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The Social: Yo soy fiesta!

By Jason CrookMarch 6, 2018, 4:00 pm

A golfer with no hands makes a hole-in-one, Steph Curry trashes his hotel room and skips out on work in an attempt to play Augusta National, and the Spanish language takes over the PGA Tour.

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

Before we get into the fun stuff, let's look at golf's hot topic. As the debate over driving distance heats up, one former major winner decided to put his opinion out there. And it wasn’t exactly complimentary of the game's governing bodies.

After the USGA and R&A released a joint study Monday calling increased driving distance "unusual and concerning," which could result in rule changes down the road, Jimmy Walker didn't hold back on social media.

Walker attacked the USGA on behalf of the average golfer, who he (correctly) assumed don't want to hit the ball 20 percent shorter. He also called out their decision to ban the anchored putter, saying "What I do know is the USGA does not have their fingers on the pulse of the game ... Changing golf for the masses because a small few who play it a different level is wrong."

Based on a quick look at his comments, Walker has plenty of support from the weekend hackers. Whether or not that translates to support from those making the rules remains to be seen.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Phil Mickelson after what was quite possibly the most quintessential Phil Mickelson week of all time.

Somehow, someway, ending up back in the winner's circle for the first time since 2013 at 47 years old might have been the least entertaining part of his week.

There's just so much much to work with.

Phil mistaking a fellow player for a media member.

Phil morphing into a rules official to help his playing partner mid-round.

Phil commenting that he may have been a bumblebee in a past life.

But for our money, this one takes the cake. Phil telling fans - in pretty good Spanish - that he would be signing autographs after his round on Sunday, while trying to pick up his 43rd PGA Tour win.

For the record, and because it never gets old, here's another professional athlete attempting to speak in a foreign language AFTER his game ended:

This has been your reminder to appreciate Mickelson while we still have him in our lives on a weekly basis. He's truly one of a kind.

Before criticizing Stephen Curry, let’s just get this out of the way. Every one of us would skip some work to play Augusta National.

But, none of us happen to be a two-time NBA MVP in the thick of our schedule, which is what makes this story so delightful.

Not only did the Golden State Warriors guard accidentally shatter a hotel room table preparing for his round at the home of the Masters:

He also missed most of the second half against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday after injuring his ankle in the first quarter. Which is only a little bit suspicious/understandable when you consider the plans he already had on the books the next day with backcourt running mate Klay Thompson.

The time off was apparently the perfect amount of rest needed to be able to tee it up on Saturday after driving down Magnolia Lane. What a coincidence.

Question Curry's inclusion in professional golf events if you want (although there are much worse candidates *cough, cough* Tony Romo *cough, cough*), but you can't question the man's dedication to the sport.

This week's video intermission would've made the Oscars watchable. Instead, everyone will have to come find it here ... in a golf blog ... two days later.

There’s plenty of disagreements and arguing when it comes to the biggest stage in golf. It’s nice to have finally have something we can all agree on.

Spanish-language golf announcers are incredible and it’s a shame the viewing public only gets to hear them a couple times a year. There’s really no debate. Even if you can’t understand a word, take a listen to these two calls from the WGC-Mexico Championship and try not to get goosebumps. It’s impossible.

This just doesn’t get old.

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Ross Fisher’s INCREDIBLE ace with a touch of native flair (Sound)

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There are three universal truths in broadcasting.

1) “Doc” Emrick is the greatest, 2) All big-time golf shots should be called in Spanish and 3) The song from “Titanic” makes every sports moment better.

Mickelson and Michelle Wie returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday, but as great as those stories are, they’ve got nothing on the week’s breakout social media star Brandon Canesi.

