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.

Getty Images

Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.