April 15, 2014

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Breaking Down Bubba Watson’s Win At The Masters

By: Joe Williams

The 2014 Masters began with 98 players in the field. One by one they dropped out of contention until there was one man left on Sunday afternoon. Bubba Watson won his second green jacket in the last three years. In case you missed it, here’s how golf’s first Major of the year went down:

April 1: This is no April Fools joke…Tiger Woods announces that he had surgery on his back and will not play in the Masters. 97 players left.

April 6: Just four days before the Masters begins, Matt Jones wins the Shell Houston Open to take last spot in field. He’s just happy to be in the field. 96 players left.

April 9: The day before the Masters begins, Ryan Moore wins the Par 3 contest. Nobody ever wins both. 95 players left.

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter made it into the final 15, but couldn't hang on to beat Bubba Watson.

Round 1
1st hole: Brendon de Jonge makes a double-bogey on his first hole ever played at Augusta. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Keegan Bradley and Derek Ernst also walked off the first hole of the tournament at +2. That’s not how you want to start a major. 91 players left.

Front nine: Luke Donald takes an eight on the par-4 ninth hole for a front-nine 43. Graham DeLaet and Craig Stadler fired 42s. 88 players left.

Back nine: Jason Dufner started with nine straight pars but was derailed with a double-bogey at the tenth. He followed that up with three bogeys and a nine on the second side to shoot an 80. Chang-woo Lee, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Niebrugge, Ben Crenshaw and Branden Grace all failed to break 80. 82 players left.

Round 2
1st hole:
Graeme McDowell makes a double-bogey. Not the way to start your round. 81 players left.

Front nine: Mark Leishman makes a double-bogey on the 9th hole, dropping five shots in the last six holes. He would go from leading the tournament to missing the cut. Michael McCoy, Peter Hanson, Boo Weekley, Garrick Porteous, Trevor Immelman, Matteo Manassero, Patrick Reed, Ian Woosnam also played poorly on the first nine. 72 players left.

Phil Mickelson makes a triple-bogey at the 12th hole. 71 left.

Rory McIlroy’s second shot on the 13th hit a sprinkler and went well past the green, leading to a bogey on a hole that he desperately needed a birdie to climb back in the mix. This isn’t the kind of luck that major winners get. 70 players left.

Back nine: Tom Watson shoots +9 on the back nine. Tim Clark, Matt Every, Scott Stallings, Y.E. Yang, Roberto Castro, Angel Cabrera, David Lynn, Mark O’Meara, John Huh, Dustin Johnson, Ken Duke, Harris English, D.A. Points, Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Sang-Moon Bae and Victor Dubuisson also struggle. 51 players left.

Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson both finish bogey-bogey to miss the cut by a shot. 49 players left heading into the weekend.

Round 3
1st hole: Nick Watney, Francesco Molinari, and Oliver Goss make double-bogeys. Not what they had in mind for “moving day.” 46 players left.

Front Nine
Brandt Snedeker drops to +2 after a five-putt, quadruple bogey on the 4th hole. Joost Luiten, Darren Clarke, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle, Billy Horschel, Thongchai Jaidee, Martin Kaymer, Thorbjorn Olesen, Hunter Mahan, Vijay Singh, Larry Mize, K.J. Choi, Mike Weir, Stewart Cink, and Henrik Stenson all struggle on the front side. 30 players left.

Back nine: Stephen Gallacher, Lucas Glover, Steven Bowditch, Bill Haas, Jamie Donaldson, Louis Oosthuizen and Bernhard Langer fail to get into contention with one round left to play. 23 players left.

Final round
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano makes bogey on the 1st hole. 22 players left.

Adam Scott bogeys the 2nd and 3rd holes, Steve Stricker makes double-bogey on the 3rd and Russell Henley makes bogey on the 3rd. 19 players left.

Kevin Streelman bogeys holes 3 and 4. Jason Day makes bogey on 4 and Kris Kirk takes a double-bogey the 4th. 16 players left.

Jimmy Walker cards a bogey on the 7th. 15 players left.

Jordan Speith holes sand on the 4th hole to go -7. Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Gary Woodland are all at +1 and eight shots behind. 11 players left.

Jordan Speith birdies the 7th hole to go -8. At -1, John Senden is too far back. So is Jim Furyk, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Kevin Stadler. 7 players left.

