I’m not typically a conspiracy theorist, but something smelled strange on Thursday after a putt from a fan called onto the green by PGA stars went viral.
During the practice round on Thursday, an American heckler on the eighth hole shouted that he could have made a 12-foot putt that was missed multiple times by Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan. Their European teammate, Henrik Stenson, approached the fan, waved him onto the green as golfer Justin Rose laid $100 bill next to a ball on the same spot of the green.
The 30-year-old insurance agent, David Johnson from North Dakota, used Sullivan’s putter as he sank the putt that immediately went viral.
Almost instantly following the putt, Johnson donned two course badges including a haughty range access pass as he began his media tour with national outlets. The putt had everyone talking whether they were golf fanatics or not.
The whole incident was curious as golf ratings continue to struggle – especially with the timing ahead of the official start of the tournament on NBC the next day. It had me asking…
Was David Johnson planted in the gallery by NBC? Was the viral stunt planned as a PR ploy to put more eyes on the Ryder Cup?
If so, it certainly was a smart one from NBC and the Ryder Cup. In 2014, the Ryder Cup’s Sunday overnight rating was a 1.8 –the lowest Sunday rating since 1991. That was the same year NBC started televising the event.
Planned PR stunt or not, the heckling fan sinking an incredible put certainly drew more attention to the Ryder Cup and was a win for NBC.