The Social: What's all the fuss about?

By Jason CrookJuly 11, 2017, 4:20 pm

A rules controversy didn't stop Jon Rahm from celebrating with his girlfriend, Donald Trump shockingly stirs up some controversy at the U.S. Women's Open and Jordan Spieth looks like he's moving on from his traditional vacation crew with some even more famous friends.

All that and more in this edition of The Social.

It wouldn't be a proper golf tournament without a rules controversy. And we got another one during Rahm's win at the Irish Open on Sunday.

Rahm, who eventually won the event by six strokes, sparked some controversy on the sixth green during his final round, when he appeared to mark his ball to the side of his marker and then returned the ball to the front of it, similar to a situation that cost Lexi Thompson a four-stroke penalty and the ANA Inspiration earlier this year.

Rahm, though, was not penalized. Rules official Andy McFee determined there that there was no intent to break a rule and only a “millimeters” difference between the two spots.

Many in the world of golf disagreed with this ruling, most notably, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who you may have heard a time or two in the past give his opinion on rules infractions.

Chamblee said his piece on "Golf Central" after the tournament was over but then took it a step further, explaining his point on Twitter.

Lets go to a live look at Rahm and ... he seems to be doing just fine.

Check out more images of Rahm and his girlfriend Kelly Cahill by clicking here.

Spieth is part of the original #SB2K16 and follow-up #SB2K17 crew with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman.

Not bad company if you can get it. But c'mon, this is Jordan Spieth we're talking about here. This guy holes out from bunkers for walk-off victories if he wants to. Certainly he can upgrade.

Well upgrade he has, at least temporarily. If you scroll through the pictures he posted to Instagram below, he recently hit up Mexico not only with girlfriend Annie Verret, but also with the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, NFL stars Russell Wilson and Dwight Freeney, World Golf Hall-of-Famer Fred Couples and some guy named Michael Jordan.

Cabo

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No official word on what exactly they were doing there but does it even matter?

This week's U.S. Women's Open has been nothing but controversy so far, and no one has hit a shot yet.

That comes with the territory with President Donald Trump, whose name happens to be on the golf course where the tournament is being staged.

Two-time major champ Brittany Lincicome, among the players competing at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., was asked about the president showing up for the event, which he has since hinted that he might do.

Lincicome gave a non-political response, but said that she hoped he wouldn't show up because of the atmosphere his presence creates.

“Hopefully, maybe, he doesn’t show up, and it won’t be a big debacle, and it will be about us and not him,” Lincicome told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know him. I have met him probably once. I think it will be fine. We’re going to play an amazing golf course and let our clubs do the talking.”

That led to so much backlash on social media, including from John Daly, an outspoken Trump supporter, that Lincicome decided to get off Twitter for the rest of the week.

Probably a good lesson for all of us. Get off Twitter.

Need to try this (@conndogo) (@drunkpeopledoingthings )

A post shared by Drunk People Doing Things (@drunkpeopledoingthings) on

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Playing in the Web.com Tour's Lecom Health Challenge on Thursday, Andrew Yun struck a female fan with an errant shot.

He did that cool thing where the pro wanders over and gives the fan a magical signed glove to ease the pain, only to realize moments later that it was the only glove in his bag and ask for it back. Oops.

His playing partner, Kyle Thompson, put him on blast.

After roughly 12 more holes worth of sweat and use, the glove did eventually make its way back to the fan. Lucky her.

Chesson Hadley's journey back to the big leagues after losing his Tour card for 2017 was an emotional one, and don't just take our word for it.

The 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year couldn't help but let out the waterworks after winning the Web.com Tour’s Lecom Health Challenge with a Sunday 65.

The 30-year old was the first to admit it was an ugly display afterwards on Twitter. Though we're willing to bet the sweet taste of those tears was worth the wait.

What's this? A positive comment of the week? It's like finding Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster just casually hanging out at the bottom of a GolfChannel.com article.

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”