What’s in a name?

Mark McGowan

The '7 Kevins' competing this week at the Valpsar Championship (Pic: PGA Tour)

Mark McGowan

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As somebody who loves a random fact, this week there are seven ‘Kevins’ playing in the Valspar Championship, and at the time of writing, they’ve got the entire field covered with Streelman and Roy at the head and Kisner at the foot.

Surprisingly, per the statistical doyen that is Justin Ray, this isn’t actually a record for ‘Kevins’ even though, should you be out and about the grounds of the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, you’ll encounter roughly one Kevin for every seven groups you watch go by. Both the 2012 Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the 2023 Fortinet Championship also, unbelievably, had seven Kevins.

Both Streelman and Na finished in the top-10 at Pebble Beach more than a dozen years ago, but only Streelman and Kisner made the cut at Silverado last year, so we’ve yet to see the heavily represented Kevin cohort make the numbers really count. Maybe this is the week.

If you’re still with me, I either applaud your patience or worry about your lack of something better to do, but even though Kevin is a relatively popular name – my only brother shares it – to have this many in PGA Tour fields is quite amusing, particularly given the oddity of some of the names that we otherwise encounter.

This reminded me of the time that one of my friends – a guy who has zero interest in golf – somehow found himself watching a major championship and with alcohol on board, decided to randomly start texting me players’ names with no additional context provided.

After starting with ‘Bud Cauley’ and ‘Chez Reavie,’ by the time ‘Bo Van Pelt’ came in, I was wise to his game. ‘Brian Gay’ – yes, we’re dealing with that level of maturity – ‘Brandt Jobe’ and ‘Davis Love III’ followed, and then his own personal favourite, ‘Heath Slocum,’ which is a name that’s imprinted in his memory – or at least a form of it – as he’ll regularly ask me how ‘Heath Scrotum’ is doing any time golf comes up in conversation.

Despite the childish nature, there IS something unusual about many of the names that populate the PGA Tour. I’m talking names that originate in English speaking countries, of course, because the names of those from foreign countries are usually intended to be used by people who speak foreign languages. And something I’ve always noticed is the propensity for players with traditional surnames as their first name to pop un on tour.

There are a whole fleet of ‘Camerons,’ there are the ‘Davis’ boys Love III, Riley and Thompson, there’s ‘Harris English’, ‘Keegan Bradley’, ‘Taylor Montgomery’, ‘Brice Garnett’, ‘Mackenzie Hughes’, ‘Carson Young’, ‘Bronson Burgoon’, and one that my immature friend would dearly love, ‘Johnson Wagner.’

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. These names are off the top of my head and I could go on and on, but I know I’ve already strenuously tested the patience of the one reader – hi mum! – who’s gotten this far, so I’ll leave it there.

But on the off chance that you’ve persevered, that you’re looking for a name for your child and that you’d desperately love him to play on the PGA Tour some day, then might I suggest ‘Murphy O’Connor’, ‘McCathy Kavanagh,’ or maybe ‘Doyle O’Neill’. Name him one of these and you’ll have given him every chance.

Or try ‘Kevin.’

If my own brother had preferred golf clubs to tractors, maybe he’d have been the history making eighth ‘Kevin’ at the Valspar.

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