June 4, 2009

Sore Thumbs

A growing number of tour players have taken to sharing the details of their life -- from the comical to the mundane -- on Twitter

Players like Stewart Cink have begun to use Twitter as a means of getting their message directly to fans.

Players like Stewart Cink have begun to use Twitter as a means of getting their message directly to fans.

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Chris DiMarco was standing on the driving range at Muirfield Village when he saw Stewart Cink. DiMarco told Cink he was woken up at 1 a.m. when his handheld device sounded, alerting him to a new Twitter post from Cink.

"Why the heck are you tweeting at 1 a.m?" DiMarco said.

"Why the heck don't you turn your device off?" Cink said.

Actually, there's no turning off Twitter these days, at least not on the PGA Tour, where tweeting is almost as popular as birdies among golf pros. At last count, there are 13 pros active on Twitter, the social networking site that's tweeting all over the place, even at this week's Memorial Tournament. Cink is leading the way in the 140-character messaging system, which has become a convenient way to keep up with your friends, or semi-friends or people you don't even know but who want to you about you.

As of Thursday, Cink has 281,531 "followers," or readers who have signed up to read his periodical messages, or tweets. In April, Cink had about 75,000 followers. A month ago, he passed the 150,000 mark and he's nearly doubled that number again in just 30 days.

What they're learning from Cink's tweets probably isn't going to amount to any life-changing experience, but they're fun, and there isn't any law against that. Yet.

Among Cink's 646 updates, here are some examples of what he's "tweeting" about:

To the fellow who confused me with Camilo, 'Muchas gracias, amigo!

Cink was referring to the announcer at the 18th green during Wednesday's chip-off as part of the Memorial skins game, when Cink was mistakenly introduced as Camilo Villegas.

Ah, the glorious life! Picked up a skin against Jack, Tiger and KP earlier in the afternoon. Now doing my laundry.

Wow, Stan Van Gundy got a haircut and a new blazer for Final Game 1.

  • Early tee time tomorrow not NBA Finals friendly . . . :(*

Cink (StewartCink) doesn't have the only Twitter address among his peers. There's also DiMarco (ChrisDiMarco), John Daly (PGA_John Daly), Davis Love III (Love 3D), Parker McLachlin (ParkerMcLachlin), Ian Poulter (IanJamesPoulter), Stuart Appleby (StuartAppleby), Tadd Fujikawa (Tadd_Fujikawa), Boo Weekley (BooWeekley), Pat Perez (PatPerezGolf), J.J. Henry (JJHenryGolf, Peter Jacobsen (JakeTrout) and Spencer Levin (Spencer_Levin).

Cink follows the tweets of 33 others on Twitter, including Love, McLachlin, DiMarco, Henry as well as wife Lisa Cink and their 5-year-old son Connor. So that may not exactly be a legion or even an army of twitterers, but it's a start. Meanwhile Cink said his start into tweeting happened innocently enough while watching the ESPN show "Pardon the Interruption" that featured fellow Georgia Tech athlete Chris Bosh, who plays for Toronto and also uses Twitter.

"The whole discussion evolved from whether this was too much information, to the merits of whether it was wise to sidestep the media to get your message out, and finally to whether this is the future of journalism," Cink said. "I was intrigued, then hooked."

There is no telling just where this is all going to end up, but you can probably assume there are going to be some sore thumbs if it continues to take off. And all signs indicate that it's just getting bigger. Want to know how we know? Dan Jenkins, the venerable writer-at-large for Golf Digest, is going to tweet at the U.S. Open. For many who know Jenkins, this is startling news, if only for the fact that Jenkins sometimes needs help turning his computer on.

Chances are he'll be a natural, though. After all, if Boo Weekley and John Daly can figure it out, he'll be fine and posting tweets like a veteran tweeter in no time, just like Cink.