Birdie's Eye View: #Dufnering, Tiger's new (media) tricks

By Bailey MosierApril 25, 2013, 1:20 pm

The #Dufnering phenomenon continues to build momentum this week at the Zurich Classic, where even the 'Duck Dynasty' crew joined in the fun. It's hard to imagine now, but it wasn't long ago – one year, in fact – that our favorite Twitter character temporarily suspended his use of the 140-character social media tool.

Join me in this week's Birdie’s Eye View – a peripheral perspective on what's developed since this week last year – to examine how players interact in the media sphere, both social and otherwise.  

1. Dufner winless, single and blended into the crowd

Jason Dufner

Then: One year ago, Jason Dufner was most widely recognized (if he was recognized at all) as the guy who stumbled down the stretch at the 2011 PGA Championship – giving up a five-shot lead with three holes to play and ultimately losing to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. On the eve of the Zurich Classic, Dufner didn't have any PGA Tour wins, he wasn't married and he wasn't the subject of mass social media hysteria. 

Now: Dufner converted a 36-hole lead at the 2012 Zurich Classic into his maiden Tour victory when he topped Ernie Els in a playoff. He followed that up with a wedding, a honeymoon and a win at his second event back – the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Fast-forward nine months and his lethargic, expressionless demeanor caught on film gave birth to the golf world's latest Twitter craze – #Dufnering. What's crazy is that Dufner went on a Twitter hiatus last year between the Zurich and the Byron Nelson saying, 'It can be a little bit of a distraction at times. I just wanted to take a bit of a break from it. When you're on Twitter for two hours after the round, your wife looks at you a little funny.'

Lucky for us, Dufner retook to Twitter, and if his performance over the last 12 months is any indication, it's safe to say the best of Dufner – and #Dufnering – is yet to come.


2. Woods goes fan friendly, dodges traditional news conference

Tiger Woods answers questions from fans

Then: In an effort to make a more direct connection with fans, Tiger Woods announced he would answer select fan questions submitted through Facebook and Twitter instead of meeting the press ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship. Woods responded to the fan questions in a video posted on his website. Media members couldn't help but wonder if the controlled social media event was intended to shield Woods from questions about his worst-ever finish at the Masters as a professional (T-40) or how he drop-kicked his club after a poor tee shot at the par-3 16th en route to a second-round 75 at Augusta National.

Now: The 14-minute video answered an array of questions, but as always, media and fans were left wanting more from Woods. He took part in a Google+ chat one month later on the Tuesday in advance of the Memorial Tournament. Fast-forward to March of this year and he and girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, took to Facebook to officially announce their relationship and posted professional photos together. There will be no social media newser of any kind in advance of this year's Wells Fargo Championship, as Woods has opted to forgo the event.

Tiger is a long way from transparent, but he's come a long way in the past year. Who said you can't teach an old Tiger new (media) tricks?


3. Lexi uses social media to recruit a prom date

Lexi Thompson

Then: Lexi Thompson launched a social media campaign to find a date to her senior prom. American military servicemen between the ages of 18 and 20 were eligible to accompany the 17-year-old to her prom at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs, Fla., on May 18, 2012. “I’m looking for somebody special and somebody I can respect, that’s why I’m choosing a guy from the service,” Thompson said in a video at Facebook.com/Lexi and on YouTube.

Now: Lexi went to her prom with Marine Lance Cpl. Mark Scott, 20, a Wounded Warrior and Purple Heart recipient from Chicago. By all accounts, they had a good time and it was an experience neither one will forget. No more proms attended or social media date contests since.

It wasn't the route most traditionally taken to find a date to the prom, but then again, since when does the LPGA phenom – who petitioned the tour and was granted early membership at age 16 – take the 'traditional' route to anywhere, anyway?


4. Watson in Mass-ters media frenzy

Watson

Then: Bubba Watson's post-Masters run was a magical media tour – he made appearances on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” where he spoke with business reporter Darren Rovell; the 'Late Show with David Letterman' on CBS; the CNN program 'Piers Morgan Tonight'; MSNBC’s “Morning Joe' and he was interviewed by Charlie Rose for 'CBS This Morning.' Despite a whirlwind several weeks after his Masters victory, Watson vowed to tee it up at the Zurich Classic because he wanted to honor his commitment to the tournament. But with a newly adopted son Caleb with wife Angie, Watson was eager to return home to be a father.

Now: In some regards, Watson's fallen from the limelight in the past year. He's emphasized the importance of spending time with his wife and son, and he hasn't seen another winner's circle since slipping on the green jacket. But let's not forget about his part in the second Golf Boys' video, his #Dufnering photos with the General Lee or his Hovercraft antics.

Whether he's on talk shows or showing us the softer side of Bubba, Watson's always going to give the media something to talk about.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.