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Rahm s wild day ends with Memorial win and No. 1 ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The drama was more than Jon Rahm wanted. The result was what he always imagined. Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a victory in the Memorial in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty. All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer. Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter. “One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.” The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it with a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, Rahm slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. And it was evident with that ferocious fist-pump when his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup. Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud. “I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,” he told Nicklaus off the 18th green. With the penalty — Rahm had no idea it was an issue after his round, but accepted the penalty when he saw a video that zoomed in close on the ball — he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory, fourth on the PGA Tour. Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since this tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year. The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews already had stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine. Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine with birdies on the two par 5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1. And then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem. He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and then Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th. Just like that, the lead was three shots. Only a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Rahm was worried his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup. As for the penalty? “It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament,” he said. “It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?” The chip was similar — but from a different angle — to Tiger Woods chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012. Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th. “Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday,” Woods said. “But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.” Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third. The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible. Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking. That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player. Now he's the best in the world, a ranking that McIlroy had since Feb. 9. “He deserves it,” McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. “He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 20th, 2020

Rahm channels frustrations into big win with big moments

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Jon Rahm is no stranger to wild shifts in emotions, whether it was irritation from an absent-minded penalty that led to his only bogey of the weekend or his 65-foot birdie putt that capped an amazing victory at the BMW Championship. The difference now is he enjoyed it. All of it. The shot that will be remembered at Olympia Fields was a putt in the playoff Sunday that was just over 65 feet from the hole and had to travel even farther to get there, across the 18th green toward a ridge and then down the slope toward the cup, 11 seconds of watching, hoping and celebrating. Rahm wonders how different it might have been if not for his mental blunder. That happened on the fifth hole Saturday, when he was five shots behind. He might never be able to explain how he could walk up to his golf ball on the green, pick it up and freeze upon realizing he never marked it. He feared even after a 66 to get back in the mix that one shot could cost him. “I just hope I don't lose by one,” Rahm said that day. “I'm just going to say that. I just hope. And if I do, well, my fault.” He allowed his mind to think back to the penalty while on the range Sunday afternoon after a 64, the best score of the week, and hearing that Dustin Johnson was one shot behind facing a birdie putt just inside 45 feet. “I was like, that extra-shot cushion would be extremely nice right now, I'm not going to lie,” Rahm said. "But at the same time, it happened. I don't know if I would have won had it not happened. It kind of made me mad at myself, and I just went on with my focus after that and was able to play amazing golf. “I can tell you after making that 6-footer for bogey, I was like, ‘OK, that’s it. No playing around. Go.' That's kind of what mentally did it for me.” Rahm has always said he needs time to process success and failure, and this one could take a while. Even after it was over, and he posed with the BMW Championship and Western Golf Association trophies, part of him still felt like he was on the golf course in a playoff. He looked like a winner when his tee shot on the par-5 15th sailed into the trees and ricocheted out into the rough, avoiding a penalty, and his third shot was a 6-iron from 218 yards to 10 feet for birdie. He followed that with a 30-foot birdie putt across the 16th green for a two-shot lead. He feared for the worse when Johnson, down to his last shot, rolled in his improbable birdie putt down the slope on the 18th green for a 67 to force the playoff. That penalty shot looked as though it might be the difference when Johnson's drive on the 18th in the playoff hit a tree and came back to the fairway, and Rahm's shot from deep rough rolled out to the back of the green, leaving a putt so difficult that Rahm was hopeful of making par. “Honestly, I hoped it would be a decent putt for par coming back and have a chance to keep the playoff going,” he said. It was better than decent. It was perfect. The heart rate never eased up as Rahm watched Johnson's 30-foot birdie putt track toward the cup until it peeled away by inches and Rahm was the winner. “I still can’t believe what just happened,” Rahm said. "That stretch of waiting for DJ, him making the putt, going in the playoff, me making the putt, then trying to stay mentally in it just in case he made the last putt, it’s been a roller coaster. But so much fun. ... I set out to enjoy even the uncomfortable moments we had out there. “And man, it was fun.” Johnson took plenty away, too. He twice beat Rahm in 2017 in the span of a month at World Golf Championships, holding off a Rahm rally in the Mexico Championship and withstanding another ferocious comeback attempt in the Match Play. For Johnson, it was his third straight tournament with the 54-hole lead. He shot 68 in the PGA Championship and was beaten by a 65 from Collin Morikawa, which featured the driver onto the 16th green at Harding Park for eagle. Johnson shot 67 at the BMW Championship and lost to a 65-foot birdie putt in a playoff. Johnson held onto No. 1 in the world ranking and in the FedEx Cup, the latter meaning he will start the Tour Championship with a two-shot advantage. Rahm now has multiple victories worldwide for the fourth straight year. What stands out from this year is winning on the two toughest tests — Memorial, where the greens were allowed to bake out because they were being replaced after the tournament, and Olympia Fields, which played as hard as a U.S. Open. Rahm will get another U.S. Open test in three weeks at Winged Foot. The U.S. Open is billed as the ultimate test, most of that between the ears. Rahm looks more capable of that with each victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2020

