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The Social: Everyone has Tiger fever

By Jason CrookMarch 13, 2018, 5:15 pm

Everyone goes wild for Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler honors Arnold Palmer with some custom shoes and Andrew "Beef" Johnson did the impossible ... he ordered too much food.

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

Not sure if anyone heard, but Tiger Woods is back.

Sure you’ve probably heard that more times than you can count over the last few years as he’s tried to return to the PGA Tour after several back surgeries ... but this time, it sure looks like the real deal.

Sure, Woods ultimately came up a shot short at the Valspar, but watching that guy in red and black fist pumping his way around Innisbrook over the weekend was a sight for sore eyes. And not just these ones.

Fellow pros, superstar athletes, celebrities and even an ex-girlfriend caught Tiger fever on Sunday as Woods and Co., came down the stretch, and they couldn't help but tweet their support for the 14-time major winner:

With all due respect to the rest of the golfing universe, nobody moves the needle like Tiger. Not even Phil Mickelson's first win in five years, the previous week in Mexico, generated this kind of buzz. And the stats back that up.

The "Tiger Effect" is real and it's spectacular.

It'll be on full display again this week at the Arnold Palmer invitational, an event he's won eight times, and if he heads into the Masters with this kind of form, the first major of the year will be a circus.

While the spotlight will certainly be on Woods this week at Bay Hill, one guy who may steal a few looks from fans is Rickie Fowler.

Fowler plans on sporting some special-edition shoes to honor the event's former host, Arnold Palmer, and hopefully raise a good chunk of change for charity.

The 29-year-old has never been shy about his appreciation for Palmer's contributions to the sport, and he worked with Puma to customize the kicks to include several tributes to Arnie for the second Arnold Palmer Invitational since he passed away, including Palmer's signature, the iconic umbrella logo, pink lining and special inscriptions on the heels.

An identical pair of shoes will be autographed by Fowler and included in a giveaway benefiting Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation.

After a few tweaks during the six-month comment period, the new Rules of Golf have been finalized by the USGA and R&A and are set to take effect on Jan. 1.

There wasn't a ton of chatter online after the announcement, but Tyrrell Hatton did have a refreshing response to suddenly being allowed to tap down spike marks on greens – "What the hell am I meant to blame" for a missed putt?

Golfers of all levels can relate to the three-time European Tour winner. It's never your fault. Maybe it's the equipment? Perhaps the wind kicked up at the wrong moment? Maybe there was a spike mark that knocked your ball off line?

Whatever the case, blame should be placed elsewhere. You're great at golf. Wish the rule makers would understand this simple concept and stop making it harder to embrace.

Sure, we'd all get our ankles broken by Hot Sauce during this tremendous promotion the NBA's Atlanta Hawks are putting on during home games. But I defy you to find a bigger mismatch for the street-ball legend than ESPN reporter Darren Rovell.

Justin Thomas spent his off-week laying around doing nothing ... for good reason.

The world No. 2 had his wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday, and we know that because if you undergo surgery in 2018 and don't post a picture, then did it even happen?

Luckily for us, Thomas posted the aftermath on social media shortly after the procedure. Perhaps it was just bad lighting, but his career as an Instagram model is off to a rough start.

Looking my best #wisdomteethbegone

A post shared by Justin Thomas (@justinthomas34) on

Of course, Thomas' roommate, fellow PGA Tour pro Tom Lovelady, immediately jumped in the comments to reference Thomas' recent run-in with a fan at the Honda Classic that ended with JT issuing an apology for overreacting.

Thomas may not live that incident down with golf fans for a while. But from the looks of things, his friends will remember it for even longer.

Because what good are friends if they don't give you a little kick when your down?

Andrew “Beef” Johnston doesn’t come across as a guy who asks for a doggy bag at restaurants because he can’t finish his meal.

After all, you can’t get dessert if you don’t finish dinner.

That’s why the comment of the week has to go to Beef’s waiter at a restaurant in India, who had the gall to tell him he’d ordered too much food, and then was proven right.

