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The Social: Cheers and jeers

By Jason CrookOctober 24, 2017, 6:00 pm

Flying golfers attack at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Tiger Woods gets teased by his peers, a Euro Tour player celebrates in the pool and a Bryan Bro is in the doghouse.

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

We've seen some weird pre-tournament photo-calls at events in the past. Wild costumes, awkward club twirling, adorable koala bear holding. We thought we'd seen it all. We were wrong.

Because the scene this week in China at the WGC-HSBC Champions is something else ... yeah, we'll go with that.

Last year's winner Hideki Matsuyama knew he'd be defending his trophy this week, but on Tuesday he was quite literally defending it from Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Haotong Li as they "flew" overhead while threatening him with golf clubs ... we think?

Don't even know what this means, but we love it.

Tiger Woods hitting golf balls is nothing new around these parts. He's been posting a video a week for about a month now, teasing his comeback as he continues to come back from multiple back surgeries.

This week he dropped his patented "stinger," and while the buzz continued to grow around how good his swing looked and when he may return to competition, a couple of commenters took a different approach.

Return of the Stinger. #starwars

A post shared by Tiger Woods (@tigerwoods) on

Those two commenters - Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler:

Sure these guys are South Florida neighbors and friends, but perhaps the young guns would benefit from a little chat with Stephen Ames about chirping the 14-time major champ.

It's getting harder and harder to tee it up with your favorite PGA Tour pros these days.

If you've got $250K, you can get a quick 18 holes in with Phil Mickelson (lunch included). But believe it or not, a round with Jordan Spieth is even more exclusive.

You just have to be the former leader of the free world or the two-time NBA MVP (or that MVP's little brother).

A post shared by Jordan Spieth (@jordanspieth) on

Spieth took to Instagram on Monday to show off his sixsome, which included president Barack Obama, Stephen and Seth Curry, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Jonnie West, who caddied for Steph Curry this year at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.

Consider yourself on notice, #SB2K bros. Spieth is moving on up.

When he says he's coming home at 7 and it's only 6:23 #icanteven

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"Wasn't me." - dog.

Jaime Donaldson isn't exactly shy about his "celebrating." A certain clip of a hooded, victorious Donaldson the day after the 2014 Ryder Cup comes to mind.

And he was at it again over the weekend after retaining his European Tour card for next season, and then proceeding to walk directly into the pool - clothes and all.

The 42-year-old also mentioned getting "hammered," and based on his tweet from the next day, we're going to go ahead and assume he kept his word on that one.

Braden Thornberry is the reigning NCAA individual men’s golf champion and part-time field goal ball-whacker guy, as evidenced by his halftime performance at the Ole Miss fort all game on Saturday.

But way more interesting than that is his obsession with folf, a football-golf hybrid that was documented in this incredibly real and not-in-any-way fake documentary about it about the sport.

Braden Thornberry, growing the game one tearful documentary watcher at a time.

Every relationship has their own set of rules, but you have to think written somewhere in every couple’s list in big bold letters is: DON’T POST EMBARRASSING VIDEOS OF YOUR WIFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE AMUSEMENT OF YOUR FOLLOWERS. Tour player George Bryan got married earlier this year, and he’s been busy ever since making a living playing golf, so perhaps he hasn’t gotten around to reading all the rules.

But perhaps he’ll carve out some extra reading time during his time in the doghouse when his wife comes out of her wisdom teeth surgery-induced stupor and realizes it was broadcast to the world via her husband’s Twitter feed.

Based on the possible fallout, this could be the Bryan Bros' craziest trick yet.

How much time you got, buddy?

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

But the Bear Trap would bite Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-15th and 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he fought so hard to secure.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”