Former PGA of America President Ted Bishop apologized for his “lil girl” tweet about Ian Poulter but said he did not deserve to be fired over the offence in an appearance on Golf Channel this morning.
Bishop was contrite and appeared especially pained that his actions on social media will overshadow his record as an advocate for women in golf. However, he was also critical of the PGA of America’s reaction to the controversy.
“I created this mess—it’s my fault,” Bishop said. “I don’t think the punishment fits the crime, but it is what it is.”
During the interview with “Morning Drive” host Gary Williams, Bishop went over the timeline from his initial tweet on Thursday evening to his ouster on Friday night from the PGA presidency, just a month before his two-year term was to expire.
On Thursday, Bishop was at the Greenbrier in West Virginia with Nick Faldo. Ian Poulter had been in the news for criticizing Faldo in his recently published autobiography. Before meeting Faldo for dinner, Bishop tweeted to Poulter: “Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl.” He also criticized Poulter on Facebook, writing, “Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”
He didn’t give the matter any more thought until he checked his phone during dinner and saw the reaction to his tweet and that someone had called him a sexist. He deleted the tweet and the Facebook post.
“I knew immediately I had a serious problem,” Bishop told Williams.
Bishop said he talked to PGA of America’s senior director of communications Julius Mason on Thursday evening and that Mason advised him not to do interviews. Instead, Bishop approved a terse and not especially apologetic statement from the PGA of America, which read, “Ted realized that his post was inappropriate and promptly removed it.”
“It was a huge mistake,” Bishop told Williams. “I should have apologized from the get-go.”
On Friday, Bishop spoke with Dottie Pepper, who told Bishop he had to “get out in front of this” and issue a sincere apology. (Pepper herself had to apologize in 2007 when she called the American team “choking freaking dogs” when broadcasting the Solheim Cup.)
But when Bishop tried to contact the PGA of America about making a public apology, he didn’t get a response, he told Williams, and started to realize that he might lose his job.
“The silence was deafening,” he said.
Later that day, Bishop said he was offered the chance to resign as PGA of America president. He said he declined to resign because he didn’t feel like he’d gotten a chance to defend himself. The PGA of America then removed him from office.
“It wasn’t a matter of going down swinging or me being obstinate,” he said.
Bishop said that he thought a more appropriate punishment would have been for the PGA of America to ban him from social media, and for him to take this opportunity to be an “outspoken advocate for women in the game.”
“It’s painful because it’s taken a lot of good things that I’ve done and put them down the drain,” Bishop said of his firing.
Over the weekend, Bishop said that his grandson told him that he heard he lost his job because he called Ian Poulter a little girl, and he asked Bishop if he would have been fired had he said something different.
“The issue is I overstepped my bounds,” Bishop told his grandson. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”