Torrey story

first_imgSAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods made his 2014 debut in a most dubious fashion – his first trip to Torrey Pines without sticking around until Sunday. Woods went seven straight holes making bogey or worse and wound up with a 7-over 79 in the Farmers Insurance Open to match his worst score on American soil. For the first time in his career, he missed a 54-hole cut that is in effect when more than 78 players make it to the weekend. Woods had to rally just to break 80. After another poor chip on the par-3 eighth hole (his 17th of the third round), he chipped in to save par. On the par-5 ninth hole, he flubbed another chip to about 8 feet and made that for par and a 79. Asked to stop for a comment with CBS Sports, Woods said, ”No, I’m done.” He signed a dozen autographs, climbed into a van and was driven away. Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, videos and photos [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”526131″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”306″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]] Perhaps the most remarkable figure of this week: He didn’t make a single birdie on a par 5 over three rounds. In fact, he played them in 4 over par. Still, what made the round so shocking is where it happened. Woods was the defending champion and an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines as a pro, which includes his last major in the 2008 U.S. Open. He won a Junior World Championship on this public course along the ocean as a teenager. Woods had finished out of the top 10 only one time at Torrey on the PGA Tour, and that was in 2011 when his game was going through a major overhaul. ”It was definitely different seeing him make so many bogeys,” said Jhonattan Vegas, who played alongside Woods on a gorgeous day with very little wind. ”He’s human. You don’t expect to see that, but it’s the game. It happens to everyone. And it happened to him today.” The highest score of Woods’ career was an 81 in the third round of the British Open at Muirfield, when he played most of his round in 40 mph wind and rain. Woods also had a 79 in the Memorial last year, at the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010 and in the first round of the 1996 Australian Open. As stunning as it was to see, there was little cause for alarm. This makes the second straight year that Woods was eliminated early in his season-opening tournament. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi a year ago after being assessed a two-shot penalty for taking relief from a sandy area. Woods went on to win five times last year and was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 11th time. He spoke earlier in the week about being only a fraction off, which was plausible given the conditions at Torrey, especially on the South Course. For as dry as it has been this week, the rough is thicker and more lush than usual, especially right off the edge of the fairway. On the opening hole, Woods narrowly missed the fairway and could only advance the ball some 80 yards. But he went south quickly on the fabled South Course. Woods was in the fairway, 254 yards from the flag on the par-5 18th in the middle of his round. A birdie would have put him within five shots of the leaders, who had just started the third round on the front. His shot came up short and into the water, and his fourth shot flew the green into a plugged lie in the bunker. Woods blasted out and took two putts for bogey. On the first hole, he missed the green and chipped to 30 feet and three-putted for another double bogey, missing his bogey putt from just over 2 feet. It was the first time since the second round of the 2011 PGA Championship that he made consecutive double bogeys. And then it was just one blunder after another – a three-putt on the par-3 third, a tee shot into the bunker on the fourth. From a front bunker on the par-5 sixth, he flew the green, chipped weakly to 6 feet and missed that par putt. So when he ended that ugly streak with a birdie on the seventh, he removed his cap and waved to the crowd. In the midst of this meltdown, Woods still found some perspective. Walking up the hill to the ninth tee, he spotted CBS Sports reporter Peter Kostis, working his first tournament since his bout with prostate cancer. Woods and Kostis have had their disagreements over the years, but the world’s No. 1 player called out to him three times. Kostis walked over and Woods whispered into his ear that it was good to see him back at work. Woods now goes to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week. There’s a chance he might not show up at another PGA Tour event until Florida.last_img read more

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Is It Time?

