Getty Images

The Social: From Ludacris to the ridiculous

By Jason CrookSeptember 19, 2017, 5:00 pm

PGA Tour stars walk the red carpet before the Tour Championship (and look good doing it), Rory McIlroy shows off his soccer skills without tearing a ligament and some of the wildest swings you've ever seen are on full display.

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

Welcome to Atlanta, where Ludacris serenaded the top 30 in the FedExCup rankings for making it to the playoff finale at East Lake.

The players were shown plenty of southern hospitality as they walked the red carpet at the kickoff concert, posing with the rapper and "The Fast and the Furious" actor.

Stand up #tourchampionship #fedexcupplayoffs

A post shared by Daniel Berger (@db_straitvibin) on

If the choice of music for the event seems like an odd pairing, you haven't been paying much attention to golf this year.

Snoop Dogg kicked off major season by headlining "Augusta Jam" on the night before the opening round of the Masters at the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon, just a couple miles down the road from Augusta National.

Live rap music from guys 40-and-over. The hottest trend in golf. You heard it here first.

McIlroy and soccer kind of go together like lamb and tuna fish. He may like it – a lot – but you can't blame golf fans if they cringe a little while viewing this next clip considering he tore an ankle ligament playing the sport in 2015 and missed his Open title defense while nursing the injury.

Responding to international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s #CR7Challenge, McIlroy posted a video to his Instagram on Tuesday showing off some pretty impressive juggling skills.

Of course, McIlroy wasn't the only one getting back on the horse this week. Greg Norman, who once almost severed his left hand with a chainsaw, posted this photo of him on clean-up duty in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma at his home in Jupiter, Fla.

Once you get over the fact that he is indeed wearing a shirt, you will see The Shark is once again wielding a chainsaw.

Clean up time. Thanks Irma. And to everyone else in its path I hope any damage was minimal.

A post shared by Greg Norman (@shark_gregnorman) on

Ever hear that joke about women living longer than men? Insert it here.

Much was made about the LPGA’s decision to shorten their fifth major, the Evian Championship from 72 to 54 holes and wipe out the scores of those who had begun their rounds on Thursday after weather made the course unplayable.

No matter where you stand on the issue, and many thought the credibility of the event took a major hit, you had to feel for those players who had gone out and put up some early birdies only to see them taken off the board before play started on Friday.

One of those players was co-leader Jessica Korda, who wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion on Twitter.

Replying to a Golf Channel story about the decision, Korda said she was "super pumped" about it, but we have a sneaky suspicion that she wasn't actually super pumped about it and quite possibly wasn't happy about it at all.

Cheering on their favorite human #HockeyDog @spittinchiclets

A post shared by I Can't Even (@icanteven) on

"Who's winning the match?" - This good dog, probably.

Kids say the darndest things … and they aren’t too shabby on the golf course these days, either.

At this past week’s KLM Open, 11-year-old Mattias Henke came closest to the pin in a "Beat the Pro" competition against Chris Wood and Max Albertus and winning a free flight to anywhere in Europe in the process. You read that right, an 11-year-old beat a European Ryder Cupper in a closest-to-the-pin contest.

At least some pros still beat the 8-year-old who gave it a try, although it's a pretty good bet you may be hearing Tom Hendricks' name in the future after this drive.

Not to be outdone, over on the PGA Tour 6-year-old one-armed golfer Tommy Morrissey hung out at the BMW Championship with Paige Spiranac and ... you guessed it ... beat her at a closest-to-the-pin contest ... by hitting the pin on his second shot.

Live look at Tommy:

Technically there’s no wrong way to play golf, but there are some methods that seem to work better than others. These next three swings that were floating around on social media this week certainly wouldn’t be taught in your local group lessons, but hey, to each their own.

The two drives, one from Steve Wheatcroft’s pro-am partner at the Albertsons Boise Open, are pretty impressive just to make contact, let alone go over 200 yards, as Wheatcroft claimed.

Grip it & rip it @foreplaypod

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on

This chip though, could probably use just a little less follow-through. Just one man's personal opinion.

That follow through though... (ht @jaclynvinciguerra)

A post shared by Fore Play (@foreplaypod) on

Accurate.

Getty Images

USGA receives more than 9,000 U.S. Open entries

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

The field of contestants for golf's most democratic major has been set.

The USGA announced that it received 9,049 entries for this year's U.S. Open, with the deadline for entry expiring at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. That total includes 515 applications on the final day, 115 in the final hour and a buzzer-beater from Drew Caudill, a 32-year-old pro from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who beat the entry deadline by only 23 seconds.

This marks the seventh straight year that the USGA has received more than 9,000 entries, but the total marks the second straight year of a decline in applications. At least 9,860 players entered each year from 2013-16, topping out in 2014 when 10,127 applications were received. But last year there were 9,485 entries for Erin Hills, and this year's return to Shinnecock yielded only one more application than the USGA got in 2005.

For the vast majority of entrants, the next step is a spot in 18-hole local qualifying which begins April 30 and runs through May 17. The fortunate few advance from there to 36-hole sectional qualifiers, played May 21 in Japan and June 4 across 11 other sites in the U.S. and England.

A total of 54 players are already exempt into the 156-man field, including 12 former winners. The only remaining ways to earn an exemption from qualifying are to win either The Players or BMW PGA Championship next month, or be ranked inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the event for the first time since 2004.

Getty Images

Report: Houston Open may move to Memorial Park in '19

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

Still without a permanent spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Houston Open appears to be on the move.

According to a report from the Houston Business Journal, there is a proposal in place to shift the tournament downtown in 2019, returning to Memorial Park Golf Course which previously hosted the event from 1951-1963.

While formal relocation plans have not been announced, the tournament officially reached the end of an era this week when the Golf Club of Houston, which has hosted the event since 2003, informed the Houston Golf Association that it would no longer serve as tournament host moving forward.

"We received notice this week from the Golf Club of Houston regarding the club's decision to no longer host a PGA Tour event," read an HGA statement obtained by GolfChannel.com. "Currently, the HGA's focus is on securing a long-term title sponsor. The Golf Club of Houston has been a great venue for the Houston Open dating back to 2003 and we look forward to maintaining a great relationship with the club."

Such a move would be a win for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who has expressed an interest in returning the tournament within city limits. The Golf Club of Houston is located in Humble, a suburb 20 miles northeast of downtown.

"This move would place the tournament on center stage in downtown Houston, creating a central location for the city to rally around," read marketing materials cited in the Business Journal report. "Houston Proud Partners of the Houston Open would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Houston Golf Association on this historic move and make a lasting statement that would be seen for generations."

The Houston Open's lineage dates back to 1946, but its future remains in question. Shell Oil ended its 26-year sponsorship of the event in 2017, and this year it was played without a title sponsor and financed in part by the HGA.

The tournament has also carved out a niche with its pre-Masters slot on the schedule, where it has been played every year but once since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. But next year that coveted position will go to the Valero Texas Open, leaving Houston's place on a revamped 2019 schedule in question.

The Houston Open remains one of only two tournaments on the current Tour calendar without a title sponsor. Earlier this week Charles Schwab signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019, and a report this week indicates the other unsponsored event, The National, may be on the verge of moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Detroit.

Getty Images

With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

He didn’t even make it that far.

Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

Getty Images

China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.