May 13, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Tiger Woods wins The Players Championship – Tiger Woods won his fourth tournament of the year on Sunday when he captured The Players Championship. The event went down to the wire as Woods held off Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth. Lingmerth missed a long birdie putt that would have sent it to a playoff, but it was Garcia and Woods who were the hot topic of discussion over the weekend. Garcia claimed Woods removed a club from his bag, which drew a roar from the crowd during his backswing, causing him to hit an errant shot. He and Tiger had a verbal back-and-forth spat through the media about the incident and the intensity increased as both were in contention on Sunday. But Garcia, tied for the lead at the time, hit an incredible three shots into the water on the 17th and 18th hole, and completely fell apart. His two gaffes on No. 17, gave him a quadruple-bogey, ending his chances of winning the title. The two have a long history of disagreements and this will only make any future pairings that much more uncomfortable.

Off to a 1-5 start, Strasburg is off to a slower start than many expected.

Phil Jackson reportedly says ‘No’ to New Jersey – Even though no one has been successful to date, that hasn’t stopped a steady stream of NBA teams in pursuit of the services of coaching legend, Phil Jackson. Jackson has been chased by a number of suitors but hasn’t been intrigued enough to take on his next challenge yet. Word is that he is seeking either a coaching job with some control over personnel decisions or a front office job in more of an administrative role. Jackson will only take the right job at this stage in his career. He’s obviously not hurting for money and his legacy is firmly intact. But my guess is we’ll see him back in some capacity down the line. The coach is already involved to a degree, reportedly helping the Detroit Pistons with their head coaching search after they dismissed Lawrence Frank.

Stephen Strasburg drops to 1-5 after another loss – The Washington Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg got off to a quality start this year with an Opening Day victory, but he hasn’t gotten into the win column since then. The starter is 1-5 on the season and lost another game this weekend against the Chicago Cubs. But if you’re ready to write Strasburg off, you’ll want to think again. He gave up four runs in that game, but none were earned due to an error. Strasburg’s ERA is still a more-than-respectable 3.10 and his 51 strikeouts placed him in a tie for seventh in the National League after the game. His biggest problem has been getting offense out of the rest of the team. In six of his eight starts, Washington has scored two runs or less. The Nats have given him only 2.25 runs per game and that’s not much to work with. As long as Strasburg keeps pitching well, though, the wins will come.

Kobe Bryant could battle mom in court – You read that correctly: the Mamba and his mother could head to court over some of the star’s memorabilia from his high school days and early years in the NBA. The “Cliffs Notes” version of the bizarre story is that the items (including jerseys, awards, autographed memorabilia, and more) have been at his mother’s house and that she moved them to storage to convert Bryant’s old bedroom into a playroom for her grandchildren. Somewhere along the way, she made a deal with an auction house to sell Bryant’s old belongings and received a $450,000 advance on the items, which were appraised at $1.5 million. She claimed that Bryant gave her permission to do what she wanted with the items, but the player says that’s not true. I don’t even know where to go with this – going to court with your parents isn’t an option most of us can fathom. The auction has been delayed recently by a court, so hopefully some degree of common sense can be restored.

Rumors of an ACC Network heating up – The Atlantic Coast Conference hopes to make a splash with a television deal, similar to the Big Ten Network, according to recent reports. The conference already has a deal with ESPN to broadcast games that will pay each ACC school $13 million to $17 million. But now the conference has its sights set on a separate ACC Network. That network could air football games not picked up by ESPN, games from low-revenue sports, and other conference content. The deal isn’t done, but it’s believed it would add millions more to member schools. To be honest, I’m surprised other conferences haven’t already gone that route. Getting cable companies to make the package readily available may not be the easiest thing to do, since it would represent an increased amount they need to charge customers. But in the end, all of the major conferences will likely have their own network at some point since there’s too much money to be made.

New Rutgers’ basketball coach Eddie Jordan reportedly without degree – Eddie Jordan was hired to take over the head coaching duties for the men’s basketball program after embattled Mike Rice was dismissed. But last week, a new twist emerged when it was learned that Jordan may not actually have graduated. The university says a degree is not required for the position, but the problem is that the school’s official bio for Jordan says that he possesses one. Jordan, for his part, reportedly took classes at Rutgers from 1973 to 1985 and claims that he didn’t get a diploma because he wasn’t registered properly. But that’s a pretty vague statement and it’s not yet known if Jordan deceived administrators when he pursued the job. One thing’s for certain – regarding all of the hiring flaps over the years with resume errors, it’s a bit odd that schools aren’t yet at the point where they’re fact-checking background information a bit more thoroughly.

May 8, 2013

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The 2013 Players Championship: Golf’s Greatest Stadium

By: Tyler Vespa

Coming into the 40th edition of what some call golf’s “5th major”, there have been two golfers on tour in 2013 that have separated themselves from the field. One of them is not a surprise; it’s Tiger Woods. The other put his name on the front page with his victory at the Masters. Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the green jacket. Since then, the tour had two first time winners in Billy Horschel and David Ernst, and Graeme McDowell, whose world class play was again realized with his win at Harbor Town. With the wind howling, McDowell did what he did at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, outlasted everybody.