first_imgHUMBLE, Texas – Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy addressed a room full of reporters and said what everyone else seemed to be thinking in the wake of another Tiger Woods injury: The sport is waiting for another dominant player, a guy who can stamp his authority on the game. Matt Kuchar, the 11th-ranked player in the world, must have been listening. This week he has served up a 66-67-68 to seize control of the Shell Houston Open. OK, so Kuchar – and even the mercurial Sergio Garcia, who is four shots behind – are probably not capable of moving the needle like Tiger, Phil and Rory. But hey, it’s a start. The PGA Tour has endured a months-long power outage. Only one player, Zach Johnson, has won an event while ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Jason Day is the only other top-15 player to win an event this season. “There’s a lot of depth in the game of golf,” Kuchar said. There’s little doubt that parity is the PGA Tour’s new reality, but it poses a problem for both the casual fan, who has little interest in rooting for the 100th-ranked player in the world, and the elite player, who prefers having a dominant stud to measure his game against. Shell Houston Open: Articles, videos and photos “Golf in general is very wide open at the moment, and I think a few guys need to put their hands up and try and be the dominant players in this game, because that’s what people like to see,” McIlroy said. “Me personally, as a fan of golf, it would be nice to see someone sort of break away.” Kuchar might not break away from the pack, but he’s a six-time winner and a world-class player – he can ascend to No. 5 with a win Sunday – so at least he offers hope that the stars are emerging from early-season hibernation. He’s in the final group for the second week in a row, and the final-round forecast here calls for showers and thunderstorms, not the 25-mph winds that derailed his bid to win last Sunday in San Antonio. That day Kuchar was tied for the lead with nine holes to play but stumbled home with a 75. Steven Bowditch, the 339th-ranked player in the world, crawled across the finish line with a closing 76. Of his final-round score in tough conditions, Kuchar said, “I’m not ashamed.” Maybe not, but that big number continued a disturbing trend for the game’s best players. Bubba Watson blew the Phoenix Open. McIlroy crumbled on the final day at the Honda. No. 2 Adam Scott punted away a touchdown lead at Bay Hill. And that’s just this season. These final-day stumbles appear to be part of a larger issue: Since the start of the 2013 season, only 26 of the 57 third-round leaders have gone on to win. Viewed another way, players have found more success while trailing heading into Sunday than leading. That makes you appreciate Tiger’s mind-boggling closing rate – 58 of 65 in PGA and European tour events – a little more, no? When asked what that recent inability to close can be attributed to, Kuchar replied: “Probably some hard golf courses and hard conditions. Trying to beat the best in the world. It’s not an easy thing. You hope to get as big a lead as possible.” Kuchar has accomplished that, though he gave one back on his final hole of the day, missing a 5-foot par putt. It was one of only two blemishes on a windy, unseasonably cool afternoon, his 4-under 68 matching the best round of the day. Only six players are within seven shots of his lead. “Having a four-shot lead is a great position to be in,” said Kuchar, who has converted two of four chances when holding the 54-hole lead. “(Sunday) I think I’ll just go out and try to turn the four-shot lead into a five-shot lead and see if I can keep going.” Kuchar is golf’s most consistent performer, with a Tour-best 42 top 10s since 2010. But he’s likely not the sport’s next dominator, the guy who will stamp his authority on the game. That’s OK. This is a start. Perhaps the best players are emerging just in time for major season.last_img read more

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Pak shares lead in Hawaii; Wie 2 back

first_imgKAPOLEI, Hawaii – South Korea’s Se Ri Pak, Hyo Joo Kim and So Yeon Ryu each shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday for a three-way tie atop the leaderboard after a breezy first round of the LPGA Lotte Championship. Winless in 2013, Pak played the back nine in 2-under 34 in her afternoon round. She had birdies on the par-5 13th and par-4 17th, to go along with an eagle on the par-5 fifth. Kim, the 2012 China Ladies Open champion, had five birdies. She had her only bogey on her final hole of the day on the par-4 ninth. ”Except for the very final hole here, the putting in general was really good for the day, so I was really happy,” Kim said. Ryu, the 2012 LPGA Rookie of the Year, got off to a nice start in her morning round. She birdied three of the first five holes and finished with five birdies and one bogey. Ryu said she was able to clear her mind with a week off after a bad result at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she tied for 46th. ”I really don’t think about score or my performance. I just focus on the present, not worry about any (potentially) difficult holes,” Ryu said. Japan’s Ayako Uehara was one stroke back. The field of 144 starters contended with winds gusting about 20 mph throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service. Top-ranked Inbee Park shot a 2-under 70 and was tied for fifth. ”I got off to a really good start today. Obviously, the wind wasn’t blowing as hard for my first five holes,” Park said. ”The greens seem a little bit more slippery and I had troubles on the back nine controlling the distance. You have to have perfect contact to ride the wind.” Local favorite Michelle Wie had a 70 after carding a bogey on her first hole. ”It was quite windy out there today,” Wie said. ”Just started off with bogey, but just kind of hung in there. I just was patient all day today. It felt good.” Wie returns to her hometown after a runner-up finish at the first major championship of the season, the Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills.last_img read more

