Sep
2
2012
Luke Donald shows class, apologizes for Twitter gaffe (and to Gil Hanse)
By Stephanie Wei under FedEx Cup

On Saturday at 7:41pm Luke Donald tweeted a phone number, followed by “Gil Hanse is a…c**K ha ha,” as you can see above. Hanse is the architect who originally designed TPC Boston, and redid the 18th green, which debuted this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Both tweets were deleted within 10-15 minutes, so chances are you missed them — unless you have no life, like me (and, naturally, your first instinct is to take screenshots).

Shortly after, CBSSports.com’s Shane Bacon posted the offending comments and Luke’s cell number (which obviously will be changed shortly) on his personal website Dogs That Chase Cars.

If you saw the tweets, you probably had to pick your jaw up off the floor or you were simply confused. Did Luke get hacked? Did a friend play a joke on him? Or were the messages meant to be private (“DMs”) but he accidentally tweeted them to his 298,659 followers?

Well, it wasn’t very hard to take the pieces and draw some conclusions: 1) “847″ is a Chicago area code, where Luke lives, so he was likely sending his number via Direct Message to a friend; 2) His last tweet that remains posted in his timeline said: “Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, what a terribly re-designed green #sourtaste”

After shooting one-under 70 in the third round, Donald was greeted by an army of reporters — which he was expecting — to get the real story.

Take note, athletes and celebs: this is how you handle a mistake and kill a potential PR disaster.

“I made a mistake, unfortunately,” said Donald at TPC Boston on Sunday afternoon. “I made an error. I sent a message that was not meant to go out on Twitter, and I take full responsibility. I realized it immediately, tried to delete it and tried to move on. Unfortunately it got caught up there, and such is life. I didn’t mean to put it out there, and I apologize to anyone I offended, especially Gil Hanse.”

Well done, Luke. Seriously. Maybe it seems weird to “applaud” Luke, but he dealt with the mistake like a true pro — he didn’t make any excuses and took full responsibility, instead of trying to cover it up with some lame story that would have raised more questions and blown-up into a bigger deal than needed.

Hanse is on-site this week and Donald hasn’t run into him yet, but if he does, he plans to apologize personally.

Donald said he’s still not “keen” on the 18th green because he thinks the design is a “little severe.” And of course, he’s entitled to his opinion, and good on him for voicing it (I mean the tweet still posted on his timeline, not the private messages).

Since Luke’s cell number was posted publicly on several websites and/or seen by his followers, his phone has been ringing off the hook. “Probably a new number is in store for me,” he said. “That’s what I deserve.”

Although he turned off his phone last night, he received quite a few voicemails, which he said were actually quite encouraging.

Of course Luke should have been more careful, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to slip up on Twitter and make a similar mistake. Many of us have been there, but we’re not Luke Donald. His comment was a tad controversial since he called the course designer a bad, bad name (which really wasn’t the worst thing in the world). Unless you’re a saint, you’ve said similar things to friends in private conversations or messages.

What you do learn is how powerful Twitter can be and how you really do have to be careful. When you’re an avid tweeter, you get so comfortable with the medium that sometimes you become a tad less attentive.

“Well, it’s certainly a powerful tool, and you’ve got to be very aware of it,” said Donald. “There’s a certain addiction to Twitter. It’s that constant update that everyone enjoys. But it’d probably be wise if I took a little bit of a hiatus maybe.”

Sounds like Luke is putting himself on Twitter time-out, but I’m sure he’ll be back soon. Besides, by tomorrow, we’ll have forgotten about it and moved on long ago…like right now.