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Spieth in mini-slump heading to Shinnecock Hills, US Open

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Lots of folks have become accustomed to seeing Jordan Spieth's name atop leaderboards, particularly at golf's majors. So has Spieth. Yet since winning the British Open last July, Spieth barely has been a factor on the weekends. He believed third-place finishes in Houston and at the Masters had indicated a turnaround heading into this week's U.S. Open. But since Augusta, his best showing in five tournaments is a tie for 21st at the Byron Nelson, and he twice missed cuts, including most recently at the Memorial. Not quite the stuff that rocketed Spieth to the top of golf, with Masters and U.S. Open wins in 2015, and his third major last summer at Royal Birkdale. "Yeah, I think my patience has been tested, just not going into Saturday or Sunday with a legitimate chance to win but maybe once," Spieth said Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills. "Technically the Masters, I didn't really have a chance. The back nine, I ended up giving myself a chance. "Yeah, just the limited number compared to previous years of chances I've had on the weekends has been frustrating." Spieth, 24, always has been mature as a competitor and person. When he went after the career Grand Slam for the first time last year at the PGA Championship, he wound up 10 shots back. No one contemplated he wouldn't have won another PGA Tour title since, missing two cuts before the Masters and two more after. While exasperated, Spieth, as always, believes he is close to the way out of this mini-slump — for him, at least. "Over the last, since probably in between Austin (a first-round elimination by Patrick Reed in match play) and Houston was a really big weekend for me of settling down and getting back on the right track with things," he said. "And recognizing that it's a long career, and, you know, results aren't going to come by wanting them to come. They're going to come by being obsessed with the process, getting back to the basics, being an athlete, figuring out within the swing, the intricacies of the game. Kind of the stuff — the reason I love to practice — that's what's going to kind of bring it back, and results aren't everything." Maybe not, except that when the results have been so spectacular so quickly, they become how you are measured by the public. Spieth has won 11 times in his first five full seasons, including those three major championships. His putting skills are envied by many of his peers. So are his analytical breakdowns of shots, holes, his swing. His optimism that all will be right again is praise-worthy — and probably accurate. "I feel like my game is in the best shape it's been in a long time, including last year," he said. "And my results don't necessarily speak towards that, but I feel that way, and so I'll stick with the process, and they'll surely come at some point." If that point is this week, Spieth must outshoot not only the sentimental fan choices (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson) but all of those young guns who have begun to grab majors: Reed, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka. "It almost feels like I'm back in high school and college," Spieth joked. "These are the same guys we used to battle it out with then, and I'd win one, then they would win one. It's just blown up now because there was no coverage; no one really cared to watch us back then, and now people do. "But it's nothing different than what we've kind of been doing with each other for a number of years. It's really cool to be out here doing it, but I don't think we ... think of it as a totally different experience than anything we've always kind of done.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 13th, 2018

Johnson takes 4-shot lead into weekend at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Dustin Johnson handled the worst of the weather and wound up as the sole survivor to par at the U.S. Open, taking a four-shot lead into the weekend at Shinnecock Hills. Johnson dropped only one shot Friday morning in wind and two hours of light rain that made the course play even longer. He made a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh hole for a 3-under 67. In perfect scoring conditions in the afternoon, no one could catch him. Ian Poulter was one shot behind until a triple bogey on his second-to-last hole. Charley Hoffman was under par until a bogey on his final hole. Johnson was at 4-under 136, four shots ahead of Hoffman and Scott Piercy. The weekend will not include Tiger Woods, who shot 72 to miss the cut for the fifth time in his last eight majors. Jordan Spieth joined him with a bogey-bogey finish to miss the cut by one shot......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Woods on expectations for another major win: Absolutely

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Hoist the anchor, and set sail the great ship Privacy on a course for Carnoustie Bay, Pebble Beach or some other future site of a golf major. Tiger Woods isn't going to win the U.S. Open this year. He still thinks he can win another major before he's done. "Absolutely," Woods said after shooting a 2-over 72 at Shinnecock Hills on Friday for a 36-hole total of 10 over that saw him miss the cut. "They're not easy," he said. "I mean, I've won a few of them over the course of my career, and they're the hardest fields and usually the hardest setups. So they're meant to be testers, and you don't win major championships by kind of slapping all around the place and missing putts. "You have to be on," he said. "You just can't fake it at a major championship." Woods couldn't even fake it for the first 34 holes in Southampton, and despite birdies on the last two holes, he needed a lot of help to avoid the cut for the fifth time in his last eight majors. That means he won't need to bunk for the weekend at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club on the 155-foot boat he jokingly calls "the dinghy." Woods also missed the cut when he brought Privacy to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York City's northern suburbs. He has not played the weekend at a U.S. Open since 2013, or won one since 2008 — his last major victory. He remains stuck at 14 in his career, four short of Jack Nicklaus' record. "Our whole careers are pretty much measured as if you can win four times a year," Woods said. Woods' chances were effectively eliminated after two holes. He shot a triple bogey on Thursday on No. 1 — a 399-yard par 4 that is the fourth-easiest hole on the course — needing three tries to manage a short rise to the elevated green and then two-putting. He entered the second round nine strokes behind the leaders and thought if he could shoot in the 60s on Friday he would have a chance to get back into it. Now he won't even have a chance to play. "I couldn't chase down the leaders right away. It's going to take me probably 2½ to 3 rounds to do it," he said. "Unfortunately, I went the other way." Starting the second round on No. 10, Woods made the turn at even par and came back around to No. 1. His drive was fine, but he yanked his approach shot to the right of the green into deep rough, and then rolled his third shot over it. After pitching to about 14 feet, he missed a bogey putt. He then bogeyed No. 2 for the second straight day. "I didn't play the first and second hole very well," said Woods, who started on No. 10 for the second round. "I was kind of hanging in there until, unfortunately, first and second hole kind of derailed it." Woods said he would take the week off before playing the National and then heading to Carnoustie, Scotland, for the British Open......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Rose practicing patience, perspective in the majors

