October 25, 2013

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Tiger Woods Vs. Rory McIlroy: The Sequel

By: Tyler Vespa

In the inaugural event last year, “The Duel at Jinsha Lake”, Rory McIlroy shot a 67 to edge Tiger Woods by one stroke in Zhengzhou, China.

Last year, Rory was number 1 in the world well Woods was number 2. This year, Tiger Woods is world number 1 again by a large margin. McIlroy has dropped all the way down to world number 6 after a rough 2013.

Neither player won a major in 2013. Tiger Woods has now gone 5 years without winning a major. In 16 events on tour in 2013, McIlroy had 1 runner-up and 5 top 10’s. Woods had 5 wins in 2013 and probably should have won at Augusta if not for an unlucky break.

The sequel to this world-class showdown, “The Match at Mission Hills” should be just as riveting, as both players haven’t seen the competitive landscape in a while. The golf will take place on October 28th at the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills in Haikou, China.

McIlroy hasn’t played since the BMW Championship and Woods not since the Tour Championship.

For me, this is a case of “what have you done for me lately?” Rory has really struggled ever since he signed with Nike. Personally, I hope he figures things out. But in the mean time, I’m taking Tiger by 4 strokes at Mission Hills.

Tiger will shoot 4 under par, and Rory will shoot even par.

October 4, 2013

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In Case You Missed It – September

By: Joe Williams

It’s been a full month of college and NFL football and baseball’s regular season finished with an exciting extra game to determine the final playoff spot. Many of us are spending more time in football pools and on our fantasy teams. If that sounds like you, there may be some interesting things from the sports world that you missed. Here’s a few that caught my eye in the last few weeks.

A billboard advertising UNLV football and basketball tickets was put up with the wrong basketball coach in the picture. The school’s former basketball coach Lon Kruger ended up on the billboard instead of current coach Dave Rice.

Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes in the first game of the NFL season and the Columbus Dispatch made an error and printed a headline giving John Elway credit for the record-setting performance.

Not many people would have guessed a month ago that Trent Richardson would be traded in September.

The Tennessee Titans started the season off on the wrong foot when Darius Reynaud caught the opening kickoff, took a step backward and went down to one knee, giving the Steelers a safety and a 2-0 lead. Things have since turned around for the Titans who are 3-1.

For the first time in NFL history, a game finished with the score 28-2. (Kansas City defeated Jacksonville)

Baseball’s home run leader Chris Davis hit a foul ball into his own jersey.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston made headlines when he said that he was looking forward to facing the Nevada Wolfpack because he wanted to see Wolfpack defensive end Brock Hekking’s mullet.

The Seattle Seahawks took an unusual step to increase fan safety at their home games, by announcing that there would be undercover police in the stadium wearing jerseys from the opposing teams.

Former Tampa Bay quarterback and team captain Josh Freeman didn’t help his cause with his teammates by not showing up for the annual team photo.

A TV station in Orlando actually apologized to its viewers for having to show the Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Oakland Raiders (due to NFL policy).

The Cleveland Browns shocked the NFL when they traded last year’s No. 3 overall pick, running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. Nobody was more shocked than Richardson though, who learned of the trade by hearing it on the radio.

The NHL is putting in some new rules and one of them states that players will be penalized for removing their helmets before a fight. But that didn’t stop Krys Barch and Brett Gallant who kindly removed each others helmets so they could duke it out.

It took bunch of complaints from the fan base for someone with the Cincinnati Bengals to realize that a Katy Perry song is not a good choice for getting your team fired up to play football. Her new song “Roar” had been used all through the Bengals game against the Steelers.

In one of the more bizarre rivalries in college football, Concordia University and St. Olaf College faced off for the right to win a “Troll.” True story.

One Utah fan took the rivalry with BYU to a new level by sending in photos of a BYU player breaking school rules and got him suspended for five games right before the teams met on the field.

Brett Favre’s agent just had to do it again and announce that the former quarterback “could play today.” Haven’t we all suffered enough?

The Denver Broncos had such an easy time against the Oakland Raiders that the running backs Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball all wanted to score a touchdown and the decision of who would get the glory came down to – you guessed it – a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Hillman was the winner and did score on a 1-yard run.

New Mexico State has such poor attendance at its football games that the school is now offering cash prizes to entice students to attend and stay at the games.

