The Social: 'Get those party boots on'

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2017, 7:00 pm

Pat Perez and his wife are ready to celebrate, #SB2K guys hit the college scene, Tour stars vacation all over the place and Sylvester Stallone's model daughter jumps into your dream foursome.

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

After going years without exactly setting the world on fire, Tiger's social media accounts have become must-watch internet television.

As the golf world goes nuts for any little hint that he may be on his way back to competitive golf following several back surgeries that wiped out much of the last few years, Woods dropped a big one on us Sunday – full swing with a driver, and in his traditional red shirt, no less.

It was hard to think he wasn't nearing a return after watching that, and Big Cat went ahead and made it official on Monday, confirming that doctors had given him the go-ahead to resume all golf activities.

Making Progress

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What's more? Woods' former coach, Hank Haney, thinks this swing looks like one the 14-time major champ could return to the winner's circle with.

It's go time!

Hope it works out a little better for Tiger than it did for the Mandelbaums.

The latest chapter in the feel-good story of Perez's career resurgence unfolded over the weekend in Malaysia, as the outspoken 41-year-old won the CIMB Classic – his second PGA Tour win in less than a year.

In typical Perez fashion, it didn't take long after the final putt dropped for him to offer up the quote of the week:

“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m still not going to work out. I’ll still have a bad diet and I’m going to enjoy myself.

And he's in luck, because his wife, Ashley, immediately took to social media to echo that sentiment, captioning a few pictures of the couple with, "Get those party boots on for when you get home!"

Check out more photos of the couple here.

Pat Perez just picking up wins left and right.

And from the looks of his Instagram feed, he knows it:

Current mood.

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But while Perez's celebration will have to wait, back-to-back European Tour winner Tyrell Hatton got his victory party going shortly after wrapping up the Italian Open on Sunday, wasting no time getting to the nearest ... Burger King?

Burger King may want you to have it your way, but Hatton's way, with a new $1.96 million in the bank, looks pretty delicious.

While Justin Thomas was off "working" in Malaysia, trying to win the CIMB Classic for the third straight year, the other three members of the #SB2K squad were taking some time off and supporting the football teams of the schools where they played their college golf.

Of course, "supporting" means different things to different people.

Jordan Spieth helped his Texas Longhorns with the coin toss and watched from the sidelines during the annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma:

Rickie Fowler helped lead a parade through town and then pumped up the crowd at the pep rally while serving as the homecoming grand marshal for the Oklahoma State Cowboys:

And Smyle Kaufman, well Smylie passed out Natural Light swag to fans and watched LSU from not-exactly on the field.

Which, if we're being honest, sounds way more fun than being put to work all weekend.

Tigers win! A fun weekend down on the Bayou seeing old friends! #LSU

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Smylie Kaufman - perennial MVP of the spring break bros.

With just a couple months left in the calendar year, it's time to start thinking about how to use those vacation days ... even for those living amongst us who play professional golf and are on sort of a lifelong perm-vacation.

Hence the sudden influx of PGA Tour stars to Italy over the past week or so.

The McIlroys, Horschels, Walkers and Donalds have all been busy posting photos of their trips to Italy, because, well ... it's Italy.

Buongiorno Venezia!

A post shared by Erin Walker (@tourwifetravels) on

Great day walking around Milan with @dianedonald #nailedit #tourist @openditaliagolf

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Something about this professional golf thing correlating directly to incredible looking vacations.

We'll have our investigative team dig into it.

Move over, Lamest Person in Your Current Dream Foursome - you've been replaced.

Sylvester Stallone took to Instagram last week to show off his daughter Sistine's golf swing, and let's just say if this modeling thing doesn't work out for her, she could have a solid back-up plan in golf.

Update: This modeling thing is going to work out just fine.

1st MET!!! Thank you @topshop for an incredible night

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drama queen

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Venice Film Festival @twinsetofficial

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Once upon a time, Sergio Garcia was just a kid trying to live up to some gigantic expectations as a professional golfer.

He was reminded of those times last week at the Italian Open, when he was grouped with Austin Connelly 18 years after meeting him for the first time.

Whether he remembered or not, Connelly's mom did, obviously. That's what moms do.

The photo probably meant a little extra to Garcia, 37, in light of recent events. Sergio and his new bride, Angela, recently announced they are expecting a baby next March.

So it could be a new Garcia on the other end of this re-created photo with his/her favorite golfer a couple of decades from now.

After all, time is a flat circle ... or something like that.

Nothing gets past this guy, especially sarcasm.

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.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.