Fred Couples knocks his second shot into the water on 11 and makes a double-bogey. 6 players left.

Rickie Fowler is out after back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine. 5 players left.

Thomas Bjorn makes a bogey on 14. He’s -2 and five shots back. 4 players left.

Matt Kuchar fails to birdie 15 or 16 and trails by four with two holes to go. 3 players left.

Jonas Blixt fails to birdie 17. He trails by three with one to play. 2 players left.

Jordan Speith fails to birdie 17 and Bubba Watson sinks his par putt to take a three shot lead to the final hole. It’s safe to say that Watson has another green jacket at this point. 1 player left to claim the Masters.

April 14, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

UConn wins … again: The Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams both took home NCAA championships last week with their respective wins over Kentucky and Notre Dame. While the women were heavy favorites coming into the tournament, the men’s team checked in as a No. 7 seed. They were the lowest seed to win it all since the Villanova Wildcats’ 1985 championship squad, who were victorious as a No. 8 seed. The men’s championship game, in particular, which featured No. 7 and No. 8 seeded teams, proved that it’s difficult to write off nearly any team in the field.

UConn Huskies

The UConn Men's & Women's basketball teams both brought home NCAA Championships this season.

John Calipari and the NBA: Shortly before the UConn-Kentucky game on Monday, former Wildcat Rex Chapman tweeted a rumor that Kentucky’s coach, John Calipari, would be leaving after the game to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Chapman later retracted the statement, but the buzz was already generated. For what it’s worth, Calipari denied the rumor and says he intends to stay with the Wildcats. The coach leaving for the NBA, particularly the Lakers, seems intriguing – but it also would be the wrong move. Few collegiate coaches do well enough to have long careers in the league and while Los Angeles is a prime job, there’s no guarantee for success there with not much else around an aging Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Los Angeles will have cap room this summer but still aren’t guaranteed to land a major star. Plus, Coach Cal has perhaps the best setup in the NCAA with top recruiting classes every year and a rabid fan base at one of college basketball’s historic programs.

Bubba Watson wins the Masters: Golfer Bubba Watson held off the field over the weekend to win the Masters. The victory on the sport’s grandest stage was his second in three years and his score of 69 in the final round gave him a three-stroke win over Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth. Crying afterwards and with his family close by, he just comes off as a guy that’s easy to root for. Despite the drama and popularity of the Masters, television ratings plummeted. A few reasons could be given, but the primary one is the absence of Tiger Woods. Love him or hate him, Woods’ appearances draw viewers. With his recent back injury knocking him out of the event, fewer viewers tuned in.

Rory McIlroy … and toast: A college lecturer bet $1,700.00 on golfer Rory McIlroy to win the Masters after seeing his ‘image’ on a slice of toast. Seems totally reasonable.

Ultimate Warrior dies: The Ultimate Warrior, one of the WWE’s brightest stars in the 1990s, passed away unexpectedly last week when he suddenly collapsed at the age of 54. Making the death even more eerie was that only days before, he had reconciled with the federation that made him a star after disagreements between the two sides that spanned many years. James Hellwig, who legally changed his name to Warrior, was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame over the weekend then appeared on Monday Night Raw just prior to his death.

Shawne Merriman to the WWE: Speaking of pro wrestling, a former football player is reportedly on his way to the WWE. Defensive standout Shawne Merriman is hoping to make the jump from the NFL to pro wrestling, after debuting briefly at Wrestlemania as an announcer. Merriman is an outstanding athlete but my bets are generally against these sorts of things working out. Not only is wrestling a difficult art to grasp, but the schedule is incredibly demanding with the talent often working several dates a week with live shows and non-televised house shows. Traveling on the road makes it a difficult life and learning how to wrestle is just part of it.

Chad Johnson could land in Canadian Football League: Last we saw Chad Johnson, he was Chad Ochocinco and catching passes for the New England Patriots. After a disappointing year where he caught only 15 balls for 276 yards in 2011, he didn’t play another regular season game. According to ESPN, Johnson is now hoping to latch on with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He may be able to still play at the age of 36, but using a stint in the CFL to revive his NFL career is unlikely. The wide receiver has been in steady decline since 2007 when he caught 93 passes for a career-best 1,440 yards. Since that season, he has had only one 1,000-yard season. His brief time in New England may have been a bit of an aberration since he wasn’t targeted very much. However, it’s been a few years since Johnson has even played competitively – let alone all that well.

