No filter! Players sound off on Brooks v. Rory, Tiger, Bryson, hot drivers, much more

October 31, 2019

It’s baaaack…and it’s a doozy. For this year’s edition of our always-revealing GOLF.com Anonymous Pro Survey, we protected the identity of 52 card-carrying PGA Tour players so they could speak candidly about the hottest topics of the day.

In return, they gave us their unfettered takes on everything from Tiger Woods (yes, he’ll win more majors) and Donald Trump (still popular), to driver testing (inadequate), backstopping (is it cheating?), best and worst Tour venues (sorry, TPC San Antonio), and favorite and least favorite playing partners (scroll down!). They even told us who is the most famous person in their contacts (looking at you, MJ).

Polling was conducted at the Safeway Open, in September. Over five days, we asked each player 46 questions. Among the respondents: 30 Tour winners, three major winners and 15 players who have made a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team.

The mic is now theirs…

WHICH TOURNAMENT IS HARDER TO WIN?

Players Championship: 78%
PGA Championship: 22%

Hot takes:

“Do I get some brownie points from the Tour for saying Players?”
“Players. Everyone in the field can win it because the course doesn’t favor any particular style of game.”

WHICH TOURNAMENT WOULD YOU RATHER WIN?

Players Championship: 38%
PGA Championship: 62%

Hot takes:

“Whichever has the biggest purse.”

IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MAJORS OVERRATED? 

Yes: 22%
No: 78%

Hot takes:

“Yes, by fans.”
“Every week feels like a major.”
“Majors are what your career is based on and how you are remembered.”

WHO GOT YOUR VOTE FOR 2019 PGA TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR?

Rory McIlroy: 33%
Brooks Koepka: 17%
Ineligible: 10%
Didn’t vote: 40%

Hot takes:

“Thirteen top 10s — Rory”
“Easy. Hands down, Rory. If he didn’t win the Tour Championship, it would’ve been close. He was the most consistent. People don’t give him enough credit for all those top 10s.”
“I forgot to vote.”

In August, Rory McIlroy topped Brooks Koepka to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.
Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT MCILROY WON?

Yes: 31%
No: 69%

Hot takes:

“Who counts the votes? It’s the Tour, right?”

IN GENERAL, PGA TOUR SETUPS ARE…

…too hard: 4%
…too easy: 21%
…about the right difficulty: 75%

Hot takes:

“Grow some rough.”
“We need more rough.”
“Setups are too long. There’s not enough rough and they don’t penalize bad drives enough.”

RELATED: Are the pro tours failing to test the best players in the world? 

TRUE OR FALSE: THE TOUR WOULD BE MORE INTERESTING IF THERE WERE FEWER EVENTS.

True: 50%
False: 50%

Hot takes:

“More millionaires, but more guys getting hurt. If you increase quantity in any industry, quality goes down.”
“Would not be good for the new guys.”
“A four-month break would make fans psyched that golf is back.”

ARE YOU A FAN OF THE NEW COMPRESSED MAJOR SCHEDULE?

Yes: 55%
No: 45%

Hot takes:

“It’s not like the Champions tour with a major every other week.”

HOW MANY TIMES LAST SEASON DID YOU WITNESS A PLAYER KNOWINGLY BREAK A RULE AND TRY TO GET AWAY WITH IT? 

Never: 72%
Once: 17%
Twice: 7%
Three times: 2%
Four times: 0%
Five times: 2%

Hot takes:

“A few. More than you think. Always a hazard drop.”
“Zero this year, but last few years about five.”
“In person or on TV?”

"More than you think," one player said of the frequency of cheating on Tour. "Always a hazard drop."
USA Today

DO YOU CONSIDER “BACKSTOPPING” CHEATING?

Yes: 36%
No: 61%
Unsure: 3%

Hot takes:

“Seen instances but it’s blown out of proportion.”
“We’re not that good.”
“It’s against the rules. Look it up.”
“Only in rare circumstances. Everyone wants it to be fair.”
“It’s not cheating, but you should protect the field.”
“It’s not done with the intent to cheat.”
“By the letter of the law, yes. In my mind, no.”
“Absolutely.”

RELATED: Is backstopping a problem on the PGA Tour?

HAS FLAGSTICK-IN PUTTING MADE PUTTING EASIER? 

Yes: 15%
No: 81%
Unsure: 4%

ROUGHLY WHAT PERCENTAGE OF TOUR PROS WOULD YOU CLASSIFY AS “SLOW PLAYERS”? 

32% (average of all responses)

Hot takes:

“On average, there is one slow player in every group.”
“99%, including me.”
“Too many.”

IS EVERY PLAYER IN THE TOP 125 CAPABLE OF WINNING A MAJOR?

Yes: 40%
No: 60%

WILL RICKIE FOWLER WIN A MAJOR? 

Yes: 96%
No: 4%

Hot takes:

“He will win more than one.”
“100%”

WILL TIGER WIN ANOTHER MAJOR?*

Yes: 73%
No: 27%

Hot takes:

“We all said no before and he did, so I say yes.”
“Two more Masters. He’s going to have to get lucky, though, because his body is breaking down.”
“Yes, and I would’ve never said that two years ago.”

(*Question was asked before Tiger’s 82nd Tour win in October.)

Most players think Tiger's 2019 Masters win won't be his last major title.
getty

WILL PHIL WIN ANOTHER MAJOR? 

Yes: 18%
No: 82%

Hot takes:

“Yes, he’ll win another major…on the Champions tour!”
“He looks like the Incredible Hulk right now.”

WHO WILL WIN MORE MAJORS IN HIS CAREER? 

Brooks: 57%
Rory: 43%

Hot takes:

“If both stay healthy, Rory. Brooks is going to get injured working out.”

RELATED: If Brooks-Rory wasn’t a rivalry, Koepka just made it one

HOW MANY CARS DO YOU OWN? 

0: 4%
1: 36%
2: 38%
3: 16%
4: 4%
5 or more: 6%

Hot takes:

“Used to be four. Got it down to two.”
“One is a mini-van.”
“Do you count trucks?”
“My wife owns it, and it’s a Mini.”

HOW MUCH CASH ARE YOU CARRYING RIGHT NOW? 

$421 (average of all responses)

Hot takes:

“I’m young. We don’t carry cash.”
“$500 — mostly in fives for tipping.”
“Too much: $1,400.”
“$17 after I pay the locker-room guys.”

IF YOU AND TIGER PLAYED A 36-HOLE MATCH TOMORROW, WHO WINS?*

Me: 90%
Tiger: 10%

Hot takes:

“Can I get an injury report on Tiger?”
“Which course?”
“Tiger can’t do 36 holes.”
“Me, even though I shot 79 today!”

(*Question was asked before Tiger’s 82nd Tour win in October.)

WHO WILL HAVE THE BEST CAREER: MATT WOLFF, COLLIN MORIKAWA OR VIKTOR HOVLAND?

Wolff: 4%
Morikawa: 42%
Hovland: 54%

Hot takes:

“There’s no way Wolff’s back holds up with that swing; I love Hovland’s fundamentals.”
“Morikawa has the better swing.”
“Hands down, Hovland — a game that will last.”
“Morikawa hits it so much better.”
“Hovland is so solid all around.”
“All capable. It will come down to who wants it the most.”

RELATED: Viktor Hovland broke a ridiculous long-standing PGA Tour record

WOULD YOU PLAY IN AN OFFICIAL PGA TOUR EVENT IN WHICH PGA TOUR PLAYERS TEAMED WITH LPGA PLAYERS?  

Yes: 75%
No: 25%

Hot takes:

“Will the girls earn the same purse money as us?”
“I wouldn’t know anyone to ask.”
“Never.”

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF PLAYERS GAMBLING ON OR AGAINST THEMSELVES?   

Yes: 8%
No: 92%

WILL DONALD TRUMP GET YOUR VOTE IN 2020? 