Canesi was born without hands, but that hasn’t kept him from playing – and excelling – at plenty of sports, including golf. It seems hard to believe until you see it for yourself. Here, start with this recent viral video of a hole-in-one (warning: profanity in video):

Hole in one!!!!! 150 yards 7 iron. Only thing better than Hole High is in the bottom of the cup! Goes to show you can do anything you set your mind on! If you repost, please tag this account! #holeinone #golf #golfaddict #adaptiveathlete #adaptivesports #adaptivegolf #adaptivegolfer #holehigh #inspire #nikegolf #golflife #gaaforlife #golfacademyofamerica @lucky_fin_project @nikegolf @callawaygolf @titleist @taylormadegolf @golf-digest @bubbawatson @rorymcilroy @jordanspieth @totalgolfmove @foreplaypod @golfacademyamer @golfchannel @golf_gods @abcnews @news12nj @thetodayshow @ellen @tigerwoods @rickiefowler @justinthomas34 #inspiredgolf @inspiredgolf @gcmorningdrive #brobible @golf.obsession @pgatour @pga @dirtyheads @duddyb #sctop10 @brobible @fallontonight @colbertlateshow @latenightseth @jimmykimmel #golfvideo #golfstyle #adapting #golfchannel #sctop10 (PLEASE EXCUSE THE PROFANITY)

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Canesi uses a special set of modified clubs and often posts scores in the 70s and 80s on his Instagram page. But he's got more on his mind than just going low.

He is now attending The Golf Academy of America with the hopes of eventually teaching the sport, and he started the nonprofit organization Hole High, which "aims to inspire golfers of all levels to overcome their physical limitations and to educate the public about alternative golfing styles," according to their website.

Click here for more information on Hole High or to donate to a worthy cause. And enjoy a couple more videos of this swing, in case you weren't feeling bad enough about your golf game, which more than likely features two fully-functioning hands.

There’s overcoming the odds, and then there’s Eddie Pepperell’s journey to be considered a nominee for the European Tour’s February Hilton Honors Golfer of the Month.

The 27-year-old broke through with his first win last month at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, but that’s not even half the story, according to Pepperell himself.

Talk about an all-times sales job. This guy's stories rival the Astonishing Tales of George Costanza.

Just go ahead and give the man the award already. And make sure the cameras are rolling for the acceptance speech.

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"The Men In Blazers" Hosting Nightly Show From The Open, July 18-22 on NBCSN

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 1:55 pm

Show to Include Off-beat Interviews, Unique Features and Men In Blazers Distinctive Takes on The Open

VIDEO: Men In Blazers: Carnoustie Through the Years Hosting The Open

Culminating in France’s thrilling win on Sunday, NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men In Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – have spent the past month breaking down all of the action surrounding the FIFA World Cup. However, there will be no rest for the duo as they leave behind their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan to host a nightly show in conjunction with The 147TH Open. The show will feature the pair’s signature, unconventional style in providing unique takes on golf’s original championship while “sporting an arsenal of the finest golf sweaters that could be found on eBay.” Originating from Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, Men In Blazers will air nightly on NBCSN Wednesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 22.

In addition to delivering a series of features for NBC Sports’ coverage surrounding The Open, the nightly Men In Blazers show on NBCSN will offer expanded highlights following each round; off-beat interviews, special guests and cameos; along with non-traditional stories highlighting cultural elements relevant to Carnoustie and The Open.

“Both Davo and I grew up with The Open being the heartbeat of our sporting year,” said Bennett. “To cover it from that beautiful monster that is Carnoustie is the honor of a lifetime. We look forward to savoring every attempt to tame Hogan’s Alley, the futile battle between man and nature, and all those ‘subtle’ Ian Poulter wardrobe changes, in equal measure.”

Dedicated features being showcased over the duration of the week include: a retrospect on past Opens having been staged at Carnoustie; an in-depth recollection of the unforgettable 1999 Open; an introduction to the second-oldest golf shop in the world; a history lesson on Carnoustie and its influence on golf around the world; and an examination of Carnoustie’s local delicacy known as “bridies”.


Wednesday, July 18               11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Thursday, July 19                   11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Friday, July 20                        1-1:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Saturday overnight)

Saturday, July 21                    11:30 p.m.-Midnight (NBCSN)

Sunday, July 22                      10-10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

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Woods delofts 2-iron to use off Carnoustie tees

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods has been effective this season hitting a 2-iron off many tees, reverting to a version of the stinger shot he made so popular.

This week at baked out and brown Carnoustie he went to the next level, adding a new 2-iron to his bag that he bent to 17 degrees, down from his normal 20-degree version.

