The Social: Forget me not

By Jason CrookMay 23, 2017, 4:15 pm

The annual Tiger Jam event went on this past weekend without a certain special someone, Ian Poulter proved that nice guys sometimes finish ... second(?) and one fan had an interesting reaction to the Billy Horschel-Jason Day playoff at the AT&T Byron Nelson. All that and more in this edition of The Social.

If Tiger Jam goes on in Las Vegas but there's no Tiger Woods to be found, did it even happen?

Based on social media posts from the weekend, yes. But it didn't have quite the same feeling without Big Cat.

Don't get it twisted, there was plenty of star power in the building (and on the golf course). Kate Upton, Mark Cuban, Chris Paul, Kid Rock, Paige Spiranac, Daruis Rucker, Phil Hellmuth, Wesley Bryan and former Miss America Kira Kazantsev were among those in attendance.

Let's get the party started. #tigerjam

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Couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday! @twfoundation #TigerJam @_paige.renee @kidrock @tgrliveevents

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What an amazing night seeing @dariusrucker in concert!! #TigerJam #dariusrucker #topgolf @twfoundation

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So great to see old friends and new faces tonight at the #TigerJam poker tournament!

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Getting day 2 of #TigerJam started w/ @_paige.renee @tgrliveevents @twfoundation Outfit: @jofit_apparel

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There was probably plenty of money raised for the Tiger Woods Foundation, and raising money for charity is never a bad thing, but part of the charm of Tiger Jam was (for lack of a better term) seeing Tiger let his hair down and make these incredibly goofy faces like he did last year.

Hopefully, we'll see Woods back at this event in 2018. If he makes it back to the PGA Tour, we'll consider it a bonus.

Ian Poulter may, or may not have played conservatively down the stretch of The Players in order to keep his status on the PGA Tour, depending on who you ask.

But the only reason he was able to finish T-2 and essentially secure his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season was because Brian Gay and his wife, Kimberly, ran the numbers and found some mistakes that allowed Poulter and Gay to keep their cards for this year.

Poulter didn’t forget the Gays after his tie for second at the Tour’s flagship event, and he spent some of that near-$1 million in prize money on a thank you gift.

Like him or loathe him, Poulter deserves some credit for this one.

What is it about professional golfers' kids that makes them all super cute? Whatever it is, it was on full display this weekend.

First, it was former LPGAer and current Golf Channel contributor Amanda Blumenherst, whose unbelievably relatable son just couldn't get his ball in the hole.

Some days, golf seems simple. This was not one of those days.

Billy Horschel's daughter sees that cuteness, fellow adorable toddler, and raises you.

Horschel, who was plenty emotional himself after securing his first win since 2014 at the AT&T Byron Nelson, was upstaged by his daughter, who celebrated with her dad while watching him on live TV.

PSA: Watch out for lions. Both those who live on land or in the sea.

You know those golf shoes that double as regular shoes, so you can transition seamlessly from your regular daily activities to the golf course?

Well that's what the University of Michigan head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, wears all the time, on all parts of his body.

On Monday, Harbaugh helped deliver a baby calf, wearing (what else) khakis and a Jordan Brand sweater. You read that right.

Michigan's head football coach spend Monday morning delivering a baby calf.

But the day was young and Harbough had an afternoon tee time.

If you think he changed, you don't know squat about Jim Harbaugh.

There's a solid chance Harbaugh spent the night sleeping over at a potential recruit's house in the same outfit.

Every big-time golf fan was tuned in to the Billy Horschel-Jason Day playoff for the AT&T Byron Nelson title on Sunday, but one guy took it to another level.

Keeping with tradition of most recent major sporting events, one member of the gallery just couldn't help himself, and went viral by ... rubbing his nipples?

That's not a question. Sorry for the question mark. Big congratulations to this guy, though. You made it.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)