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Justin Rose was coming up on 15 years as a pro and still didn't have a major. What he found was perspective. "Between 30 and 40, that's going to be my opportunity to go really out and get things done," Rose said. "That's 40 major championships. I'm going to create chances with those 40. I'm going to be on leaderboards." More than getting into weekend conditions, however, was realizing that it wasn't always going to work out. It was OK to fail. That was the secret to playing so well under pressure at Merion, where he broke through in the 2013 U.S. Open. "I think what happened to me at Merion, I also realized I'm going to win majors, and I'm also going to lose majors," he said. "You can't skip through your career without one or two slipping through the net. It's a byproduct of being on the leaderboard that those things happen. So I wasn't scared of losing, and that helped me win my first major championship. I wasn't shying away from the pressure of trying to win my first major." Rose had top 10s in the majors, but he didn't have a lot of chances in his 20s. The lone exception was 2007 at the Masters, where he started the final round one shot out of the lead, closed with a 73 and finished three shots back. Since his victory at Merion, he played in the final group at the 2015 Masters and couldn't make up any ground on Jordan Spieth's four-shot lead, and he lost a two-shot lead on the back nine in the 2017 Masters before losing in a playoff to Sergio Garcia. He also started three back on the final day at St. Andrews in 2015. "Ideally in your career, you grasp more than slip away, right?" he said. "But it's a byproduct of being a good player and being on the leaderboard that both things are going to happen." The message applies to Rickie Fowler, who finished one shot behind Patrick Reed at the Masters. Fowler also had a share of the lead on the back nine at Valhalla in the 2014 PGA Championship, and he played in the final group at two majors that same year. A year ago at the U.S. Open, Fowler started the final round two shots behind. "He's creating those opportunities," Rose said. "He played plenty well enough at the Masters that it could have been his year. He will let one or two go in the future. He's going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I'm sure things are going to line up for him more than once." ___ WEDDING BELLS Rickie Fowler was lugging around something and it was high time he got rid of it. So he asked girlfriend Allison Stokke to marry him while they were on a Long Island beach. "There was nothing planned out," Fowler said Wednesday, four days after he and Stokke, a former track and field athlete at Cal, got engaged. "I just really didn't want to carry the ring around any longer." That comment drew hearty laughter at a news conference for the U.S. Open. "So it worked out perfectly," he added. "We kept things very, very casual. And like I said, I didn't have anything planned out. ... I didn't want to have to keep toting that thing around for that long." Fowler got traditional, getting down on his knees to ask for her hand in marriage. Waves broke against the shore just behind the couple as Fowler's friend and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas snapped photos. ___ PEBBLES IN THE SAND The USGA has a local rule for Shinnecock Hills in this U.S. Open that allows players to remove stones and pebbles from bunkers without penalty. Phil Mickelson could have used that 14 years ago. Tied for the lead with two holes to play, Mickelson made double bogey from the bunker on the 17th hole and finished two behind Retief Goosen. Mickelson never talked about the bunker shot after his round, but Fred Funk revealed what happened in a 2014 interview. There was a small rock under his ball. "We didn't know the rock was there, but you could hear it," said Funk, who played with Mickelson in the final round. "Phil showed me his pitching wedge. But he never said anything about it (to the media)." Mickelson's shot ran out about 5 or 6 feet above the hole. The bigger problem was running the putt by 4 feet and missing the comebacker. Funk thought small rocks could be removed as long as the player could see it, though the USGA confirmed the local rule was not in effect in 2004. ___ ALL-AMERICAN This year's U.S. Open will be a chance to celebrate the state of golf in the country. Americans hold all four of golf's major trophies for the first time since 2004. Patrick Reed won the Masters this year, joining PGA champion Justin Thomas, British Open champion Jordan Spieth and last year's U.S. Open winner, Brooks Koepka. The last time that happened was 2004, when Phil Mickelson won his first major. At the time, Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (British) and Shaun Micheel were the reigning champions. But it's not just the majors. The United States also won the most recent Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup and Walker Cup. Rory McIlroy, who hopes to end the streak, attributed it to golf going in cycles. And he said some of the credit goes to Tiger Woods. "European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time," he said. "It seemed every major, someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn't seem that long ago. But the great young players from this country, they're playing well. They have probably a couple of guys, but one in particular that they try to emulate who's back out here playing, and he's become a friend of theirs. "I think that's been a huge part of all this," he said. "A lot of these guys have gotten to know Tiger. And being able to say, 'OK, this is what he does, and we might not be able to achieve everything that he has, but you can at least try to do that.' I think that's been a huge thing for Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, and them as individuals." ___ AP Sports Writers Barry Wilner and Jimmy Golen contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

At the US Open, a battle among the best with only 1 major

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth considers himself lucky. As hard as he made it look, winning the U.S. Open three years ago felt easy. He was two months removed from his victory at Augusta National. No matter what happened at Chambers Bay, he was the Masters champion for the rest of the year, and a major champion for life. "House money," he described that week. And then he won another major with a birdie-double bogey-birdie finish, helped by Dustin Johnson three-putting from 12 feet to lose by one. Spieth was 22 when he became the first player in 74 years — Craig Wood in 1941 — to win his first major and then add a second major in his next try. It didn't come that quickly for Tiger Woods, even after a 12-shot victory at the 1997 Masters in his first major as a pro. Woods played 10 more majors, half of them while overhauling his swing, before he won his next one. Winning one major is great. Winning multiple majors commands a new level of respect. "You could make an argument that it could be harder to get the second one than it is the first," PGA champion Justin Thomas said Tuesday. "You could make an argument that every major is the hardest. But I just think that to be known as a multiple major champion as opposed to, 'He won the PGA,' it has a little better ring to it. So I hope to have that to my name, sooner rather than later." Identifying the best player without a major has been a topic for the better part of 30 years. Given the depth of talent, it might be time for a different question. The best with only one major. It's a long list, from as young as Thomas (24) to Henrik Stenson (42). All it takes is one week, one more major — perhaps this week at Shinnecock Hills — for such a player to enter a different conversation. Dustin Johnson might lead that list. He finally broke through for his first major at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open, and given his 18 victories on the PGA Tour, he probably should have more. If not for getting in his own way, he might have more by now. There was the 82 at Pebble Beach when he had a three-shot lead in the 2010 U.S. Open. He hit an errant drive into a patch of sand that he didn't know was a bunker at Whistling Straits that same year in the PGA Championship. The bogey dropped him into a three-man playoff. Grounding his club in the sand for a two-shot penalty dropped him out of it. And then at Chambers Bay, he was 12 feet away for eagle and the U.S. Open until it took three putts and a par for a runner-up finish. He is No. 1 in the world, and wants to get major No. 2. "It's hard to get No. 2 right now, but it was hard to get No. 1," Johnson said with a smile. "I think it's hard to get any of them. It's just a tough task. There's only four majors, and to win a major you have to have everything working very well. You've got to play really good all four rounds. ... I'd love to get that second one. But it's one of those things where, like I said, everything has got to work well for four days." Jason Day has 12 victories on the PGA Tour, and only the 2015 PGA Championship among majors. He spent 47 consecutive weeks at No. 1 the year after winning his major, and had only one good chance. Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion for his first major. Rose has won at least somewhere in the world every year since 2010, and he has won on prestigious courses — Muirfield Village, Congressional, Aronimink, Doral — and he was one putt away from adding Augusta National to that list. But he's still stuck on one. So is Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson. Add to that list Louis Oosthuizen, who has been runner-up in all four majors since his 2010 victory in the British Open at St. Andrews. "I mean absolutely zero, no disrespect to guys that have won one — obviously, myself included," Thomas said. "But it's a lot easier to get hot one week than it is to do it again and win another major. Because when you're a major champion, you have more asked of you. You have more expectations on yourself, more expectations from other people to where if you do get in the hunt, then you're asked, 'How is it going to feel to get your second major?' You're constantly reminded of that." The top players when Woods was in his prime years were Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. Woods rarely fails to mention Retief Goosen on that list, mainly because when Woods was at his best, Goosen was the only other player with multiple majors. He won his second U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. Seventeen players at Shinnecock Hills this week have only one major and would love to add another. If they don't? It's still better than being on that other list occupied by the likes of Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm. They're young. But they would settle for one......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Tiger Woods digs for the week is more than a dinghy

