The Social: So on, and so Fourth

By Jason CrookJuly 4, 2017, 5:15 pm

Pros celebrate the holiday in different ways, Ms. Gulbis goes to Washington, and Tiger Woods executes another perfectly-timed news dump. All that and more in this Fourth of July edition of The Social.

Tiger Woods has his own personal struggles just like the rest of us. Nobody's perfect. And good for him for getting whatever help he thought was necessary. A lot of people never have the courage to do that.

But one thing he has perfected is the art of the news dump. He's turned it into an art form.

The latest example came on Monday at 5:09 p.m., a.k.a July 3rd, a.k.a. a day a lot of people had off of work on the eve of a national holiday.

Blink (or be doing anything fun and holiday related) and you would've missed it, but Woods tweeted that he "recently completed an out of state private intensive program" and "will continue to tackle this going forward with my doctors, family and friends."

For some context, here are some of his past tweets announcing not-so-great news for the 14-time major champ.

Note the time stamps. All Fridays. All after work hours.

We're not saying that he didn't complete treatment at exactly 5:09 p.m. on Monday; he very well may have. We're just saying that's a heck of a coincidence.

It wouldn't be a Fourth of July edition of The Social without a look at what your favorite pros are doing to celebrate.

Since it's a holiday that falls in the middle of the summer that often involves boating and bathing suits, it's only natural to start with a quick look at Paulina Gretzky's Instagram account ... and it looks like she bounced back from that baby just fine.

Happy 4th of July #Merica

A post shared by Paulina Gretzky (@paulinagretzky) on

But Paulina and DJ weren't the only ones in the spirit.

Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas had themselves quite the bro-down.

If you can't tell, we like America

A post shared by Justin Thomas (@justinthomas34) on

Like most days, the Fourth of July looks like a good 24 hours to be a pro golfer.

Brandel Chamblee is never one to hold back an opinion, much like those who watch him on TV aren't shy about letting him know what they think of said opinions.

But he made some valid points during his latest Twitter rant.

While he didn't mention Bernhard Langer by name, the debate over anchoring - in particular, the enforcement of the anchor ban - popped up over the weekend at the U.S. Senior Open when video clips like these started making the rounds.

Chamblee said that while he was never in favor of the anchor ban to begin with, now that it is in effect, the non-application of the rule was "appalling" and "in gross disregard for the spirit of the game."

Coming from a guy who analyzes golf on television, those words are strong ... to quite strong.

Live look at me trying to achieve my dreams

A post shared by I Can't Even (@icanteven) on

We've all been this dog.

Danielle Kang's breakthrough major win at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship brought with it congratulatory texts and tweets from all of her famous friends, the most surprising of which came from ... Jon Lovitz(?!).

Yeah, this guy.

Well, a ladies night is exactly what Kang had after her major victory, with her good friend Michelle Wie documenting the celebration that included eating noodles out of the trophy.

Noodles ... Fireball ... corn. Hey, to each their own.

Natalie Gulbis was in Washington D.C. last week, and it wasn't just to do some sightseeing.

According to a report in the Nevada Independent, Gulbis met with Republicans to discuss a possible Congressional run, as she eyes the seat of Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) in Nevada’s third Congressional district, which is up for grabs in 2018.

The idea comes out of left field and seems like a long shot for someone with no political experience. Then again ... [insert your own joke here].

A post shared by Natalie Gulbis (@nataliegulbis) on

A post shared by Natalie Gulbis (@nataliegulbis) on

Who knows. We live in a crazy world and anything is possible. Perhaps if she wins she could teach the president some golf etiquette.

Kids these days.

While a little extra fun on the golf course is usually a good thing, I'm willing to stick my neck out at the risk of sounding like an old fart to condemn this latest trend.

A disturbing amount of videos like these have popped up on social media lately and while they may be (arguably) the slightest bit funny for those watching, the guy getting run over could end up seriously injured.

Wait for it

A post shared by TFM (@totalfratmove) on

CHOO CHOOOOO (@win.spencer)

A post shared by TFM (@totalfratmove) on

So PSA, please stop running other over unsuspecting friends with golf carts.

End rant.

Hope no one introduces these poor souls to hockey.

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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1