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On Ryder bubble, Bjorn takes first-round lead in Denmark

first_imgAALBORG, Denmark – Thomas Bjorn shot a 5-under 66 for a three-way share of the lead after the first round of the Made in Denmark on Thursday, boosting his chances of securing a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Playing in his home tournament, Bjorn made five birdies and did not drop a shot in gusty conditions. He was tied for first with Felipe Aguilar of Chile and Bradley Dredge of Wales. They led by three shots from Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, who hit a bogey-free 69. Nine players carded 70. Bjorn hasn’t played in the Ryder Cup since 2002, but a victory on the Himmerland Resort course will guarantee him a spot in the European team for the match against United States at Gleneagles next month. Bjorn has occupied a position in the automatic qualifying places since December. ”I am happy with the day and happy with the start. It was pretty solid all way round,” said Bjorn, who earned his first professional victory at Himmerland in 1995. Aguilar, a two-time European Tour winner, briefly led with a birdie on the par-four 8th hole, his 17th, but Bjorn, playing a hole behind, immediately responded in kind. They both parred the last. Dredge, who also has won two European Tour events, recovered from bogeying the second, his 11th hole, to birdie five of his last seven holes. Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Soren Larsen of Denmark pulled out of the tournament because of injuries. This is the inaugural tournament, and the first time since 2003 that a European Tour event is held in Denmark.last_img read more

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Arnie: Big Three was agent’s creation