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Tiger Woods brought his yacht, Privacy, to a U.S. Open in New York and missed the cut for the first time in a major. That was 12 years ago when the Open was at Winged Foot. He can only hope for a different outcome at Shinnecock Hills. "Staying on the dinghy helps," Woods said with a grin. The 155-foot yacht is said to include a Jacuzzi, gym and movie theater. It doesn't sound as though Woods has spent much time ashore except for being at Shinnecock Hills for his first U.S. Open in three years. "Sag Harbor is a cute little town," he said. "I've only been there for a few days now. I haven't really got a chance to walk about a little bit, but certainly will this week. So far, it's been nice to kind of get away from the tournament scene and go there to my dinghy, and just really enjoy it." Woods at least has been able to avoid the traffic that has led to commutes of close to two hours from the official hotel depending on the time of morning. Most players have rented homes in the Southampton area. Woods said he stayed with Shinnecock Hills members when he played as an amateur in the 1995 U.S. Open, and near the course in 2004. The Hamptons has no shortage of yachts, and someone suggested to Woods that it must feel odd not to have the biggest ship in New York. "I'm not opposed to that," Woods said. ___ PLAYOFF FEVER Jordan Spieth now knows that when he's tied for the lead after 72 holes on Sunday, his work is not done. The USGA has changed its playoff format for all its open championships. If the U.S. Open goes to a playoff, it will be a two-hole aggregate playoff (followed by sudden death if still tied), instead of an 18-hole playoff. Spieth was asked about the two-hole playoff. "It's the first I've heard of that being an option," he said. "It's still 18 holes, right?" Wrong. "I guess the strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed," he said. "I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, 'What's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?' So shows you what I know." He wasn't alone. Justin Thomas was asked about the new format and conceded that he wasn't aware it changed to a two-hole aggregate until he was at lunch. It wasn't clear if he read a memo from the USGA or the transcript of Spieth's news conference about four hours earlier. ___ BACK TO NO. 2 If you blinked, you might have missed Justin Thomas' reign atop golf's world ranking. The PGA champion took the top spot in May. It's gone, with Dustin Johnson's win at Memphis last weekend catapulting him to No. 1, with Thomas just behind. Of course, a win at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open this week would push Thomas back to the top. "It didn't affect me, or it wasn't that hard on me because I couldn't do anything about it," Thomas said. "I wasn't playing. I played one tournament and had a good tournament, finished eighth. And D.J. won, so it's not like he didn't play well and didn't earn it or anything. He won a golf tournament and a great tournament. So there's nothing I can be upset about for that." Thomas could even laugh a bit about the ranking. "I saw something that was just hysterical on social media," he explained, "how a lot of the times, you know, when teams or players or whatever it is go on long runs, like the last time this happened. I mean, a little biased but often a scenario is last time Tennessee beat Alabama in football, you know, like iPhones weren't alive yet and stuff like that." So what was Thomas' "last time" moment? "I saw something so funny yesterday," he said. "It was like the last time that I wasn't ranked No. 1 in the world, and it was like (Alex) Ovechkin didn't have a Stanley Cup and Rickie (Fowler) wasn't engaged. That was it. I thought it was pretty funny, whoever came up with that." ___ SPIETH AND HIS PUTTER For all the attention on the short putts Jordan Spieth has missed this year, he still is regarded as one of the best putters in golf. That's the club that effectively won the British Open for him last summer. Spieth faced a tough question Tuesday, however, when asked if there was someone he regarded as better. He paused. "A lot of great putters out here," he said, buying time. "That's why they're out here," he said, buying even more time. He finally took the safe way out by saying that no single players come to mind, though he made it clear his confidence isn't shaken on the greens. "I'd still like to bet on myself, if I can," he said. Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. He has made plenty of those, not only at Royal Birkdale last summer but at Chambers Bay on the par-3 16th and even at the Tour Championship in 2015 when he won the FedEx Cup. And he hasn't forgotten Tiger Woods. "Nobody's done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes," he said. ___ TRAILER LIVING Jason Day has learned that life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour. He also has learned it can be messy when Bubba Watson is around. Day is staying in what he calls "the bus" in a parking area close to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open. The Australian uses the RV for about 15 tournaments a season, and several other tour golfers have joined him. One is Watson. "Bubba just got one this year, and I'm very kind of more private, and he's, yeah, he's a little bit more outgoing," Day recalled, a wide smile on his face. "And I think we're at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he's like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?' "I'm just sitting in the bus watching TV. He's like OK. And he's standing there. And I'm like, do you want to come inside? And he's eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves. "Actually, it's nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to." ___ AP Sports Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Woods to play with No. 1 and 2 in the world at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press Tiger Woods will play the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open with Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, which feels like a grouping of Nos. 1-2-3 in the world ranking. Except that Woods is No. 80. The USGA released its tee times Thursday for the U.S. Open next week at Shinnecock Hills, and it offered two stacked groups for the morning and afternoon. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy tee off together in the morning of the first round. Woods, Johnson and Thomas are together in the afternoon. This is the 10-year anniversary of the USGA first putting together the Nos. 1-2-3 players in the world at Torrey Pines — Woods, Mickelson and Adam Scott. Woods is playing the U.S. Open for the first time since he missed the cut at Chambers Bay in 2015. He has been out of golf for most of the past two years recovering from back surgeries, and his world ranking fell as low as No. 1,199 until returning to competition last December. In nine PGA Tour events, he has a pair of top 10s and had missed the cut only one time. It will be the first time Woods and Johnson have played together in a major, and their first time in the same group since the opening two rounds of Torrey Pines in 2017 when both missed the cut. That doesn't include the round they played with President Donald Trump the day after Thanksgiving last year. Woods and Thomas have played together only once in competition, at Riviera in the Genesis Open, the only cut Woods has missed this year. But they play occasionally at home in south Florida. Mickelson gets his third crack at Shinnecock Hills, where he was in position to win in 1995 and in 2004. In his first appearance, Mickelson played the par-5 16th in 6 over for the week and finished four shots behind Corey Pavin. The previous time, he briefly had a one-shot lead with two holes to play when he made double bogey on the 71st hole and lost by two shots to Retief Goosen. The U.S. Open is the only major Mickelson lacks for the career Grand Slam. McIlroy and Spieth also have three legs of the career Slam, with McIlroy missing the Masters and Spieth lacking the PGA Championship. This will be the fifth time Spieth and McIlroy, the two biggest attractions among the younger generation, play together in a major. Mickelson previously has played with McIlroy four times in the majors, including the 2011 U.S. Open that McIlroy won by eight shots for his first major, and the 2013 British Open that Mickelson won at Muirfield. The USGA went with an All-Spain group for Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello; and All-Asian group with Li Haotong of China, Si Woo Kim of South Korea and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand; and an All-England group featuring Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter. Six spots have been set aside for those who get into the top 60 in the world this week, though only two players, Emiliano Grillo and Byeong Hun An, are assured of that and only one other player can make the top 60 by winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic. The top of the order for alternates come from Japan (Rikuya Hoshino), Tennessee (Scott Piercy) and Ohio (Ted Potter Jr.), but that's only to fill vacant spots. If a qualifier were to withdraw, his spot would be taken by the alternate from his sectional site......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Brian Harman takes 1-shot lead in Travelers

By Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Brian Harman shot a 4-under 66 on Friday to move to 10-under par and watched that hold up for the second-round lead in the Travelers Championship, thanks in part to a 10-second rule. Harman finished a stroke ahead of Matt Jones and first round co-leader Zach Johnson, who lost a stroke during his round of 68 when his birdie putt hung on the lip of the cup at the third hole for longer than the maximum allowed 10 seconds before falling in, giving him a par. "After 10 seconds, the ball was moving and at that point even if the ball is moving, It's deemed to be at rest, because it's on the lip," Johnson said. "Don't ask me why, but that's just the way it is." Harman had his short game working for the second consecutive day, taking 26 putts after needing only 23 during the first round. "The putter has been really good so far, but I've been in position a lot," he said. "I've had a lot of good looks at it. I'm just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice." Jones hit 16 of 18 greens for the second consecutive day, following up his first round 65 with a 66. Bryson DeChambeau (66), Paul Casey (67) and Russell Henley (65) were two strokes back going into the weekend. But Johnson, who started on the 10th tee, had the day's most interesting round, which included just two birdies, but one amazing par save. He hit the ball into the TPC River Highland's signature lake on No. 17, dropped across the water near the 16th tee box and then put his third shot within 8 feet of the hole from 234 yards away. "You can't hit that shot and then not make that putt," he said. "It felt good to get away with that four. That's as good an up and down as I've ever witnessed or performed." Lanto Griffin and two-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson were at even par coming into Friday. But both shot a 63 to move into contention heading into the weekend, three shots behind the leader. Watson jump started his round with an eagle on his third hole, the par-5 13th. "I had some mental mistakes yesterday, and then I didn't make some putts," said Watson. "Today I started out hotter. I made a good shot on 11, our second hole, made the putt, making a solid par putt on 12, and then that freed me up a little bit. Gave me some confidence going into the next hole where I made the eagle." Rory McIlroy also is at 7 under after a 69. McIlroy, Watson and Justin Thomas (5 under) were grouped together Thursday and Friday, drawing large galleries. "I definitely helps, Thomas said. "It's fun playing with good friends. You definitely get more momentum when guys are playing well. I obviously couldn't get a whole lot of momentum out there. I was kind of hovering around 1- or 2-under. It was pretty much just Bubba today. Rory didn't play great either and both of us definitely could have had a lot lower rounds" Defending champion Jordan Spieth, tied with Johnson after an opening 63, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 25th at 4 under. His round, which started on the back nine, included a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole and an eagle on par-5 sixth, when he put his second shot within 2 feet of the hole from 276 yards away. "I don't go to the range after 63s very often, and I was there for an hour yesterday trying to figure out the golf swing," he said. "So it's not like things are on. Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it's not far off. It really is close." Masters champion Patrick Reed, coming off a fourth-place finish in the U.S. Open, shot a 67 to miss the cut by a shot at minus-1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

Back-to-back champion

SOUTHAMPTON -- Brooks Koepka became the first player in three decades to repeat as US Open Champion here Sunday, firing a gritty final round 68 at Shinnecock Hills to beat Tommy Fleetwood by one stroke. The post Back-to-back champion appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Frustrated Mickelson swats moving ball with putter at Open

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Whether he ever wins a U.S. Open — and that prospect is increasingly bleak at age 48 — Phil Mickelson will be remembered for what happened on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills on Saturday. Call it the Mickelson Meltdown. His bogey putt from above the hole ran by the cup and was headed down a slope when he ran over and swatted it back toward the hole as the ball was still moving. "Sometimes it gets a little goofy, sure," he said, "but it's all within the rules." Mickelson's shocking display in the third round earned him a 2-stroke penalty for breaking the rule against hitting a moving ball and led to a 10 on the hole, an 81 overall. He went from shooting a 69 to making the cut to falling apart so badly that playing partner Andrew Johnston called it "a moment of madness." "I've had multiple times where I've wanted to do that," Mickelson said, explaining he preferred the 2-stroke penalty to having to play the ball from off the green. "I just finally did." Saturday was Mickelson's 48th birthday, and there were good vibes everywhere early in his round. He was serenaded with "Happy Birthday" at nearly every green, and even after four consecutive bogeys the fans were supportive. "People here have been awesome, they made my birthday special," he said. Then came No. 13, where nothing was special — just outrageous. Mickelson jogged after the ball after it curled around the hole, realizing it was about to head down the other side of the green. His swat sent the ball off the hole. He then two-putted. With the 2-shot penalty, he was given a sextuple-bogey 10 that was the highest score on any hole at this U.S. Open, according to the USGA. "I've wanted to do that many times. I should have done it several times at Augusta on 15," he said. As he walked off the green, he could be seen smiling and talking to Johnston, who also was smiling. "I said, 'That is one of the strangest things I have ever seen' and started laughing, and said 'sorry' about laughing," said Johnston, a jovial Englishman with the nickname Beef. "He just laughed at me, he had no words to say. We just laughed. "It's something you might see at your club with your mates. It was strange, no one ever has those thoughts, it just happens." Mickelson's actions were reminiscent of John Daly hitting a moving ball at Pinehurst No. 2 in the 1999 U.S. Open. Daly was on No. 8 in the final round when he took an 11 on the hole and signed for an 81. He then said: "This is my last U.S. Open — ever. I've had it with the USGA and the way they run their tournaments." He was back the next year at Pebble Beach, where he pumped three shots into the Pacific Ocean on the famed 18th and hit another shot into someone's backyard. That made for a 14, a total of 83 in the first round, and a withdrawal. Another player who let things get to him was Kirk Triplett in 1998 at Olympic Club. On the 18th hole in the second round, Triplett stuck his putter in the ground as a backstop when his ball was headed back down from the hole. Mickelson, who has been a U.S. Open runner-up six times, most recently in 2013, was having a miserable time Saturday before reaching 13. He had those four consecutive bogeys before a par at the 12th. After three more pars following the meltdown, he bogeyed 17, then parred 18. Asked if people would find his actions on No. 13 disrespectful, Mickelson said: "It's meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. In that situation, I was just going back and forth. I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display." As for walking off the green chuckling, he insisted: "How can you not laugh? It's funny." ___ AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson, AP Columnist Tim Dahlberg, and Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Johnson leads US Open