WNBA players Diana Taurasi and Siemone Augustus received a double-foul call after Taurasi kissed Augustus during the fourth quarter of the playoff game between Phoenix and Minnesota.

A high school team in Wisconsin put up a whopping 82 points in one game…and still lost. Final score: Oconomowoc 84, Wisconsin Lutheran School 82.

John Daly hit a golf ball out of a man’s mouth. And did it in the parking lot of a pizza joint in Nashville.

August 13, 2013

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Tiger Woods: The Last Time?

By: Tyler Vespa

With his T-40 finish this week at the PGA, Tiger Woods has now gone 5 full seasons without a major. This particular drought is the longest of his nearly unmatched career.

However, not much has changed other than that. He is still number 1 in the world by a wide margin. He has won 5 times this year, and leads the FedEx Cup standings, which would normally guarantee him another player of the year crown, save for the man in 2nd in those standings, Phil Mickelson. Phil’s year would better Tiger’s simply based upon his win at Muirfield.

And for all those convinced he will never surpass Jack’s record of 18 professional major titles, you need only look ahead to 2014. The major venues for next year have been set in stone for a while now. We’ll begin in April as we always do with the Masters at Augusta National where Tiger’s collected 4 of his 14 major titles.

A few months later Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open. The last time the U.S. Open was played there in 2005, Tiger finished runner-up to New Zealander Michael Campbell, who has slipped all the way down to 306th in the world. Need I say more.

A month later, the British Open will be held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake. The last time it was hosted there in 2006, Tiger shot 18-under par, 270 to beat fellow American Chris DiMarco by two shots. In case you forgot, Tiger used one driver off the tee all week.

One year from now, the PGA Championship will be staged at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. The last time the PGA was held there was in 2000. Yeah, 2000. Wasn’t that? Yeah. “The Tiger Slam”. Tiger beat Bob May in a playoff to win his third major of the season.

That’s ironic. Tiger may not win the “Grand Slam” in 2014, but if he doesn’t, I “fully” expect him to be within a few strokes of doing so. No pun intended.

June 17, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Justin Rose wins U.S. Open: Justin Rose capped off a spectacular Sunday of golf winning the U.S. Open (+1) for his first major championship. He became the first British golfer to win the title since 1970 when Tony Jacklin did it. Just as big of a story was Phil Mickelson finishing as the bridesmaid yet again, as he finished in a tie for second at +3 with Jason Day. Mickelson’s eighth 2nd place finish ties him with Sam Snead, Greg Norman, and Tom Watson for the third most runner-ups in majors history. Jack Nicklaus leads the way in that category with 19.

Alex Ovechkin was the winner of this year's Hart Trophy over the weekend.

San Antonio Spurs take 3-2 series lead over Miami Heat: The San Antonio Spurs took a 3-2 series lead over the Miami Heat by way of their Game 5 win on Sunday night. That puts the Spurs in position to win a fifth ring for future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan … but it won’t be easy. San Antonio still needs to win one out of two games in Miami and the Heat just don’t lose very much at home. And with an NBA title on the line, you can bet the fans won’t be easy on the road team.

Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins tied 1-1 in Stanley Cup Finals: The NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals are tied at a game apiece with two exciting contests thus far. Andrew Shaw scored a goal in the third overtime of the Game 1 thriller to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win. The Bruins won Game 2 in overtime behind Daniel Paille’s third goal. Even if you’re not a good hockey fan, two overtime games already should make you want to watch the rest of the series.

Chad Ochocinco Johnson heads to jail: Chad Johnson caught a break in his no-contest plea to battery charges against his then-wife when a court was ready to give him a community service/counseling deal to avoid jail time. But when Johnson smacked the butt of his attorney at excitement over the deal … well, let’s just say the judge wasn’t impressed. Judge Kathleen McHugh told Johnson it wasn’t a joke and promptly rejected his plea deal, sentencing him to 30 days in jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Seriously, though – what was Johnson thinking? I can understand being happy at the prospect of not heading to the clink, but he clearly should have showed a bit more restraint until he got out of the court.

Alex Ovechkin wins Hart Trophy: The Washington CapitalsAlex Ovechkin took home his third Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP over the weekend. The winger is only the eighth player in league history to win that many. Other players such as John Tavares and Sidney Crosby were also deserving, but Ovechin led the league with 32 goals and did so in a season where he moved to wing.