After taking that loss, Beef also ended up losing the Indian Open in a playoff. While he won’t get another shot at that title for a whole year, he vowed to give the restaurant another chance before he left town.

Hope they stocked up. Beef eating with a vengeance must be a sight to behold.

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Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.






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Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

Being related will do that.

Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

Vic never beat his son again.

''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''

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Koepka wins U.S. Open for second straight year

By Nick MentaJune 17, 2018, 10:40 pm

Brooks Koepka on Sunday shot a final-round 68 to become just the seventh man in history to win the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. Here’s how Koepka managed to conquer a schizophrenic Shinnecock Hills and the field:

Leaderboard: Koepka (+1), Tommy Fleetwood (+2), Dustin Johnson (+3), Patrick Reed (+4), Tony Finau (+5)

What happened: Tied for the lead to start the day and playing in the second-to-last group with his good friend Johnson, Koepka raced out in front with birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 2-under 33. Up one at the turn over Johnson, Reed and Fleetwood - who was already in the clubhouse following a round of 7-under 63 - Koepka birdied the par-4 10th and then pulled off a series of saves that ultimately won him the championship. He holed a 13-footer to save bogey at No. 11, saved par via a deft flop shot from the back of the green at 12, and then – after letting a birdie opportunity slip by at 13 – managed to get up and down from 67 yards for par at the 14th. Following a par at No. 17, the victory march was briefly in doubt when Koepka hooked his approach to the 18th green nearly into the grandstand. Unshaken, he pitched on to 14 feet, lagged his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to finish 1 over.

One clear of Fleetwood through 15, Koepka stuffed a wedge from 122 yards to inside 4 feet at the par-5 16th and cleaned up the birdie putt to go up two with two to play.


What it means: This is only Koepka’s third PGA Tour victory, but of course it’s his second major title and second U.S. Open. The 28-year-old, who missed four months this year with a wrist injury, joins Willie Anderson (1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only men to successfully defend their U.S. Open titles.

Round of the day: Six back to start the final round at 9 over par, Fleetwood took advantage of a literally watered-down golf course to tie the U.S. Open single-round scoring record with a 63. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner made eight birdies and lone a bogey. The 62-watch was on after Fleetwood circled Nos. 12-15 for four birdies in a row. Unfortunately for Fleetwood – and fortunately for Johnny Miller – the Englishman missed birdie putts from 13 feet, 20 feet and 9 feet on his last three holes, with his final attempt on the 72nd hole losing speed and missing low.

Told after the round that he was just the sixth player in history to record a round of 63 in the U.S. Open, Fleetwood was quick to answer, “Yeah, but I wanted 62.” He would wait another three hours to watch Koepka best him by one.


Biggest disappointment: In a way, it’s Fleetwood, who came thisclose to history on two fronts and walked away with neither the outright record nor the U.S. Open trophy. That said, it’s hard to fault the guy who shot 63. And so, this category has to belong to Johnson, the 2016 champion at Oakmont who entered the weekend ahead by four and closed with 77-70 to lose by two. He mixed four birdies with four bogeys Sunday, his final birdie at the last proving too little, too late. His biggest issue? The 72 putts he took over the weekend on Shinnecock's browned greens. This is the third U.S. Open in the last eight years (2010, 2015, 2018) to slip through his fingers on Sunday.

Other names of note: Reigning Masters champion Reed got off to a blistering start with birdies on five of his first seven holes to tie for the early lead. But a bogey at No. 9 would prove the beginning of his end. He paired a front-nine 31 with a back-nine 37 to shoot 2-under 68 and finish solo fourth. Conversely, the two men in the final pairing, Finau and Daniel Berger, both stumbled out of the gate, each playing the first six holes in 2 over, surrendering a lead they would never get back. Finau (71) fought back to even on the day but made an expensive double at No. 18 to drop from T-3 to solo fifth. Berger (73) parred 18 to stay in a three-way tie for sixth. Both men recorded their best career finishes in a major.