SOUTHAMPTON, New York– Dustin Johnson took command of the US Open on Friday, firing a three-under-par 67 at Shinnecock Hills for a four-shot lead as the only player under par after 36 punishing holes. Shinnecock presented a different face as Thursday’s gusting wind gave way to morning mist with stretches of wind-driven rain, followed by […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

US Open hopes ultimate test doesn t feature trick questions

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Open wants to be the ultimate test in golf, and sometimes that leads to a series of trick questions. One of them was 14 years ago at Shinnecock Hills. A year after Jim Furyk tied the U.S. Open scoring record at Olympia Fields, the 2004 U.S. Open was so bone dry and lightning fast that only three players broke par on the weekend, none on Sunday. Fans having to move to the side because of a golf ball rolling toward them is not unusual, except when the player hit the shot with his putter from the green. Tee shots that landed on the seventh green rolled off the putting surface and into a bunker. One year after Rory McIlroy broke the U.S. Open scoring record at Congressional, no one broke par at Olympic Club in 2012 when Webb Simpson won. Moments like this lead to criticism that the USGA overreacts. Justin Rose sees it another way. "When everything is in balance, it's kind of boring," he said. "And I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is. So I would say the USGA is not reactionary. It's counterbalancing. So if you go too far one way, you've got to come back the other way. You don't want to fall off the edge." That's the question going into the 118th U.S. Open that starts Thursday. Might the USGA lean toward going easy on players because of what happened the last time at Shinnecock Hills? Or will it make it tougher on them because of the record scoring last year at Erin Hills? Brooks Koepka tied the record to par at 16 under, and six other players finished at 10 under or lower. "We're confident this should be a marvelous test," said Mike Davis, the chief executive of the USGA who has been in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open since 2006 at Winged Foot, when the winning score was 5 over. Davis believes Shinnecock Hills is right where the USGA wants it, even with a light, steady rain on the final day of practice. Wednesday is never the measure of how a golf course presents itself. McIlroy is among those who likes what he sees. It's not a U.S. Open if players are not complaining, but it's been a quiet three days ahead of competition. The biggest question is whether the fairways are narrow enough. They are tighter than last year at Erin Hills, for sure, and an average of 15 yards wider than in 2004. "Honestly, I think they've got it right," McIlroy said. "It presents guys with options off the tee. You have to make a decision basically on every tee box what you're going to do. I'm obviously not that old, but when I watched U.S. Opens on TV and saw these long, narrow corridors of fairways and thick rough, that's what I was used to at a U.S. Open. ... If you look at the venues that are coming up, they're very traditional venues like Oakmont, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach. "Maybe you'll see more of what we perceive as a traditional U.S. Open setup." Rain was expected to yield to plenty of sun over the next four days, with the strongest wind on Thursday. Davis said he already has called several audibles on the original plan of where to put the pins on the greens, an example of the USGA not wanting the course to get on the wild side. Davis also said the winning score is not an issue at a major where par tends to be at a premium. "Never since I've been at the USGA — and it's been almost 30 years — I've never heard anybody at the USGA say we're shooting for even par," Davis said. "But we talk incessantly, 'How do we get the course to be really a great test of golf?' As we say, get all 14 clubs dirty to make sure that these players are tested to the nth degree." And what makes a good championship inside the ropes? The quality of the winner? Different players have won the last 15 U.S. Opens, the longest stretch of the four majors. The margin? The last playoff was 10 years ago when Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines. Three of the last four U.S. Opens have been decided by three shots or more. "You need some great players in the mix," Rose said. "You need some great story lines." This U.S. Open is not lacking for either. Five players have a chance to replace Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world this week. Woods is hitting the ball well enough to win any week if he ever gets all parts of his game working together. To win a record-tying fourth U.S. Open would cap off an unlikely comeback following four back surgeries. Phil Mickelson, in the USGA record book with his six runner-up finishes, needs only this trophy to complete the career Grand Slam. "And then just a good test of golf where people think, 'Wow, they've really stepped up and played great golf under pressure,'" Rose added. "I think that's what people would like to see in this tournament is that guys are tested to the ends of the ability, to whether they can cope or not. And I think that's part of the charm ... not charm, but part of the allure of this tournament." The ultimate test starts Thursday. Results won't be available until the end of the week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

