Phil being Phil, adds bit of buzz to low-key Ryder Cup

By Jason SobelSeptember 24, 2014, 4:20 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Phil Mickelson will speak about any topic. Really. Just ask him. Want to chat politics? He’ll offer a position on tax reform. The big game? He’ll tell you to take the underdog at home. Outer space and dinosaurs? Both subjects are right up his eclectic alley.

In a world where participants’ words are often used as extinguishers, Mickelson has never been afraid to fan a few flames. On Wednesday, he started a virtual brushfire here in the Scottish Highlands, causing commotion at a Ryder Cup where the previous biggest controversy revolved around three letters shaved into a player’s head.

When asked about competing alongside his United States teammates, Mickelson fired a shot that was almost immediately heard ‘round the world.

“Well, not only are we able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other,” he said. “And that's a real plus, I feel, heading into this week.”

That missive was a not-so-thinly veiled reference to the ongoing legal battle between European opponents Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

Forget that Mickelson made the comment with a smile plastered across his face. Or that he quickly retreated from those words by following with, “I couldn’t resist. Sorry.” During an emotionally charged week that had yet to charge many emotions, Mickelson’s playful jab was enough to generate plenty of buzz.

“Phil's always Phil,” grinned teammate Rickie Fowler. “That's why we love him. We hear a lot of those one-liners in practice rounds in Tuesday games, so it's nothing new to me.”

There’s little doubt Mickelson tried this line on for size in the team room before springing it upon the world. Because if we’ve learned anything from his choice of words over the years, it’s not just that he has an opinion on every topic. It’s that each of these opinions is also tinged with some sort of agenda.

What’s the agenda here? Maybe he wanted to pump some life into festivities that were clearly lacking. Maybe he wanted to take the heat off his teammates who have been continuously – and tiresomely – answering questions about being overmatched this week.

Or maybe this was a public dig at McIlroy, who hasn’t held back from opining about Mickelson lately.

Only two weeks ago, the world’s No. 1-ranked player said, “Phil's 43 or whatever he is and Tiger's nearly 40. So they're getting into the sort of last few holes of their career.” A correct statement, but a needling one nonetheless. And just Wednesday morning, when comparing his own pre-Ryder Cup equipment change with that of Mickelson’s a decade ago, he offered, “Phil Mickelson nearly hit me off the tees in 2004 … so I'm very aware of what he did that week.”

Neither comment was incendiary, but then again, neither was Mickelson’s own jab.

And yet, here at Gleneagles, where the famed tabloids have been frothing at the mouth while awaiting the slightest salacious material, it’s already being treated like another shot heard ‘round the world – the one that started the Revolutionary War.

How will this affect the Ryder Cup?!?

Will it fire up the Europeans?!? Embolden the Americans?!?

What impact will this have?!?!?!?

All of those questions will be laboriously asked, batted around by pundits like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. They’ll have the same effect, too, going around and around until they get bored and move on to some other plaything.

It has already been pointed out that Mickelson, who was embroiled in an FBI investigation earlier this year, shouldn’t throw stones from his glass house. And that would be a fair point, if he was the type who more often used his words to extinguish rather than inflame.

Instead, he knew exactly what he was doing, taking some team room jocularity public, unleashing the first bit of xenophobic emotion into an event which will produce so much more of it beginning on Friday.

“Phil's been there and he's a leader,” explained U.S. captain Tom Watson. “He's the guy that talks. He talks smack. He talks the way you're supposed to be talking in the locker room. He talks the locker room talk and he gets people talking back to him. That's what you have to do.”

He didn’t, though, have to do … this. He didn’t have to fan those flames. He didn’t have to give the rivalry its first piece of bulletin board material this week.

No, he didn’t have to. But he wanted to.

Remember, there’s always an agenda when it comes to Mickelson’s comments. Even though this one was mentioned in a playful manner, it wasn’t a mistake. It didn’t slip out by accident. He knew what he was doing.

The reaction to this public brand of banter was swift and, in some cases, spiteful. There was a hidden rationale behind it, though, one which only he knows. As for the rest of us, well, at least it gives us a veritable ball of yarn to bat around for a few days until the real shots start being fired.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

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

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)