The Social: Friends in high places

By Jason CrookAugust 1, 2017, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods pops up with a couple of guys who are nearly on his level of worldwide fame, meanwhile, the rest of the golf world, it seemed, was gathered at Sergio Garcia's wedding. Plus we've got odds on Stephen Curry's pro golf debut and trick shots galore.

All that and more in this week's The Social.

Garcia and Angela Akins were married this past weekend in Texas, and by all accounts, it looked like an incredible event.

And by all accounts, we mean just those of some of the biggest names in the game. A regular who's-who of golf superstars attended the celebration. Garcia's wedding party alone included Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Not to mention Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters and this little piece of golf history known as the green jacket.

A dream come true! #whitedressgreenjacket @theangelaakins @jenniferlindbergphotography

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Big golf crew #GUNIT

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And the best part of all, besides there being photo documentation for our viewing pleasure (cough, cough, Rory, cough, cough), was the entertainment for the night being Kenny G.

Hey, if you can't get Sexy Sax Man, there's worse options than Kenny G.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Tiger … well, anywhere since his arrest for suspicion of DUI in May … but he surfaced in Miami over the weekend, taking his kids to El Clasico, a friendly soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Hard Rock Stadium.

And because he’s Tiger Woods, he managed to snag some tickets that were pretty close to the field. Like in-the-locker-room-taking-pictures-with-the-players close. Woods, along with his daughter Sam, 10, and son Charlie, 8, posed with two of the biggest soccer stars on the planet, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

It may not be on the PGA Tour, but it is nice to see Tiger out and about, even if he's just simply being a dad.

Self-deprecating humor is the best humor.

Luckily, all some professional golfers get that.

A couple of guys stuck in recent slumps couldn't help but laugh at themselves this week.

It started with Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, who read the story about a text from Jordan Spieth inspiring Kramer Hickok to make his first PGA Tour cut at the RBC Canadian Open.

That led to Castaño, the 36-year-old veteran who has not played a full weekend since the FedEx St. Jude Classic back in early June, to beg for a similar text from the three-time major winner on Twitter.

Not to be outdone, Steven Bowditch, who is teeing it up in this week's opposite field PGA Tour event, the Barracuda Championship, noticed that the winning score at last year's tournament was +43.

Of course, that's Stableford scoring, where low scores equal high points, but don't tell Bowditch that, he seems pretty confident with the information he has.

Wait for it ...

Classic guys being dudes

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Well, the week is finally here. Ellie Mae Classic week.

NBA superstar Steph Curry is set to make his professional golf debut thanks to a sponsor's invite to the event. And just in case you want to add a little more spice to your normal minor league golf wagers, offshore betting outlet is offering a series of prop bets on Curry:

Will Curry make the cut? Yes +900 (bet $100 to win $900), No -2500 (bet $2500 to win $100)

Highest score in any round: Over/under 79.5 (par 70)

Lowest score in any round: Over/under 76.5

Highest score on any single hole: Over/under 7

Lowest score on any single hole: Over/under 3

Total number of birdies: Over/under 2.5

Total number of bogeys or worse: Over/under 8.5

And if you thought this was easy money and the two-time NBA MVP isn't taking this seriously because he's doing things like making fun of LeBron James and crashing random house parties, just know he recently lowered his handicap to +0.1 and was out scouting TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., on Monday, according to his Instagram Story.

Kind of makes you think ... that maybe, just maybe, he won't come in dead last.

Some would say the Golden Age of golf trick shots have come and gone.

Those people haven't seen Tania Tare, who keeps upping the ante on her Instagram page.

This week it was with a couple of poolside trick shots with the help of her friend Tisha Alyn Abrea.

As far as afternoons by the pool go, that's not a bad way to spend one.

Here's some of Tare's other trick shots, which should be enough to convince you to join her growing legion of fans. Nearly 75,000 Instagram followers and counting.

[In reference to Jordan Spieth]

Someone call the fire department. That there is what we in the industry call a scorching hot take.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.