first_imgIt’s Thursday morning, April 10, 2014. The 78th Masters Tournament has begun at Augusta National Golf Club, but the real action isn’t happening on the golf course. The place to be, if you’re lucky enough to have the proper encoded and hologrammed credential, is the interview room in the media center. That’s where Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are holding court after hitting the ceremonial tee shots that signal the beginning of the tournament. After the usual ribbing about who outdrove whom (Player, while conceding that Nicklaus outdrove him by a yard or two, added, “But he did hit on a sprinkler”), the three were asked, for approximately the millionth time, to reflect on their long association. “It’s been a wonderful journey with these two gentlemen here,” Player began. “We went across the world. We went down gold mines together. We visited my ranch.  We’ve slept at each other’s homes and our wives have known each other, and we have had a great friendship. We’ve always wanted to beat each other; we’ve never hidden that. But when we did win, we congratulated the other.  When we lost, we congratulated the other. It’s been a special journey, and I don’t think there’s ever been, if I may be so forward, not boastful, but factual, that three athletes have ever in the history of any sports traveled together, been together so much across the world, not just in the United States, but across the world and had an association like we’ve had.” Palmer, Player, Nicklaus. They’ve been on the world stage of their profession longer than the Beatles, but they’ve never been joined at the hip the way John, Paul, George and Ringo used to be. They’re more like a supergroup, each having forged his reputation as an individual, then playing a lot of gigs together to the point where they did become – almost – joined at the hip. If you’re too young to personally remember presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, persimmon and balata, cardigans and kilties, you probably don’t know how these three golfing greats became the Big Three. The Big Two would have made more sense, as Nicklaus and Palmer established the greatest rivalry in golf, right from its 1962 heavyweight title fight, Overthrow at Oakmont of a beginning when rookie pro Nicklaus KO’d the King on Palmer’s own western Pennsylvania turf in the U.S. Open. Palmer already had five majors, a money title and a Vardon Trophy under his hitched-up belt, but Nicklaus served notice that from then on, things were going to be different. Player’s role in the troika was less obvious. When Nicklaus made that 1962 U.S. Open his first professional major, Player already had two majors and a PGA Tour money title. The South African also had a slew of international victories. So why the Big Three? And who came up with that name? “It was Mark McCormack that gave us that moniker,” Nicklaus said. “I don’t know when that actually came about. Probably late ’62 when the three of us played in the World Series of Golf. Arnold had won the Masters and the British Open that year. I had won the U.S. Open and Gary had won the PGA Championship.” Getty Images Mark McCormack and Arnold Palmer Click here for the full collection of ‘Arnie’ stories McCormack, founder of the mega-agency International Management Group, personally represented Palmer, then added Player and Nicklaus as clients. In addition to securing endorsements for them individually, he packaged them together for exhibition matches and even created a television show, “Big Three Golf,” in which they competed against each other. If any of the three had an objection to being turned into golfing gladiators, they kept it to themselves. “None of us rejected it,” Nicklaus said. Televisions were quickly taking hold in American households, and the new medium needed content. Canned matches had the advantages of a finite time period, optimal camera placement and in-game interviews with the competitors. What was not to like? Television helped grow the popularity of Palmer, Player and Nicklaus, and they returned the favor. It didn’t hurt that each member of the Big Three was so different from the other two. Palmer, ruggedly handsome with heavily muscled, deeply tanned forearms that could extricate a golf ball from just about any trouble his explosive but untamed driver got it into. A man of the people who never forgot what his father taught him: “Just remember where you came from and