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The Lesson From Kevin Na and Grayson Murray's Twitter Fight Is Don't Feed the Trolls

There's nothing to be gained from a back-and-forth on social media with a loudmouth, writes Morning Read's Dan O'Neill, even if the Tour does incentivize social engagements
Kevin Na plays the 2020 Travelers Championship.

Kevin Na was called out on Twitter by a fringe Tour pro.

Memo to Kevin Na: Don’t.

We know you will be tempted. It’s like a waiter going over the desert menu and including creme brulee. You didn’t ask for it, don’t have room for it and yet, there it is. How do you let that go? You don’t.

But Kevin Na, let this go. Don’t think anything you say, no matter how witty or choice, is going to land and put an end to the insults. It will simply invite more. There is no such thing as “the last word” in the Twitterverse.

To explain all of this, a funny thing happened on the way to the weekend at the Sony Open. A Twitter war broke out. No, this isn’t the beef between beefcakes. This isn’t Brooks Koepka vs. Bryson DeChambeau, the Twitter and social media skirmish that dominated headlines last year.

On this occasion, the salvo is between Na and Grayson Murray.

If you pay much attention to golf, Na is someone of whom you have heard. He shot a 61 in the first round of the Sony, a championship he won in 2021. Na finished third in the Tour Championship last season and got a $4 million slice of the FedExCup pie. Na has five PGA Tour wins, 11 second-place finishes and nine third-placers.

Na is currently slotted No. 27 in the world rankings and trending upward. At age 38, he has a blossoming career. What Murray has is a keyboard, a Twitter account and all of the courage and exaggerated significance those things provide to someone who has one PGA Tour win (five years ago) and one third-place finish.

Do you see some inequities here?

Still, Na and Murray became connected when a reporter made an otherwise complimentary observation. Golf Channel reporter Chantel McCabe posted a tweet, declaring, “Kevin Na walking in putts does not get old.” Na has a tendency to that, walk after putts he knows are going in. It probably doesn’t sit well with everyone on the golf scene, has a bit of flamboyance to it, the kind of thing Tiger Woods might do.

Essentially, Na is to Woods what Murray is to Na. And God forbid golf embrace any kind of theatrics.

Murray took notice of McCabe’s post. Keep in mind, the 28-year-old Murray is not competing this weekend. Full disclosure, over the past year or so, Murray has not often played on weekends. He has 14 missed cuts and has two withdrawals in his 22 last starts. Perhaps, because he’s not playing, he had time to read Twitter and pound out a reaction.

Murray replied, “Kevin Na taking three minutes to putt them does get old.”

Now, let’s not be naïve here. To be sure, in addition to being one of the best on the planet, Na is one of the most deliberate. And for a person in Murray’s position, or lack thereof, to have a knee-jerk reaction to McCabe’s tribute is understandable. Acting on that impulse is something else.

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Na couldn’t turn the other cheek, so speak. Noticing the peanut-gallery pop from Murray, he fired back: “U missing the cut is getting old!”

As the smelling salts were applied from that haymaker, others began throwing indiscriminately. “Someone please call an ambulance for Grayson here,” tweeted fellow Tour pro Byeong Hun-An.

Of course, that brought another from Murray, who has now fired more shots with his keyboard 2022 than with his golf clubs. “Hahah love it little guy! Would never tell me that to my face.” (that was quickly deleted) and “if they penalized you like they should for slow play you’d never make another cut either.”

Besides a lack of proper pronouns and commas, the exchanges bring up an inconsistency. Murray chastises Na for not insulting Murray to his face — as he insults Na from somewhere other than his face. Perhaps the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Murray felt compelled to assert his physicality to the 5-10, 167-pound Na. Or maybe he is saying what so many dads who grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s say to their kids, i.e. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Regardless, in the end, that is the beauty of social media jabs. They are never in your face, or even behind your back. They originate from places miles away, places that accept no responsibility and know no ramifications, shallow spineless places.

Sounds remote and uncivilized, yes. But it also can be profitable. The PGA Tour has made it so, creating a Player Impact Program that rewards members for doing business in such places, for building their “brand” and name recognition.

Nothing provokes headlines, builds awareness or shouts to the masses in these times like a cage match on Twitter, or Instagram, Tik Tok or wherever inappropriate, ill-considered and self serving comments are made.

Whether it’s bad for the PGA Tour depends on the perspective. Let’s face it, golf isn’t exactly dynamic, eye-popping stuff. Sure, as fans, we love the game, appreciate the nuances, love the long ball … and all of that. But there are no diving stops or brushback pitches. No one makes a flying tackle, a crushing body check or swats a putt into the third row of the galleries. A player swings a club every few minutes or so, and then there is walking, energy bars and the checking of yardage.

If you can fill those in-between moments with a bit of finger-pointing and carpet calling, if you color outside the lines a bit, does the game suffer? You’d have a hard time convincing DeChambeau and Koepka, who have the “followers” to say otherwise. And the PIP doesn’t exactly discourage it.

Ok, understood. But the game and those who practice it should rise above things like this. That’s why Murray should go back to the moment where he thought post a witty reaction to McCabe’s tweet was a good idea and re-think it. Thank about who he is, where he’s at and what he’s saying.

That’s why this memo goes out to Kevin Na.

Hank Williams Jr. says it best, speaking to Waylon Jennings in their musical duo, The Conversation. When Jennings asks Williams if his famous daddy had really written all “them songs.”

The reply from “Bocephus” is terse and to the point: “That don’t deserve no answer, Hoss, let’s light up and just move along.”

Don’t keep dignifying the comments, Kevin Na. Act like you’ve been there before, because you have.

Just light up and move along.