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The Social: Aside from golf, Prez Cup entertained

By Jason CrookOctober 3, 2017, 7:00 pm

The real highlights from the U.S. Presidents Cup victory come after the event had concluded, the WAGs (maybe even Tiger's?) show up in a big way and Gary Player never ceases to amaze.

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

By all accounts, the Presidents Cup was a blowout from start to finish, culminating in the Americans' seventh straight win of the event and matching the third-largest margin of victory over the Internationals.

But if any fans out there stuck it out til the bitter end, they were treated to some great theatrics from the winning squad ... in the media center.

With the result basically wrapped up before Sunday singles began, the champagne celebration started early and it was in full swing by the time the U.S. players sat down as a team with the media - which led to some classic moments, such as Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson belting out their best rendition of “Si Woo, Si Woo, shaking that ass," a reference to the song American fans used in good fun to try and rattle International team member and Presidents Cup rookie Si Woo Kim.

But that wasn't the only fun the Americans had after their 19-11 win. While in the past Phil Mickelson has seemed more-than able and willing to make headlines in winning or losing team competition news conferences, on Sunday it was the U.S. squad's eldest statesmen who was the butt of a few jokes, despite posting a 3-0-1 record.

People can debate as much as they want about the Presidents Cup's lack-of "competiton" and what the best course of action is moving forward with an event that some say has lost its luster.

But do you want to know how you know it's still a big deal?

The WAGs showed up. Big time.

The annual "Take Your Significant Other to Work Week" was a great success, as usual, with all the fan-favorites showing up to cheer on their men.

One big happy #USTeam family Congratulations to @stevestrickpga & the entire 2017 team!

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Emerald City

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Had a Brunch of fun honoring the First Lady's today! @nchcf

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American girls

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Part of the winning international the cook off that is!#PresidentsCup #internationalteam

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Paulina Gretzky. Tori Slater. Jena Sims. Allison Stokke. Annie Verrett. Jillian Wisniewski. Amy Mickelson. Ellie Day, Jessica Hadwin. Michelle Money. The list goes on and on.

Presidents Cup. Playing the hits.

There was one embrace in particular at Liberty National that seemed to catch people's attention, and we're not talking about apparent BFFs Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hugging out the victory.

No, someone else was spotted getting even cozier with Woods.

Erica Herman, 33, who was once listed as the general manager of a Woods-branded pop-up restaurant at the Genesis Open, was snuggling up with Tiger all week, and while Woods neither confirmed nor denied the two were an item, they don't exactly look like, "just friends."

Of course, if they were officially dating, we'd know. Because we would have seen an over-the-top synchronized Facebook post complete with professional photos by now.

Perfection. #fail #karate #martialarts #lol #punch #ouch #slowmotion

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Is there anything Gary Player can't do?

The 81-year-old crushes his work-outs, does backflips off of boats and, evidently, can cut a rug.

On Monday at one of his Gary Player Invitational events in New York, which raise money for underprivileged children and communities worldwide, Player found himself on the dance floor and he did not disappoint.

Hey Gary, the phone is for you ... It's "Dancing with the Stars."

From Rory McIlroy to Phil Mickelson, there's been plenty of talk about the firing and hiring of caddies this year.

But there were a couple of caddie stories this week that were a little less serious in tone, which was nice considering we're talking about a job where the main duty is literally just carrying a bag.

First it was Sergio Garcia making a fan's day month year life by letting him loop during the Wednesday pro-am of the British Masters.

This particular fan, Mark Johnson, is what one might call "persistent."

This payoff came after he tweeted Garcia for 206 straight days with this particular request.

The second caddie story comes from the boys behind the SB2K18 CADDIES Twitter account. They want to, you guessed it, caddie for SB2K18.

The guys do make a compelling case for Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman to look over. They offer caddie races, dance-offs, sunscreen application and cocktail service.

Best of luck to Willie, Juice, Hammer and Mountain. And remember, if you get turned down the first time, just ask another 205 times. That will definitely show them you're serious and get you the job ... or a restraining order. Only one way to find out.

Good point. Maybe those guys will take this loss to heart and try harder to make the International Presidents Cup team in a couple years.

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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”