Social media a tough balancing act for stars

By Ryan LavnerMarch 12, 2016, 12:15 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Nearly 2.5 million people follow Ian Poulter on Twitter and Instagram, so whenever he posts about his Ferrari collection or his clothing line or his latest result, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

The majority of the responses are positive and optimistic, kind and supportive.

But then he will scroll through this:

maybe you could play aff the womans tees. Give U a chance.

time for retirement …..

start makin more putts for birdie instead of bogey and you might actually play

The problem, of course, is that Poulter admittedly reads it all – the good, the bad and the downright vicious.

“I’m an idiot,” he said. “I’ve had enough warnings, and unfortunately you can have a hundred good messages and one bad one, and the one bad one really pisses you off.

“So note to self: Don’t (expletive) read the comments.”

The explosion of social media has made politicians, TV stars and athletes more accessible than ever before. Sadly, that also has its drawbacks.

It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest complications of the Internet age: the free exchange of ideas also offers the angriest and most miserable people a voice, a platform, where they muster up the keyboard courage and spew hatred without consequence.

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To leave a comment on this website, users must register an account with Facebook or Google Plus. The thinking is that it would discourage an anonymous fool from polluting what can be sensible discourse. But peruse the comments left on social-media posts by LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Tom Brady. Some are complimentary. Many are sadistic, racist, homophobic or sexually explicit.

Granted, those superstars have it worse, the battle lines drawn because of their team affiliation, their significant others, their big-money contracts, their spirited style of play. Oftentimes, they are despised simply because of the logo on their jersey.

But it’s more personal in golf, because it’s an individual pursuit, and the high-profile players are targets for the fans’ vitriol. Sift through the carnage … sorry, comments … on any website, on any given day, and the world’s best golfers apparently are hacks, clowns, spoiled, thin-skinned, overrated, phonies and losers.

Justin Thomas noticed that the same few users will comment every time he shoots an over-par round, almost as if they’re waiting on their phone for the score to become official.

“A lot of them are honestly hysterical,” Thomas said, “and people hide behind their phones and say whatever, and once they get called out, from anybody, they quickly go back into their little hole and support you.”

When a Twitter user needled Jason Dufner about his winless drought, Dufner responded with a picture of him holding the Shark Shootout trophy. A month later, when he won again in Palm Springs, he reached out to the same fan with another trophy shot, this time with the caption: “another one..”

In one of the most memorable social-media interactions last year, Rickie Fowler buried a pair of haters on Instagram – one who insulted his then-girlfriend, another who criticized his swing.

Taking a blowtorch to the trolls publicly may produce an avalanche of retweets, likes and attaboys, but many wonder why a public figure even acknowledges the haters.

Perhaps more than any other Tour player, Poulter has engaged in numerous cyber scuffles. When asked why he responds to the naysayers, Poulter took a few seconds to process the question. Then he shrugged. 

“Don’t know,” he said. “Sometimes you want to please the fans. It’s nice to read nice comments, but unfortunately there are dangers with doing so. Those dangers are a few idiots, a few very sad, lonely, pathetic, unhappy individuals who like to try and make misery for other people. So you have to manage what it is you want out of social media, but at times it’s tricky to be able to do that.”

Do the negative replies sting?

“Of course,” he said. “I try and brush it off, but when there are lots of idiots who say lots of things, then unfortunately it gets frustrating at times and you retaliate occasionally when you probably shouldn’t.

“Sometimes it’s very unjust. You work very, very, very hard to do something, and you put all the hours in, and somebody accuses you of being lazy or telling you to go practice and work harder and that you’re rubbish – and those are the polite versions – then it really annoys you and you want to tell that person, ‘Would you like to go forth and multiply?’ But you can’t do that. Then it’s out there in the outside world and you can get punished for it.”

A global superstar like Jordan Spieth has, incredibly, dodged much of the Internet bashing. He is good-natured, unfailingly polite and thoughtful, the total package, an All-American kid who is already a star pitchman. Polarizing, he is not.

And so it was a surprise to see Spieth get snippy on social media Thursday night. First he fired back at an Instagram user, who said that he was “garbage,” and then he called out the PGA Tour’s official Twitter account, which had highlighted a post-round comment that was made in jest.

Spieth said that he was “bored” and saw the nasty comment as he scrolled through his feed. Already frustrated after a poor round, he tapped out a reply. He’s human.

“You’ll probably never see me do that again,” he said Friday. “Obviously it was seen and known. It’s just really frustrating. I should never respond to any of that. Just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around, no one even remembers it anyway.”

This represents an ongoing inner struggle for Spieth, how to deal with social media, with the fallout and the bullies and the so-called experts. Earlier this year at Kapalua – a tournament he won by eight shots – he talked about trying to “quiet the noise” of the detractors while living in the spotlight.

The task is actually made easier at the majors. When he won wire-to-wire last year at the Masters, Spieth went on a social-media hiatus, passing the time at night by playing pingpong and watching movies at his rental house.

But it’s unrealistic to live in a bubble the rest of the year. He’s 22, after all. Even if he purposely tries to avoid the noise, he’s bound to notice a few criticisms or quips on his timeline or in his mentions. It’s unavoidable.

“There’s going to be plenty of people that have their own opinion,” he said. “There’s going to be plenty of people who don’t like the way I play the game or the way I handle things. I’ve just got to be confident in what I’m doing and know many more do appreciate it. … I got over it quickly.”

Sorry, haters.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“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," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry