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A Performance For The Ages!!!!
Add-On…early Wed. a.m.
Last Word From Kiawah
Shane Lowry -2
Padraig Harrington -2
Harry Higgs -2
Paul Casey -2
Nine tied at -1…Will Zalatoris, Rickie Fowler, Abraham Ancer, Justin Rose, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau and Kevin Streelman…pretty ‘august’ group, I think you’d agree
Another great performance for Zalatoris, while hopefully this was a big step for Fowler.
In 18 events in the 2020-21 season, Fowler’s best had been T20 at the Genesis Invitational and T-17 at the Valero Texas Open. He had missed seven cuts, including his prior two tournaments coming into the PGA, and was No. 147 on the FedEx Cup points list. The T-8 moves him up to No. 125, the cut line.
BUT…Rickie’s bogey on No. 18 Sunday kept him from a T-4 that would have earned him a spot in the 2022 Masters and the 2022 PGA Championship, two events he is not yet exempt for. Fowler was lucky to get an exemption for Kiawah from the PGA of America. He has yet to qualify for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
This was Oosthuizen’s sixth career second-place finish in a major, having won the 2010 Open Championship.
Harry Higgs was playing in his first career major. His T-4 qualified him for next year’s Masters. A new gallery favorite. Andrew “Beef” Johnston, but with ‘game.’
Alan Shipnuck / Golf Digest
“(Beneath) all the salesmanship and showmanship Mickelson is a grinder and a golf obsessive. As his contemporaries grew fat and happy – or in the case of Woods, had their bodies break down – Phil kept doing the work, largely out of sight, whether in his backyard practice facility, the Callaway test center or in money games around Southern California and the Arizona desert. ‘What people don’t fully appreciate about Phil is how much he loves golf,’ says Brendan Steele, who plays often with Mickelson on off weeks. ‘He gets so much joy from playing the game and he’s on a never-ending quest to get better. He never stops. The passion is always there. Yes, he has great hands and all of that, but I think his love for the game is the biggest reason why he’s been one of the best players in the world for 30 straight years.’
“And yet the downside of experience is all the scar tissue, as Mickelson’s playing partner over the first two rounds, Padraig Harrington, noted poignantly. After Mickelson’s first hole debacle on Sunday he steadied himself with a birdie on the par-5 second, thanks to an adroit up-and-down. But he bogeyed number 3, a short par-4, after missing the green from 30 yards out. You could feel the tension, in the gallery at the Ocean Course and across Golf Twitter. On the tough par-3 5th hole Mickelson lost his tee shot into a bunker on the short-side and it felt like the tournament was slipping away. But he summoned some vintage magic, holing out for a game-changing birdie. It instantly joined the pantheon of Mickelson highlights, alongside the walk-off putt at the 2004 Masters that released so much catharsis; the tapping of the Nicklaus plaque on the 72nd hole at Baltusrol and then the exquisite chip that clinched the win at the ’05 PGA; overpowering Augusta National with two different drivers to nab another green jacket in ’06; the fearless 6-iron out of the trees in Amen Corner at the ’10 Masters; and the curling birdie putt to clinch the Open two years later….
“The galleries love him because he lets them in. His colleagues may be annoyed by the marathon autograph sessions and the innumerable aw-shucks smiles and the endless thumbs-up gestures but it’s part of Mickelson’s gift for connecting. ‘People like to call him a phony,’ says tour veteran Kirk Triplett, ‘but I never understood that critique. Because he looks the fans in the eye and because he’s nice to the volunteers? Because he tips every clubhouse attendant $100? If the worst thing other players can say about you is that you’re trying too hard to be nice, you must be doing something right.’
“A little jealousy is inevitable when you’re ninth all-time in victories on the PGA Tour. Mickelson had been stoic all week about what a victory would mean, part of a renewed emphasis on mental discipline, but in accepting the trophy he finally let a little emotion flow: ‘This is just an incredible feeling because I believed it was possible yet everything was saying it wasn’t. I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little harder effort, but it’s so worth it in the end.’”
Steve DiMeglio / Golfweek
“Clobbering Father Time, bullying big bad Brooks Koepka and getting the better of Pete Dye’s bruiser hard by the sea, Phil Mickelson etched his name in golf’s historical record Sunday with a staggering victory in the 103rd PGA Championship.
“While doubters waited for Mickelson to falter, seeing as he hadn’t won since 2019, hadn’t had a top 10 finish in a major since 2016 [Ed. no top-20 finish this year on the PGA Tour] and recently sought out meditation to deal with focus issues, he didn’t lose his concentration nor his balance during a rollercoaster round on the harsh, windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to become the oldest men’s major champion….
“After sleeping on a one-shot lead, Mickelson, 200-1 to win on Thursday and a few weeks from turning 51, survived a helter-skelter first 10 holes where he and playing partner Koepka exchanged body blows to the tune of four two-shot swings and one three-shot swing. And then he didn’t stagger despite a few more edge-of-your-seat moments on the back nine and signed for a 1-over-par 73 to finish at 6 under and two shots clear of Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.
“Inspired by the boisterous pro-Phil galleries, the People’s Champion won his sixth major and supplanted Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48, as the oldest to win a major. Thousands of those fans followed him up the fairway and encircled the 18th green when containment was lost by marshals and thundered when Mickelson capped off his triumph by tapping in from six inches.
“ ‘Slightly unnerving but exceptionally awesome,’ Mickelson said.”
Ewan Murray / Irish Times
“This was glory for the ages, a sporting fairytale and a life lesson for 50-somethings everywhere. Mickelson was already known as one of the greatest ever to play this ridiculous game but the tenacity he showed at a brutally tough Kiawah Island is worthy of immense praise. Some scoffed when Mickelson was handed a special exemption into next month’s U.S. Open. Who is laughing now?
“Brooks Koepka, Mickelson’s Sunday playing partner, wilted badly en route to a 74. Mickelson’s margin of victory – as if detail seemed to matter – was two, at six under par, from Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen, after a 73.
“Koepka’s putting was not convincing throughout the tournament but regressed further on day four. Oosthuizen will shiver when recalling the Ocean Course’s unlucky 13th hole. Twice in as many days, the South African found water there.
“Mickelson’s previous top 20 result was last August in Memphis, with even that a glaring exception to a tale of competitive woe. It was understandable, then, that onlookers expected him to fold under youthful pressure. Instead, Mickelson’s ruthlessness forced his challengers into a series of errors.”
John Feinstein / Washington Post
“The easiest place to begin any analysis of Phil Mickelson’s extraordinary victory Sunday at the PGA Championship is with this: He is now the oldest man in golf history to win a major championship.
“But there’s much more to Mickelson’s victory on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island than just the ‘old guys rule’ cliché.
“It can be argued that no great player in history has been written off more often, and in more different ways, than Mickelson. He has been on the public stage since he won the Northern Telecom Open as an amateur in 1991 while still a junior at Arizona State. His arrival on the PGA Tour in 1992 was hyped as the arrival of a new golf savior. When he went eight months without winning, whispers began that maybe he wasn’t all that special.
“Then, early in 1993, he won in his San Diego hometown. He kept on winning, accumulating 22 wins on tour over the next 11-plus years. But he didn’t win a major in that span, although he came close a number of times.
“Tiger Woods arrived on tour in 1996 and more or less shoved Mickelson – and everyone else – into the background. By the end of 2003, Woods had won eight majors and was putting up numbers never before seen in the sport.
“Mickelson was winning golf tournaments and making huge dollars from corporate America because he said all the right things, had a big smile and signed more autographs than any player since Arnold Palmer. Fans loved him; the media loved him. His fellow pros – not so much.
“His locker room nickname was ‘Eddie Haskell’ – the kid in the old ‘Leave It To Beaver’ TV show who was always ultra-polite to Beaver’s parents and then, as soon as their backs were turned, led Beaver and older brother Wally into trouble.
“Players said the smiling, friendly Phil the public saw was considerably different from the often-aloof Phil who drifted in and out of locker rooms. Mickelson was aware of the chatter.
“Standing on the putting green before the British Open, he talked about his image with other pros. ‘I get the way some guys feel,’ he said. ‘The thing you have to understand is that [wife] Amy and I are 24/7. We’re together all the time. We like being together like that. She’s my best friend. She’s the person I want to hang out with the most.’
“That was what I always found appealing about Mickelson – he had an honest streak when he was standing on a putting green and there weren’t microphones being thrust in his direction. He never resorted to the ‘I’ll have had a great career even if I never win a major’ cop-out when he still hadn’t won one. Instead, he would look you in the eye and tell you that there was a hole in his resume and that he wouldn’t feel satisfied until it was filled.
“He finally got it done at the Masters in 2004, at a point when some people had already decided he would make lots of money playing golf but would never find greatness. He was a different guy by then. When someone asked him in a Saturday evening news conference how it felt knowing he was nine shots ahead of Woods, he didn’t go for the timeworn answer about how many good players he still had to beat, about going out and playing the golf course.
“Instead, he smiled his impish smile and said, ‘Well, it doesn’t suck.’
“The next day he came from three shots behind on the back nine to catch Ernie Els, winning with a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 and celebrating with a victory leap in which he barely got airborne. It didn’t matter: Two months short of 34, he was a major champion.
“Sunday’s PGA victory was his sixth major….
“It isn’t as if Mickelson hasn’t had setbacks. He had a complete mental meltdown on the 18th hole at Winged Foot when he had a chance to win the 2006 U.S. Open. ‘I’m just an idiot’ was his comment afterward.
“His Ryder Cup record – as with Woods – has been spotty at best, decidedly mediocre at worst. In 2014, he demeaned himself trying to blame captain Tom Watson after the U.S. team had been soundly beaten by Europe at Gleneagles.
“He fired Butch Harmon as his coach in 2007 – another thing he shares in common with Woods – and split with Jim Mackay, his friend and caddie for 25 years, almost four years ago. He embarrassed himself again at the 2018 U.S. Open when he putted a ball that was still moving to let the world know that he believed the USGA had blown the Saturday golf course setup.
“The most difficult time in his life, though, came when Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. When he won the Masters a year later, his post-victory hug with her was one of golf’s more genuine and endearing moments.
“The bottom line on Mickelson is this: He always comes back. He finds ways to get better. For years, he was a non-factor in the British Open because, as he readily admitted, he didn’t like being in Great Britain. ‘I don’t like the food, I don’t like the showers, I don’t like driving on the wrong side of the road,’ he once said. ‘I come over here at the last possible minute and get out as soon as I can. Probably not the best way to win a golf tournament.’….
“(But then) he flipped 180 degrees: He started playing the Scottish Open the week before and brought his family with him to make that week a vacation.
