Mike Francesa, the voluble sports-radio host whose Long Island accent and lacerating opinions have floated on the airwaves since 1989, broadcasts his final show on WFAN on Friday. Francesa, 63, leaves behind a legacy of sharply worded viewpoints on a wide range of topics, including the greatest game of all. In honor of his departure, here are five of Francesa’s best/worst golf-related takes.
Patrick Reed is a national hero, right? A Ryder Cup killer whose heart pumps blood of red, white and blue. Francesa cast him in a different light after Reed hit five-iron off the tee on the 18th hole at Doral on his way to closing out a WGC win there in 2014. “If you’re one of the five best players in the world, why wouldn’t you hit it properly on that hole?” Francesa said, alluding to Reed’s public ranking of himself. “You think Tiger Woods would hit a 5-iron there?”
“I have no problem with the strategy,” he added. “I understand course management, but what you can’t do is lay up on the par 4, hit the ball 218 off the tee and then proclaim yourself one of the greatest golfers in the world. That you can’t do because it shows you had no guts and you had no ability to hit the ball down the middle with one of your woods.”
2. On Fox Sports coverage at the 2015 U.S. Open
“I could sit here and bury Fox,” Francesa said in 2015 after Fox Sports took its first crack at televising the U.S. Open. He went on to spend five minutes doing exactly that. “Their first go was a disaster,” he said. “They need a lot of work if they’re going to keep doing this — which they are — they just got to get better at it. …They didn’t half the time say where the shot was, what club he has. They just were way off. If you watch the other two [CBS and NBC] do it, they’re in kindergarten. The other guys are in graduate school.”
The concept sounded fun, turning the home field of the New York Mets into a temporary nine-hole golf course. Francesa thought it sounded like a joke: “I think it’s time the Mets take up another sport. Why not golf? Baseball’s not working out for them. Maybe golf. I don’t think they get enough people hurt in golf. It might be safer.”
4. On Sergio Garcia never, ever winning the Masters
As a sports radio host, you’re expected to spout a lot of words. Every now and then, you also have to eat them, like the time Francesa explained why Garcia would never, ever win a green jacket. (To be fair, Francesa was one of many pundits to botch that take.)
5. On his dream interview
Asked on The Dan Patrick Show earlier this year about the guest he’d love to land for his final interview, Francesa singled out none other than the world’s most famous golfer, Tiger Woods. “The thing that fascinates me, his fall from grace,” Francesa said. “I would love to sit and talk to this guy about what has gone on.” Regrettably, Francesca never got his wish.