ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Ted Bishop was ousted Friday as president of the PGA of America over a sexist tweet and Facebook post directed at Ian Poulter.
Bishop was unhappy with comments Poulter made in his book about the Ryder Cup captaincy of Nick Faldo in 2008 and Tom Watson last month at Gleneagles. Bishop was with Faldo at The Greenbrier on Thursday when he tweeted to Poulter, “Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl.”
In a separate posting on his Facebook page, Bishop lamented that athletes who had “lesser records or accomplishments in a sport never criticized the icons.” He mentioned Watson’s eight majors and 10-3-1 record in the Ryder Cup, and Faldo’s six majors and record Ryder Cup points getting “bashed” by Poulter.
“Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”
He deleted the tweet and the Facebook post later Thursday evening and said in an email to The Associated Press that “I could have selected some different way to express my thoughts on Poulter’s remarks.”
But he never apologized.
In removing Bishop as president, the PGA of America board said the remarks were inconsistent with the association’s policies.
“The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf,” PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said in a statement. “We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example.”
Bishop, a head golf professional from Indiana, had one month remaining on his two-year term as president.
Derek Sprague, expected to be voted in as the next president at the Nov. 22 annual meeting, was appointed the interim president. Paul Levy will handle the roles as vice president and secretary until the election.
Golfweek magazine reported earlier this week that Suzy Whaley, a teaching pro in Connecticut, was getting a lot of support to be elected secretary. That would put her in line to be president in four years. Whaley did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.
“The members and apprentices of the PGA of America must uphold the highest standards and values of the profession, as well as the manner in which we conduct ourselves at all times,” Sprague said. “We apologize to any individual or group that felt diminished, in any way, by this unacceptable incident.”
Bishop has been one of the most outspoken presidents of the PGA of America, which has 27,000 members and runs the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup when it is held in America. But his social media venting, and what the PGA described as “insensitive gender-based” comments, got him in trouble.
Poulter was traveling to China and was not aware of Bishop’s comments until he landed and found his phone filled with messages.
“Is being called a ‘lil girl’ meant to be derogatory or a put down?” Poulter said in a statement. “That’s pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America.”
Bishop’s boldest move as president was to pick Watson as the U.S. captain, saying he was tired of the Americans losing. But the move backfired when Watson’s heavy-handed style didn’t mesh with a younger generation. Watson, 65, was the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history.
Poulter in his book said that Watson’s decision-making “completely baffles me.” He was referring to benching Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for both sessions Saturday.
Faldo stirred up the European team on the Friday of the Ryder Cup when he said during his Golf Channel commentary that Sergio Garcia was “useless” in 2008 during the European loss at Valhalla and that he had a “bad attitude.”
“Faldo has lost a lot of respect from players because of what he said,” Poulter said in his book. He noted that it was Europe’s only loss in the last 15 years and Faldo was the captain. “So who’s useless? I think Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror.”