“In 2013, he won the Scottish and then, a week later, shot 66 the final day at Muirfield and won the British. He almost won it again three years later, playing brilliantly only to watch Henrik Stenson play a little more brilliantly. Mickelson shot a remarkable 65 on the final day, but Stenson shot 63 to win by three shots. Maybe the golf course was playing easy? Well, J.B. Holmes finished third, 11 shots behind Mickelson….
“He still has one hole in his resume: the U.S. Open. He has finished second six times….
“Is it likely that he’ll break through and win the U.S. Open four days after he turns 51? No. But was it likely he would ever win a major? Was it likely he would win in a country where he couldn’t stand the food or the showers? Was it likely he would hold off Koepka, a four-time major champion, on Sunday to add one more stunning moment to his golf legacy?
“The lesson of this week: Don’t ever count out the great ones. Especially don’t count out a guy who signed all those autographs right-handed and played the game better than anyone has ever played it left-handed.
“Lefty’s not done yet. And he may not be for a while.”
--Meanwhile, Brooks Koepka was none too pleased by the surging crowd at No. 18. And it was rather pathetic how security lost control of the masses as thousands stormed the fairway celebrating Phil’s victory. Koepka, after all, was trying to protect his bad knee.
“It would have been cool if I didn’t have a knee injury and got dinged a few times in the knee in that crowd because no one really gave a s---,” Koepka said afterward. “Yeah, it’s cool for Phil, but getting dinged a few times isn’t exactly my idea of fun. I was trying to protect my knee.”
The PGA of America apologized to both Koepka and Mickelson for the lack of crowd control.
--The Ocean Course cemented its reputation as a terrific major venue and there are calls to keep it in a more formal ‘rota.’ It deserves this championship every 8 years or so.
Among those singing its praises, and the job the PGA did, was none other than Padraig Harrington.
“I have to say, this was probably the best major setup I’ve ever seen,” the three-time major winner said. “It may have been equaled in the past but couldn’t have been better. I know the golf course is fantastic, but they really set the course up so that there were opportunities to make bogeys and opportunities to make birdies. It really was that case. I’d love to play this style of golf every week, and I would be a bit more competitive than playing a regular tour event, it’s hard.”
Bottom line is the Ocean Course has now produced wins by Phil and Rory, two Hall of Famers, and the War by the Shore 1991 Ryder Cup Classic.
--After I posted Sunday night I settled in for Game 1, Knicks-Hawks at the Garden. Knicks fans have been cocky, but I’m the guy who even when Atlanta was playing poorly beginning of the season who said that this was a team with a lot of talent and on the rise. And we both then finished with identical 41-31 records. So the series was bound to be tough.
And Atlanta pulled out Game 1, 107-105, as Hawks star Trae Young drove the lane for the winner with 0.9 seconds remaining. I was watching the Knicks telecast and an exasperated Walt “Clyde” Frazier was basically screaming (for him), “You have to force him to go left!” New York didn’t.
You need only know two stats from the contest. Young had 32 points. New York’s star, Julius Randle, could not have sucked more, just 15 points on 6 of 23 shooting from the field.
The Knicks did receive sterling play off the bench from Alec Burks, 27 points, and Derek Rose and Immanuel Quickley were solid as well, but this one is on Randle and he better bounce back.
--No. 8-seeded Memphis upset top-seeded Utah in Game 1 of their series, 112-109, as Dillon Brooks had 31 and Ja Morant 26 for the Grizzlies.
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell continues to be out with an ankle injury he suffered in mid-April and there is tension between his camp and the Utah training staff, who held him out of the opener when Mitchell claims he was ready to go, and he had indeed been practicing.
--Last night, Tuesday, Brooklyn rolled over the Celtics 130-108 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Joe Harris hit six threes in the first half on his way to 25 points, while Kevin Durant had 26, James Harden 20 and Kyrie Irving 15; all playing 29 minutes or less.
The Lakers, after a poor opening loss at Phoenix on Sunday, 99-90, bounced back in a big way to even their series with the Suns at 1-1 with a 109-102 win. LeBron and Anthony Davis scored 16 of the last 18 L.A. points, Davis finishing with 34, LeBron 23.
Davis, in particular, needed this after a pathetic Game 1 performance for which he was duly excoriated in the L.A. press.
The Clippers evened their series with the Mavericks at 1-1 with a 127-121 win, Kawhi Leonard with 41.
--Jacob deGrom returned after 16 days for the injury-riddled Mets, throwing five strong, yielding just a solo home run while striking out 9 as New York beat Colorado at Citi Field, 3-1. DeGrom’s ERA rising to 0.80 in 45 innings (74 strikeouts).
But the tale of Francisco Lindor continued. The guy with the $341 million contract went 0-for-3, his average down to .185, and the boos are raining down on him. It is amazing that this guy who had 30+ home runs and 40+ doubles each season between 2017-19, has seven extra-base hits the first 42 games, 151 at-bats. SEVEN!
The Mets overall in their first 42 games have just 52 doubles. Compare that to 2019 when they were an average hitting team and had 280. 80 extra doubles over the course of a season can be rather impactful in the W-L column.
But somehow the Mets are 22-20. That ‘somehow’ is due to a 3.19 team ERA, third best in baseball.
--The Yankees’ Corey Kluber went only three innings in a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays, exiting with shoulder tightness, which is highly worrisome, though after the game both Kluber and the team didn’t think it was that serious.
Former Met Steven Matz thew 6 2/3 of superb baseball for Toronto and is now 6-2 on the season. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his major league-leading 16th home run.
--The Dodgers have been rolling, eight-in-a-row, 12 of 13 to move to 30-18 following a 9-2 win over the Astros (26-22) last night. Clayton Kershaw went 7 2/3, one run, to improve to 7-3, 2.94.
--Shohei Ohtani clubbed his 15th home run of the season, a 3-run shot in the Angels’ 11-5 win over Texas.
--The Islanders and Pittsburgh play Game 6 tonight at The Barn on Long Island, the Isles leading 3-2 after taking 2 of 3 in Pittsburgh.
Toronto took a 3-1 series lead over Montreal last night with a 4-0 win.
Earlier, Winnipeg eliminated Connor McDavid and Edmonton 4-0 with a 3-overtime win on Monday.
--Aaron Rodgers spoke up publicly for the first time since the drama queen threatened to sit out a year rather than return to the Packers for the 2021 season.
In an interview on Kenny Mayne’s final show on ESPN, Rodgers said his issue with Green Bay isn’t their drafting of quarterback Jordan Love but rather about an organizational philosophy that he believes has gone awry.
Rodgers said his beef was with how general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to draft Love.
“With my situation, look it’s never been about the draft pick, picking up Jordan,” Rodgers told Mayne. “I love Jordan; he’s a great kid. [We’ve had] a lot of fun working together. Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.”
Rodgers praised just about everyone except Gutekunst, who has admitted that he should have communicated better with Rodgers before he traded up to take Love at No. 26 in the 2020 draft.
Rodgers seems to want Gutekunst removed, but the Packers are committed to their GM, while Gutekunst has remained insistent that he will not trade Rodgers, who has three years left on his contract.
I’m tired of Rodgers’ act.
--Deshaun Watson is not going to be deposed in the civil case filed by 22 women who are suing him for alleged sexual assault until next February, we learned Tuesday from his attorney; depositions not set to begin until September.
While Watson would appear to be an unattractive trade chip due to this looming situation, multiple teams appear to still be interested, especially should there be more clarity down the line, such as a potential settlement.
--Chase Elliott won Sunday’s rain-shortened NASCAR event in Austin, Texas, as the debut at the Circuit of the Americas road course was a wet and muddy affair before it was called after 54 of the expected 68 laps. It was defending Cup champion Elliott’s first win of the year, sixth on road courses, and 12th Cup win overall.
I do have to note that I lost interest in this one early when I saw that three of my six drivers in my DraftKings lineup had crashed out early.
Next Sunday, the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.
--New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is lifting the state’s Covid-19 restrictions and that means the Giants and Jets will be able to play to a packed house, full capacity, in the fall.
It also means the folks at MetLife Stadium should be very busy booking major concerts at the venue.
--Update on the disastrous ultramarathon in China that saw 21 of 172 participants in the 100km (62-mile) race die of hypothermia (for the most part) as the weather turned extreme.
Turns out a shepherd saved the lives of six runners.
Zhu Keming said he was grazing his sheep in the northwestern province of Gansu when rain began to fall and temperatures plummeted.
Zhu took refuge in a cave where he stored emergency food and clothes, but while inside he saw a stricken runner.
The shepherd told Chinese state media that he escorted the runner into the cave, massaged his hands and feet, and lit a fire to dry his clothes.
Four more distressed runners made it into the cave and told the shepherd others were marooned outside, some unconscious, AFP news agency reported.
Braving hail and freezing temperatures, Zhu went out to search and saved another stricken runner.
“I want to say how grateful I am to the man who saved me,” the runner, Zhang Xiaotao, wrote on Chinese social media. “Without him, I would have been left out there,” he said.
Zhu ultimately saved three men and three women, according to the reports. He told state media he was “just an ordinary person who did a very ordinary thing.”
“There were still some people that could not be saved,” he said. “There were two men who were lifeless and I couldn’t do anything for them. I’m sorry.”
The controversial race has been a source of outrage in China after organizers apparently ignored extreme weather warnings.
Zhu is now in the December file for all the right reasons.
[Posted Sunday p.m., prior to Knicks-Hawks]
***Due to an ongoing family situation, time has become an even more precious commodity, so I’ll toss in an Add-On, not a formal Bar Chat, sometime next Wednesday. The Add-Ons are free of charge. [heh heh]
Indy 500 Quiz: The race is next Sunday and as I won’t have a mid-week quiz, you are forced to take your racing medicine. 1) What year was the first Indy 500? 2) Name the three with four wins (all Americans). 3) Name the only two foreign drivers with three wins. Answers below.
Yes, after ten rounds myself at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, I love the place, though nine of the rounds were in December, i.e., hardly conditions like the golfers faced this week (or in 2012, when Rory McIlroy romped by eight strokes).
The tournament opened with Corey Conners firing an opening 5-under, 67, in difficult conditions, the wind up, finishing two ahead of Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland and Keegan Bradley.
But then Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 2-under 70, followed that up with a sterling 69 in very difficult conditions on Friday, one of just four rounds in the 60s, and there was Lefty, tied for the lead.
After two rounds….
Louie Oosthuizen -5…68 in his second
Branden Grace -3
Christian Bezuidenhout -3
Hideki Matsuyama -3…68 in his second
Lefty was a 200-1 shot to win coming into the week and will be 51 years old as of next month.
Phil then got off to a superb start in round three, birdieing four of his first seven, which meant 9 birdies in his last 16 holes. And then he birdied No. 10 for a five-stroke lead at -10.
