Elkington - again - proves to be golf's biggest Twit

By Jason SobelFebruary 25, 2014, 7:51 pm

I don’t know Steve Elkington personally. His long run of relevance as an elite professional golfer was dying down by the time I started covering the beat in 2004, so other than maybe a couple of long-forgotten news conference questions and recalling that he owned a beautiful swing and an ugly wardrobe, I really don’t know the man.

But therein lies the beauty – and, sometimes, ugliness – of social media.

Through outlets like Twitter, we are able to get to know people whom we otherwise wouldn’t. Unfiltered, unvarnished thoughts straight from the source. When it comes to golfers, many have employed social media as a tool to bring thousands of fans inside the ropes with them. I’ve learned that Ian Poulter has a sports-car fetish, Zach Johnson loves barbeque and Luke Donald has a much better sense of humor than what comes across in interviews.

I’ve also learned that Elkington is hateful, classless and in desperate need of attention.

The last one is just my opinion. The first two, if we are to believe the level of rancor often emanating from his Twitter feed, can be submitted as facts.

The latest example came just after noon eastern time on Tuesday, as Elkington felt the need to go public with his thoughts on Michael Sam, the former Missouri linebacker who recently told the world he’s gay, just two months prior to the NFL Draft (Editor's note: This is a screen capture; tweet was deleted):

Steve Elkington tweet

Efforts to reach Elkington for comment through his agent were not immediately returned. A PGA Tour media offical emailed this response to GolfChannel.com:

"Under our regulations, conduct unbecoming a professional includes public commentary that is clearly inappropriate or offensive. With respect to this matter, and consistent with our longstanding policy, we do not comment on player disciplinary matters."

Elkington replied to one tweeter by insisting that his stance was not homophobic, but rather a perspective on the television coverage. By the time you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that he’ll attempt to make further amends, too.

That’s been his modus operandi in the past. Tweet first, ask for forgiveness later.

Like last July, when he tweeted that a couple of caddies at the Senior British Open “got rolled by some Pakis,” a reference to the large Pakistani population in Southport, England. After deleting the tweet and receiving a police escort to the course the next day, he hinged his apology on the fact that he was Australian and didn’t realize the racist connotations – forgetting, of course, that he’s lived in the Houston area for much of his professional career.

Or last November, when he tweeted about a helicopter crashing into a Scottish pub with the punchline (and I use that term loosely): “Locals report no beer was spilt.” Once again, he deleted the tweet; once again, he issued an apology.

Or just a few weeks ago, when he responded to a female journalist’s tweeted photograph with a question about breast size. He followed that one by maintaining that he likes the reporter and even issued one of his familiar cartoons about it.

Just one of these incidents would have been one too many for Elkington, but maybe we could have given him the benefit of the doubt, accepted the apology and moved on with our lives. Not anymore. This pattern of hatred – or at least perceived hatred, as if he wants the public to believe he’s more spiteful than he actually is – is embarrassing to himself, distressing to the game of golf and deplorable in a progressive society than often doesn’t have to deal with such juvenile frivolities.

If he is guilty of even just the minimum charge, then it’s being a lunkhead without a license. There’s no crime in living life with ignorance, but don’t expect the rest of us to fail to take notice.

Just in case you believe I’m being particularly prudish in this stance, understand that I’m hardly alone.

During last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, just after Elkington’s tweet about Pakistani robbers, one top-20 major champion golfer told me: “I used to love the guy. He was one of my favorites. That swing was so good. But after following him on Twitter for a little while, I’ve realized the kind of person he really is.”

There’s a good chance that if Elkington had never clicked the button to sign up for a Twitter account years ago, he’d be remembered for that buttery golf swing that earned him the 1995 PGA Championship title and nine other PGA Tour victories in a career that spanned parts of four decades.

That’s the beauty – and ugliness – of social media.

There’s another beauty to this whole story, though. Unlike in a news conference setting at a tournament, we can all just choose to ignore him.

I don’t know the man. I can’t say whether he is racist or homophobic or neither. But his pattern of tweets over the past year prove that he’s either both of these things or wants us to think he’s both of these things – before he apologizes, of course.

Then it’s back to business as usual, until the next time he posts a controversial tweet. And yes, history shows there will be a next time. For this, we can finally give him the benefit of the doubt.

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”