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Monday, April 15, 2013
Trending: Masters buzzing on social media

By Bill Speros
Special to ESPN.com

Golf fans in Australia got a green jacket for breakfast Monday, thanks to Adam Scott's Masters playoff victory over Angel Cabrera.

this is fun

— Adam Scott (@mradamscott) April 15, 2013


No, not that Adam Scott, who stars in the NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation."

Even though the people in the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., were left empty-handed, the Masters scored impressive numbers on social media throughout the weekend.

There were 1.9 million relevant tweets and Facebook posts about the Masters from Thursday through Sunday, according to Boston-based Crimson Hexagon, a social media monitoring company. Of those, 78 percent expressed positive sentiment and nearly a third of users said they were watching the tournament while posting. Four percent said they were rooting for Woods.

Masters Graphic
The social media buzz around the Masters accelerated with fallout from the decision by Masters' officials Saturday to penalize Tiger Woods two strokes - and not disqualify him - after he filled out an incorrect scorecard from Friday's round. Crimson Hexagon’s "Opinion Analysis Trend" found the penalty assessed to Woods represented 50 percent of the conversation about the Masters Saturday, but only two percent on Sunday. Over 1 million Masters-and-Woods related Tweets had been posted by 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday, said Twitter consumer communications manager Elaine Filadelfo.

More than 95,000 users were talking about the tournament on Twitter at 4 p.m. Sunday, according to data from SocialGuide, a Nielsen company that monitors Twitter usage among TV viewers. That number hit 176,937 when Scott clinched his green jacket at 7:38 p.m.

The Masters wasn't the only big buzz on social media. Kobe Bryant's Facebook rant, posted in the early-morning hours Saturday to his 16 million followers after his season-ending Achilles' injury, drew more than 423,000 comments and 87,000 shares by Sunday evening.

Later Saturday, Bryant launched on Instagram and had more than 130,000 followers in his first hour after posting photos of himself headed into surgery.

Surgery prep time. Lookin like Mrs Doubtfire with a jerri curl cap lol Anesthesia next #highasakiteinstagram.com/p/YDpvSYRNlS/

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 13, 2013


From KobeBryant via Instagram



That image of Bryant was shared more than 12,000 times on Twitter and 27,000 times on Facebook, while receiving more than 426,000 likes.

"Social media is an open media by design," said Sam Decker (@samdecker), founder and CEO of the social media management firm Mass Relevance. "It's up to them what they share. Kobe’s not jumping ahead to just the good sharing, he's sharing his entire story."

Woods went directly to his 3.2 million followers with a five-Tweet explanation of his side of the story surrounding the drop controversy, starting with this post:

At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules.

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 13, 2013


"Athletes turn to Twitter to give fans an unfiltered view, whether it's showing their behind-the-scenes routines, showing what life is like on off days, or addressing hot topics," Filadelfo said.

Woods' supporters also turned to Twitter:

@tigerwoods is the best!!!

— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) April 14, 2013


As did his critics:

Tiger Woods should disqualify himself. Now.

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 13, 2013


The decision by Bryant and Woods to break major news via social media marked another trend in its evolution, according to Tariq Ahmad, a social business manager for IBM and social media adjunct professor at Columbia University.

He said the posts by Woods and Bryant were significant due to three factors: audience size (Bryant and Woods combined to have more than 23 million social media followers), the direct source of the information and the public’s expectations.

"The way society has developed the past few years, people are wanting their favorite athletes to use social media to communicate with them," Ahmad said. "People wanted to know how Kobe was feeling about his injury; they received an answer. People wanted an explanation to Tiger's two-shot penalty; they received an answer."

In his Facebook post, Bryant even offered his own definition of social media, writing, "Forgive my Venting but what's the purpose of social media if I won't bring it to you Real?"

"To be ‘real’ is -- or should be -- the core principle for using social media," Decker said. "The audience gets plenty of polish and spin from standard media. This 'realness' is what pulls fans in, and attracts new ones."

