The Social: Talking the talk

By Jason CrookMarch 7, 2017, 7:00 pm

Players are (thankfully) still telling us how they really feel, Dustin Johnson takes a page out of Billy Madison's book and even when he's down, Justin Thomas' friends are there to give him a hard time. All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

A couple of weeks ago Pat Perez was vilified after giving his opinion on Tiger Woods’ latest injury issues, and it was fair to wonder if the trickle-down effect would be less honesty and more robot-like answers from professional golfers looking to avoid what could be a distracting spotlight in the age of the 24-hour news cycle.

If the past week is any indication, we have nothing to worry about.

The USGA and R&A rolled out some proposed changes to the Rules of Golf, which were met with plenty of reaction on social media. While much of it was positive, the pros who weren't 100 percent on board with the new rules opted for a not-so subtle approach to express their opinion, for which we thank them.

They say honesty is the best policy, and that is unequivocally true ... for us. So here's to hoping the truth serum continues to flow through the world of golf.

As for the golf this past week, here's a quick recap of what went down at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where Dustin Johnson once again came out on top:

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DJ cemented his status as world No. 1 with his fourth WGC victory on Sunday, and then he went home to his adorable son,Tatum, new puppy, Perla, and pregnant swing pupil, Paulina Gretzky, who were cheering him on from Instagram. It doesn't suck to be Dustin Johnson right now.

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As for the guys Johnson beat in Mexico, well, they had their moments. The best of which probably came from Thomas, who aced the 232-yard par-3 13th hole on Saturday - forever immortalized by a Spanish soccer announcer calling it as if JT had just won the World Cup in extra time:

The worst of which? Well, that would also be from Thomas, not only fading into a tie for fifth on Sunday, but also immediately letting go of his driver out of frustration on the par-5 11th hole and nearly hitting the gallery with it.

Thomas apologized afterward but caught some heat from television analysts and folks on social media for his actions. Luckily, his friends were there to console him ... by making fun of him on Twitter, like real friends do.

As for the fan, hey, at least it wasn't a hockey game. Those guys make sure the gallery gets involved.

Forgot something back there, bud.

Back to hockey.

Another PGA Tour event for Andrew "Beef" Johnston, another outing to see one of the local professional sports teams.

On the west coast of Florida for this week's Valspar Championship, Beef made his way to the Tampa Bay Lightning game on Monday.

Despite it being his very first "ice hockey" game, he ended up on live TV and taking pictures with the mascot, so it looks like he got the hang of it pretty quick.

Ice hockey time

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Had a great time at the HOCKEY. see I'm learning haha. @tblightning u have a new fan

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And if we use last year's U.S. Open as a barometer, there's a good chance Beef made a large deposit at the team's pro shop and walked out of the arena with enough Lightning swag to clothe a small Beef-sized army.

Fresh off a girls trip to Las Vegas, Cheyenne Woods was lucky enough to be sitting courtside for the weekend's most exciting sporting event, a Phoenix Suns basketball game (seriously).

Tiger's niece just happened to have the camera rolling from her seat as the Suns scored 5 points in the final 5 seconds to stun the Boston Celtics. Down by 2 with less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Suns got a layup, a steal and a 3-pointer to win the game.

Here's what the crazy finish looked like from the floor:

Born and raised a Suns fan! #sunsvsceltics

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Now about that girls trip to Vegas, don’t worry, we got you covered.

Let the girls' weekend commence...

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My girls

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Round 3

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Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.