Hooks & Cuts: Golf part of major sports weekend

By Rich LernerApril 28, 2015, 1:00 pm

With the Masters behind us, golf's stars are in full bloom and hopefully just in time for a big weekend in sports.

• One veteran Tour pro described Jordan Spieth this way: “He’s a really good kid but between the ropes an absolute bad a@@.” That rhymes with mass, as in mass appeal.

• On a weekend featuring Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, LeBron and likely D-Rose in the NBA playoffs, and American Pharoah and Dortmund at the Kentucky Derby, golf could use Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in Match Play primetime.

• Dustin Johnson is 50 shades of cool. He doesn’t walk as much as he ambles, golf’s high plains drifter. The game seems easy for DJ, the harder battles fought within.

• I saw Steph Curry go for 39 in New Orleans, and I’m comfortable saying that in my more than 40 years following pro ball he’s one of the best I have ever seen. Dribbling, passing and shooting, he’s made the game high art. By the way, his pop, Del, shot 78 at English Turn earlier that day. Blessed with touch, the Curry family puts up nice numbers.

• For what it’s worth, Tim Barter, Sky Sports commentator and respected golf instructor, thinks Tiger’s closer to the Butch Harmon move from 2000 than he’s been in a long time. He also told me that Tiger’s comeback from what appeared to be chip yips was an enormous psychological victory for Woods. Bottom line, Barter, a no-nonsense type who’s covered the game for years, feels Tiger’s on his way back.

• Wednesdays may not be as tense as they used to be in the one-and-done days of the Match Play, but Saturday and Sunday should be much better.

• Keegan Bradley says his ceiling is much higher as a putter with the conventional method than it was with the anchored style. Alignment was easier with the big stick, but his feel is superior with the new approach.

• I’d love to hear Howard Cosell bellowing, “Down goes Mayweather, down goes Mayweather, down goes Mayweather.”

• If Jim Furyk were a fighter, he’d be the guy with excellent ring generalship.

• Steady and strong, organized and smart, Justin Rose may well be like Furyk in another 10 years, on the cusp of, or into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

• Lydia Ko and Spieth: They’re thinkers, not bombers. How refreshing.

• It was a good week for golf in China, and therefore a good week for golf, in general. Wu Ashun became the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on his home soil at the Volvo China Open. Plus, 19 year old Li Hao-Tong contended throughout. On top of all that, Woods rolled into China on a promotional trip and gave basketball legend Yao Ming a golf lesson. When you’re 7’6” as Yao is, can you ever get comfortable over the ball? Seriously, Yao is one of China’s most popular figures and just the sight of him swinging a club could give golf a boost there. Yao against Charles Barkley on the links could be fun, too.

• Speith is suddenly golf’s American idol. Funny, 25 years ago moms and dads wanted to be like Mike. Now they want their kids to be like Jordan.

• On the mic for the big fight this weekend, Jim Lampley once called golf. He now owns the boxing space, a modern day Don Dunphy. On my all-time list of play-by-players, Vin Scully does baseball, Curt Gowdy pro football, Keith Jackson college football, Marv Albert basketball and the late, great Flyers’ announcer Gene Hart does hockey. And I also happened to like a young Vince McMahon with Gorilla Monsoon on pro wrasslin’.

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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)