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The Social: Staying grounded

By Jason CrookNovember 7, 2017, 8:00 pm

Visual evidence of President Donald Trump's golf game comes to light, LPGA players go the safe route on a photocall and Tiger Woods leads Raider Nation against the Miami Dolphins.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

We’ve heard a lot about Trump’s golf game since he was elected President of the United States, but we haven’t seen much – good or bad – after he took office.

That all changed in the past week, when we got not one, but two glimpses of him in action.

Trump tweeted a video of himself hitting a shot while playing golf with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama during his trip to Asia over the weekend.

This came on the heels of NBC News cameras catching him picking up a putt while it was still rolling about a week earlier.

The reasons for that putt being picked up are debatable, but with well-struck irons and lengthy "gimmes" on tape, we're suddenly getting a much better picture of that 73 Senator Lindsey Graham insists he saw Trump shoot last month.

Woods hasn't played a sport professionally in almost a year, but he's certainly watched his fair share in person while he's been out injured.

Woods, who will be back next month at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, was at it again on Sunday, taking in the Oakland Raiders game against the Miami Dolphins.

The 14-time major champ enjoyed the action from box seats while wearing a Jim Plunkett jersey. Plunkett quarterbacked the Raiders to two Super Bowl titles during Woods' childhood.

‪There’s only ONE Nation, #RaiderNation‬

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A quick side note – can we talk about this guy's jersey collection for a second? Flashing a Plunkett and Jackie Robinson in back-to-back weeks?

We sure Tiger isn't moonlighting as a '90s rapper? Because if he is, MC Beef may be available for a collaboration.

#tbt to @beefgolf rocking his new shades, SnapBack and spitting some bars at the uspga #stateside #legend

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Henrik Stenson has withdrawn from the final two events in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, citing a rib injury that many thought he sustained during a promotional photo shoot at the WGC-HSBC Champions last month in which he was hoisted in the air by a harness while donning a cape.

"I'm not Superman even though certain people thought I was Superman," Stenson said Sunday after finishing T-35 at the Turkish Airlines Open.

What a nice view! #Repost @europeantour High above Shanghai (literally) #HSBCChampions

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Although he later disputed that quote was about the photo shoot, the ladies at the Blue Bay LPGA in China seemed to heed his warning anyway. Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Sandra Gal participated in an interesting photo shoot of their own this week but opted not to fly too close to the sun on the wings of pastrami.

Take it from Hennie Stennie, kids. No matter where life takes you, always stay grounded.

What scorpion dreams are made of... #scorpionking #nosemanual #jrscorp via @lachlann_ricketts

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Birthday presents are weird.

Sometimes you get that fancy toy you've not-so secretly wanted or a shiny new piece of jewelry you've been dropping hints about for months.

Other years you get something a little more practical, like a vacuum cleaner or ... in Angie Watson's case, surgery.

Bubba Watson showed off the present he got for his wife on social media Monday, and it looked a little unpleasant.

Bubba posted an x-ray of his wife's knee with four screws in it and alluded to the fact that it was a basketball-related injury. Angie played basketball at the University of Georgia where she met her husband.

The Watsons. Just the latest example that love isn't dead - but sometimes it's very painful.

We've all been there. Even those of us with a gold jacket to their name have wanted to launch their club into outer space when things don't go your way.

Well, Australian pro Terry Pilkadaris gave into temptation during a first-round 73 at the Asian Tour’s Panasonic Open India, throwing his putter into the woods after missing a putt on the 17th hole.

Hard to think of a more satisfying feeling in golf ... at least until the inevitable walk of shame.

Club throwing advice with Ron. Think we have a new segment on our hands.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.