2014 Newsmaker No. 4: Social Media

By Ryan LavnerDecember 17, 2014, 12:45 pm

Who knew 140 characters held such immense power?

The power to destroy careers.

The power to drive conversations.

The power to build brands.

The power to spread goodwill.

From Ted Bishop’s ill-fated “lil girl” tweet to Tiger Woods’ journalistic instincts to Amanda Dufner’s ubiquitous bikini shots to the popular Ice Bucket Challenge, social media was a game-changer in 2014. And we saw it all – the good, the bad and, yes, the very, very ugly.

You’ve Got My Follow:

• No initiative gained more traction this year than the Ice Bucket Challenge. Everyone from Tim Finchem to Rory McIlroy to your next-door neighbor was doused with icy water in the name of charity. The stunt lasted for several months and raised more than $100 million for ALS research.

• Soon-to-be 40-year-old Karrie Webb may be considered ancient on a tour overrun by youngsters, but after winning the Founders Cup in March, she crouched beside the trophy, extended her left arm and continued a new tradition on the LPGA – the winner’s selfie. Since Webb got into the action, every winner on the women’s circuit has taken a selfie with the trophy. Just keeping up with the cool kids.  

• When it came to brand-building, no one did it better in 2014 than Dufner. Few have ever heard the sound of her voice, but fans certainly know how Mrs. Dufner spends her many vacations. In the days, weeks and months after her hubby’s win at the 2013 PGA, her Instagram following went from a few thousand to its current status at 60,000-plus.



This year alone she posted a (since-deleted, but timelessly saved on the Internet) topless picture from Thailand, an artsy shot of her backside at the pool, and – what else? – an action photo of her swinging in a skimpy swimsuit. When a bikini-clad Dufner celebrated the Fourth of July by turning away from the camera and stretching the American flag above her head, the most popular comment was “God Bless America!” She is the undisputed leader in the WAGs clubhouse.

• Score one for the jocks: More athletes than ever before are handling their media affairs themselves. For decades, reporters were the only connection between athletes and their fans. Now, for better or worse, social media has made it possible for stars and spectators to connect and interact like never before, all without that pesky media middleman. Indeed, it’s an ever-changing world for news-gatherers. Though there is an insatiable desire for “insider” information about fans’ favorite teams and athletes, players can now control the message and break the news themselves.

That’s what Woods did this year when he announced that he was undergoing back surgery. Sure, there was a full story posted on his website, but fans and media were only alerted to the news because of a tweet on his feed. And when Woods decided to fire back at Golf Digest because of a mean-spirited parody, he didn’t grant an exclusive interview to a trusted media outlet – he penned a first-person essay on Derek Jeter’s new athlete-friendly website. It’s become commonplace for Tour pros to announce equipment or apparel deals online, as Ian Poulter (Cobra to Titleist) and Keegan Bradley (Tommy Hilfiger to Travis Mathews) have shown in recent months. The point: Why allow the media to potentially distort the message if the athletes can just control it themselves?

2014 Newsmakers: 5. Bishop6. Wie7. Reed8. R&A9. Bubba | 10. DJ

Please, Step Away from the Laptop:

• Social media starlet Paulina Gretzky is no stranger to creating a stir online, and that’s exactly what she did when she posted a photo of fiancé Dustin Johnson crouching to read a putt, barefoot, while holding a cigarette and a beer. Problem was, that photo hit the Interweb the same day that DJ withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Three days later, he announced that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence to deal with “personal challenges,” which presumably had little to do with Paulina’s putting stroke.  

• Poulter didn’t do anything to dispel his reputation as a materialistic brat when he kvetched about his nanny’s business-class seat being downgraded. Not surprisingly, that comment didn’t fly with single moms who can’t afford an extra helper, nor can they purchase any of the six sports cars that the Englishman flaunts on his Twitter page. His mentions weren’t overly kind, either, when he admitted to paying to have his Christmas tree decorated. Little wonder he was blasted for being out of touch not just with fans but also reality.

MY GOD What Were You Thinking?!:

• With too much free time now that he’s playing the senior circuit, Steve Elkington hasn’t backed off his Twitter game despite an increasingly long list of foot-in-mouth moments. Last year, the former PGA champion came under fire for commenting on the body of a female golf reporter, making a joke about a deadly helicopter crash and using a racial slur about Pakistanis.

In February, Elkington didn’t merely cross the line, he gleefully hopped over it when he teased Michael Sam, who was attempting to become the first openly gay player in the NFL:

Steve Elkington tweet

The PGA Tour doesn’t comment on player disciplinary matters, but Elk went dark on social media for several weeks. He’s been more subdued of late, perhaps in an attempt to salvage what is left of his major-champion reputation, but he remains one of golf’s most provocative commentators.  

• The power of the “publish” button never was more evident than with Bishop’s “lil girl” tweet. The fallout was shocking in its swiftness.

On Oct. 23, Bishop was hanging with Nick Faldo at a junior clinic at The Greenbrier. The head of the PGA apparently took exception to remarks made by Poulter in a newly released autobiography, in which he wrote that players had “lost a lot of respect” for Faldo in the wake of his criticism of Sergio Garcia.

That night, Bishop, who represents 27,000 men and women, directed this tweet at Poulter:

Tedd Bishop lil girl tweet

The tweet blew up – after all, Poulter has nearly 1.8 million followers – and Bishop couldn’t even claim that he was hacked or that his message was misconstrued. Instead, he continued to bash the Ryder Cupper in a post on Facebook, writing, in part, that Poulter “sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess.”

Fans and scribes called for Bishop to be fired for the demeaning comments. A PGA spokesman issued a statement and described the posts as “inappropriate.” Bishop apologized to The Associated Press, saying that he “could have selected some different ways to express my thoughts.”

None of it helped. Within three days, the board of directors voted to remove him from office, the first PGA president to be impeached. He had one month left on his two-year term.

Bishop remains on Twitter (with 4,332 followers), but over the past two weeks he has used the platform mostly to express his views on the NFL, the college football playoff and, sadly, “Peter Pan Live.”

“It’s painful from the standpoint of demonstrating how stupid I was to have done what I did,” Bishop said on Golf Channel. “Probably more painful than that is the remorse I feel because I think it potentially wipes out a lot of the really good work I’ve done over my career.”

Behold the power of 140 characters. 

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.