Yes: 49%
No: 12%
Undecided: 14%
Ineligible: 25%

(Ed. note: In the 2018 edition of this survey, 56% of players said they voted for Trump in 2016.)

Hot takes:

“Hell no.”
“Not if he gets impeached.”

President Trump remains popular among Tour pros.
Getty Images

HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX ON/AT A GOLF COURSE? 

Yes: 41%
No: 59%

Hot takes:

“I’d like to.”
“Not even on my bucket list.”
“Pro tip: avoid the sand.”
“Once…I think.”

DO YOU KNOW YOUR EXACT WORLD RANKING? 

Yes: 15%
No: 85%

IS THE DRIVER TESTING AT TOUR EVENTS ADEQUATE? 

Yes: 40%
No: 58%
Unsure: 2%

Hot takes:

“They’re not doing everyone — that’s not enough.”
“Is there an option for ridiculous?”

RELATED: Here’s the PGA Tour’s new driver testing protocol 

TRUE OR FALSE: THERE ARE PLAYERS WHO KNOWINGLY USE HOT DRIVERS.

True: 19%
False: 67%
Unsure: 14%

IF YOU WERE TO TEST EVERY DRIVER IN A RANDOM FIELD, WHAT PERCENTAGE WOULD BE NON-CONFORMING?   

18% (average of all responses)

Hot takes:

“40% less than a month ago, 10%-15% now”
“10% — it’s nonsense”

WHO KNOWS MORE ABOUT THE GOLF SWING: YOU OR BRANDEL CHAMBLEE?

Me: 18%
Chamblee: 82%

Hot takes:

“He seems like he knows more.”
“I don’t know anything about the golf swing.”
“I hate to admit it, but Brandel.”
“He knows more about everything.”

Brandel Chamblee at the 2018 British Open.
Getty Images

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE PLAYERS IN THE TOP 125 WOULD YOU ESTIMATE REGULARLY USE CBD PRODUCTS?

29% (average of all responses)

Hot takes:

“10%-15% — not as many as you think.”
“30%-40% on the PGA Tour Champions.”

SHOULD THE TOUR REMOVE MARIJUANA FROM ITS BANNED SUBSTANCES LIST?

Yes: 57%
No: 43%

Hot takes:

“It’s still an illegal drug.”
“They should add nicotine.”

HAVE YOU SMOKED POT/INGESTED EDIBLES IN THE LAST YEAR? 

Yes: 20%
No: 80%

HOW MANY TIMES DID THE TOUR DRUG TEST YOU LAST SEASON?

Never: 7%
Once: 7%
Twice: 15%
Three times: 22%
Four times: 39%
Five times: 10%

Hot takes:

“It felt like 10.”
“I had blood drawn once.”

CAN YOU ENVISION A DAY WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WHEN AN ACTIVE TOUR PLAYER WILL COME OUT? 

Yes: 74%
No: 26%

DO YOU KNOW OF ANY ACTIVE PLAYERS WHO ARE GAY?

One respondent said yes.

PGA TOUR CADDIES ARE…

…overpaid: 10%
…underpaid: 12%
…adequately paid: 78%

Hot takes:

“Mine is overpaid.”

IF/WHEN YOU WIN A TOURNAMENT WHAT PERCENTAGE WOULD/DO YOU GIVE YOUR CADDIE? 

10% (average of all responses)

IF YOU HAD A FILL-IN CADDIE ON YOUR BAG FOR A WIN, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR CHECK WOULD YOU GIVE HIM/HER?

9.2% (average of all responses)

Hot takes:

“Whatever was agreed to.”
“Depends on whether it’s a pro or friend.”
“Which country?”
“My wife got 100 percent.”

WHICH TOUR PLAYER HAS THE SALTIEST MOUTH? 

Pat Perez: 27%
Harold Varner III: 14%
Tiger Woods: 14%
Rory Sabbatini: 5%

Also receiving votes: Adam Hadwin, Brian Harman, Charley Hoffman, Colt Knost, Daniel Berger, Grayson Murray, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, Matt Wallace, Shane Lowry, Tom Lovelady, myself

*11 players declined to respond

Pat Perez has never been one to mask his feelings.
getty

WHO IS THE MOST INTIMIDATING PLAYER?