DeChambeau wins Memorial in playoff on 2nd extra hole

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — For the fourth straight year, Bryson DeChambeau leaves Ohio feeling like a winner. This time he had a trophy to show for it, and a handshake with Jack Nicklaus to remember. DeChambeau finally made it easy on himself the third time playing the 18th hole at the Muirfield Village on Sunday, rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Byeong Hun An and win the Memorial. "I can't believe I did it," said DeChambeau, a winner for the second time on the PGA Tour. He had played the Memorial only once before, though the 24-year-old Californian has been a regular in central Ohio. He has made it through the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier each of the last three years, all in the Columbus area. This was far more rewarding. DeChambeau watched his putt disappeared and raised both arms, pumping them seven times as he yelled above the cheers of fans. Many of them lingered at the 18th green after spending much of the final round as if this might be the day Tiger Woods returned to winning. It wasn't. Woods was never a serious factor, especially after missing a 3-foot par putt on the 10th hole and hitting another tee shot into someone's backyard on the 13th hole. One of his best weeks hitting the ball ended with an even-par 72 and a six-way tie for 23rd. The finish was no less entertaining. DeChambeau went from a two-shot deficit at the turn to a one-shot lead after No. 12, and he kept it the rest of the way until a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole from about 55 feet for a 1-under 71. That tied with An, who had closed with a 69 in the group ahead and was the first to reach 15-under 273. Kyle Stanley joined them in playoff. He hit into the water on the par-3 12th to fall five shots behind with six holes to play, only to run off four straight birdies, capping the big run with a 30-foot putt on the 17th to tie DeChambeau. Just his luck, Stanley hit a tree on the right elbow of the dogleg at No. 18, and it shot the ball across the fairway and nearly into a creek, except the ankle-deep rough was thick enough to slow it. Even so, he could only advance it 100 yards and made bogey for a 70. In the playoff, his tee shot was enough to the right that the ball was well above his feet in thick grass. Stanley choked up and took a swing, but the ball squirted ou t about 30 yards to the right, leading to another bogey, and he was quickly eliminated. "A couple bad breaks on 18," Stanley said. "I mean in the playoff, if I knock that ball 2-3 feet right of where it was I would have had a shot. But after hole 12 my chances were looking pretty slim, so to come back and make some birdies coming in ... it's a bit of a sour finish, but proud of the way I hung in there." An took some of the pressure off DeChambeau on the second playoff hole, also on No. 18, when he yanked his approach into the gallery. He played a marvelous flop shot out of deep rough to a couple of feet for a certain par, only for DeChambeau to hit his approach 12 feet behind the hole and make the birdie. "I finally got it right the third time," DeChambeau said. "It took me a little bit." Patrick Cantlay also had a chance on Sunday, leading by two shots going to the back nine. But he didn't make a birdie over his last 10 holes, and he fell back when he went bunker-to-bunker on the 17th and made bogey to fall two strokes behind. Cantlay narrowly missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole, shot 71 and finished fourth. Peter Uihlein (66) was alone in fifth. Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old from Chile, birdied the 18th hole to tie for sixth. That was enough for him to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, meaning he can get unlimited sponsor exemptions. Justin Thomas shot 68 and tied for eighth in his debut at No. 1 in the world. He will keep that ranking going into the U.S. Open. Woods started five shots behind. He pulled to within three shots with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 fifth hole, but he didn't make another birdie until he had fallen seven shots behind and only had eight holes in front of him. Woods was second to last in the key putting statistic among the 73 players who went all four rounds. "If I just putt normally, I probably would be right there with those guys and up there in the last couple of groups," Wood said. "If I just keep building on this, with how I'm hitting it right now, I'm in good shape for two weeks from now." The next stop for Woods is the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. DeChambeau will be there, too, his confidence higher than ever. He first played the Memorial in 2016 and was coming off four straight missed cuts. He tied for 38th that week, a small victory, but realized his game wasn't good enough. Now, he has PGA Tour titles in successive seasons. And his victory moved him to No. 8 in the Ryder Cup standings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Woods files entry to play US Open for 1st time since 2015

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Tiger Woods has filed his entry to play in the U.S. Open for the first time since 2015. The USGA says Woods officially entered on Thursday, four days after he tied for 32nd in the Masters. Even exempt players have to formally enter the U.S. Open. Woods hasn't played the U.S. Open since he missed the cut at Chambers Bay with rounds of 80-76. The U.S. Open is June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, where Woods made his U.S. Open debut in 1995 as the U.S. Amateur champion. He opened with a 74 and withdrew the next day with a wrist injury. He tied for 17th at Shinnecock in 2004 when he was in the midst of changing his swing. Woods is in the last year of a 10-year exemption from winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2018

Spieth says he’s been ‘lower’ heading into Masters

HOUSTON: Jordan Spieth insists he has headed into prior Masters in “lower” form than the current crestfallen nature of his golf game. The 24-year old Dallas native tees it up this week on Lone Star State home soil in the Houston Open not having tasted success since capturing last year’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut and [...] The post Spieth says he’s been ‘lower’ heading into Masters appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Cantlay extends Riviera lead; Woods begins near cut line

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patrick Cantlay came within an inch of a hole-in-one, the start of three straight birdies that led to a 2-under 69 and a two-shot lead in the Genesis Open. Cantlay, the No. 1 amateur in the world when he played at UCLA, had to wait until the end of Friday to see if the lead held up. Tiger Woods was among those playing in the afternoon, when the greens typically are at their worst. Woods was on the cut line when he began the second round. Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth — the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green — landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup. "I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close," Cantlay said. He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole. Cantlay, who won in Las Vegas last fall, was at 7-under 135. Tony Finau, who shared the 18-hole lead with Cantlay, recovered from a sluggish front nine with a 3-3 start to the back nine that helped him salvage a 71. He was two shots behind among the early finishers. Bubba Watson, a two-time winner at Riviera, ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch around his turn before he was undone by a double bogey on No. 5. His approach went into shin-high grass short of the green and he three-putted. Even so, he had a 70 and was in the mix heading toward the weekend. That would be considered progress. Watson hasn't won since his most recent Riviera victory in 2016. He was at No. 4 in the world after that title. He arrived this week at No. 117. The two-time Masters champion says he is getting back some weight he lost when he was ill. More putts are going in. One aspect of his personality hasn't changed. When Watson is in L.A., he takes in a lot more than golf. Watson was scheduled to play for Team Clippers in the celebrity game during NBA All-Star weekend. He suggested that he might have taped a show with Jay Leno and perhaps spent time with a friend named Ellen (DeGeneres). He was in full celebrity mode when he won at Riviera in 2016, so maybe that's the recipe. Dustin Johnson was just happy to still be in the game. He managed a 69 on Friday, which should enable the defending champion at No. 1 player in the world to make the cut. Depending on how the afternoon went, Johnson still would only be eight shots behind. That's a tribute to firm, dry Riviera and greens that get bumpy in the afternoon and make it hard for anyone to get to hard ahead. Rafa Cabrera Bello tried in the morning. The Spaniard opened with six birdies in seven holes, but he still only managed a 67. He joined two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71) and Troy Merritt (71) in the group at 3-under 139. Jordan Spieth had a 70 and was six shots behind......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2018

Zach Johnson holds early lead at Travelers Championship

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Zach Johnson has shot a first-round 63 to take an early lead at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. The former Masters and British Open champion birdied six straight holes on the back nine and finished 7 under par, one shot ahead of American Peter Malnati. Brooks Koepka followed his U.S. Open championship with a 2-under 68 on the TPC River Highland's course, putting him five shots off the pace. The Travelers was selected by the PGA last year as its "Tournament of the Year" and the "Players Choice." That has helped attract a 156-player field that includes five of the world's top 10 ranked golfers and all four reigning major championship winners. British Open champ Jordan Spieth, who won last year's tournament by holing out from a greenside bunker in a playoff, eagled his sixth hole of the first round by sinking his third shot from the sand and was 4 under par through eight holes. Rory McIlroy, who like Spieth played the tournament for the first time a year ago, was also at 4 under on the front nine. Masters winner Patrick Reed and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas also were on the course Thursday afternoon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Phoenix rises from its slump

