The Social: Playing nice after The Players

By Jason CrookMay 16, 2017, 6:00 pm

Ian Poulter fires back after being criticized (shocker!), there was a Tiger Woods sighting and it wouldn’t be a week in golf if someone wasn’t on vacation. All that and more in this edition of The Social.

Three weeks after losing his PGA Tour card and then getting it back because of a points miscalculation, Ian Poulter found himself in a position to win The Players Championship late on Sunday.

However, his play down wasn't his absolute best and he eventually finished in a tie for second, leaving some, including Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, to openly question if the Englishman was playing for the win or playing for points and status, especially given his volatile Tour card situation.

This is going to shock you, but someone criticizing his play did not sit well with Poults, and he hit back, even going so far as to (gasp) use the dreaded A-word.

Poulter eventually figured out he was blocked by Chamblee and the spat died a quiet, fairly amicable death.

Not the biggest feud on the Poulter scale, but it's probably safe to say these two probably won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

On a related note: Poulter calling someone out for blocking him on Twitter. That’s rich.

I get it … Poulter isn’t always the easiest guy to root for. He’s not exactly relatable, you know, with the Ferraris and the nannies and the trying to get anyone who doesn’t like him fired from their job.

But check out these bros on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday, who just happened to be standing where Poulter shanked his shot right of the fairway.

Those two dudes were rooting for his ball to get out of bounds harder than anyone’s rooted for anything in the history of rooting.

The one guy got airborne.

So yeah, Poulter’s not exaggerating when he says he’s got some haters out there.

We haven’t seen much of Tiger Woods since he underwent yet another back surgery last month.

So it’s nice to know that while his game is on the shelf, he’s still out in his community getting all his arts and crafts needs taken care of at his local Michaels.

If he needs somewhere to put all those supplies, I think I know where he can find a spare pocket or two.

Golf ball in the wall, eh? Ok now you're talking my language.

You want to bring in a third golf ball? I'm thinking maybe four.

When you've given up on getting your security deposit back @foreplaypod #AlwaysBeGolfing

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If a week in golf goes by and someone doesn’t take some sort of tropical vacation, did it actually happen?

I know, that’s deep.

This week’s lucky vacationer is former Big Break winner and Golf Channel’s own Blair O’Neal, who hit Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for her birthday.

Heaven.#neverleaving #Cabo #caboconlocos17

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It looked like a good time if you’re in to sun-soaked resorts on the beach and tacos in the pool.

If you’re not in to those things, well … that sounds like a you problem.

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99% tacodiet #notmadaboutit #caboconlocos17

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Also, if her posts are to be believed, she’s never leaving paradise so don’t be shocked if you see her in this section again next week, and every week thereafter.

Si Woo Kim became the youngest winner in the history of The Players on Sunday at just 21 years old, and cashed a $1.9 million paycheck in the process.

And while that kind of money might immediately go to some 21-year-old's heads, Kim quietly left town on a commercial airline ... in a middle seat ... in coach.

Si Woo Kim. A man of the people.

It was a rough week for members of the animal kingdom venturing on to golf courses.

First, we have this fish, who probably thought it was a very big fish, until it met this alligator on a South Florida course. He gone.

Dad was not impressed with my National Geographic skills

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Then there was this bird, who was just minding its own business, enjoying its day and ability to fly and … wham. He gone.

‪Now teeing off, Randy Johnson @foreplaypod (via ‬@todd_shannon)

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And lastly, there was this massive snake that was slithering around a course in South Africa. It didn’t kill anything (while the video was rolling), but you got to eat something to grow that big. This super smart guy touching the snake was just begging to be its next meal.

Ryan feels like he's taking crazy pills.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.