Tim Tebow signed by Patriots: The New England Patriots made a bit of a splash last week when they announced the signing of quarterback Tim Tebow. I don’t question that coaching guru Bill Belichick can find a way to utilize him in some way. What is surprising is that New England would bring him in with what should be a minimal impact. Unlike in New York, Tebow isn’t being brought in to challenge starter Tom Brady. So unless Brady goes down with an injury, Tebow’s impact at the position would be small. The talk is already about making Tebow a receiver or part of offensive packages as a skill player, but will he really be such an offensive difference-maker that it will make it worth all of the added attention and scrutiny of the team? Not likely.

Jason Kidd hired as Nets’ head coach: Last week I mentioned the possibility of the recently retired Jason Kidd becoming the Brooklyn Nets new coach. The Nets, who hadn’t previously had Kidd in mind, were convinced after his agent reached out to them and Kidd was hired last week. My opinion hasn’t really changed on this – a team with expectations so high shouldn’t be hiring a rookie head coach. He was a great player, but other greats such as Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, and Wes Unseld didn’t exactly make a successful transition from player to coach.

Dwight Howard and Chris Paul teammates?: ESPN reported last week that free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul may be exploring options to end up on the same team together. This move, of course, isn’t unprecedented with several players doing this in the past, including the Miami Heat’s ‘Big Three’ of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Howard and Paul are rumored to desire to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, but that would require a few things to happen. The team doesn’t have the cap space to sign Howard, so they’d need to do a sign and trade for him. And chances are that Blake Griffin would need to be included in such a deal.

Hall of Famer Lem Barney says football will soon end: Speaking at a football academy, Pro Football Hall of Famer Lem Barney declared that the game of football will end in 10-20 years because it is too dangerous. Barney’s not the only one to voice such an opinion with all of the talk of concussions lately, but I’m not sure the game ends anytime soon. After all – a sport like boxing where athletes take repeated shots to the head still exists. And when you consider that football is the most popular sport in the country, the guess here is that football continues to implement more safety measures rather than shut down entirely.

June 13, 2013

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2013 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW: Your Grandfather’s Open

By: Tyler Vespa

The winner finishes with even par or worse. The rough as high as 3 ½ inches high just a few feet off the fairway.  Tough, right? Now take away the flags on top of the pins and turn them into red woven baskets. Impossible? Well? No. Probably not, but how will you judge wind direction? Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania has a mission: To bring back the “old school” U.S. Open. Between the rough and keeping the woven baskets on top of the pins, Merion will succeed as “golf’s toughest test”.

Will Ian Poulter contend for the 113th U.S. Open?

The 113th edition of this great championship will see many of the game’s most talented players laying up on par 4’s out of the rough. That’s the U.S. Open. Sure, you’ll make some birdies, but how do you turn a double bogey or triple bogey into a bogey, and how do you turn a double bogey or bogey into a great par save?

Some call it grit, some call it grind, but whatever you choose to call it may not matter without will. So, along with asking yourself “what will you do”? you must also have the will to get the job done against all odds.

Now let’s talk about the contenders. Honestly, I’d love to see an amateur win this championship in my lifetime, but Merion just isn’t “open” enough. The beauty of this year’s field is the “long-bomber” versus the short and accurate. Either type of player could hold the trophy come Father’s Day.

With that here are my top 6 players who have the best chance to win the second major of the season:

1. Tiger Woods- 4 wins in 13’, 3-time U.S. Open champion, last in 2008.

2. Phil Mickelson- 1 win in 13’ (Phoenix Open) Shot 67, 65, 67, to finish T2 this past weekend in Memphis.

3. Matt Kuchar- 2 wins in 13’ (The Memorial) (WGC Match Play) T8 at the Masters, 4 other top 10’s, 14 for 14 on cuts made this year.

4. Sergio Garcia- Worst finish this year was a T17 at the Match Play, which means almost nothing. Sergio Garcia has played solid golf every week. Could this be the week it all comes together?

5. Graeme McDowell- 2010 U.S. Open champion. Runner-up last year at Olympic Club. He definitely has the grit to do it again.

6. Nicolas Colsaerts- Look out for “The Muscles from Brussels”. He was T4 last year at Olympic after 3 rounds before fading with a 6-over 76.

One of these 6 players will outlast the field to win America’s National Championship. I would love to see Phil Mickelson win his first U.S. Open. He’s had so many close calls and heartbreaks at this championship. That ends this week; He’s still good enough to win this tournament.