The Social: $tre$$ful time of year

By Jason CrookAugust 29, 2017, 6:30 pm

Several PGA Tour superstars, including last week's Northern Trust winner Dustin Johnson, live it up at a pro-am, Floyd Mayweather joined an exclusive club over the weekend with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, and some pros voice their displeasure with real and fantasy golf on social media because it's 2017, so of course they did.

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

The stress of the FedExCup Playoffs seems to be really wearing on the PGA Tour's biggest stars. You can tell because just a day after the first playoff event, DJ, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas were among those in attendance at the Silo Ridge Pro-Am, about two hours north of New York City.

The players hung out with, and enjoyed the musical stylings of Kelley James as they teed off. Tough gig, but those pro-ams don't just play themselves.

There's nobody like @kelleyjamesmusic! Great day at Silo

A post shared by Justin Thomas (@justinthomas34) on

The pro-am came the day after one of the best finishes this season on the PGA Tour, the final round of The Northern Trust, where Johnson and Spieth traded jabs down the stretch until DJ landed the knockout punch, a monster 341-yard drive on a ridiculous line over water that put him in the driver’s seat on the first playoff hole.

But, of course, there’s a reason we can’t have nice things. That reason is Twitter. A couple of pros - Ian Poulter and Wesley Bryan - took to the social media platform to crush the tournament’s decision to use the 18th hole for the playoff, which they felt gave Johnson a distinct advantage.

We'll let Jason Dufner have the last word on this debate.

Well OK then, moving on.

Whether or not the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather superfight lived up to the ridiculous hype depends on who you ask, but several pros were up late watching and tweeting about the boxing match which was, at the very least, more interesting than many thought it would be. Ultimately Mayweather won by TKO in the 10th Round, improving his record to 50-0.

One pro's tweet made more noise than others, though, as Kyle Thompson compared what Mayweather stood to earn from the fight compared to how much money Woods has made on the course in his career. It's about triple. You read that correctly. Triple.

Now, the comparison is a little unfair considering that number reflects Mayweather's total take after sponsorship money and pay-per-views are added to his $100 million in guaranteed money. Both men are members of the rare billionaire sports figure club after counting endorsement deals, along with Jordan.

However, it's hard to argue with Thompson's larger point which was basically, "that's a lot of freakin' money for a night's work."

Golf is hard @fromdome24

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Important PSA with fantasy football season right around the corner: No one cares about your fantasy team outside of your fantasy league, and even that's a stretch. Not one single person. That includes the guys you have on your fantasy team.

So next time you think it would be a good idea to open your mouth and begin speaking about your fantasy team, heed this warning from Graham DeLaet and ... don't do it.

DeLaet had to put a couple of Twitter users in their place after they complained that he withdrew from last week's Northern Trust during the second round with an injury.

Fantasy sports is a fun game for you to play. So play with yourself.

There's much debate as to who exactly will make up the U.S. Presidents Cup roster, especially when it comes to Phil Mickelson. But as for another biennial team match, the Ryder Cup, one guy who won't be around, at least in 2018, is Andrew Hughes.

Who, you may asking? Exactly.

Hughes is just some guy who posted a smart-alack response to a European Tour's Facebook post asking how to qualify for the Ryder Cup. And he got an official reply.

Unfortunately for Hughes, he's a 16 handicap so 2018 isn't looking so good for him, but Thomas Bjorn chimed in with a promise to put in a good word in 2020 if he can bring that handicap down a few more strokes.

This Hughes character sounds like a real wildcard. The U.S. squad may want to start scouting him now.

The tone of The Social is generally pretty lighthearted, but there's nothing funny about what's happening in southeast Texas right now.

Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented flooding in the area, and while people's safety is the top priority, the golf courses have also taken a hit, and from the looks of things, they may never be the same.

Several photos were shared on Twitter Monday of the Champions Golf Club and the Golf Club of Houston, which hosts the PGA Tour's Houston Open, and the damage is mind-blowing.

The people that have had their lives turned upside down by this storm over the last several days could use all the help they can get. A couple ways you can help out is by donating to the Red Cross here or the Salvation Army here.

No one does, yentrog31. No one does.

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

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 GolfChannel.com 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.