But then after Phil bogeyed No. 12, both he and Louie put it in the water on No. 13, Koepka, a group ahead, having parred it, and after Mickelson’s double bogey, Louie’s bogey, we had…
And after three rounds…
Kevin Streelman -4
What a final duo. Koepka with his four majors from 2017-19, Phil with his resume, including 44 wins and five majors.
But Koepka has been dealing with serious knee issues and while Kiawah is an easy walk, in terms of the terrain, trust me, it’s a long walk, with some lengthy distances between the tee boxes.
Phil is attempting to become the oldest champion in the 161 years of the majors. Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.
When he curled in the 4-foot putt for par on the 18th hole, he also became the oldest player with a 54-hole lead in a major since 59-year-old Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009.
And what a start we had to the final round….
Koepka birdies No. 1, Phil bogeys it.
Mickelson then birdies No. 2, Koepka double bogeys it.
Koepka then misses a 2-footer for birdie on No. 3, Phil bogeys it.
Koepka and Mickelson then par No. 4, while Oosthuizen and Streelman are right there.
Streelman -5 thru 4
Oosthuizen -5 thru 4
Mickelson then birdies No. 5 from the bunker! Spectacular. Koepka pars it.
Mark R. writes: “All Phil needs is a corncob pipe and he would look exactly like Gen. MacArthur hitting the beach in the Philippines.”
They do have the same gait.
Lefty bogeys No. 6, Koepka birdies it.
This is totally nuts!
Lefty birdies No. 7, Koepka bogeys it.
Oosthuizen -5 thru 8
Both par No. 8 and let’s see if we settle down for a spell.
Both par No. 9. Louie also -5 after 9.
Lefty then birdies No. 10, while Koepka and Louie bogey it!
Good lord….can Phil actually do this?
Lefty pars No. 11, but Koepka bogeys it, while Louie birdies 12.
Koepka and Streelman -3
Louie then puts his third on the par-5 13th in the drink, right. Been there, done that.
Lefty pars No. 12, Koepka pars it as well.
Koepka and Streelman -3
After yesterday’s disaster at No. 13, Lefty puts it in the fairway. And then he puts his second in the water!
However, Louie has doubled 13. Phil has a 5-shot lead but doesn’t know it yet.
Phil gets his bogey, ditto Koepka. Louie pars 14.
Oosthuizen -3 thru 14
Koepka and others at -2
Lefty then has a bad bogey at No. 14, missing a short par putt.
Oosthuizen -3…then barely misses birdie on 15
On No. 15, Lefty pars it. Koepka birdies.
Up ahead, Louie then birdies the reachable par-5 16th (with a favorable wind), but barely misses his eagle putt.
Lefty and Koepka drill their drives. And Phil secures the birdie for a three-shot lead. Koepka birdies as well.
Oosthuizen -4 thru 17
On to the treacherous par-3 17th; Mark Calcavecchia still having nightmares from the 1991 Ryder Cup with his performance on this hole.
Phil puts it in the deep rough behind the green. He avoids a blow-up but bogeys. Koepka pars. Louie pars 18.
Oosthuizen -4 F
And on No. 18, both Koepka and Lefty are on in two. Koepka pars, clearing the stage for Phil.
And he closes the deal, his brother Tim on the bag! Wow!!!!!
[On No. 17, I received a call from the rehab facility where my father is…there was an incident. He’s OK for now.]
More in my “Add-On”. Little stressed right now.
--Among those missing the cut were Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood and John Daly.
OK, Daly is 55 and shot 85-86, but we’ll let him slide.
This is an incredibly intense, compressed, season, owing in no small part to the Olympics, the U.S. Open and The Open Championship being played beforehand, and then you basically go right into the FedEx Cup playoffs, with the Ryder Cup a few weeks after.
I love it.
--Rory McIlroy opened with a 3-over 75 and had to scramble to make the cut. But this means Rory is now a cumulative 35-over par in first rounds of majors since the beginning of 2015. In those other rounds? He’s 60-under par, entering today’s final round.
It’s not a coincidence that he hasn’t won a major since the PGA in 2014.
--Did anyone see a Black man in the gallery? Just sayin’.
Those houses you saw to the west are indeed phenomenal. It’s no wonder that folks like Dan Marino call Kiawah home. If I ever won Powerball, I would too. Instead, I’m likely to be riding the rails before long.
--The Men’s NCAA Golf Championship takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona (Grayhawk Golf Club) from May 28 through June 2, and Wake Forest will be among the final participants, having finished third in its regional outside of Seattle, Washington.
--The Yankees are smoking hot, 27-19 entering Sunday’s play after winning five straight, and receiving historically great starting pitching in the process.
It’s the best starting pitching run for the franchise in 89 years, beginning last Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas, when Corey Kluber no-hit the Texas Rangers.* The next day, Domingo German was almost as good working seven scoreless in a second straight 2-0 win for two shutouts in a row.
The Yankees then came home to face the White Sox and Jordan Montgomery pitched seven shutout innings in Friday night’s 2-1 win.
And then Gerrit Cole went seven scoreless Saturday, as the Yanks won 7-0, Cole now 6-2, 1.81.
So 30 shutout innings from four starters in four days, a feat the Yankees haven’t accomplished since 1932. That ’32 Yankees edition went 107-47 in the regular season, then swept the Cubs to win their first title in four years.
Aside from an offense consisting of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Joe Sewell and Earle Combs, the pitching was great, too, with four starters winning 16-to-24 games; Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing as well as George Pipgras and Johnny Allen. In May of ’32, those four took turns pitching back-to-back-to-back-to-back complete-game shutouts.