treat people like you’d like to be treated.” Nicklaus, overweight and doughy at the beginning of his career but freakishly strong and so skilled that none other than Bobby Jones proclaimed, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.” And Player, much smaller than the other two but able to hold his own through fanatical devotion to exercise and practice. Willing to fly just about anywhere to play, he was golf’s supreme international ambassador. The exhibitions and “Big Three Golf” matches forced the participants – and their families – to spend considerable time together. The wives – Winnie Palmer, Barbara Nicklaus and Vivienne Player – already knew and liked each other from the tournament circuit, but these TV matches were a different experience, without the usual 140-odd other players and their families as options for socializing. Barbara Nicklaus said the Palmer, Player and Nicklaus families were “thrown together. “But we loved being thrown together. Vivienne Player and Winnie and I have always gotten along well and it’s just been a great friendship through the years.” “That made a huge difference,” said IMG’s Alastair Johnston, who handled much of the company’s representation of Palmer.  “That meant they stayed at each other’s homes, that meant that the wives did things together.” Throughout the ’60s, the Big Three dominated golf. They won four of 10 Vardon Trophies for low scoring average (all by Palmer), seven of 10 PGA Tour money titles and 17 of the decade’s 40 majors. If the nickname had been contingent on performance, the Big Three might have had to add a fourth – Billy Casper. During the ’60s Casper won more Vardon Trophies than Palmer (five to four) and nearly as many money titles as Palmer or Nicklaus (they each won three, Casper won two). Casper even titled his autobiography “The Big Three and Me.” But Casper’s chances of crashing the Big Three’s party were nil because of one fatal flaw: He wasn’t represented by McCormack. Nicklaus and Player both eventually replaced McCormack as their agent, but by then the Big Three concept was firmly rooted in the golf culture. It only got stronger when first Palmer, then Player, then Nicklaus, moved on to the senior tour. Tournament directors fortunate enough to have all three in their fields would invariably group them, insuring added exposure for their events. But it has been their association with Augusta National, where they combined for 13 Masters wins (six by Nicklaus, four by Palmer and three by Player), that has done the most to keep the Big Three concept alive. The Masters has used former winners as honorary starters since 1963, when Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod (not Masters winners, but winners of the PGA Seniors’ Championship when it was played at Augusta National) performed the duty. Palmer assumed the role in 2007. Nicklaus joined him in 2010 and Player made it a threesome in 2012. The remaining Big Question about the Big Three is how much longer they will continue as honorary starters for the Masters. Player jokes that it won’t be more than another 20 years. At this year’s tournament, Palmer said, “I suppose as long as they ask me to do it.” Chimed in Nicklaus, “There’s your answer.”last_img read more

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Potter, Shirley advance in US Women’s Mid-Am

first_imgNOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Defending champion Julia Potter and qualifying medalist Margaret Shirley won first-round matches Monday in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. The 26-year-old Potter, from Granger, Indiana, beat Canada’s Audrey Akins 2 and 1 at Harbour Trees in the event for players 25 and older. ”I didn’t hit a green until six, but Audrey played great,” said Potter, a 19-hole winner over Shirley in the final last year. ”She made some clutch putts at the beginning.” The 28-year-old Shirley, from Atlanta, beat Rachel Smith of Mansfield, Texas, 2 up. ”I just had a bad stretch,” Shirley said. ”That’s going to happen, especially on a golf course like this. You just have to make sure you don’t get too down on yourself.” Connie Isler of Arlington, Virginia, topped second-seeded Dawn Woodard of Greer, South Carolina 2 up. ”I just tried to stay in the moment,” Isler said. ”Dawn hits it super far, so I just tried to play my own game. I always tried to play like I was down, even though I was never down.”last_img read more

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The answer man: Spieth responds to every challenge

first_imgKAPALUA, Hawaii – Some considered Jordan Spieth’s performance along this stretch of the Maui coast a referendum on where his game, and by extension golf, is right now; but considering the PGA Tour is still a few stops shy of the quarter pole this season it felt more like a competitive Q&A. After all, as dominant as Spieth was in 2015 he hadn’t exactly proven himself a specialist on fast tracks like Kapalua, where even-par rounds will leave a player dusted. Spieth suggested as much on the eve of his victory lap at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions when he was asked to assess his position after starting his week with rounds of 66-64-65. “To be honest, with the scoring we have done this week, it frustrates me that I have to shoot 4 to 6 under in order to win this tournament still,” he said. But if there was any question as to whether Spieth had the firepower to win a shootout, the answer arrived early and often, with the world No. 1 responding to every challenge to his dominance on Sunday at the Plantation Course. Question: How will Spieth respond after Patrick Reed, who began the day a half-dozen behind Spieth, starts his round with back-to-back birdies to cut the lead to four? Answer: Spieth, being Spieth, rolls in a delicate 35-footer for birdie from above the hole at the second. Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Articles, photos and videos Question: How will Spieth respond when Reed, who went 68 holes this week without a bogey, adds a 5-footer for birdie at the fifth? Answer: Spieth converts from 2 feet for birdie at the sixth to retain his five-shot advantage. Eventually, the biggest and most crucial inquiries for Spieth may have come from within. Question: What will he do after a bogey at the eighth hole, Spieth’s second dropped shot of the week, combined with Reed’s birdie at the ninth hole cuts the lead to three strokes? Answer: Spieth birdies the turn with mid-range putts at the ninth and 10th holes to reestablish a five-shot advantage. By the time he’d birdied the 15th hole only history could be counted as a true competitor, with the tournament-record 31-under mark within reach. Spieth likes goals, they keep a creative mind on point, and penciling in Ernie Els’ record total from the 2003 Tournament of Champions is the type of competitive carrot that can dominate the internal dialogue. “I was peeking at the boards here and there but knew that if we stuck to our goal of getting to 6 [under], ultimately I wanted to get to 30 under,” said Spieth, who came up just short of the tournament record with a closing-round 67 but reached 30 under for an eight-stroke victory. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of other accolades to be processed following a commanding performance in Maui. The victory made Spieth the third-youngest player, behind Tiger Woods in 1998 and Horton Smith in 1929, to get to seven victories on Tour, and he became the first player since Woods in 2000 to win the last event of one season (Tour Championship) and the first stop the following year. On a personal front, his eight-shot triumph was Spieth’s largest margin of victory in an official-money Tour event and his first triumph on the Tour’s West Coast swing. But most importantly Spieth answered the inevitable question that came with the New Year – how could he possibly match his performance in 2015? “[Caddie Michael Greller] said on 18 fairway, ‘Man, just a way to make a statement.’” Spieth said. “I thought that was cool. I mean, it’s not what I’m going for, it’s not why I do what I do. I still think it’s going to be very difficult to have a year like last year.” Following his Kapalua rout the conversation is also sure to turn to comparisons between Spieth’s current play and Woods’ at a similar age. At the risk of breaking the internet, Butch Harmon, who was Woods’ swing coach from 1996 to August 2002, should be considered the ultimate arbiter on this subject. “It’s not unfair to compare Jordan with Tiger because Jordan is doing exactly what Tiger did at the same age,” said Harmon, who enjoyed a 26 percent winning clip in Tour starts and eight major victories while working with Woods. Spieth, however, is quick to deflect such comparisons. “I just think it’s premature, but I’ll say that probably my entire career,” Spieth said. “There’s just such an age gap that I understand these comparisons are going to be there. I hope they continue to be there – that means I’m still being in the same ballpark as he is. I know what he did and I just find it hard to believe that it can be matched.” The 22-year-old certainly has a head for history and a head-to-head comparison between Spieth and Woods at similar points in their careers is clear enough. This week’s Tournament of Champions was Spieth’s 77th Tour start as a professional and his seventh victory. Through 77 starts as a member of the play-for-pay set Woods had won 18 times on Tour. But Harmon’s assessment is more nuanced and takes an a la carte approach. “The biggest difference, and this is a huge difference, is Tiger’s ability and length off the tee,” Harmon said. “Go back to 2000, he was the second-longest hitter in the game and he hit 72 percent of his fairways. He was really hard to beat because of that.” In Woods’ third full year on Tour (1999) he ranked third in driving distance, 65th in driving accuracy and fifth in greens in regulation; compared to Spieth’s line last year of 78th in driving distance, 80th in driving accuracy and 49th in greens in regulation. Where Spieth holds the edge at this point in their careers is on the greens, with Woods 24th in putting average and 58th in three-putt avoidance in ’99, compared to Spieth’s 2015 line of first in putting average and 37th in three-putt avoidance. “I never thought I’d see anyone who can make as many pressure putts as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods did,” Harmon said. “But Jordan Spieth is definitely right there. Jordan makes more long putts than anyone we’ve seen in a long time with the exception of Arnold Palmer.” Founded or not, the comparisons will continue if Spieth continues to trend down his current path, which prompts an entirely different exchange. Question: Can Spieth maintain this level of excellence long enough to make it a true comparison, at least in his own eyes, to Woods’ dominance? Answer: TBD.last_img read more

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Social media a tough balancing act for stars

first_imgPALM HARBOR, Fla. – Nearly 2.5 million people follow Ian Poulter on Twitter and Instagram, so whenever he posts about his Ferrari collection or his clothing line or his latest result, it doesn’t go unnoticed. The majority of the responses are positive and optimistic, kind and supportive. But then he will scroll through this: maybe you could play aff the womans tees. Give U a chance. time for retirement ….. start makin more putts for birdie instead of bogey and you might actually play The problem, of course, is that Poulter admittedly reads it all – the good, the bad and the downright vicious. “I’m an idiot,” he said. “I’ve had enough warnings, and unfortunately you can have a hundred good messages and one bad one, and the one bad one really pisses you off. “So note to self: Don’t (expletive) read the comments.” The explosion of social media has made politicians, TV stars and athletes more accessible than ever before. Sadly, that also has its drawbacks. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest complications of the Internet age: the free exchange of ideas also offers the angriest and most miserable people a voice, a platform, where they muster up the keyboard courage and spew hatred without consequence. Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos To leave a comment on this website, users must register an account with Facebook or Google Plus. The thinking is that it would discourage an anonymous fool from polluting what can be sensible discourse. But peruse the comments left on social-media posts by LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Tom Brady. Some are complimentary. Many are sadistic, racist, homophobic or sexually explicit. Granted, those superstars have it worse, the battle lines drawn because of their team affiliation, their significant others, their big-money contracts, their spirited style of play. Oftentimes, they are despised simply because of the logo on their jersey. But it’s more personal in golf, because it’s an individual pursuit, and the high-profile players are targets for the fans’ vitriol. Sift through the carnage … sorry, comments … on any website, on any given day, and the world’s best golfers apparently are hacks, clowns, spoiled, thin-skinned, overrated, phonies and losers. Justin Thomas noticed that the same few users will comment every time he shoots an over-par round, almost as if they’re waiting on their phone for the score to become official. “A lot of them are honestly hysterical,” Thomas said, “and people hide behind their phones and say whatever, and once they get called out, from anybody, they quickly go back into their little hole and support you.” When a Twitter user needled Jason Dufner about his winless drought, Dufner responded with a picture of him holding the Shark Shootout trophy. A month later, when he won again in Palm Springs, he reached out to the same fan with another trophy shot, this time with the caption: “another one..” In one of the most memorable social-media interactions last year, Rickie Fowler buried a pair of haters on Instagram – one who insulted his then-girlfriend, another who criticized his swing. Taking a blowtorch to the trolls publicly may produce an avalanche of retweets, likes and attaboys, but many wonder why a public figure even acknowledges the haters. Perhaps more than any other Tour player, Poulter has engaged in numerous cyber scuffles. When asked why he responds to the naysayers, Poulter took a few seconds to process the question. Then he shrugged.  “Don’t know,” he said. “Sometimes you want to please the fans. It’s nice to read nice comments, but unfortunately there are dangers with doing so. Those dangers are a few idiots, a few very sad, lonely, pathetic, unhappy individuals who like to try and make misery for other people. So you have to manage what it is you want out of social media, but at times it’s tricky to be able to do that.” Do the negative replies sting? “Of course,” he said. “I try and brush it off, but when there are lots of idiots who say lots of things, then unfortunately it gets frustrating at times and you retaliate occasionally when you probably shouldn’t. “Sometimes it’s very unjust. You work very, very, very hard to do something, and you put all the hours in, and somebody accuses you of being lazy or telling you to go practice and work harder and that you’re rubbish – and those are the polite versions – then it really annoys you and you want to tell that person, ‘Would you like to go forth and multiply?’ But you can’t do that. Then it’s out there in the outside world and you can get punished for it.” A global superstar like Jordan Spieth has, incredibly, dodged much of the Internet bashing. He is good-natured, unfailingly polite and thoughtful, the total package, an All-American kid who is already a star pitchman. Polarizing, he is not. And so it was a surprise to see Spieth get snippy on social media Thursday night. First he fired back at an Instagram user, who said that he was “garbage,” and then he called out the PGA Tour’s official Twitter account, which had highlighted a post-round comment that was made in jest. Spieth said that he was “bored” and saw the nasty comment as he scrolled through his feed. Already frustrated after a poor round, he tapped out a reply. He’s human. “You’ll probably never see me do that again,” he said Friday. “Obviously it was seen and known. It’s just really frustrating. I should never respond to any of that. Just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around, no one even remembers it anyway.” This represents an ongoing inner struggle for Spieth, how to deal with social media, with the fallout and the bullies and the so-called experts. Earlier this year at Kapalua – a tournament he won by eight shots – he talked about trying to “quiet the noise” of the detractors while living in the spotlight. The task is actually made easier at the majors. When he won wire-to-wire last year at the Masters, Spieth went on a social-media hiatus, passing the time at night by playing pingpong and watching movies at his rental house. But it’s unrealistic to live in a bubble the rest of the year. He’s 22, after all. Even if he purposely tries to avoid the noise, he’s bound to notice a few criticisms or quips on his timeline or in his mentions. It’s unavoidable. “There’s going to be plenty of people that have their own opinion,” he said. “There’s going to be plenty of people who don’t like the way I play the game or the way I handle things. I’ve just got to be confident in what I’m doing and know many more do appreciate it. … I got over it quickly.” Sorry, haters.last_img read more

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Masson gets first win at LPGA Manulife Classic

first_imgCAMBRIDGE, Ontario – Caroline Masson broke out of a star-filled pack Sunday to win the LPGA Manulife Classic for her first tour title. The 27-year-old German player rebounded from an opening double bogey to make nine birdies in a 5-under 67. She beat third-round leader Mi Hyang Lee, Minjee Lee and Solheim Cup teammate Karine Icher by a stroke, finishing at 16-under 272 at Whistle Bear. Masson joined Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lang as the only players over 23 years old to win in the first 24 events this season – and also joined Nordqvist as the only European winners. Mi Hyang Lee had a 71, Minjee Lee shot 68, and Icher 66. Mi Hyang Lee parred the final two holes to miss a chance for a playoff. Masson didn’t make a par until the seventh hole, following the double bogey with three straight birdies, a bogey on No. 5 and a birdied on the sixth. The former Oklahoma State player had four straight birdies on Nos. 9-12, bogeyed the par-4 13th and birdied the par-5 16th. She birdied all four par 5s. Ariya Jutanugarn tied for fifth at 14 under in her bid to win three straight events for the second time this season. The second-ranked Jutanugarn made two late bogeys in a 70. Top-ranked Lydia Ko and 2015 winner Suzann Pettersen also were 14 under. Ko had a 68, and Pettersen finished with a 66. Canadian star Brooke Henderson tied for 39th at 7 under after a 71.last_img read more

