The Social: Masters of celebration

By Jason CrookApril 11, 2017, 5:30 pm

New Masters champion Sergio Garcia embarks on a whirlwind media tour after nabbing his long-awaited first major, the week-long party in Augusta, Ga., finally comes to an end and the #SB2K17 crew officially embarks on their second annual Bahamas vacation. All that and plenty more in this Masters edition of The Social.

Sergio Garcia finally got that major he's been after for almost two decades, outdueling Justin Rose in a Masters playoff and slipping on a green jacket in a magical moment on Sunday.

And then ... he immediately took off for New York City to start his tour with various media outlets that all want a piece of the Masters champion about this time every year.

He posed on top of the Empire State Building (which was later lit up green in his honor) with his fiancée, Angela Akins, walked around the city in his new duds and stopped by the New York Stock Exchange and CNBC.

So yeah, hope you're not holding your breath, Luke Donald, Sergio is taking his time on this well-earned victory lap.

Sergio Garcia got congratulatory tweets from all over the place on Sunday night, including one from the guy he beat in a playoff to earn his green jacket, Rose.

But none were better than the ones from Hall of Fame NFL running back Emmitt Smith.

Smith took to Twitter to congratulate Garcia on overcoming "a varsity" to get his first Masters title. A VARSITY. Like adversity, only not at all.

Perhaps it was just a typo, because the tweet was eventually deleted, and replaced with this.

Not much better. That tweet was also deleted and Smith got it right on his third try, but screenshots don't forget.

The golf world descended on Augusta, Ga., last week and anybody who is anybody in the sport enjoyed some time in and around the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.

That includes social media starlets like Paige Spiranac, Chelsea Pezzola and Elise Lobb, who got to experience the Masters in person while they weren't "working out" with Gary Player.

Masters Sunday Whos going to walk away with the Green Jacket? #Masters #Golf

A post shared by Chelsea Lynn Pezzola (@clpezzola) on

Tough gig, if you can get it.

Oh, and Snoop Dogg was there, so I guess you can say the year's first major delivered.

#Repost @snoopdogg with @repostapp ・・・

A post shared by Augusta Jam (@theaugustajam) on

Bubba Watson had himself an interesting Masters week.

The two-time champ shot 74-78 to miss the cut, then had this to say to the press, “Golf is tough; I don’t know if you’ve ever played it. But writing articles is easy.”

Watson took to Twitter shortly afterwards to apologize and explained that his comments were a bad joke.

If you want a lesson on comedy Bubba, take one from legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins, who fired off this zinger as the Masters was wrapping up.

UPDATE: April 11, 2:15 PM

All of the he said-he said aside, #SB2K17 is officially on. The rest is just semantics.

Check out the best images from the Bahamas vacation here.


ORIGINAL STORY

Life comes at you fast. Just ask Smylie Kaufman.

Last year, he teed off in the final group on Sunday at the Masters. But after a final-round 81, Kaufman watched this year's Masters from the "Natty Shack," a beer-sponsored event down the street from Augusta National.

So Kaufman had some time to talk during the season's first major, and Golf Digest caught up with him to ask him the important questions, like what's up with the most anticipated golf vacation of the season, #SB2K17?

"We've talked, but I doubt we can get anything on paper," Kaufman said. "Everybody's got such busy schedules."

Major buzzkill. But, was Smylie just throwing everyone off the scent? It's possible. Tim Rosaforte reported Tuesday on Morning Drive that the spring break shenanigans will go on, especially with Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth possibly needing a vacation after finishing the Masters with a couple of tough rounds.

So you're telling me there's a chance. Guess all there is to do now is wait, and check Snapchat, of course.

Ah ... Twitter. The great place where fans can let professional athletes know all the ways they've let them down, from personal reasons to gambling losses. Such is the case with this fine fellow, who chirped Ryan Palmer for blowing his bet by only finishing ninth at the Masters, and now he can't afford a fence.

Only problem is, Palmer didn't finish ninth at the Masters this year, because he wasn't in the field. That would be Ryan Moore, a fact not lost on Palmer, who responded as nicely as he could.

In conclusion, Ryan Palmer and Ryan Moore are two completely different dudes. Also, don't gamble away your fence money.

Got an extra grand lying around and want to own the least satisfying piece of golf memorabilia in existence? Then head over to Ebay where you can buy a egg salad sandwich wrapper from the 1997 Masters, when Tiger Woods won his first green jacket.

Yes, you're seeing that correctly. Someone has carried around a piece of trash for 20 years and decided this week to try and sell it for $999.

Gotta respect that hustle.

Grayson Murray hasn't made very many friends on Twitter in his young PGA Tour career, but this move ought to score him some points.

Twitter user @indianagolfpro tweeted at the pro, asking him for some help buying a dependable car to get his wife to and from the hospital for medical trips after a recent brain surgery.

Murray responded and offered to pay for the whole car, provided he got 10,000 retweets. Well, it didn't take long, and now the 23-year-old says he will hold up his end of the bargain, tweeting that he "can't wait" to provide a vehicle for couple.

Perhaps this "#1 Rory McIlroy Fan" might consider updating his Twitter name.

Yeah, because the type of sandwich was the issue here.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.