HONOLULU — This week SI Golf+ correspondent Stephanie Wei is at Waialae Country Club covering the Sony Open. One early season hot topic involves PGA Tour pros volunteering to wear microphones during events. Wei, who did an extended interview with Justin Rose and wrote on the topic in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, offers insights from more players:
There's already so much coming at the players down the stretch that they don't want in their heads — whether it's fan noise, handling the pressure or what their playing partners are doing. The more they can block out, the better. Even if you physically forget you're wearing a mic, there's a chance you suddenly remember it and it causes you to lose your focus for a split second. Having something so close to you, like the mic, that reaches out so far and wide, can be quite bothersome to some players. Even if the coverage isn't going to show a player and caddie talking about the hot blonde in the right-side of the gallery, there's still someone listening. So what? Again, it's a personal thing.
Some players might feel like they have to put on a show and try to be funny. Instead of being themselves (not saying that it's not entirely possible for a rare breed), they overdo it and play up their personality (or lack thereof). For example, at the announcer-free Nationwide Tour event last September in Boise, Hunter Haas was mic'ed up and he seemed like he was being overly self-deprecating to amuse the audience. He won the tournament and it's hard to imagine someone having so much success with such a supposed negative view of his own game.
Rose made it clear that he was all for miking players and he'd be more than happy to wear one if it were a silly season or exhibition event, but he wouldn't be the first to raise his hand. He's not alone. Golf Channel asked four or five guys to wear a mic during the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but none of them would do it. (The players chosen were popular and their tee times lined up with prime TV telecast hours.) Just to clarify, players would only be mic'ed in the first and/or second rounds, as the Tour doesn't allow it over the weekend.
Eventual champion and first-round co-leader Jonathan Byrd was the only player who agreed to wear one last week, but it didn't happen due to technical difficulties. Defending champion Ryan Palmer is scheduled to be mic'ed up in the first round of the Sony Open (if it ever stops raining).