So Sunday, the Yankees sent Jameson Taillon to the mound and he had five shutout innings before being removed…35 innings in all now for the starters…and the Yanks ended up winning again, 5-4, on an Aaron Judge walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth.
*Kluber’s masterpiece (just 101 pitches) was the Yankees’ first no-hitter since David Cone’s perfect game on July 18, 1999, and the first on the road, startlingly, since Allie Reynolds at Cleveland, July 12, 1951.
--The Dodgers tied the Giants at 28-18 after winning the first two games of their series in San Francisco, 2-1 and 6-3.
In Saturday’s 6-3 affair, Walker Buehler improved to 3-0, 2.78, with seven strong for L.A., but the game also featured a start by Scott Kazmir for the Giants. Yes, the same Scott Kazmir, now 37, who hadn’t pitched since 2016 due to all manner of injury issues. He went four innings, yielding just one run. A nice comeback story.
[Friday, Trevor Bauer went 6 1/3, 1 unearned run, 11 Ks, to move to 5-2, 1.98, so he’s earning his contract thus far.]
L.A. has now won six in a row, 10 of 11, as they’ve righted the ship despite all their injuries.
--Fernando Tatis Jr., after missing eight games due to a positive test for Covid-19, promptly went 8-for-11 with two homers and six RBIs in his first three games back, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as San Diego stretched its win streak to eight.
To the Padres’ credit, they went 7-1 without Tatis.
Entering Sunday’s play, NL West standings….
San Diego 29-17
Los Angeles 28-18
San Francisco 28-18
--The Mets entered play today 21-18, still in first-place in the NL East, despite 16 players on the injured list. They are playing an everyday lineup largely comprised of AAA players and on Friday, in a super exciting contest in Miami, the Mets prevailed 4-3 in 12 innings as both Jake Hager and Khalil Lee recorded their first career MLB hits during the three-run 12th-inning rally.
If I heard it right, the Mets only had one other game in their history with two players getting their first hit, but here it was done in the same inning.
Khalil Lee had whiffed his first eight times to the plate as a big leaguer, a major league record.
But the Metsies lost Saturday 3-1 on a Garrett Cooper 2-out, 2-run walk-off homer off reliever Drew Smith.
And then they had a miserable 5-1 loss today. Francisco Lindor is killing us. Aside from hitting a punchless .194, he had a critical throwing error.
--In Atlanta’s 20-1 win over Pittsburgh Friday night, the Braves hit seven home runs, including grand slams by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ehire Adrianza.
Adrianza’s was a pinch-hit slam against position player Wilmer Difo, who entered in the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.
Difo threw it up to 88 mph, but Adrianza homered on the first pitch for his grand slam and Difo ended up giving up eight runs, thus leaving the game with a 72.00 career ERA.
By the way, in keeping with Difo and position players pitching in routs, the whole Tony La Russa story and his criticism of Chicago’s Yermin Mercedes for swinging at a 3-0 pitch from a utility player during a blowout bores the hell out of me, though he shouldn’t have undercut his own player like that.
The White Sox entered play today at 26-18, first in the AL Central, and that’s the bottom line. Chicago ownership took a huge risk in bringing the 76-year-old La Russa out of retirement after being out of the game for ten years (and getting a place in Cooperstown in the interim), but if he takes them to the playoffs, the gamble paid off.
--I’ve written a ton about Baltimore’s Chris Davis over the years. After a 2015 season in which he hit 47 homeruns and drove in 117, and two years removed from a 53-138, MVP-3, season.
The Orioles signed the then-age 29 slugger to a 7-year, $161 million contract and he has been beyond hideous since…batting averages of .168, .179 and .115 from 2018-20, including an 0-for-54 streak in 2019. Last season he had one RBI in 52 at-bats, as he was on the shelf with left knee issues.
Davis is now out for 2021 without appearing in a regular-season game, this time after surgery to repair the labrum in his left hip.
Baltimore is hoping that he’ll be ready to suck again in 2022, when he’ll earn his final $23 million.
Meanwhile, the O’s Trey Mancini is writing an amazing story. After sitting out the entire 2020 season while he dealt with stage 3 colon cancer, all Mancini has done is lead the majors thus far in RBIs with 39 entering today’s play.
Make that 41, as Mancini had two more ribbies in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals today.
--In Friday night’s Padres’ mauling of Seattle, 16-1, Mariners backup catcher Jose Godoy made his big league debut, becoming the 20,000th player in MLB history.
So with 263 former players in the Hall of Fame, that means 1.3% of those who ever played the game made it to Cooperstown.
Actually, I’m kind of surprised the percentage is that high.
First on the player alphabetical list is pitcher David Aardsma. The last is pitcher Tony Zych.
--The Pirates suck (18-28), but Wake Forest’s Will Craig is 6-for-10 in his last four games to move his average up to .281! Go Deacs.
This is massive in terms of his ability to stick around the game for a while, even as a career Triple-A call-up.
--Back to Corey Kluber’s no-no last Wednesday at Texas, it was the sixth of the season, an absurd figure this early. No one thinks it’s a good thing.
As Clayton Kershaw observed: “I have all the respect in the world for Kluber and all those guys who have thrown no-hitters, but to have one happen every night is probably not good for the game. Fans want to see some hits, I get that, and some action, and not too many guys striking out.”