Ball Girl interference: A Baltimore Orioles ball girl accidentally fielded a live ball and somehow couldn’t stop smiling about the gaffe.

April 16, 2013

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Scott Outlasts Field At Augusta

By: Joe Williams

One mistake can dash your hopes of winning a major championship. The margin for error is smaller at Augusta than anywhere and sometimes the man that claims the green jacket is the one that avoids the major mistake. So in case you missed it, here’s how Adam Scott ended up winning the Masters on Sunday.

94 players qualified for the Masters.

Sergio Garcia started off hot, but couldn't hold on through Sunday.

Monday

Darren Clarke withdrew because of a hamstring injury. 93 players remain in contention.

Wednesday

Ted Potter Jr. defeats Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar to win the Par 3 Contest. Nobody has ever won the Par 3 and the Masters in the same year. 92 players remain in contention.

Thursday

Nathan Smith makes the first bogey of the tournament and drops into last place.91 players remain in contention.

Craig Stadler makes an 8 on No. 10. and falls to +6.

Robert Garrigus makes a triple-bogey on No. 12 and falls to +6.

Other players who posted high numbers in the first round: Alan Dunbar, Ben Crenshaw, Ian Woosnam, Hiroyuki Fujita, Thaworn Wiratchant, Tom Watson, Michael Weaver, Branden Grace, Nick Watney, Padraig Harrington, Thorbjorn Olesen. 78 players remain in contention.

Friday

With the cut looming, several players played themselves out of contention: Louis Oosthuizen, John Merrick, Ben Curtis, Mike Weir, Nicolas Colsaerts, Ian Poulter, T.J. Vogel, Russell Henley, Kevin Streelman, Francesco Molinari, Steven Fox, and Hunter Mahan. 66 players remain in contention.

Mark O’Meara makes a triple-bogey on No. 18 to miss the cut. 65 players remain in contention.

Jason Day makes birdie on 16 to take the lead at -6 and move the cut line to +4. Jamie Donaldson, Martin Laird, George Coetzee, Matteo Manassero, Y.E. Yang, Larry Mize, Webb Simpson and Graeme McDowell are out.57 players remain in contention.

Saturday

Tiger Woods receives a controversial two-shot penalty after the rules committee reviewed him taking an illegal drop and signing an incorrect scorecard in the second round. The No. 1 player in the world lost his momentum and dropped to -1, five shots off the lead. Many of the analysts and golfing greats called for Woods to disqualify himself from the tournament. Woods played on, but couldn’t overcome everything going against him. 56 players remain in contention.

Saturday is known as moving day and for some players, who barely made the cut, there was a lot of moving to do and some couldn’t get it going on the first nine. Tianlang Guan, Ryo Ishikawa, Keegan Bradley, Peter Hanson, Sandy Lyle, Carl Pettersson, John Peterson, Michael Thompson, Ryan Moore, Trevor Immelman, Kevin Na, Vijay Singh, Richard Sterne, D.A. Points, Henrik Stenson, 41 players remain in contention.

Others waited for the second nine to fall apart. The 11th hole was especially brutal and claimed big-name players Phil Mickelson (double-bogey), Rory McIlroy (triple-bogey) and Bubba Watson (double-bogey).  Thomas Bjorn, Scott Piercy, Lucas Glover, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, David Lynn, Jose Maria Olazabal, Brian Gay, David Toms, Stewart Cink, John Huh, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, K.J. Choi, Fredrik Jacobson, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, John Senden and Charl Schwartzel were all unable to get into position going into the final round. 19 players remain in contention.

Sunday

Fred Couples makes a bogey and Jason Dufner makes a double-bogey on No. 1. 17 players remain in contention.

Rickie Fowler makes a double-bogey on No. 3. 16 players remain in contention.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano makes a double-bogey on No. 4. 15 players remain in contention.

Justin Rose makes a bogey on No. 5. 14 players remain in contention.

Bo Van Pelt makes a double-bogey on No. 7. 13 players remain in contention.

Jason Day eagles No. 2, making it a three-way tie for the lead at -8. Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Steve Stricker are all too far back. 9 players remain in contention.

