If you haven’t heard, there was a spot of Twitter drama Sunday as Plano’s Will Zalatoris won the FedEx St. Jude Championship. A Frisco guy by the name of Scott Fawcett with 33K followers on Twitter popped off with a stream of tweets in which he invited the two TV announcers to go fuck each other. Those were his words. Justin Thomas got involved, calling what Fawcett had tweeted “incredibly egregious and aggressive.” Thomas went on: “Congrats on your ‘win’ but show some class and respect if you are as professional as you claim to be. … Nobody likes a sore winner.”
Fawcett, you see, helps Zalatoris with on-course strategy. Hence Thomas’ reference to his being a winner. If you want to go into the whole deal, the New York Post broke it down on Tuesday. Zalatoris also released a statement about it Wednesday.
I know Scott Fawcett. At one point, years ago, I used to play poker with him once a week. So as all this was unfolding online, a few of us who now play far less frequently in the same card game (Go, Batfaces!) giggled and giggled. I got Scott on the phone to ask him why he continues to be the same ass I used to play cards with. It was a pretty good little talk. I learned some stuff about golf, about why Zalatoris’ putting isn’t as bad as some announcers would lead you to believe, why Scott thinks he (Scott, not Zalatoris) might play on the Champions Tour, and how a focus on mental health has him thinking about his approach to social media.
Join us for a foul-mouthed conversation, won’t you?
ROGERS: How long has it been since we’ve seen each other and played cards?
FAWCETT: It’s been 15 years probably.
Are you serious? Has it been that long? That’s not right.
Well, it’s been 10. Yeah, probably at least 10. … I have been in a YouTube wormhole of poker videos for six weeks. I want to go play poker so bad right now. I just can’t find the time to go to Winstar and play a tournament. I think there’s like a $1,000 satellite in two months there that I definitely plan on playing.
What’s your golf handicap now?
Probably plus four. I mean I literally don’t play golf, though.
You literally don’t play golf and yet you’re only a plus four. Fuck you.
This is one of the main critiques that I’ve gotten in the last couple days. “This guy acts like he doesn’t play, but obviously he plays if you look at the scores he posts.” I’m like, I had both of my elbows cut open last year [for surgeries that are too complicated to explain here]. I didn’t touch a golf club for eight months because I couldn’t from doing one surgery in March, the second one in July. I had to learn how to wipe my ass left-handed, which is shockingly hard. I haven’t been a member of a country club. I quit Bent Tree in 2017. I joined Maridoe in March of this year.
That’s the hardest course in town.
Right, I joined because Zalatoris told me, “If you’re serious about trying the Champions Tour, this is the one you have to join because you can’t fake it.”
Wait. You think you’re going to play on the Champions Tour? Do you have to have a card to be able to play in the Champions Tour?
Yeah, and it’s harder than getting one on the PGA Tour. There are five spots. So you have, you know, qualifying to get to the final stage. And then there are five actual cards and sixth place is “Congratulations. You came close.”
That’s something you’re really focused on, you’re gonna try and do?
I mean, I hope to, if I get my life organized.
So listen, before we get into all the Twitter drama and shit, for people who don’t know—and I will put myself kind of in that category—what do you do? The New York Post called you a coach, but you’re not a coach. You don’t help players with their swing or whatever. As I understand it, you help players with course management using some wonky bullshit and a bunch of data.
With all due arrogance, I am definitely the guy that did Moneyball for golf. What I definitely have done to the game of golf is the exact same thing that Billy Beane did with baseball.
But not based on players. Based on shot selection and course management.
And besides Zalatoris, you work with who else?
Bryson DeChambeau, Keith Mitchell, Stewart Cink, others.
But this is not how you pay your rent. You still do something with providing electricity to businesses, and you just kind of sit around and don’t work much?
Exactly, which is why it’s funny what I did to [name of poker player redacted]. The point of that statement wasn’t that I make more money than him, which I do or did; it was that I don’t have to work to do it.
All right, so that it’s part of this Q&A, the classic line that you issued 10 years ago at the poker table was like “You’re an hourly wage slave.” We still say that when we want to facetiously insult someone.
I definitely didn’t say “slave.” [Name redacted] had splashed the pot. He was out of line. We were both out of line. And I was definitely hammered. What I said was, “Have fun at your hourly-rate job tomorrow.” Yeah, definitely.