As Chelsea Janes wrote in the Washington Post of baseball’s offensive woes:
“MLB executives are so aware of the impact that velocity increase has had on hitters that, while they tinkered with changes great and small to try to make hitters more competitive, Theo Epstein and the MLB office decided to try moving the mound back one foot in the unaffiliated Atlantic League in the second half of this season, hoping that change alone can improve hitter-pitcher competitiveness.
“ ‘We kept coming back to the fact that we can try to change four or five things – and we’re going to – to try to nudge the game in the right direction and get more contact back,’ an MLB official told The Washington Post this spring. ‘But we’d probably be negligent if we didn’t at least try the one solution that, while we were calling it radical, might in and of itself be the solution.’”
With today’s velocity has come an increase in the number of batters being hit. The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner pointed out that in more than 3,000 games through Tuesday, batters had been hit by pitches 1,384 times, an average of 0.46 per game. No season between 1899 and 2017 had a rate as high as 0.4, but baseball has averaged at least that many in each of the last four years.
Average fastball velocity is at a peak, 93.4 miles an hour being the highest in the 20 years Fangraphs has tracked radar-gun readings.
The percentage of fastballs thrown is actually down, but as Kepner notes, “the ones they do throw can inflict more damage, especially when they are not as refined.”
At least the MLB batting average thru Saturday was up to .237! …matching 1968’s record low.
Home runs are down to 1.15 per team game vs. 1.39 in 2019.
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian had some of the following thoughts on ESPN.com.
“In April, there were 1,092 more strikeouts than hits, the largest such gap in any month in major league history. The season strikeout record surely will be broken this year for the 15th consecutive time. In 2016, the percentage of plate appearances that ended in a strikeout was .211. It has risen, year by year - .216, .223, .230, .234. Right now, it stands at .243. Those are, of course, the six highest rates in major league history. In 1968, the famed Year of the Pitcher, the K rate was only .158.”
“The average velocity for a four-seam fastball is 94; 10 years ago, it was 89.”
“Babe Ruth never struck out 100 times in a season. Hall of Famer Lou Brock sat out the final day of the 1970 season because he had 99 strikeouts and didn’t want to strike out 100 times. Frank Robinson said the worst season of his career was 1965 because, even though he hit 33 homers with 113 RBIs, it was the only season that he struck out 100 times. And yet, the Orioles’ Chris Davis, in 2014, set a record for the fewest games needed – 64 – to get to 100 strikeouts. There were 94 100-strikeout seasons from 1900 to 1963. But in 2019, the last full, 162-game season before Covid-10 shortened the 2020 season, a sobering 171 players struck out 100 times.
“(Tony) Gwynn had one three-strikeout game in his career. So did Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial. Bill Buckner and Mike Scioscia never struck out three times in a game. But through Monday, an individual player has struck out four (or five) times in a game 56 times this season. (In 1955, there were 12 such times. No season before 1956 had more than 17).”
[Ed. the most times Buckner, a .289 career hitter with 2,715 hits, ever struck out in a season was 40.]
--Completing the play-in phase, Washington grabbed the No. 8 spot after beating the Indiana Pacers 142-115 on Thursday. Good for them. They started the season 17-32, in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, and then finished 17-6 and in eighth place with a spot in the play-in tournament.
So the Wizards took on top-seeded Philadelphia in the first round this afternoon and lost 125-118, despite shooting 55.7% from the field. As Tony Soprano would have said, “Whaddya gonna do?”
[Tobias Harris had 37 for the Sixers, 28 in the first half. Joel Embiid had 30.]
--In the other play-in that finalized the field, Memphis and Ja Morant beat Golden State and Steph Curry 117-112 in overtime.
Morant, who struggled all season from three, just 30.3% from behind the arc, hit 5 of 10 from downtown, hitting two clutch jumpers in OT, 35 points in all. Curry had 39 in defeat.
--In Saturday’s first-round action, in the only game I cared about, as I put $5 on them, giving 8 points, the Brooklyn Nets opened their series with Boston with a 104-93 win. Brooklyn got off to a poor start but, frankly, I thought my bet was never in doubt.
And the Big Three shined, scoring 82 of the 104 points for the Nets. Kevin Durant had 32 and 12 rebounds, Kyrie Irving had 29, and James Harden had a solid 21 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals.
The Mavericks upset the Clippers 113-103 on L.A.’s home court.
These are all best-of-seven affairs.
--After posting last time, Liverpool beat Burnley 3-0, vaulting the Reds’ over Leicester City on goal differential.
So we had a helluva final day today in the PL, all 20 teams playing at the same time, and Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester vying for the final two Champions League slots.
Standings prior…37 of 38…Played - Points
1. Man City 37 – 83
2. Man U 37 – 71
3. Chelsea 37 – 67
4. Liverpool 37 – 66
5. Leicester 37 – 66…but Liverpool ahead on goal differential, 24-20
Chelsea played Aston Villa, Liverpool went up against Crystal Palace, and Leicester faced Tottenham.
AV and CP weren’t playing for anything, though they will both return next season.
Tottenham, on the other hand, needed a win to have a shot at Europa League status.
And Tottenham then beat Leicester 4-2, Gareth Bale with the final two goals after Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel yielded an own goal to even the score at 2-2.
The Spurs thus knocked out the Foxes from the Champions League, a second straight year Leicester has come up just short, while Tottenham has to settle for the new Europa Conference League, after West Ham clinched the sixth spot, and a Europa League berth (with Leicester), with a 3-0 win over Southampton.
