of the media members sued by Patrick Reed over coverage of Reed’s move there (that suit was tossed last year). This week, though, Lynch’s target was PGA Tour golfer (and member of the tour’s policy board) Patrick Cantlay, who he claimed was leading an artless coup (at least per his piece’s headline) against commissioner Jay Monahan to block the LIV Golf deal for personal enrichment:

The key part of that article as it pertains to Cantlay (seen above at the Travellers Championship last week):

Patrick Cantlay, who carries himself with the assurance of a man convinced he’d be a partner at Goldman Sachs if he wasn’t merely sporting its logo on his cap, has been trying to rally players against the deal with the Saudis, and against members of the Tour’s policy board who architected or support it. It hardly needs to be stated that his objections aren’t based on the morality of dealing with human rights abusers. Existing PGA Tour incentives won’t much benefit Cantlay. He won’t get rich from the Player Impact Program that bonuses stars on fan engagement since the only needle he moves is the gas gauge on his car. So the logic of Cantlay’s coup d’etat is that if LIV disappears as a threat — a likely occurrence under the deal — then players like him have no options, no leverage over the Tour, and no prospects for the lucrative payday to which they feel entitled.

Multiple sources say Cantlay has romanced LIV for some time, including while being a sitting member of the Tour’s policy board, all while maintaining a gymnast’s balance as a fence-sitter in public.

The policy board meets Tuesday afternoon in Detroit, and it could turn fractious if Cantlay’s coup ambitions move into the open. Thus far, his gripes have gained little traction among players for three reasons: firstly, Cantlay’s interests are not aligned with those of the broader membership, who have maximized any benefit they’ll see from a market competitor in bigger purses; secondly, his fellow players are upset about process, not policy (it’s not taking Saudi money, it’s not being in the loop on the decision); thirdly, no details have been draped upon the framework agreement that was announced, so there’s nothing specific which players might find unpalatable.

Those are strong terms indeed to use about a particular player, especially when it comes to allegations of “coup ambitions.” And they’ve drawn reactions, but only much later. That piece was published Saturday. On Thursday, around the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, four PGA Tour players objected to Lynch’s piece on Instagram. That started with Adam Scott, who happens to be the chair of the aforementioned Tour policy board:


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Fellow PGA Tour golfers Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, and Will Zalatoris then all shared the same statement. Fowler posted it to his Instagram page, while Thomas and Zalatoris shared Scott’s post on their Instagram Stories:


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There’s a lot worth examining in that statement. The golfers are right that Lynch doesn’t offer “proof”; his claims about Cantlay “trying to rally players against the deal with the Saudis” and “having romanced LIV” only come from anonymous sources, none of whom are even quoted. But that’s hardly an unusual standard for publishing a sports piece, especially one on controversial issues where sources may be more leery than normal of putting their name to comments. What any decision to offer anonymity means, though, is that the credibility of the claims shifts from the sources making them to the author and the outlet that decided to publish them.

On that front, the 1975-founded Golfweek and 1995-launched Golf Channel are certainly long-established outlets, and Lynch has long been a prominent member of the golf media. So it’s certainly reasonable to believe that he does have connected sources on this front; this isn’t a random report from someone well outside the sport’s usual media circle (and even some of those are sometimes right). However, there are further questions here on what exactly the sources said about Cantlay, especially with Lynch paraphrasing them rather than directly quoting them. And that leads into the next discussion of language, which the golfers here reference as “personal barbs and fluffy adjectives.”

There can be a tricky distinction between reporting and commentary, especially when reporting claims are made in what’s largely an opinion piece. That can be fine; sometimes a column is a better way to present new information than a just-the-facts piece. But it’s important to separate out what’s reported and what’s commentary, and the “coup d’etat” and “romanced LIV” claims here are strong language to use without offering further specifics or factual support.

The discussion of “value of charisma” actually seems more fair, as that’s more clearly Lynch’s thoughts than claims based on anonymous sources. Players can object to his thoughts and his analysis of Cantlay’s value, but he’s certainly allowed to offer that analysis. But the specific lines on Cantlay’s “coup d’etat” and how he had previously “romanced LIV” are more questionable without further detailed support. And a more moderate just-the-facts tone in the reporting part of this piece might have avoided this level of player pushback. At any rate, it’s certainly notable to see these prominent players defending Cantlay and going after Lynch.

[SB Nation, Golfweek]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.