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net Coach Louie Alas didn't want another game that they ripped wide open right from the start slip away. Leading once more by a huge margin, the Phoenix Fuel M.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Q& A: Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com A year ago, on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls switched gears. Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota, taking with him any pretense that the Bulls were a legitimate playoff team. In that moment, Chicago committed to a rebuild, which is to say, a dive into the draft lottery where coach Fred Hoiberg and his team presumably would be rewarded not for how many games they won but how many they lost. By whatever means necessary. Soon after Butler was moved to the Timberwolves, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo was waived. A few months later, Dwyane Wade was cut loose (via a handsome buyout) to bounce through Cleveland to Miami. The Bulls moved forward with three young pieces courtesy of the Wolves -- wing Zach LaVine, guard Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in 2017, rookie forward Lauri Markkanen -- and a general acceptance that getting from there to here was going to bring a lot of pain. Some of that was literal: Bobby Portis slugged teammate Nikola Mirotic in a preseason practice, breaking two facial bones and putting Mirotic on the shelf for 23 games. Some of it was figurative: the frustration of a season that began as a 3-20 mess and ended in a 10-28 slog. In between, though, the Bulls somehow put together a 14-7 stretch that offered a glimpse of what 2018-19 might be. It also cost them precious lottery balls, eventually leaving them with the No. 7 pick (and No. 22, after dealing Mirotic in February to New Orleans) in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Draft. Hoiberg, who went from an alleged coaching “hot seat” during two .500 seasons, wound up with more job security as a coach headed toward 50 defeats and beyond. He spoke with NBA.com about his and the Bulls’, er, challenging season. This is edited from a pair of longer conversations, one at the end of the regular season, the other within the past week. NBA.com: So you go through everything that was 2017-18, dutifully lose 55 games and wind up at No. 7 instead of in the top three for the Draft. The inevitable question is, was it worth it? Fred Hoiberg: Obviously you’re disappointed. You were hoping to move up. But we’re confident we’re going to get a good player with the No. 7 pick and we’re confident we’ll get a good player with the 22nd pick. NBA.com: C’mon, this isn’t our first rodeo. I get that people don’t like to use the word “tanking,” but the Bulls’ marching orders last season were pretty clear. FH: I don’t think you can look at it that way in the midst of your season. The players are competitive, your staff is competitive. You want to play as well as you can and put yourself in a position to win. When you look at the successful stretch that we had in December and January, you think about carrying those things forward and then adding, based on who we get, to the roster. There was some real frustration that we didn’t get a lot of wins at the end. But we developed some younger players and saw what we had with some of our guys. NBA.com: When you guys had that run before the season’s midpoint, winning seven in a row (first team in NBA history with such a long winning streak immediately after a losing streak of 10 in a row) and 10 of 12, did you and the front office ever consider a Plan B? As in, maybe, show potential free agents how good your supporting cast could be, in hopes of luring big-name help this summer? FH: I think we did. What we showed was a really good foundation and a young core that we can build around. When I look back at it, I just wish we could have had more opportunity to work with it and see what it would have looked like. When Zach LaVine came back [Jan. 13 from ACL knee surgery], the plan was for him to play about 20 minutes a night. Then his third game, Kris Dunn fell against Golden State and had that concussion [that cost him 11 games, before missing the final 14 with a toe injury]. It’s too bad we didn’t get the full look. But players like Cam Payne, Denzel [Valentine], Bobby, Robin [Lopez], Justin Holiday all had career years.   NBA.com: You had a lot of injuries down the stretch. Not to suggest that they weren’t all legit, but were you instructed at any point by VP John Paxson or GM Gar Forman to dial it back after that 14-7 success? FH: No, we weren’t. And the big thing from the very beginning of last season, the two things we wanted to see, was competing at a high level every night and the development of our players. I think we accomplished that. NBA.com: What -- in your background as a player, coach, competitor, you name it -- prepared you for this past season? FH: Part of what prepared me for this was, I had been through this as a player. I went from four really competitive teams in Indiana, playing with someone as driven and helpful as Reggie Miller, taking me under his wing. There were other great veteran players who helped me just to survive and taught me a lot. Larry Brown was the coach, then Larry Bird my last two years.   Then when I came to Chicago, I knew it would be an opportunity to play. But it was a rebuild. Eventually I got thrust into the role of captain, as the oldest player on team at 28. It really helped me with what we’re going through now. I learned how important it is to keep guys’ morale up and be positive through the ups and downs. I give our guys all the credit in the world for remaining so positive, keeping up a great work ethic and still being sponges in wanting to learn. NBA.com: What were the takeaways from the best and healthiest part of last season? FH: We got a pretty good feel for what Kris Dunn can be. He really evolved into being a closer for our team. Lauri was closing games for us, taking big shots as a 20-year-old kid. Zach had the game against Minnesota. What people fail to remember about Zach, he averaged over 22 points a game in February and really got into a pretty good rhythm. Then he had some knee soreness and wound up sitting for the rest of the year. But we had some flashes of what this can turn into. NBA.com: Niko paid for his role in sparking that hot streak. FH: Niko was great. He missed those first 23, and I thought our team handled that adverse situation about as well as anybody could, not letting it affect us in a negative way. We were able to move past it. You even saw the chemistry that Niko and Bobby played with when they were out there together. NBA.com: How hard was it personally downshifting from a team that had gone to the playoffs to one that didn’t put a priority on winning? FH: When the move was made on draft night, when those three kids came in, right away there was an excitement. Everyone had seen what Zach had done. He was a highlight reel and had those slam dunk championships. He plays the game with ease on the offensive end. His athletic tools and ability to get up and down the floor. Kris, everybody absolutely loved coming out of the draft [in 2016]. Then he had an up-and-down rookie season. Helping him to get that swagger back that he had coming out of Providence took some work, but he was aching to put that work in. Markkanen, I know the guys upstairs knew how good he was but I had no idea. I didn’t study him because we had the 15th pick. He comes over after a grueling summer -- summer league, Eurobasket with all that pressure in front of his home fans -- and he was exhausted. But then you saw every day, “Man, this kid is really good.” You’re thinking, we could probably put the ball in this kid’s hands. Then he goes up and dunks over a whole team and you say, “My God, this kid’s more athletic than we thought. He uses his feet, he’s got anticipation, he’s got toughness.” He showed a little more every day. NBA.com: Was it difficult asking a proud veteran like Robin Lopez to put it in idle over the final 25 games? FH: I think he understood. He’s been a part of a lot of different situations. He was great. He continued to lead. He continued to practice hard. He talked to the bigs as they came off the floor. NBA.com: Was your own health challenged at all by the stress of this season? Your past issues related to your heart are widely known, and coaching an NBA team even in the best of times is a demanding job. FH: After two open-heart surgeries, I do have to sometimes check myself. There are so many things you can over-concern yourself with in this business. Then you look back a week or two later and say, “My God, why did I put so much effort into that one stupid thing that happened?” You have to let go sometimes. My family is so important for me with that. You get some normalcy in your life. [At night, lying in bed, Hoiberg can hear a valve in his heart every time it beats. He let a visitor listen, too, and sure enough... ] If this ever affected me to the point where I had to throttle back, I would move on to something else. When I had my first surgery and they removed the diseased tissue from the aorta that had an aneurysm in it, they got rid of the problem. The valve deteriorated after they put a new valve in and they had to go in again, but the diseased tissue no longer was there. If it was a risk, I’d be doing something else. But it’s a constant reminder. You think you’re going to get used to it, but you never really do. My wife will be lying next to me and she hears it. NBA.com: When you look back on 2017-18, is it like “Casablanca” for you guys? As in, you’ll always have December? FH: It was fun to see how much the work paid off. Everyone was putting so much into it to get out of that slump. You can say, we had something to build on there. But whenever I talked to our team, before or after, it was all about competing on a nightly basis. Being consistent with their effort. I couldn’t be more proud of how they handled it. They were on time. They kept trying to get better. They worried about what they could control. I didn’t have to have even one of those conversations where I sat a guy down and said, “You’re not playing hard enough.” I did have a few conversations where I said, “You need to move the ball more.” [laughs] NBA.com: Big difference, coaching relative kids after the so-called “three alphas” of Butler, Wade and Rondo? Jimmy seemed eager to stay here to win. FH: Jimmy did so many things for this team. He was great to coach. You knew every night you were going to get an unbelievable effort. A guy who never backed down. Who never shied away from the big shot. And was going to defend at a high level every time he stepped on the floor. So Jimmy was missed in a lot of ways. But when you look at the young guys’ abilities, it’s exciting. NBA.com: What do you make of having better job security now that the losses are mounting, compared to those .500 seasons? FH: I don’t think any one of the 30 guys in our position pay attention to that. You can’t do your job if you do. You go in and try to improve as an individual, as a staff, as a team. Our first year, Derrick Rose suffered an orbital fracture in the first workout. We had 10 rotation players who missed double-digit games. Two starters missed 50 or more [Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah]. Niko had that botched appendix surgery. The next year was a completely different team. Nobody predicted we’d be a playoff team but we were and had a good chance to beat Boston before Rondo got hurt. NBA.com: When you’re not coaching veterans, is it a purer form, as far as installing “your” system vs. tailoring things to them? FH: You always look for the best system, the best approach. The basics don’t change, but [in 2016-17] we had a lot more isolation players, so we ran more of those types of actions. This [past] year, more ball movement, player movement fit this group better. We had longer, harder practices as opposed to a veteran group as the year went on. NBA.com: Since the end of the season, how much time have you put in on developmental activities and draft preparation? FH: We’ve had a lot of guys in and gotten a lot of work in, in the early part of the offseason. We’re looking forward to working again after the draft with some new young players as part of the roster. It’s all about moving forward. NBA.com: As you look back over the past year, with the script flipping to the point where the Bulls wanted to win by losing and maybe lost -- some draft position, anyway -- by winning, what goes through your mind? FH: What was Donovan Mitchell [the Rookie of the Year finalist chosen by Utah]? The 13th pick? You just never know with the draft. You play hard, you get the culture established the way you want it and things take care of themselves. What really would have been devastating would have been ending the season with negativity, with your team not playing hard, with your team disinterested. That’s something that would be a real cause for concern going into an offseason. But our guys felt good about themselves. Some were sacrificing in a big way and pulling for younger guys. They were playing hard, they were cheering for each other. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2018

