Debate: Is it a good idea for athletes to tweet?

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2012, 3:21 pm

Brittany Lincicome and Christina Kim got into a tweeting argument this past week. If you were advising athletes, would you recommend that they go ahead and tweet or steer clear of it? Our writers chime in with their thoughts.


Pros, keep tweeting until you develop carpal tunnel.

Just learn from your more reckless peers.

Last month, Luke Donald called architect Gil Hanse an unprintable word on Twitter and had to issue an apology, and then, over the weekend, Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome engaged in a squabble that never should have gone public.

The takeaway from those blunders is obvious: Take five seconds to review the tweet before you click send. Double-check. That could have saved Donald, in particular – his message was intended to be private.

As for the LPGAers? Well, that was just embarrassing – for the players themselves. They came off as catty and childish. The back-and-forth was reminiscent of a schoolyard scuffle, each clique growing in numbers, the name-calling becoming more and more vicious … until the teacher breaks it up, and everyone is sent into timeout, humiliated. If I’m LPGA commish Mike Whan, I fine them not just for conduct unbecoming of a professional, but for conduct unbecoming of an adult.

Instead of reaching their combined 70,000-follower audience, why could they not settle their beef through a text message, or an email? Remember those other methods of communication? I know, I know. So 2010. But every thought doesn’t need to be 140 characters or less. Sometimes, ideas need to be expanded upon. Crazy, I know.

So, young tweeters, when in doubt, dust off the ol’ laptop, fire off an email. Close Twitter, use that message icon.

You’ll spare yourself the embarrassment.


Seriously? Are we really asking this? This is 2012, isn’t it? OK, I thought so.

Yes, of course athletes should tweet. Depending on their personality, these 140-character bursts can be anything from revealing studies of the inner machinations of their personalities to free advertising for corporate sponsors through supportive shoutouts. Either way, tweets bring the athlete closer to his or her fans and the fans closer to their favorite athletes. It’s a win-win scenario on so many different levels.

If I were offering advice to an athlete on how, what, when and why to make their thoughts public, it would probably mirror the advice my dad gave me on prom night: Don’t be an idiot.

More than ever, it’s easy for an athlete – or anyone else, for that matter – to get himself into hot water on a 24/7 basis. No longer must any of them be summoned to a podium in the interview room or stationed in front of awaiting microphones to have their words travel around the world. It can now happen right from the confines of the living room couch, a simple screen tap of the thumbs causing major headlines.

The advantages of tweeting – and other social media adventures – far outweigh the negatives. Like everything in life, though, tweets must be accompanied by a measure of intelligence and caution to avoid those negative situations.


Twitter feels like a more intimate way to communicate directly with your audience, but there’s nothing intimate about it.

Tweets are public property.

Ultimately, there’s no difference between what you tweet and what you say into a microphone in a TV or radio interview or to a reporter holding a digital recorder. In fact, if you’re going to tweet, treat it just like you would a live interview. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to a reporter, because Twitter is actually less protected than talking to a reporter. Nothing is off the record on Twitter. There is no such thing as `deep background.' What you tweet today can be a headline in newspapers across the world tomorrow.

Twitter is a terrific tool, an effective way to help build rapport and relationships with your audience, but it’s not much different than calling a news conference.

So if you’re going to tweet beyond the game you play, if you’re going to take stands on politics and religion, don’t feign surprise if it becomes a big deal. You are, after all, practically calling a news conference every time you tweet. You might argue differently, but good luck with that.


In the emerging world of new media the rule of thumb suggests that as a journalist you should never tweet anything you wouldn’t write either in a news story or column, an apropos guide considering this weekend’s public dustup between Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome.

The LPGA duo went toe-to-toe in 140 characters or less with a healthy portion of tweet-dom watching, and as much as officials would have preferred the two keep their row private neither player tweeted anything that they wouldn’t have said in front of a camera or open microphone.

Therein lies the appeal of Twitter – an unfiltered glimpse (at least in theory) into an athlete’s persona free from media bias and the inherent limitations of our sound-bite society.

Why Kim and Lincicome were sideways really doesn’t matter so much as how they settled their differences, with nothing lost in translation or taken out of context. It was social media at its most enlightening, if not entertaining.

Twitter has facilitated a better understanding of players like Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink and, yes, Kim, that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. You may not always like the message, but you can’t criticize the medium.

Let them tweet.

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes