Social media has become a huge part of the world of sports, and nowhere is that more true than on the PGA Tour.
Seemingly every player in the John Deere Classic, which begins today at TPC Deere Run, has a Twitter account and they use them in vastly different ways.
Early Monday morning, up-and-coming pro Harold Varner III posted a photo of himself mowing his parents’ lawn in Gastonia, North Carolina, aboard a red Toro rider, adding “@JohnDeere I might look better in some green.’’
J.T. Poston took to Twitter to whine about the difficulty of getting from a tournament in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to Silvis, Illinois, including a GIF of Forrest Gump waving from his shrimping boat and calling it “by far the most challenging travel day of the year.’’
Several golfers used the medium to praise the hospitality of the JDC before the tournament had even begun.
Steven Bowditch? He used Twitter to find a caddie.
The Australian-born veteran was a late addition to the JDC field on Monday afternoon, and he immediately put out the call to find someone to carry his bag.
"Any local kids/college players in the Quad cities area that are interested in caddying in the tournament this week, this thread is for you," Bowditch tweeted. "The best response/reason gets the job. 2pm Tues start, finish Friday. 1% chance Sunday. Payment: all leftover gloves and balls are yours."
We should mention that Bowditch has made the cut in only two of the past 37 PGA Tour events in which he has played. This wasn’t likely to be a get-rich-quick proposition for whomever he chose. The compensation was almost certain to be a fistful of Titleists.
Elias Francque, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, doesn’t care about that. As soon as his father showed him the Twitter item Monday night, he knew this was something he wanted to do.
Elias, who turns 17 on Friday, is going into his senior year at Maine South High School, where he plays on the golf team. He also caddies in the northwest suburbs, has two uncles who work for John Deere, and his grandparents live near Geneseo so he has a place to stay while he’s carrying Bowditch’s bag.
All of those were valid selling points, but just to make sure, Elias threw in one last line in his Twitter response: "I love Australia."
"He fit the criteria pretty good," Bowditch said in explaining why he chose Elias from the hundreds of pitches he received.
He admitted the "I love Australia" line didn’t hurt.
"That was the final," Bowditch said.
As word spread through Deere Run on Tuesday that Bowditch had selected an out-of-towner to tote his bag, a handful of caddie wannabes on the practice range were grousing about the choice. One of them noted that he had spent an hour assembling his pitch to Bowditch, carefully choosing every word.
Sorry kid, should have thought to profess your affection for the land down under.
It could be a fairly daunting task for a slender teenager to carry the bag in a full-fledged PGA Tour event, but after the first nine holes of a practice round Tuesday, Elias didn’t seem the least bit overwhelmed.
"Just getting a good perspective on the course," he said with a shrug. "It’s been good."
It may be a little different today when Bowditch tees off at 1:50 p.m. in a group with Kevin Streelman and Kris Blanks.
Chances are, the kid will do just fine.
Bowditch isn’t worried. After the Tuesday practice round, he tweeted: "Day one completed with @e_francque The kid is a stud!!"
He figures maybe something like this will change his luck, although he said his motives go beyond that.
"Back when I was 16 or 17, we had a golf tournament back home and I got to caddie for (2006 JDC champion) John Senden one time, and it stuck with me," he said. "I thought one day I’d like to be able to do that with someone else.
"I got in late Monday afternoon and struggled to find a caddie just because I was a late entry. I thought it was a good opportunity to give someone like Elias here a good memory."