Golf commentator and swing coach Hank Haney was suspended last week for his racist and sexist comments about the LPGA, but he’s making it clear his apologies have not been sincere.
After initially making comments on his SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show belittling the LPGA and Korean golfers, Haney came back to claim that he was acting in good faith.
Following Jeongeun Lee6’s U.S Open win on Sunday, Haney said that his prediction that a Korean would win the tournament was actually based on “statistics and facts.”
My prediction that a Korean woman would be atop the leaderboard at the Women’s US Open was based on statistics and facts. Korean women are absolutely dominating the LPGA Tour. If you asked me again my answer would be the same but worded more carefully.— Hank Haney (@HankHaney) June 2, 2019
Although his prediction — if we can call it that — came true, it’s easy to see how he isn’t taking responsibility for his careless and hurtful remarks.
Why Haney’s initial comments were tone-deaf
Haney found himself in hot water when he and fellow instructor Steve Johnson were discussing the U.S. Women’s Open on a radio segment. Golf News Net Radio found and transcribed the audio:
Johnson: This week is the 74th U.S. Women’s Open, Hank.
Haney: Oh is it? I’m going to predict a Korean. OK?
Johnson (laughing): OK, that’s a pretty safe bet.
Haney: That’s going to be my prediction. I could name you like six players on the LPGA tour. No, maybe I couldn’t. Ah, well, I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name I’d get a bunch of them right.
Haney followed that attempted humor by saying that he couldn’t name any other players beyond Michelle Wie. That underscored the fact that his comment about Korean golfers was not based in any good faith since Koreans have dominated this year with five different golfers winning six tournament, but none have been named Lee.
There are quite a few golfers named Lee on the tour — Lee6's name is listed with the number because she is the sixth player in the Korean LPGA with that name. The unique name has become a point of pride for her, and her fan club is called “Lucky 6.”
However, Haney continued to show himself to be unaware of Lee6 or other golfers, which make his comments even worse. As the segment continued, Haney could tell that his comments had crossed a line and began offering half-hearted apologies.
This was how Hank Haney and his co-host "tweeted through it" on the air. pic.twitter.com/UsdiWaRNrh— Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) May 29, 2019
Haney's comments matter because the LPGA gets disparaged enough as is, and a golf professional should speak positively about the sport if he's going to choose to talk about it at all. Joking from a place of power about foreign golfers having the same name is not funny, original or worth sharing.
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