Tim Clark makes a double-bogey on No. 5. 8 players remain in contention.

Angel Cabrera makes a birdie on No. 7, while Bernhard Langer bogeys No. 10. Langer and Matt Kuchar are both seven shots off the lead. 6 players remain in contention.

Lee Westwood makes a bogey on No. 13 and is six shots behind. 5 players remain in contention.

Brandt Snedeker puts it in the water on No. 13. 4 players remain in contention.

Mark Leishman hits it in the water on No. 15 and Jason Day makes a birdie. Leishman is now three shots behind. 3 players remain in contention.

Adam Scott birdies No. 18 to finish at -9. Angel Cabrera is in the 18th fairway at -8 and Jason Day is finished at -7. Day is eliminated. 2 players remain in contention.

Angel Cabrera birdies No. 18 to force a playoff with Adam Scott.

Cabrera and Scott both make par on the first playoff hole.

Adam Scott sinks a birdie putt on the second playoff hole after Cabrera’s putt just misses the cup.

Cabrera is eliminated and Adam Scott is your Masters champion.

April 11, 2013

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Contenders To Win at Augusta

By: Joe Williams

This is what we’ve been waiting eight months for. Golf’s first major championship of the season has begun and there are plenty of storylines happening in Augusta. Of course, the most important one is winning the green jacket come Sunday afternoon. Here are a few guys I’ll be paying attention to this week.

Could Steve Stricker's putting tips help Tiger Woods win the 2013 Masters?

Bubba Watson

One year ago, Bubba hit one of the greatest shots in Masters history on his way to claiming the green jacket. He’s become one of the biggest stars in golf. Don’t let the hot pink driver fool you…he hits it a ton and he loves to shape his shots. With that combination, he should have as good a shot as anyone this week. Can he defend his championship?

Tiger Woods

Really this should be a list of players to watch other than Tiger. If Woods is in the field, he’ll be the most watched player by far. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s won three times this year while nobody else has more than one. He back at the top of his game and back at the top of the world rankings. Will his major drought come to an end this week?

Dustin Johnson

Johnson has already won this year and finished T12 and T4 in his last two tournaments. His length will give him an advantage over just about everyone in the field. He will have to get on a hot streak with the putter and if he is in contention on Sunday, we’ll see if he can avoid the major mistake that has already cost him a couple majors in his short career.

Rory McIlroy

He nearly had the tournament won two years ago at the beginning of his rise to No. 1 in the world. He struggled and had confidence issues after making an equipment change but finished second last week, giving him some momentum heading into the season’s first major. Is it enough to handle the course that will penalize you for the slightest mistake?

Lee Westwood

He could be the best player that hasn’t won a major but he is running out of chances. He’s got three straight high finishes at Augusta and finished in the top 10 in Houston. He’s confident heading into the tournament but will he be able to sink the crucial putt down the stretch that he hasn’t made in all of his close calls?

Phil Mickelson

He says this is his favorite week of the year. He always seems to be in contention at Augusta. He has won three of the last seven Masters tournaments and could have made it four last year if it wasn’t for a couple “Phil the Thrill” moments that turned into two triple-bogeys.

A few others

Tianlang Guan: He’s 14. And he’s playing in the Masters.

Martin Laird: He won last week

Brandt Snedeker: 2nd on the money list and FedEx Cup Points list

T.J. Vogel: An amateur usually shows up on the leaderboard. Why not him?

April 10, 2012

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Surviving The Masters

By: Joe Williams

A lot of things need to go right for you to win a major championship. And, of course, it helps when things go wrong for the other players in the field. Sometimes you just have to survive the pitfalls of a pressure-packed week to give yourself a chance at the end. That is just what Bubba Watson did. In case you missed it, here’s how the field narrowed down to one Masters Champion:

Ian Poulter was one of the final casualties before Bubba Watson claimed the green jacket.

Tuesday: No. 12 in the world rankings, Dustin Johnson withdraws with a back injury. 96 players remain in the field.

Wednesday: Padraig Harrington and Jonathan Byrd tied for first in the rain-shortened Par 3 Contest. No winner of the Par 3 Contest has won the Masters in the same year. 94 players still alive for the green jacket.

Thursday, 10 a.m.: The first group of the day has finished the front nine. Craig Stadler is already +6. Count him out. 93 players still alive.