It was just so awesome. [Name redacted] was a highly compensated partner at a law firm.
I’m actually pretty proud of myself because it was a conscious thought that I wanted to piss him off. I went through like four iterations in my mind, and that one was it.
OK, so the tournament last week, Zalatoris was on the second playoff hole and—
It started before that. You’re gonna laugh at this. I really wasn’t watching it that much. I was watching it ISH. I was sitting outside with my girlfriend, my fiancée in the pool. I really wasn’t watching it that much. It started on like No. 13 or 14. I came in and was watching it, started getting interesting. And Dan Hicks [the announcer] said—Will had like a 4- to 5-foot putt—and Hicks said, “This is the kind of putt where Will’s putting stroke, historically, gets wobbly.” Yeah. And that’s the first time I posted, you know, “Go fuck yourself” or whatever
I have to ask you: had you been drinking? Do you drink?
I do drink. I had not been drinking. But again, this was the first tweet. They’re all taken out of order [in news reports]. If you go look at the end of the multi-tweet quotes, the first one you’ll find is me and then it says in parentheses “Yes. This is a joke.”
But you can’t tell someone to go fuck himself and then say you’re just kidding. That’s like prefacing a sick burn with “no disrespect.”
I did not land the joke. Trust me, dude. It was dumb. I’m not disputing that at all. But the key is, the reason it’s important to me, is a kid can’t even enjoy watching the telecast of his second-place finish in the Masters because he knows what they’re saying. But beyond that, the key is, the announcers are simply wrong. What they’re saying about his putting stroke is not factually correct, and the stats actually show that, if you understand how to read statistics. In my opinion, they are being extremely lazy by not doing their due diligence as broadcasters.
Strokes gained putting is a very accurate measure of your putting skill against the rest of your competition. Will is above average. Because the Masters is not a PGA Tour event, the Masters’ putting data is not involved in the strokes gained data. The WGC match play event, because it’s not a 72-hole event, where he finished fifth, is not in the data. If you bring those two events into it, he’s literally like 40th out of 230 guys on the Tour.
You don’t have to think very critically to be like, “Well, this data is not exactly clean.” Because what the problem is, is they look at the absolute numbers. So from 4 feet, I think Will is ranked like 176 out of 230 guys, which on its face sounds awful. But his make rate from 4 feet is 89.5 percent. Tour average is 92 percent. So he’s 2.5 percent worse than Tour average, and I get that it’d be better to be Tour average. But he’s basically the exact same percentage away from Tour average from 3, 4, and 5 feet. But in a round, you only have two and a half putts between 3 and 5 feet, and if you’re 2.5 percent worse at something that happens 2.5 times per round, it’s essentially irrelevant.
Do you have something in front of you, or do you just have recall on these stats?
I have recall on these.
This is why I hate playing cards with you. That’s the way you play cards. All the odds and the numbers are going through your brain, while I’m playing mostly by gut, how I feel about a hand. I know that’s not a good way to play poker in the long run. And every time I’d win a big hand against you, if it was the wrong play by the numbers, you’d give me a fucking lecture.
Because that’s fun.
OK, none of this matters. Those are all excellent points about putting, but you’re about to turn 50. You’re a grown-ass man about to enter his fifth marriage.
It’s just two, asshole.
You’ve got kids, and you should be mature enough at this point that when a commentator says something that’s ignorant, you should be able to not grab your phone and get on Twitter and start telling people to fuck each other.
Right. Go back to our poker games in our 30s. I am aware that I am definitely somewhere on the spectrum. Once I lose it with someone, I do see red. And when I see red, and I am right—it’s not a defense. I definitely need to be better at messaging. I definitely need to be better.
This is definitely part of the mental health thing. I’m way more in tune with, “Hey, maybe you need to be a little introspective here. Maybe you’re the problem.” I’m way better than I ever was back when I was playing a lot of poker with you guys. Yeah, but I mean—I’m not making excuses. I’m just telling you the facts. If that makes it an excuse, then it is what it is. I definitely suffer from depression, and I’m a little bit on the spectrum, and as a result, I mess a lot of things up. I am better at it than I used to be, because I’m aware of that now, but I still make mistakes.