Sergio Garcia won the 2008 Players Championship.

Each year, the Players Championship along with maybe only the U.S. Open is an event where the course is the victor almost every year. The TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) is home of the famous island hole, the par 3 17th hole, and yes it’s definitely “Better Than Most”.  At just 137 yards, which for a pro is almost always a birdie opportunity, the hole has played to a scoring average of 3.14 since 2003. In case you aren’t convinced, Phil Mickelson has hit 7 balls in the water on the hole since 2003. 11% of the shots hit here since 2003 have found the water. Bob Tway holds the record for most balls in the water since 2003 with 9.

The worst part, your round is not over. You still have to play # 18. The hole is a 447-yard Par 4 dogleg left around a lake. Since 2003, it has ranked as the toughest hole at Sawgrass with a scoring average of 4.34. I liken it to a “horseshoe”, with water in the middle. The problem is the horseshoe is the PGA Tour’s version of Lombard Street.

With that, here are 5 guys who could hold the crystal on Sunday:

  1. Graeme McDowell - The Northern Irishmen is the best wind player on tour. If it plays firm and fast, and the wind blows, McDowell will win another huge event.
  2. Adam Scott - The Aussie won the event back in 2004, and his game is as solid as it’s ever been.
  3. Luke Donald - The 5th-ranked player in the world has Top 10 finishes in the last two years at Sawgrass.
  4. Matt Kuchar - He’s defending a title this week, and has 3 other top 20’s at Sawgrass. The field better watch out if he gets comfortable.
  5. Tiger Woods - He’s not my favorite this week at the Stadium Course, but he’s playing too well this year to leave off the ballot. I would be surprised if this year’s Tiger can’t find a top 5 finish this week.

May 20, 2010

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The Downward Spiral of Golf

By: Guest Blogger

By Guest Blogger Alan Probst

To all golf fans and those still stuck on the Tiger Woods saga,

Over the past several months, I have continued to ask myself why golf has been, in simple terms…taken over by those that know hardly anything about the actual game?  Has the sacred game begun an unraveling descent into the dark ages?  I have been a golfer for most of my life, progressing from a twilight-playing shanker to a semi-respectable player. I picked up watching golf on television a few years ago, mostly attracted to it by the oddities of each player (Villegas’ crouching putting stance, Poulter’s crazy circus-looking pants).  I have been to two live tournaments in my life, the 2008 Masters and the 2006 Western Open.   At the Western Open, there were no reporters from TMZ or from People magazine running around trying to find the latest scoop about the buzz on Tiger Woods.  Now it’s hard to find a tournament that isn’t consumed with media coverage, specifically for him.   

Since the firestorm of questions following Tiger, Elin, and his posse of mistresses have stolen the lime light from the tour, I am left to wonder what is next for the PGA.  I am a firm believer that the man or woman on the course is a golfer and the rest of their personal life should be left alone.  The problem though is the impact that all these problems have left on the integrity of the game for the younger generations.  It is hard to think about a 9 iron as an actual club to be used in a round of golf now.  This infamous club in everyone’s bag has become the suspicious “tool” that Elin used the night of Tiger’s accident. Why I am stuck on this issue truly though is because almost every man, woman, or child in the U.S. and abroad that is aware of the situation going on with Tiger is most likely associating in some way his outside problems with the PGA Tour.  Although he is only one player on the Tour, he is the main star and attracts much of the attention.  The cloud that has now overshadowed the Tour has affected everyone from the players to those passionate about the sport.  Whatever happened to the good stories about the Tour?  The amazing story of Phil Mickelson, his mother, and his wife is brought up in national broadcasts and dropped in such a short amount of time that even makes Sam Snead and Bobby Jones shiver in their graves.  Where did the compassion and the desire to use golf as game to bring all generations together as one? 

While watching this years’ Masters and all the hoopla leading up to it, it was quite apparent that most members on the tour were biting their tongue.  Instead of reporting about the history of the tournament or the other players waiting at the whim to win their first green jacket, the tabloids and paparazzi took over and were reporting about Tiger’s rehab and Elin’s getaway trips.  This prestigious tournament lost its aura to pop culture.  As the PGA Tour continues this year, will this continue to happen and spiral out of control? It is foolish to think that the PGA can afford to remove Tiger from tournament play because of the extra baggage he carries and the resulting negative impact.  The latest withdrawal from the Players Championship has sparked the conversation of, did the accident cause his herniated disc?  What’s next….did Elin use a driver on Tiger’s neck? Although it is unlikely for one person to plead for the game to be thought of for all the great things it has done for so many, the hope remains that people can begin to associate the PGA Tour to all the players, not just to the problems of one person.  I, for one, am beginning to be angry and bored by all the media coverage.  Let’s all hope that the other great ambassadors of the game can bring it back from the depths.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer, and not the opinions of Fathead, its ownership, or any of its employees.