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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Henrik Stenson has withdrawn from the final two events in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, citing a rib injury that many thought he sustained during a promotional photo shoot at the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.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).