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The Social: Would you look at that

By Jason CrookAugust 22, 2017, 9:00 pm

The PGA Tour invades New York City for the start of the FedExCup Playoffs, pros get caught up watching the solar eclipse and Justin Thomas is still thrid-wheelin' it with Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke despite a PGA Championship victory.

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

The FedExCup Playoffs kick off this week at The Northern Trust (formerly The Barclays) at Glen Oaks Club near New York City, sending the top 125 players in the playoff chase to the Big Apple for the week to do totally normal-people things like hitting golf balls from behind home plate at Yankee Stadium ... or ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Poor Jon Rahm. He went to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of and all he got was this lousy picture with the Statue of Liberty.

Exploring the city with my love

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Solar eclipse-mania swept across the U.S. on Monday, leaving people from coast to coast staring up at the sun while wearing protective glasses (except in Washington D.C., where they weren't needed) to watch as the moon briefly blocked out the sun.

PGA and LPGA tour pros were as caught up in the hysteria as everyone else, setting up cameras and wearing their special head gear. Tiger Woods even tweeted out a photo his daughter Sam took from Tennessee, where the view was especially clear:

Yup that's me!!!!! #solareclipse

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While plenty of your favorite pros couldn't get enough of the eclipse, they had nothing on trusty news anchor Shepard Smith. Hard to find someone more jacked up for the national phenomenon than this guy right here:

Suchhh a good boy #icanteven

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Dogs. They never cease to amaze.

The Solheim Cup has come and gone, leaving with us some lasting memories of great golf on both sides, despite a lopsided U.S. victory.

But as with most of these team events pitting countries against each other, the best images come from the celebration. And with her team basically in the victory formation on Sunday, American captain Juli Inkster didn't hesitate to get the party started a little early.

As she waited out the last few clinching points, Inkster sipped from a Styrofoam cup marked "Vodka Tonic," but it might as well have said "Winner."

Winning U.S. Captain Juli Inkster will have there be no mistakes about what's in her cup #vodkatonic

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You do you, Juli. It's certainly not the first time we've seen a premature celebration from the winning side in a blowout.

Thomas is a major winner and heading into the playoffs with about as much momentum as one could hope for this time of year.

Unfortunately, that couldn't land him a date for his trip to New York City, something he was happy to make light of on Instagram as he third-wheeled his way on a helicopter ride to a Presidents Cup scouting trip at Liberty National with his buddy Fowler and girlfriend Stokke.

A post shared by Allison Stokke (@allisonstokke) on

Even better than third-wheelin' it may have been his major celebration at the restaurant TAO Downtown. Unfortunately, TAO was more happy for some guy named "JP," but hey, at least they let Thomas attend the party. That was nice of them.

When you try and celebrate your boy winning the PGA but nobody here knows who he is #congratsJP

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Thank you, Karen, for accurately describing every internet commenter in the history of internet commenting.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.