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.

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.

August 5, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Pro Football Hall of Fame inducts seven: Pro football held its annual Hall of Fame induction this weekend with several former greats enshrined including Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Larry Allen, Bill Parcells, Curley Culp, and Dave Robinson. Carter was the headliner and despite finishing his career as the second leading receiver behind only Jerry Rice, it took him six years to get the call to the Hall of Fame.

Jets fans weren't too kind to Mark Sanchez during Training Camp.

MLB Baseball Trade Deadline comes and goes: As expected, a flurry of baseball trades were made in the days leading up to the non-waiver deadline at the end of July. Key players that were dealt in the closing weeks included Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, and Jake Peavy. There weren’t as many trades as expected, but don’t expect those to be the final deals. Moves can still be made up until August 31st with the only caveat being that players have to clear waivers first before they can be traded.

Tiger wins: Behind a second-round 61, Tiger Woods got back on the winning track with a victory at the Bridgestone Invitational this weekend. For the event, Woods finished 15-under and easily won the tournament by seven strokes over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson. Tiger’s major tournament drought continues, but with his 79th career victory, Woods moves only three behind Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins.

Greg Oden joins Miami Heat: Injury-prone center Greg Oden will get another crack at an NBA career as it was recently announced that he has joined the Miami Heat. Oden, a former top pick in the NBA Draft, hasn’t played in the league since the 2009-10 season. The center has missed a significant amount of time with knee injuries, but is still only 25. The amount he can contribute is unclear. However, joining a team like the Heat was likely his best option. Miami has enough good players on its roster that Oden won’t be needed to make the team a success. He’ll be in a low-pressure situation and can be brought along slowly.

Percy Harvin undergoes hip surgery: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin won’t be starting the NFL season on time due to a hip injury. He had surgery on it last week and his loss is just one of the latest in a string of injuries to star players with training camps opening up. The surgery is expected to cost Harvin at least the first three to four months of the season. His addition this offseason was expected to give second-year quarterback Russell Wilson a deep threat, but he won’t be able to help the team until late in the season with the injury.

Adrian Peterson targets Emmitt Smith: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been known to make some pretty outlandish claims in the past. Despite the fact that Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards has lasted about 30 years, Peterson has said he wants to rush for 2,500 in 2013. But recently, the running back made a similarly incredible prediction as he expects to top Emmitt Smith’s career yardage mark of 18,335 yards by the end of 2017. Assuming he stays healthy (which is a grand assumption for a running back), Peterson could have a chance to break the record. To do it by 2017, however, would mean an average of about 120 yards a game for the next five years. There’s simply no way to predict what will happen in the NFL next year let alone five years. Peterson’s best course of action is to merely let his play do his talking.

Steve Nash the soccer player: Lakers point guard Steve Nash became a soccer player … for a day, anyway. Officially it was called a tryout, but Nash joining Italian soccer club Inter Milan recently was more like a practice. Even though he played soccer as a kid and his father played professionally in the sport, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be giving up his day job as an NBA guard too soon.

Commence booing: It’s only training camp, but if you think that is stopping NFL fans from getting in on the action, think again. Despite no actual games being played just yet, New York Jets fans weren’t too happy with the performance of Mark Sanchez and let the quarterback hear about it by booing him at a recent practice. It’s customary to allow fans to watch training camp but the action rarely results in widespread booing of a player. Such is life, though, for Sanchez. He was on a short leash last year with Tim Tebow in town and things will be no different this season with fans clamoring for draft pick Geno Smith to take over.

Luis Scola traded to Pacers: In need of quality guards, Indiana seems to be on a mission to acquire the best frontcourt in the game. Already deep with Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers added forward Luis Scola in a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and a lottery-protected first round NBA Draft pick. Scola, who has averaged nearly 15 points per game over his career and was previously a starter, likely will head to the bench as a backup.

July 2, 2013

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In Case You Missed It – June

By: Joe Williams

Another month has come and gone so as we are getting ready to celebrate Independence Day, let’s see what crazy stuff has happened in the sports world in the last month.

The No. 1 football prospect in the class of 2014 claimed that while he was being recruited, one coach promised him that he could meet Michael Jackson.

The NBA’s most prized free agent lost a free throw shooting contest to a sports writer’s daughter.

Dwight Howard lost a free-throw contest to a sports writer's daughter. In his defense, he was shooting left-handed.

Jessica Korda fired her caddie after nine holes of a round in the Women’s U.S. Open and replaced him with her boyfriend.

During Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Indiana Pacer Roy Hibbert drank a 20 ounce Gatorade in less than six seconds.

Tiger Woods shot the worst nine holes of his career with a 44 during the third round at Muirfield.

Cleveland Indians shortstop Mike Aviles was ejected by the home plate umpire after the game had already ended.

Speaking of Tiger Woods, his girlfriend, Lindsay Vonn who is an Olympic skier had to take a mandatory drug test while at a fashion awards gala.

A member of a women’s golf team was sanctioned by the NCAA for washing her car on campus. The NCAA asked her to pay the school $20 for the use of the water and hose.

Former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson was sentenced to 30 days in jail after slapping his lawyer on the butt during the court proceedings.

A Chicago Blackhawks fan decided to grow a “playoff lawn” instead of the commonly grown “playoff beard” and put up signs saying he wasn’t mowing the lawn until the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. But the city paid someone to mow his lawn before the NHL playoffs came to an end.

Brett Favre finally took the blame for his problems with the Green Bay Packers.

“College” was spelled wrong (Colllege) at the NCAA College World Series.

A girl in New Hampshire was crowned state champion in tennis after her opponent quit because of the abuse she was taking from the crowd during the championship match.

The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners ended up using the Oakland Raiders facilities after a game when the raw sewage flooded the showers.

During a PGA tournament Carl Pettersson’s ball was hit by another player’s ball while he was in the middle of his swing.

Miami Heat player Mike Miller lost a shoe during the game but that didn’t stop him from hitting a one-shoe three pointer against the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

Merion, the course the hosted the men’s U.S. Open used a wicker basket on top of the pins instead of a flag.

Tiger Woods shot a 293 at the U.S. Open. It was his worst 72-hole score at a major championship as a professional.

Jeff Baker of the Texas Rangers was placed on the disabled list after suffering a sprained thumb as a result of what he called “an over-exuberant high-five” from an unnamed teammate.

More to come in July I’m sure.

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.