The Social: From Ludacris to the ridiculous

By Jason CrookSeptember 19, 2017, 5:00 pm

PGA Tour stars walk the red carpet before the Tour Championship (and look good doing it), Rory McIlroy shows off his soccer skills without tearing a ligament and some of the wildest swings you've ever seen are on full display.

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

Welcome to Atlanta, where Ludacris serenaded the top 30 in the FedExCup rankings for making it to the playoff finale at East Lake.

The players were shown plenty of southern hospitality as they walked the red carpet at the kickoff concert, posing with the rapper and "The Fast and the Furious" actor.

Stand up #tourchampionship #fedexcupplayoffs

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If the choice of music for the event seems like an odd pairing, you haven't been paying much attention to golf this year.

Snoop Dogg kicked off major season by headlining "Augusta Jam" on the night before the opening round of the Masters at the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon, just a couple miles down the road from Augusta National.

Live rap music from guys 40-and-over. The hottest trend in golf. You heard it here first.

McIlroy and soccer kind of go together like lamb and tuna fish. He may like it – a lot – but you can't blame golf fans if they cringe a little while viewing this next clip considering he tore an ankle ligament playing the sport in 2015 and missed his Open title defense while nursing the injury.

Responding to international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s #CR7Challenge, McIlroy posted a video to his Instagram on Tuesday showing off some pretty impressive juggling skills.

Of course, McIlroy wasn't the only one getting back on the horse this week. Greg Norman, who once almost severed his left hand with a chainsaw, posted this photo of him on clean-up duty in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma at his home in Jupiter, Fla.

Once you get over the fact that he is indeed wearing a shirt, you will see The Shark is once again wielding a chainsaw.

Clean up time. Thanks Irma. And to everyone else in its path I hope any damage was minimal.

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Ever hear that joke about women living longer than men? Insert it here.

Much was made about the LPGA’s decision to shorten their fifth major, the Evian Championship from 72 to 54 holes and wipe out the scores of those who had begun their rounds on Thursday after weather made the course unplayable.

No matter where you stand on the issue, and many thought the credibility of the event took a major hit, you had to feel for those players who had gone out and put up some early birdies only to see them taken off the board before play started on Friday.

One of those players was co-leader Jessica Korda, who wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion on Twitter.

Replying to a Golf Channel story about the decision, Korda said she was "super pumped" about it, but we have a sneaky suspicion that she wasn't actually super pumped about it and quite possibly wasn't happy about it at all.

Cheering on their favorite human #HockeyDog @spittinchiclets

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"Who's winning the match?" - This good dog, probably.

Kids say the darndest things … and they aren’t too shabby on the golf course these days, either.

At this past week’s KLM Open, 11-year-old Mattias Henke came closest to the pin in a "Beat the Pro" competition against Chris Wood and Max Albertus and winning a free flight to anywhere in Europe in the process. You read that right, an 11-year-old beat a European Ryder Cupper in a closest-to-the-pin contest.

At least some pros still beat the 8-year-old who gave it a try, although it's a pretty good bet you may be hearing Tom Hendricks' name in the future after this drive.

Not to be outdone, over on the PGA Tour 6-year-old one-armed golfer Tommy Morrissey hung out at the BMW Championship with Paige Spiranac and ... you guessed it ... beat her at a closest-to-the-pin contest ... by hitting the pin on his second shot.

Live look at Tommy:

Technically there’s no wrong way to play golf, but there are some methods that seem to work better than others. These next three swings that were floating around on social media this week certainly wouldn’t be taught in your local group lessons, but hey, to each their own.

The two drives, one from Steve Wheatcroft’s pro-am partner at the Albertsons Boise Open, are pretty impressive just to make contact, let alone go over 200 yards, as Wheatcroft claimed.

Grip it & rip it @foreplaypod

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This chip though, could probably use just a little less follow-through. Just one man's personal opinion.

That follow through though... (ht @jaclynvinciguerra)

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Accurate.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''