Tiger Woods: 46%
No one: 22%
Brooks Koepka: 20%
Rory McIlroy: 4%

Also receiving votes: Andres Gonzalez, Dustin Johnson, Rory Sabbatini, myself

Hot takes:

“I assumed it was Tiger then I played with him and he was, like, the nicest guy.”
“It’s golf, hard to be intimidating.”
“Used to be Tiger. Not anymore. Rory.”

WHO’S THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON IN YOUR CONTACTS?

Names that were cited more than once:

Michael Jordan (cited 6 times)
Tiger Woods (5)
Larry Fitzgerald, NFL receiver (2)
Thomas Keller, chef (2)

RELATED: See aerial views of Michael Jordan’s new private golf course

Cited once:

Amaury Nolasco (actor known for his role on the Fox series Prison Break)
Bo Jackson
Bob Stoops (former University of Oklahoma football coach now coaching in the XFL)
Brooks Koepka
Chairman Yu (Chinese politician)
Charles Barkley
Cole Swindell (country singer)
Davis Love III
Frankie Muniz (actor best known for role on Malcolm in the Middle)
George Brett (baseball Hall of Famer)
Gianfranco Zola (Italian soccer manager)
Herschel Walker (former NFL great)
Ian Baker-Finch
Jack Nicklaus
Jake Owen (country singer)
Jay Monahan (PGA Tour commissioner)
Jeremy Roenick (former NHL great)
Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks center)
Josh Beckett (three-time all-star MLB pitcher)
Jorge Campos (former Mexican football great)
Justin Thomas
Kelly Slater (surfing legend)
Phil Mickelson
Bill Clinton
Ricky Ponting (Australian cricket legend)
Tom Brady
Tony Finau
Wayne Gretzky
Webb Simpson

Hot takes:

“Since President Bush passed away, have to say Tiger.”

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PLAYING PARTNER ON TOUR?

Kevin Kisner: 9%
Charles Howell III: 7%
Harold Varner III: 7%
Anyone who plays quickly: 7%

Also receiving votes: Jason Bohn, Fred Couples, Harris English, Matt Jones, Johnson Wagner

WHO IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PLAYING PARTNER ON TOUR?

Anyone who plays slowly: 26%
Bryson DeChambeau: 21%
Rory Sabbatini: 21%
Martin Laird: 8%

Also receiving votes: Ben Crane, Marco Dawson, Jason Dufner, Matt Every, Dustin Johnson, Brian Harman, J.B. Holmes, Patton Kizzire, Sung Kang, William McGirt

*12 players declined to respond

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOUR COURSE? 

Riviera: 20%
Muirfield Village: 16%
Harbour Town: 8%
TPC Sawgrass: 8%
Pebble Beach: 6%
Quail Hollow: 6%
Augusta National: 4%
Bay Hill: 4%
Torrey Pines South: 4%
TPC San Antonio: 4%
Old White Greenbrier: 4%

Also receiving a vote: Colonial, GC of Houston, Innisbrook, Sea Island, Spyglass, TPC River Highlands, TPC Southwind

The Genesis Open has called Riviera Country Club home since 1973.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE TOUR COURSE? 

TPC San Antonio: 16%
None: 12%
Trinity Forest: 8%
TPC Louisiana: 6%
Bethpage Black: 4%
CC of Jackson: 4%
Coco Beach G&CC (Puerto Rico): 4%
GC of Houston: 4%
Quail Hollow: 4%
Silverado: 4%
TPC Southwind: 4%

Also receiving a vote: Bay Hill, Montreux G&CC, PGA National, Riviera, Torrey Pines, TPC Deere Run, TPC Scottsdale, TPC Summerlin

Hot takes:

“Wherever I missed my last cut.”
“TPC San Antonio wasn’t designed for the predominant wind. Big miss.”
“This one right now.” [Silverado]
“They’re all good today.”