In my slightly demented brain on Sunday, I thought, “Well, I want to say something here. So I’m gonna go over the top with it.” So it’s obviously a joke. Now, my sports psychiatrist, who’s also Zalatoris’ sport psychiatrist, he called me yesterday. He’s like, “Maybe you should say, ‘Well, here’s the actual facts, Dan. Would you like to comment on those?'” Yeah, that’s a fucking great idea. Never crossed my mind. [laughs]
I guess the great thing for you is a Twitter fight doesn’t kill business. It doesn’t matter to you. You have enough clients. You don’t care if some Tour pro is like, “I was going to call Fawcett, but that dude sounds like a hothead.”
I don’t want them to call me! [laughs] I don’t charge them because I can’t, because I want to maintain my amateur status. Literally, the 50 Tour players I work with, I don’t charge them. A guy like Keith Mitchell, who’s had his best year ever on Tour since we started working together, I spent six hours total with him on a webinar. Let’s say I could charge him two or three thousand bucks. I don’t need two or three thousand dollars. Now $30,000 I would gladly charge him, but for $30,000, they want you to come out there at least a couple times a year. Yeah. So now if I’ve got 20 guys that are paying me that much, I’m out there every single week, which is what instructors do that teach Tour players. They are literally on the road 30-plus weeks a year, and you couldn’t pay me $100 million a year to do that. I would not do it because of the chaos it would cause in my family life with my kids.
This is where it’s funny. Like when people say alcohol and money just make your true personality come out more? I’ve definitely realized with me—like, I realized this 15 years ago. It’s why I don’t work that much, and I haven’t in a long time. I work enough to make what I need to spend. But I definitely realized early on that if I made $100 million, I would be unbearable. [laughs] I just would. I have more money than I need to spend. I don’t work that hard. I do what I need to do to keep plates spinning in the air. It’s not like I intentionally don’t make money, but essentially I intentionally don’t make money.
I hope that comes across as somewhat introspective. Because I get it. I’m a dick. But I really do stand by it. It has been a conscious decision for a long time.
Why is your amateur status important?
Because for the last however many years, I really want to try to win the U.S. Mid-Am and get in the Masters that way. If I’m a professional, I can’t play the few golf tournaments I want to, and until I turn 50, I can’t try to play professional senior golf. Obviously, I’m too old and tired and everything else to compete with the kids. So I would just be in no man’s land.
I’m going to post this Thursday, first day of the BMW. Tell us what to look for. Is Zalatoris going to win?
You’re not supposed to say that!
I mean, he’s played 56 events. He’s won one. That’s obviously around a 2 percent win rate. A great win rate on Tour is 2 to 4 percent.
You don’t buy into momentum or he’s in the groove or any of that?
Sure. OK, let’s take that up to 5 percent. You go from having to pull the ace of spades out of the deck to just pull an ace out of the deck. This is the reason I take this so seriously because I really am trying to become more of a mental health advocate than a golf strategist because of my own history. I see the pressure being placed not just on Will but all of these kids. It’s not fair to take a 25-year-old and say, “If you could figure out your putting, you’d be the next Tiger Woods.” Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-generation guy. He was great at all of it, and Will is really good at 95 percent of it, which is why he’s number whatever in the world he is. [He’s No. 9.]
To take a kid like that that’s gone from nothing to where he is and critique him, I think, is grossly unfair by a bunch of bald, old men who are sitting in a booth. I think it’s grossly unfair, and it’s stupid.
I just think we’re placing too much pressure on them because the vast majority of guys that have played on the Tour for over 10 years, no matter how rich they are, they’re not happy people. It’s why you see them make the mistakes they make in their personal lives. They’re all on the road for way too much time away from their families.
Does that help you understand why a player might take quick guaranteed money on the LIV Tour?
For sure. I mean like DJ [Dustin Johnson] has always said he was going to retire in about four years. So from his point of view, he’s like, “You’re going to give me a bunch of money, and I’m gonna get to do what I want to do.” That’s how I view Cam Smith’s decision. I don’t know how old he is, 27 or 28. [He’s 29.] He’s in the majors for five years because of winning the U.S. Open, and I bet part of his logic is like, “You know, what? If I play the PGA Tour, great. But if I keep winning a major once every five years, I’ll keep getting in all of the majors. And if I don’t win one in the next five years, then I wasn’t going to be in the GOAT conversation anyways, so I might as well take a shitload of money.”
Listen, I’ll let you go. When your elbows are ready for it, you need to have me out to Maridoe so I can fire up like a 95 or something.
Really, you wouldn’t finish. But I will. All right, dude.