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The Social: Staying grounded

By Jason CrookNovember 7, 2017, 8:00 pm

Visual evidence of President Donald Trump's golf game comes to light, LPGA players go the safe route on a photocall and Tiger Woods leads Raider Nation against the Miami Dolphins.

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

We’ve heard a lot about Trump’s golf game since he was elected President of the United States, but we haven’t seen much – good or bad – after he took office.

That all changed in the past week, when we got not one, but two glimpses of him in action.

Trump tweeted a video of himself hitting a shot while playing golf with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama during his trip to Asia over the weekend.

This came on the heels of NBC News cameras catching him picking up a putt while it was still rolling about a week earlier.

The reasons for that putt being picked up are debatable, but with well-struck irons and lengthy "gimmes" on tape, we're suddenly getting a much better picture of that 73 Senator Lindsey Graham insists he saw Trump shoot last month.

Woods hasn't played a sport professionally in almost a year, but he's certainly watched his fair share in person while he's been out injured.

Woods, who will be back next month at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, was at it again on Sunday, taking in the Oakland Raiders game against the Miami Dolphins.

The 14-time major champ enjoyed the action from box seats while wearing a Jim Plunkett jersey. Plunkett quarterbacked the Raiders to two Super Bowl titles during Woods' childhood.

‪There’s only ONE Nation, #RaiderNation‬

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A quick side note – can we talk about this guy's jersey collection for a second? Flashing a Plunkett and Jackie Robinson in back-to-back weeks?

We sure Tiger isn't moonlighting as a '90s rapper? Because if he is, MC Beef may be available for a collaboration.

#tbt to @beefgolf rocking his new shades, SnapBack and spitting some bars at the uspga #stateside #legend

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Henrik Stenson has withdrawn from the final two events in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, citing a rib injury that many thought he sustained during a promotional photo shoot at the WGC-HSBC Champions last month in which he was hoisted in the air by a harness while donning a cape.

"I'm not Superman even though certain people thought I was Superman," Stenson said Sunday after finishing T-35 at the Turkish Airlines Open.

What a nice view! #Repost @europeantour High above Shanghai (literally) #HSBCChampions

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Although he later disputed that quote was about the photo shoot, the ladies at the Blue Bay LPGA in China seemed to heed his warning anyway. Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Sandra Gal participated in an interesting photo shoot of their own this week but opted not to fly too close to the sun on the wings of pastrami.

Take it from Hennie Stennie, kids. No matter where life takes you, always stay grounded.

What scorpion dreams are made of... #scorpionking #nosemanual #jrscorp via @lachlann_ricketts

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Birthday presents are weird.

Sometimes you get that fancy toy you've not-so secretly wanted or a shiny new piece of jewelry you've been dropping hints about for months.

Other years you get something a little more practical, like a vacuum cleaner or ... in Angie Watson's case, surgery.

Bubba Watson showed off the present he got for his wife on social media Monday, and it looked a little unpleasant.

Bubba posted an x-ray of his wife's knee with four screws in it and alluded to the fact that it was a basketball-related injury. Angie played basketball at the University of Georgia where she met her husband.

The Watsons. Just the latest example that love isn't dead - but sometimes it's very painful.

We've all been there. Even those of us with a gold jacket to their name have wanted to launch their club into outer space when things don't go your way.

Well, Australian pro Terry Pilkadaris gave into temptation during a first-round 73 at the Asian Tour’s Panasonic Open India, throwing his putter into the woods after missing a putt on the 17th hole.

Hard to think of a more satisfying feeling in golf ... at least until the inevitable walk of shame.

Club throwing advice with Ron. Think we have a new segment on our hands.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."

The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.