The Social: Double the fun after the PGA

By Jason CrookAugust 15, 2017, 10:40 pm

Justin Thomas breaks through for his first major victory and celebrates it in style, Rory McIlroy gets an outstanding application from a guy eager to be his new caddie, Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky head out on vacation and in case you weren't sure it was Solheim Cup week, Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang are here to remind you. All that and more in this edition of The Social.

It would be hard to start anywhere but Justin Thomas' victory at the PGA Championship, as the golf world hasn't stopped buzzing about it since he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy.

Social media lit up with congratulatory messages for one of the most well-liked guys on the PGA Tour, and one of his first orders of business when he got home to Jupiter, Fla., was dinner with Tiger Woods at the 14-time major champion's nearby restaurant, The Woods.

This photo of Woods, Thomas and the Wanamaker began circulating around the Internet, but perhaps the best version came from the Snapchat account of Rickie Fowler - who was also in attendance - with the caption "14-1-0 ... 0 not pictured," referencing the trio's major haul.

Say what you will about Fowler, he's got a great sense of humor about this whole third-wheeling thing.

The Rory McIlroy caddie opening is currently one of the most sought-after jobs in the golf world - he confirmed there's been plenty of interest ahead of last week's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

Now that he's considering shutting it down until next year with an injury, he'll have plenty of time to consider all of his possible options, including PGA Tour pro Joel Dahmen’s caddie, Geno Bonnalie, who tweeted out his de facto résumé which was equal parts hilarious and informative.

There's a lot there to read (in very small print), so here are some of the highlights:

- Please don’t think I’m sneaking around behind Joel’s back trying to get another job. I think Joel himself may also be applying for the position.

- If you hire me it wouldn’t be awkward at all because we already know each other. We played in front of you on Saturday at the Travelers and during the wait on 4 tee box I asked you if you wanted a water (which you politely declined). So we’re pretty much best friends already.

- Once upon a time I was one of the best Archers in the world (as a youth). so I have a weird ability to know exactly how far you are from the pin just by looking at it (inside 70 yards). So if I don’t step anything off, and tell you it’s 58 yards … it’s 58 yards.

- If we agree on a club, then you chunk the sh** out of it and yell at me for “giving you a bad club” I’ll probably eat it and say “sorry pro”, but please know that in my head I will be thinking something about how you should hit a better shot.

- If you make me keep our playing partners score, I sometimes lose track of what they made on a hole because I’m so focused on what we’re doing (see what I did there? Turned a negative in to a positive)

Click here to read Bonnalie's full qualifications, which may or may not exactly line up with what McIlroy is looking for, according to this incredible voice-over impersonation from Golf Central Daily.

It's been a long season for Dustin Johnson.

Three wins - including two WGCs, that slip and fall down the stairs before the start of the Masters that led to his withdrawal, the weight of the world No. 1 ranking as he searched for his second major title, becoming a new father for the second time.

Add it all up, and the end of the major season seems like the perfect time for a vacation. What a coincidence that he and his fiancée, Paulina Gretzky, are two of the best vacationers on earth.

So it wasn't a shock to see the two of them lounging in a pool at Baker's Bay in the Bahamas shortly after the PGA Championship wrapped up.

my one & only

A post shared by Paulina Gretzky (@paulinagretzky) on

A post shared by Paulina Gretzky (@paulinagretzky) on

Also, apparently in some crazy little scheme to actually turn a profit, Baker's Bay is open more than once a year during spring break when the #SB2K boys come to town. Who knew?

Virtual Reality isn't for everyone

A post shared by Barstool Gametime (@barstoolgametime) on

Just when you thought video games were safe.

Picking winners at a 75 percent success rate is unheard of in the gambling world, especially when it comes to golf. Unfortunately for one man who picked three of the four major winners this year, that accomplishment led to a payout of $0.

Jordan Baker's dream of a $2.5 million payout for a parlay of all four major champs officially died at The Open, where he picked Rickie Fowler instead of Jordan Spieth. But his heart was ripped out once again on Sunday at the PGA Championship while watching Justin Thomas outlast the field and hoist his first major championship trophy.

Baker tried to make light of the situation on Sunday, telling Fowler he could make it up to him with a round at Augusta National, but take a look at his Twitter timeline. That there is a broken man.

Something about the PGA Championship that inspires everyone to get a little slap happy.

Obviously it's going to be hard to top the GOAT - Jason Dufner after his win at Oak Hill in 2013, who became a viral sensation for this "celebration" with then-wife, Amanda.

But Jordan Spieth gave it a try after his good friend Justin Thomas won the PGA on Sunday. The three-time major winner welcomed his buddy to the club with a big old pat on the rear end.

Attaboy JT, you earned it.

It's not how you play, it's how you look while you're playing ... or something like that.

Well the USA Solheim Cup squad is looking rather red, white and blue early this week, especially Michelle Wie.

Wie has gone full USA braids and Swarovski crystal shoes, as well as matching American flag onesies with BFF Danielle Kang.

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Not sure what this means for U.S. team, but it's a strategy so crazy, it might just work.

It's a tough call, but have to go with Robert on this one.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.