“I took a few degrees off of it, just trying to be able to have the ability to chase one down there,” he explained on Tuesday.

Woods said he still carries the club about the same distance, from 245 to 250 yards, but “it gets to its final destination much differently [on the ground].”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Obviously, it rolls out whereas mine back home, I've generally liked having it 20 degrees because I can hit the ball into the par 5s as an option,” he said. “This one's not really designed for hitting the ball in the air to par 5s as an option. It's more of a driving club.”

After playing two practice rounds, Woods said he wasn’t sure how much he would use the new 2-iron given the dry conditions which have led to ridiculously long tee shots, and he said he might adjust the club more if the course doesn’t slow down.

“If it softens up, it could be a good club,” he said. “If it doesn't soften up, then I might just add a degree to it and keep it a little softer and not have it so hot.”

The Open is the second consecutive event where Woods has added to his bag. At The National earlier this month, he went with a new mallet-headed putter that he plans to continue to use this week.

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Europeans out to end the recent American dominance

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 12:59 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In golf’s biggest events, the Americans have left the rest of the world feeling red, white and mostly blue.

If you’re wondering whether the U.S. currently holds a meaningful title, the answer is probably yes.

Golf’s four majors? Yep.

The Ryder Cup? Indeed.

The No. 1 player in the world? Absolutely.

The Presidents, Solheim, Walker, Palmer and Curtis Cups? Uh-huh.

It’s been a popular talking point at the men’s majors, as Europe’s finest players have been peppered about why they’ve all seemingly fallen under Uncle Sam’s spell.

After all, the Americans haven’t ripped off five major wins in a row like this since 1981-82 – when Justin Rose was still in diapers.

“I don’t know what I’d put it to down to,” the Englishman said Tuesday, “other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really, really well. The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong.”

Since 2000, the Americans have taken titles at eight of the nine courses on the modern Open rota. The only one they’ve yet to conquer is Carnoustie, and that’s probably because they’ve only had one crack at it, in 2007, when an Irishman, Padraig Harrington, prevailed in a playoff.

Not since Tom Watson in 1975 has a U.S. player survived Carnoustie, arguably the most difficult links on the planet. But Americans ranging from Dustin Johnson to Tiger Woods comprise six of the oddsmakers' top 10 favorites, all listed at 25/1 or better.

“America, there’s no doubt about it, and there’s no other way to put it, other than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “It just so happens that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they’ve generally been the best players in the world at the time that they’ve won them.

“You don’t really look at them as a nationality. You just look at them as players and people, and you can understand why they’re the ones winning the majors.”

Indeed, there’s not a fluke among them.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Since this American run began last summer at Erin Hills, Brooks Koepka (twice), Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed have hoisted trophies. All were inside the top 25 in the world when they won. All were multiple-time winners on the world stage before that major. And all, most ominously for Europe, were 29 or younger.

“There’s a bit of camaraderie amongst all of them,” Rose said. “I know Brooks and Dustin are incredibly close, and you’ve got Rickie (Fowler) and Justin Thomas and Jordan as a group are all really close. It’s working really well for them. They’re spurring each other on.”

That’s why there’s even more anticipation than usual for the Ryder Cup. The Americans haven’t won on foreign soil in a quarter century, but this band of brothers is better and closer than those who have tried and failed before them. Couple that with a few aging stars on the European side, and there’s a growing sense that the Americans could be on the verge of a dominant stretch.

That should sound familiar.

During an eight-major span in 2010-11, the most common refrain was: What’s Wrong with American Golf? International players captured seven consecutive majors, including six in a row at one point. They took over the top spot in the world rankings. They turned the Ryder Cup into a foregone conclusion. In the fall of 2010, Colin Montgomerie pounded his chest and declared that there’d been a “changing of the guard over to Europe,” and it was hard to find fault in his reasoning.

“European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time,” McIlroy said. “It seemed like every major someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn’t seem that long ago.”

Because it wasn’t.

So even though it’s been more than a year since an International player held any title of consequence, these types of runs are cyclical, and Europe in particular has no shortage of contenders.

