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The Social: Is the WMPO out of control? It's all relative

By Jason CrookFebruary 6, 2018, 7:00 pm

The party known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open rages on (but not quite as much as Philadelphia's Super Bowl party), Super Bowl reaction on the PGA Tour and Jordan Spieth could teach Tom Brady a thing or two about catching a football.

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

Explaining the atmosphere of the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to someone who’s never been is tricky.

It is something you have to experience to fully appreciate. (Side note: If cramming into a makeshift stadium with 20,000 inebriated golf fans people isn’t your thing, you’re never going to appreciate it.)

But for better or worse, it really is a sight to behold. And nothing tells the tale of "The Biggest Party on the PGA Tour" better than these photos/videos of people showing up to the gates of TPC Scottsdale on Saturday starting at 4 a.m. and then racing to 16 to get a seat a full four hours before a golf shot is hit.

Like all nice things, though, someone will find a way to ruin it. Between the Wednesday streaker and some players beginning to complain about the crowd getting too abusive, it's anyone's guess as to how long authorities let the debauchery continue down this path. The crazies seem to take it up a notch every year.

But for now, it's just one of those events where you can hang out and have an awesome time. And if you want to let the whole golf course know you had an awesome time like this guy in the video below, well that's your prerogative.

The golf world’s reaction to the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII was relatively muted, but there was one exchange that stood out after the game.

Noted Patriots fan Keegan Bradley had a lot less to say Sunday than he did a year ago – funny how that works – but luckily for him, he has some buddies who were nice enough to check in on him and make sure everything was alright.

One of those friends, fellow Tour pro Colt Knost, was so concerned the 2011 PGA champ wasn’t answering his FaceTime calls that he doubled down, and posted a screenshot of his attempt to get in touch on Twitter.

Hey, what are friends for?

Bradley did eventually respond with a simple sad face emoji.

Straight and to the point. The Patriot way.

Spieth missed the cut and never really got much going last week in Phoenix, but he did get to catch a pass from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and that’s got to count for something, right? Not everyday you get to play catch with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Spieth and Rodgers played the Wednesday pro-am together and they hooked up for a beauty on the 16th hole.

As if there was any doubt, Rodgers delivered an absolute dime:

@AaronRodgers12 to @JordanSpieth ... TOUCHDOWN!

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Perhaps he could give some tips on catching the ball to his friend Tom Brady the next time they tee it up together.

To keep things in perspective, Philadelphia Eagles fans out celebrating the team's historic Super Bowl win makes the scene at the Waste Management Phoenix Open look like a Wiggles concert.

Here's one of their milder antics, destroying the awning at a downtown Ritz-Carlton:

The night also featured fans looting local gas stations, uprooting telephone polls and eating horse manure. Fly, Eagles Fly.

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale gets all the hype, but the 17th hole provided the real highlights this week.

A couple of things that you rarely see on a golf course happened on back-to-back days on the driveable par-4 17th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

On Thursday, Ollie Schniederjans found the green with his drive and had a 74-foot look at eagle. He proceeded to putt his ball well past the hole, off the green and into the water.

That's right, he lost a ball ... on a putt.

The very next day in the second round, Robert Garrigus took a little more direct approach, nearly holing his drive for what would've should've been the second ace on a par-4 in PGA Tour history.

Take notes, Ollie. Hitting your ball in the hole in one shot is much easier than putting.

Justin Thomas had an up-and-down week in Phoenix that saw him briefly flirt with a chance to win the tournament … only to watch the whole thing blow up in his face over a three-hole stretch on the back nine on Saturday.

Last year's Player of the Year shot a third-round 71 that started with six straight birdies and ended with a bogey-triple-double stretch on Nos. 14-16.

But credit to him for keeping his head on straight.

The 24-year-old told reporters afterward the round that he was "shocked" and "speechless." And he was telling the truth. Shortly afterward, he followed up those quotes on Twitter with a popular meme.

Because when all else fails and you don't necessarily have the right words for the moment, you can always count on the internet to be there to sum up your feelings.

Tom just absolutely nailing this analysis of that Schniederjans putt.

Poor Ollie.

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”