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Halfway home, more playoff thrills to come?

first_imgCriticized in the past for failing to identify the best player, the FedExCup might not have that problem this year. Check out the top 5 in the points standings and the Official World Golf Ranking. Their positions are different, but the players – Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm – are the same. The cream is rising to the top this postseason. Part of it is fortuitous timing, the best playing their best at the right time, but other factors are involved, too. Those near the top of the standings have a sense of freedom, focused more on contending than a cutoff for the top 30, 70 or 100. Big-game experience also helps – these guys know how to handle pressure and win important titles. And then there’s this: “We treat these three events and Atlanta as a major,” Thomas said. “We are trying to be peaking this time.” So much can change over the next two weeks, of course, but the start to these playoffs couldn’t have gone much better for the Tour. BMW Championship: Articles, video and photos Current FedExCup Playoff points standings For years, Camp Ponte Vedra pushed the narrative that the FedExCup crowned a season-long champion. That was a tough sell, however, when wild points’ fluctuations allowed Bill Haas (2011), Brandt Snedeker (2012) and Billy Horschel (2014) to seemingly come out of nowhere and bag the $10 million prize, leaving those who had better seasons to scratch their heads. Even last year, there was a dreaded scenario in which Paul Casey, who entered the Tour Championship at No. 5 in the standings, could walk away with the cup without a win that season.  Maybe that happens this year – we’re looking at you, once again, Mr. Casey – but it doesn’t seem likely. The last 10 playoff events have been won by some of the game’s biggest stars: Thomas, Johnson (twice), Rory McIlroy (twice), Patrick Reed, Spieth, Jason Day (twice) and Rickie Fowler. To kick off this year’s postseason, Johnson overcame a five-shot deficit at the Northern Trust, forcing a playoff with Spieth and then overpowering him on the first extra hole. But even more important for the Tour: Fans were paying attention. No, the cup likely won’t ever generate the same level of interest as the majors, but the final round on Long Island had the fourth-best TV rating for a non-major this year, and the best at that event since 2013 (when needle-mover Tiger Woods contended). On Labor Day, Thomas overtook Spieth on the back nine – signaling, perhaps, the beginning of a compelling rivalry – to win the second playoff event and solidify his case as PGA Tour Player of the Year. The off-week may have halted some of the postseason momentum, but the current top 5 in points – which, as a reminder, aligns with the players in the top 5 in the world ranking – should have no shortage of motivation these next two weeks. Thomas has been this season’s breakout star, powering his way to five wins, including the PGA, and finally emerging from the considerable shadow of Spieth, his longtime friend and healthy rival. It seems the only two players who could steal Thomas’ Player of the Year votes are Spieth and Johnson. Spieth has three wins this season (including the year’s most memorable major) and three runners-up, owns the best scoring average (68.8) and has only one less top-10 than Thomas while playing two fewer events. Boston was a missed opportunity, however, and now Spieth likely needs to win out to take the Jack Nicklaus Trophy. Fair or not, 2017 will always be remembered as a bittersweet year for Johnson, who has won four times (second-most on Tour) but can’t help but wonder what could have been if he didn’t injure his lower back on the eve of the Masters. Lest we forget: This spring, DJ evoked memories of Woods the way he steamrolled his competition. Assessing Johnson’s Player of the Year chances is more difficult, because the award is voted on by his peers, who, if history is any indication, significantly weight major victories. His four victories include two World Golf Championships, a playoff event and the tournament at Riviera, which boasts one of the strongest non-major fields of the year. If he takes the final two events – getting to six wins overall, and bookending his campaign with the best golf we’ve seen all year – then he deserves serious Player of the Year consideration, too.   As for the rest of the top 5? Matsuyama has had a quiet playoffs so far, dropping a few spots in the standings after getting his heart broken at the PGA, while Rahm, who just 15 months ago had no status on any tour, ascended to No. 5 in the world (and the FedExCup) on the strength of an early-season victory and eight other top-10s, including back-to-back top-4s to start the playoffs. Considering their form this year, any of those five players would be a satisfying season-long winner. Just as the PGA Tour designed it.last_img read more

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