Major drought or not, McIlroy is a threat every time he tees it up. Rose turns 38 in two weeks, but he’s playing arguably the best golf of his career, recording a top-10 finish in a ridiculous 17 of his past 21 starts. Fleetwood is fresh off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, where he closed with 63. Jon Rahm is a top-5 machine. Alex Noren just won on the Ryder Cup course in France.

“I think Tommy, clearly, showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance as well,” Rose said. “So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just that they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.”

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Links to the past: Tiger's return revives Open memories

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 12:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods rekindles his love affair with links golf this week at Carnoustie, which seems about right considering his introduction to the ancient ways of the game began here on the Angus coast.

It was here on the most brutal of the Open Championship rota courses that a 19-year-old Tiger first played links golf at the 1995 Scottish Open, an eye-opening and enlightening experience.

“I remember my dad on the range with me, saying, ‘Are you ever going to hit the ball past the 100 yard sign?’” Woods recalled on Tuesday at Carnoustie, his first start at The Open since 2015. “I said, ‘No, I'm just enjoying this. Are you kidding me? This is the best.’”

During this most recent comeback, Tiger has been all smiles. A new, relaxed version of his former self made calm and approachable by age and the somber influence of injury. But this week has been different.

During a practice round with Justin Thomas on Monday he laughed his way all the way around the brown and bouncy seaside layout. Much of that had to do with his return to the unique ways of links golf, the creative left side of his brain taking the wheel from the normally measured right side for one glorious week.

He talked of game plans and strategic advantages on a parched pitch that has seen drives rolling out over 400 yards. At his core, Tiger is a golf nerd for all the right reasons and this kind of cerebral test brings out the best of that off-the-charts golf IQ.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Although there are no shortages of defining moments in Tiger’s career and one can make all sorts of arguments for what would be his seminal moment – from the 1997 Masters to the 2008 U.S. Open –the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool stands out, based on near-perfect execution.

In ’06 at Liverpool, which played to a similar shade of dusty yellow as Carnoustie will this week, Tiger hit just a single driver, opting instead for a steady diet of long irons off tees. For the week he hit 48 of 56 fairways, 58 of 72 greens and rolled the field for a two-stroke victory and his third, and most recent, claret jug.

This Open has all the makings of a similar tactical tour de force. For this championship he’s put a new 2-iron into play that’s more like a strong 1-iron (17 degrees) and imagines, given the conditions, a similar low, running menu.

“It could be that way,” Woods said when asked the similarities between this week’s conditions and the ’06 championship. “I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees, just because I hit a 3-iron on Monday, down 18, I went 333 [yards]. It can get quick out here.”

If Tiger ever needed a major championship confidence boost the Carnoustie Open would be it, an inspiring walk down memory lane to a time when he was the undisputed king of golf.

“[The ’06 Open] is the closest you can compare to this,” David Duval said. “But I struggle to remember that golf course being as fast as this one. It was close, but this one is something else.”

Ernie Els had a slightly different take, albeit one that was no less ominous to the rest of the field this week.

“Liverpool is on a sand hill, this has a bit more run to it,” Els said. “But it’s got the same feel. It’s almost like St. Andrews was in 2000. Very, very fast.”

It’s worth noting that Tiger also won that ’00 Open at the Home of Golf with an even more dominant performance. It is the unique challenges of the links test that make many, even Tiger, consider the Open Championship his best chance to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

More than any other Grand Slam gathering, The Open is blind to age and the notion of players competing past their prime. In 2008 at Royal Birkdale, then-53-year-old Greg Norman flirted with the lead until the very end, finishing tied for third; a year later at Turnberry, Tom Watson came within one hole of history at 59 years young.

“It certainly can be done,” Woods said. “You get to places like Augusta National, where it's just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That's just the way it goes. But links-style golf courses, you can roll the ball. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

Whether this is the week Tiger gets back into the Grand Slam game depends on his ability to replicate those performances from years past on a similarly springy course. As he exited the media center bound for the practice putting green on Tuesday he seemed renewed by the cool sea breeze and the unique challenges of playing the game’s oldest championship.

Coming back to Carnoustie is more than a reintroduction to links golf; for Tiger it’s starting to feel like a bona fide restart to his major career.