With Leicester losing, Liverpool was already in on goal differential, but beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to secure third.
And Chelsea, despite a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa, took the fourth and final Champions League slot.
1. Man City 38 – 86
2. Man U 38 – 74
3. Liverpool 38 – 69
4. Chelsea 38 – 67
5. Leicester 38 – 66
6. West Ham 38 – 65
7. Tottenham 38 – 62
8. Arsenal 38 – 61
Back to Tottenham, I said it months ago, but they wasted Gareth Bale, on loan from Real Madrid. That is, former manager Jose Mourinho wasted him. Dumb…dumb, dumb, dumb.
Meanwhile, next Saturday is the 2020-21 Champions League finale in Portugal, Man City vs. Chelsea, and as Chelsea struggled today, City tuned up with a 5-0 blitzing of Everton.
--In Spain, Atletico Madrid won the La Liga title for the first time since 2014 after a final-day 2-1 comeback win at Real Valladolid saw them clinch the title ahead of rivals Real Madrid.
It’s the eleventh time that Atletico have been crowned champions of Spain, with just three of them coming in the last 40 years, in 1996, 2014 and now 2021.
--We note the passing of 1968 Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans. He was 74.
Evans became the first man to crack 44 seconds in the 400 meters, leading a sweep for Team USA; Larry James taking silver and Ron Freeman the bronze.
Evans’ victory came shortly after his San Jose State teammates Tommie Smith and John Carlos were sent home from the Olympics for raising their fists on the medals stand after they had placed first and third in the 200m.
Evans would say later that an official had warned him not to do anything similar at his medals ceremony so he took a different approach and wore a black beret to show support for the Black Panther Party and other civil rights organizations.
After running 43.86 in the 400, Evans anchored the U.S. 4X400 team to a world record of 2 minutes, 56.16 seconds.
Evans’ 43.86 stood for almost 20 years. The relay record stood for 24.
--What a story out of Alaska. From Mark Thiessen / AP:
“Allen Minish, 61, was alone and surveying land for a real estate agent in a wooded remote part of Alaska, putting some numbers into his GPS unit when he looked up and saw a large brown bear walking about 30 feet away.
“ ‘I saw him and he saw me at the same time, and it’s scary,’ Minish said by phone from his hospital bed in Anchorage after being mauled by the bear in a chance encounter.
“The mauling left Minish with a crushed jaw, a puncture wound in his scalp so deep that the doctor said he could see bone, lacerations and many stitches after 4 ½ hours of surgery.
“All that happened during an encounter he estimates lasted less than 10 seconds after Minish startled the bear Tuesday morning…about 190 miles northeast of Anchorage.
“The bear, which Minish said was larger than 300-pound black bears he has seen before, charged and closed the ground between them in a few seconds.
“Minish tried to dodge behind small spruce trees. That didn’t stop the bear. He went through them. As the bear neared, Minish held up the pointed end of his surveying pole. The bear simply knocked it to the side and the force of the blow knocked Minish to the ground. ‘As he lunged up on top of me, I grabbed his lower jaw to pull him away,’ he said.
“But the bear grabbed his face. ‘He took a small bite and then he took a second bite, and the second bite is the one that broke the bones,’ he said.
“And then the bear just walked away.
“He surmises the bear left because he no longer perceived Minish as a threat.
“He called 911 on his cellphone. Then he waited 59 minutes for help to arrive.
“Alaska State Troopers said later they did not locate the bear.
“ ‘I guess I feel lucky,’ Minish said.”
I’m shocked he didn’t bleed to death.
I’m also guessin’ Mr. Minish doesn’t sleep well the rest of his life.
--As I was calling it a night Saturday, I saw on the wire reports the story of the ultramarathoners in China and what an awful story. Twenty-one runners were killed when extremely cold weather struck a race in China’s northwestern Gansu province, state media reported.
The 100-km (62-mile) race began in a lush tourist site at a bend in the Yellow River, China’s second-longest. The route would take runners through deep canyons in a rugged landscape.
The race kicked off on Saturday morning with runners clad in t-shirts and shorts under overcast skies, according to photographs posted on the social media account of the Yellow River Stone Forest scenic area in Jingtai. Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales, with temperatures falling sharply, officials said in a briefing Sunday.
A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 had been confirmed safe, including the injured, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The other 21 died.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/25/63: #1 “If You Wanna Be Happy” (Jimmy Soul) #2 “I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March) #3 “Surfin’ U.S.A.” (Beach Boys)…and…#4 “Foolish Little Girl” (The Shirelles…super tune…) #5 “I Love You Because” (Al Martino) #6 “Loving You” (Brenda Lee) #7 “Two Faces Have I” (Lou Christie) #8 “Take These Chains From My Heart” (Ray Charles) #9 “It’s My Party” (Lesley Gore) #10 “Another Saturday Night” (Sam Cooke…B week…next time we’ll be in the midst of the British Invasion…)
Indy 500 Quiz Answers: 1) Ray Harroun won the first 500 in 1911 with an average speed of 74,59 mph. 2) Four wins: A.J. Foyt (1961, 64, 67, 77); Al Unser Sr. (1970, 71, 78, 87); Rick Mears (1979, 84, 88, 91). 3) Two foreign drivers with three wins: Brazil’s Helio Castroneves (2001, 02, 09) and Britain’s (Scotland’s) Dario Franchitti (Italian heritage) (2007, 10, 12).
*Again, I’ll throw in an Add-On up top sometime Wednesday.