Thursday, 11 a.m.: Mark O’Meara withdraws with a rib injury. 92 players left.

Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: You can’t win the tournament on Thursday, but you can sure play yourself out of it. Just ask Henrik Stenson. He led the tournament at -5 as he stood on the 18th tee. He walked off the 18th green at -1 after making the highest score ever at the finishing hole. Talk about ruining your week. Other players who shot themselves out of the tournament with a 79 or higher are Sandy Lyle, Randal Lewis, Chez Reavie and Johnson Wagner. 87 players left.

Friday, 3 p.m.: Jason Day withdraws with a foot injury. 86 players left.

Friday, 6 p.m.: Lee Westwood makes a double-bogey at 18 and falls out of the lead. The lead is now -5, leaving the cut line at +5. A few players at +5 get lucky and will be around for the weekend. John Senden, Kyung-Tae Kim, Paul Casey, Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize, Harrison Frazar, Kyle Stanley, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Rory Sabbatini, Robert Garrigus, Ryan Palmer, Ryo Ishikawa, K.J. Choi, Bryden MacPherson, Ian Woosnam, Mark Wilson, Darren Clarke, Tim Clark, Lucas Glover, Simon Dyson, Corbin Mills, Alvaro Quiros, Brendan Steele and Ben Crenshaw aren’t so lucky. They’ll be watching for the weekend. 59 players remain.

Saturday: It’s moving day and if you just barely made the cut you need to go low. Tiger Woods makes his second bogey of the day at No. 9 and drops back to +3. He is done. It also doesn’t happen for Thomas Bjorn, Keegan Bradley, Angel Cabrera, Patrick Cantlay, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher, Scott Verplank, Eduardo Molinari, Anders Hansen, Martin Laird, Kelly Kraft, Bo Van Pelt, Gonzalo Fernando Castano or Trevor Immelman. 41 players left.

Saturday, front nine: In one of the final parings of the day, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia combine to shoot 82 on the front nine. Who knows where that came from, but it takes both stars out of contention. 39 players left.

Saturday, 4 p.m.: Gary Woodland withdraws with a wrist injury. 38 players left.

Saturday, 6 p.m.: Fan-favorite Freddie Couples’ bid to climb back up the leaderboard comes to an end with bogeys on 15 and 16. He’s got plenty of company as Stewart Cink, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Bill Haas, David Toms, Zach Johnson, Aaron Baddeley, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Kevin Chappell, Y.E. Yang, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Scott Stallings, Geoff Ogilvy, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Justin Rose, Charles Howell III, Brandt Snedeker, Sang-Moon Bae, and Jim Furyk are all too far back to make a Sunday run at the Masters. 15 players left.

Sunday, 2nd hole: Louis Oosthuizen makes the fourth double-eagle in Masters history to take the lead at -10. Francesco Molinari, Nick Watney, Jason Duffner, Fredrik Jacobson, Ben Crane, Sean O’Hair and Paul Lawrie are too far off the lead. 8 players left.

Sunday, 4th hole: Phil Mickelson makes triple-bogey. No Masters champion has ever had a triple-bogey. Phil has two this week. 7 players left.

Sunday, 12th hole: Peter Hanson shanks his tee shot on the par 3. It stays short of the water but a shank doesn’t leave your mind for a while. 6 players left.

Sunday, 13th hole: Hunter Mahan fails to make a birdie and falls fives shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen. 5 players left.

Sunday, 17th hole: Ian Poulter needs a birdie-birdie finish to post a number for the leaders to think about. His birdie putt just misses and he is four shots behind with just one hole left. 4 players left.

Sunday, 16th hole: Bubba Watson makes a birdie to tie for the lead at -10. Lee Westwood is in the clubhouse at -8 and cannot expect two players to falter on the last two holes. Westwood is out. 3 players remain.

Sunday, 18th hole: Matt Kuchar misses a birdie putt that would have pulled him to within a shot of the lead. He needs both leaders to make a double-bogey on 18. Not going to happen. Kuchar is eliminated. 2 players left.

Sunday, 20th hole: Louis Oosthuizen is unable to get up-and-down from in front of the 10th green for a par on the second playoff hole. Bubba Watson hits a miracle recovery shot out of the woods and two-putts for a par and the win.

Masters Champion: Bubba Watson