Decker estimated that the final reach of Bryant's post, given its spread by word of mouth and other media, will be in "the hundreds of millions."

"Kobe, Tiger or brands wouldn't be sharing on social media unless their fans were there,” Decker added. “Kobe shared frustration with his situation at 3:30 a.m., giving a real perspective. The question next may be 'Where does this all go?' If Kobe and athletes share more, fans will like, follow and participate more. There's a virtuous cycle here between fans, athletes, teams, leagues and brands."

That cycle was in heavy spin with the final round of the Masters on Sunday.

Another great finish to the Masters....

— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) April 14, 2013


Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters.

#AdamScott making Aussie's proud #MastersVictory

— Dannii Minogue (@DanniiMinogue) April 14, 2013


When Cabrera forced a playoff just before 7 p.m., 132,475 fans were buzzing about the tournament, according to SocialGuide's numbers.

Who's winning this masters Adam Scott or Cabrera? #Masters2013

— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) April 14, 2013


Cabrera nearly won it with his chip shot from the rough on the first playoff hole.

That was in wasn't it?!?!

— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) April 14, 2013


Nope.

Scott birdied the second playoff hole, winning by a stroke. He was headed in one direction, according to fellow Aussie and CBS commentator Ian Baker-Finch: "From down under to the top of the world."

Yeaaahhhh Adam Scott ya legend! Doin it for the Aussies! It's a sad time when ur own ur own shouting at the TV! Isn't it?

— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) April 15, 2013


When the tournament ended, Scott was the No. 3 topic on Twitter, followed by #OutbackAdamScott, a quickly arranged promotion from Outback Steak House, which awarded five followers using its hashtag a month of free fare to celebrate the win.

Dear #AdamScott: 5 of our followers really want Free Outback for a Month, please don't disappoint ; ) #OutbackAdamScott

— Outback Steakhouse (@Outback) April 14, 2013


Twitter users continued to talk about the tournament into the evening. More than 223,000 users were still talking about Scott's victory an hour later, according to SocialGuide's numbers, and Scott briefly became the No. 1 topic on Twitter.

Let's recap the Masters .. Adam Scott won. Adam Scott is attractive. Adam Scott won in a playoff. Adam Scott.. Still attractive. The end.

— Charissa Thompson (@CharissaT) April 15, 2013


That's one way to sum it up.

When Woods finished on 18 at about 6:20 p.m. Eastern time with a 70 at 5 under, more than 107,000 users were tweeting about the Masters. Woods was the No. 10 trending topic in the United States before eventually being replaced by mentions of his former caddie Steve Williams, Scott and Cabrera after the 72nd hole.

For goodness sake cover up that chest hair Steve Williams... kids are watching. #Masters

— Matt Weitzel (@BigWeitz) April 14, 2013


Meanwhile, several pros tweeted their congratulations to Scott and showed no signs of being green with envy.

Congrats to Adam! Pumped for him! The Masters and Augusta are a special place...moving on and looking forward to being back next year!

— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA) April 14, 2013


The Masters mojo continues this week with Fowler desperately trying to find a place to rest in this new #SleepAdvantage Crowne Plaza ad campaign.



Golf fans everywhere can sympathize.

Elsewhere:

#&8226; Monday is Patriots Day in Massachusetts (and Maine), meaning thousands of runners hit the streets between Hopkinton and Boston. Runner Tim Scapillato went from pack-a-day smoker in 1985 to Boston Marathon guide to fellow runner Ron Hackett, who is blind. They were connected through the Facebook page Won with One. Scapillato's story was posted Monday onFacebook Stories. The marathon will be their third race together.

• Baylor center Brittney Griner is the consensus expected No. 1 pick of the Phoenix Mercury in Monday's WNBA draft, which this year airs for the first time in prime time. The first round begins on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. Eastern time, with the second and third rounds on ESPNU starting at 9. All three rounds of the draft can be seen on WatchESPN.

Bill Speros is an ESPN.com contributor. He can be reached on Twitter @billsperos or via email at bsperos1@gmail.com.