Report: Lakers, Clippers question severity of Leonard s injury

Just how hurt is Kawhi Leonard? That's the question the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers are asking, per a report by The LA Times' Tania Ganguli. Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time Finals MVP, is reportedly seeking a trade away from the San Antonio Spurs, with an eye towards heading home to Los Angeles, where he grew up and played college hoops. However, per Ganguli, neither the Lakers, nor the Clippers, are rushing to assemble any trade offers: Neither the Lakers nor Clippers have had trade discussions with the Spurs, as both teams have concerns about the severity of Leonard’s injury. He spent several months away from the team while rehabbing, which led to public barbs from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich about Leonard’s absence — an unusual move for the Spurs. While the Lakers are open to trading any player on their roster, how much they are willing to give up depends on their confidence in his health. It’s also unclear if the Spurs would be willing to trade Leonard to the Lakers or any other team. If they are, other teams might have more significant assets to offer, especially given that the Lakers do not have a lottery pick this year. They will select 25th in next week’s draft, a pick they got in a trade with Cleveland. The Clippers have more to offer than the Lakers. They would be willing to create a package with forward Tobias Harris and the 12th or 13th pick in this year’s draft, according to a source not authorized to speak publicly. In game one of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, Leonard injured his ankle when he fell on the foot of Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia. He failed to play the rest of the series, and the Spurs lost in a sweep. Come the 2017-18 season, Leonard missed the first 27 games of the new campaign with what was described as a "right quadriceps injury." He figured in nine games, playing on a minutes restriction and avoiding back-to-back outings, and put up 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks. He didn't play past January 13, 2018 (Jan. 14, 2018, PHL time) though, due to the quadriceps injury flaring up again. That led to the tension between Leonard and the Spurs, as team doctors had cleared him to play again, while Leonard opted for a second opinion, and later, further rehab......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0

By ANNE M. PETERSON ,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer's premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic. The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic's header missed the target in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena's angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic. Ivanovic made his record 104th appearance for the national team, surpassing Dejan Stankovic's mark. The 34-year-old Ivanovic had matched Stankovic's record last Saturday in a 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia. Stankovic, known as "Deki," played for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia. Ivanovic currently plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, but he's best known for his time at Chelsea (2008-17). Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury. He was replaced on the roster by Kenner Gutierrez. GROUP DYNAMICS Costa Rica advanced out of the group stage in Brazil with victories over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, but the country's players insisted in the run-up to Sunday's game that this team should not be judged on the past. "There's always a lot of talk about four years ago, but this is a new World Cup, a new history," Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzales said. "Some of us are repeating, but there are teammates who are playing their first World Cup. We know the eyes of the world are on us." Costa Rica will next face Brazil on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Serbia plays Switzerland on Friday in Kaliningrad. KEYS TO SUCCESS Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia. He challenged Navas in the 27th minute from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside. Currently with Italian club Lazio, rumors have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018