Elkington - again - proves to be golf's biggest Twit

By Jason SobelFebruary 25, 2014, 7:51 pm

I don’t know Steve Elkington personally. His long run of relevance as an elite professional golfer was dying down by the time I started covering the beat in 2004, so other than maybe a couple of long-forgotten news conference questions and recalling that he owned a beautiful swing and an ugly wardrobe, I really don’t know the man.

But therein lies the beauty – and, sometimes, ugliness – of social media.

Through outlets like Twitter, we are able to get to know people whom we otherwise wouldn’t. Unfiltered, unvarnished thoughts straight from the source. When it comes to golfers, many have employed social media as a tool to bring thousands of fans inside the ropes with them. I’ve learned that Ian Poulter has a sports-car fetish, Zach Johnson loves barbeque and Luke Donald has a much better sense of humor than what comes across in interviews.

I’ve also learned that Elkington is hateful, classless and in desperate need of attention.

The last one is just my opinion. The first two, if we are to believe the level of rancor often emanating from his Twitter feed, can be submitted as facts.

The latest example came just after noon eastern time on Tuesday, as Elkington felt the need to go public with his thoughts on Michael Sam, the former Missouri linebacker who recently told the world he’s gay, just two months prior to the NFL Draft (Editor's note: This is a screen capture; tweet was deleted):

Steve Elkington tweet

Efforts to reach Elkington for comment through his agent were not immediately returned. A PGA Tour media offical emailed this response to GolfChannel.com:

"Under our regulations, conduct unbecoming a professional includes public commentary that is clearly inappropriate or offensive. With respect to this matter, and consistent with our longstanding policy, we do not comment on player disciplinary matters."

Elkington replied to one tweeter by insisting that his stance was not homophobic, but rather a perspective on the television coverage. By the time you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that he’ll attempt to make further amends, too.

That’s been his modus operandi in the past. Tweet first, ask for forgiveness later.

Like last July, when he tweeted that a couple of caddies at the Senior British Open “got rolled by some Pakis,” a reference to the large Pakistani population in Southport, England. After deleting the tweet and receiving a police escort to the course the next day, he hinged his apology on the fact that he was Australian and didn’t realize the racist connotations – forgetting, of course, that he’s lived in the Houston area for much of his professional career.

Or last November, when he tweeted about a helicopter crashing into a Scottish pub with the punchline (and I use that term loosely): “Locals report no beer was spilt.” Once again, he deleted the tweet; once again, he issued an apology.

Or just a few weeks ago, when he responded to a female journalist’s tweeted photograph with a question about breast size. He followed that one by maintaining that he likes the reporter and even issued one of his familiar cartoons about it.

Just one of these incidents would have been one too many for Elkington, but maybe we could have given him the benefit of the doubt, accepted the apology and moved on with our lives. Not anymore. This pattern of hatred – or at least perceived hatred, as if he wants the public to believe he’s more spiteful than he actually is – is embarrassing to himself, distressing to the game of golf and deplorable in a progressive society than often doesn’t have to deal with such juvenile frivolities.

If he is guilty of even just the minimum charge, then it’s being a lunkhead without a license. There’s no crime in living life with ignorance, but don’t expect the rest of us to fail to take notice.

Just in case you believe I’m being particularly prudish in this stance, understand that I’m hardly alone.

During last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, just after Elkington’s tweet about Pakistani robbers, one top-20 major champion golfer told me: “I used to love the guy. He was one of my favorites. That swing was so good. But after following him on Twitter for a little while, I’ve realized the kind of person he really is.”

There’s a good chance that if Elkington had never clicked the button to sign up for a Twitter account years ago, he’d be remembered for that buttery golf swing that earned him the 1995 PGA Championship title and nine other PGA Tour victories in a career that spanned parts of four decades.

That’s the beauty – and ugliness – of social media.

There’s another beauty to this whole story, though. Unlike in a news conference setting at a tournament, we can all just choose to ignore him.

I don’t know the man. I can’t say whether he is racist or homophobic or neither. But his pattern of tweets over the past year prove that he’s either both of these things or wants us to think he’s both of these things – before he apologizes, of course.

Then it’s back to business as usual, until the next time he posts a controversial tweet. And yes, history shows there will be a next time. For this, we can finally give him the benefit of the doubt.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.