Column: The revolving door at No. 1 in the world ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Jon Rahm is the No. 1 player in the world. The best player in golf? That depends on the week. Webb Simpson looked to be tough to beat when he won the RBC Heritage, giving him two victories, a runner-up finish and a third place in his last six PGA Tour events. But then Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship, renewing conversations that when he puts in the time, no one has a greater package of talent. During his two weeks off, however, golf became obsessed with super-sized Bryson DeChambeau and his 200 mph ball speed that carried him to victory in Detroit, his seventh straight top 10. And then two days after DeChambeau took a 10 — ideal for gymnastics, not so much for golf — on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village to miss the cut, Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn and held on for a victory at the Memorial that sent him to No. 1 in the world. For how long? Longer than Tom Lehman, for sure. Of the 24 players who have been No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, Lehman was there the shortest time — one week. And just his luck, he took that week off, so he never even played a tournament at No. 1 in the world. Rory McIlroy, whom Rahm replaced at No. 1, and Justin Thomas can return to the top if they win the World Golf Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee. At least that's easier to track than two weeks ago, when five players at the Memorial had a mathematical chance of reaching No. 1. Whether the reason is depth or parity, it's become a revolving door that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Brooks Koepka started the year at No. 1, and McIlroy took over in February. Rahm was asked Tuesday if he considered them the best players in the world while they were at No. 1, and if he looks at himself that way now. “I think nowadays it's really tough to determine one player,” Rahm said. "Because yeah, Brooks is having a hard year right now. He's not playing his best. But he has won four majors in the last few years. Rory played amazing last year. It's hard to dictate one player alone. But it would be foolish of me to say that I'm not here thinking I'm the best player. “And I think all the great players out there who have got to this point are playing like they believe they're the best player,” he said. “In golf, you need to prove that every week.” McIlroy and Johnson have done that better than anyone over the last decade. McIlroy has reached No. 1 on eight occasions for a total of 106 weeks. Johnson has been there five times for a total of 96 weeks. During their longest stretches — 64 weeks for Johnson, 54 weeks for McIlroy — there was little argument. With Tiger Woods, there was no argument. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started and finished a year without surrendering the No. 1 ranking. It was the eighth time Woods did that. Consider the 281 consecutive weeks Woods was No. 1, from the 2005 U.S. Open until the 2010 HSBC Champions. In the last 281 weeks, No. 1 has changed hands 27 times. Phil Mickelson was never on that list, and Rahm was quick to point out that playing against Woods in his prime certainly didn't help Lefty's cause. “But it still doesn't take away from what I've done,” Rahm said. “Now at the same time, getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years. ... It's not only to get here. but to stay here, hopefully for a long time.” Of the previous 23 players to reach the top of the ranking, seven won in their debut at No. 1. The most recent was Johnson in 2017 at the Mexico Championship, his second of three straight wins. The most timely belonged to Adam Scott, who had three chances to reach No. 1 by winning, and then got there during a week off. He returned and won at Colonial. The best was Ian Woosnam. He got to No. 1 in 1991 and then won the Masters. It's just a number. Rahm understands the world ranking enough to realize it's a product of two years, not one week. He should be proud, just as the 23 others before him. Thomas reached No. 1 after The Players Championship in 2018 and didn't play until the Memorial. He conceded to feeling a little different. “I just remember being a little more nervous because it's like all eyes are on you, and you're the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that,” he said. He tied for eighth. It could have been worse. Jordan Spieth missed the cut in his debut at No. 1. Adding to the volatility of the No. 1 ranking is the strength of the fields, which have been loaded with the world's best players since the restart and will remain strong with this World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and then the U.S. Open, all in the next two months. Getting to No. 1 is hard work. These days, staying there might be even harder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2020

Rahm wins PGA Memorial, grabs world no. 1 ranking

Los Angeles—Jon Rahm became the first Spaniard since Seve Ballesteros in 1989 to hold golf’s world number one ranking, fending off a late challenge Sunday to win the US PGA Memorial tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

Rahm aims at No. 1 after grabbing lead

Washington, United States—Jon Rahm, chasing the world number one ranking, birdied four of the last six holes to seize a four-stroke lead after Saturday’s (Sunday Philippine time) third round of the US PGA Memorial tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 19th, 2020

Jason Dufner takes Wells Fargo lead with a 63

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jason Dufner's game was going nowhere, so he changed everything from his swing coach to his equipment to his caddie. It didn't get any better. He at least is starting to see signs of it coming together with an 8-under 63 on Friday in the Wells Fargo Championship, matching his career-low score on the PGA Tour and giving him a one-shot lead going into the weekend at Quail Hollow. Dufner considers it the best two rounds he has put together since the 2017 Memorial, which also is the last time he had a 36-hole lead. "See how it goes being in the heat of it on Saturday and Sunday," Dufner said. "I've been there before. It's been a while, but I kind of know what to expect. It will be a good challenge to see where I'm at, what I'm doing." Dufner was at 11-under 131. Joel Dahmen made his first bogey of the week on his final hole of the second round — from the middle of the fairway, no less — but still had a 66 and was one-shot behind. So was Max Homa, who also knows about coping with bad results when he missed the cut in 14 out of 17 events in 2017. He birdied his last two holes for a 63. The weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship will not feature Phil Mickelson for the first time since he started playing it in 2004. Mickelson shot 41 on the front nine and wound up with a 76 to miss the cut by four shots. Rory McIlroy was stride for stride with Dufner until he dropped three shots over the last two holes. McIlroy made double bogey with a fat shot out of a bunker and a pitch too strong over the green at No. 8, and then went over the green on No. 9 for a bogey and a 70. Even so, he was five behind and in the mix for a third title at Quail Hollow. He was at 6-under 136 along with Patrick Reed, who had a 69 as he goes for his first top 10 of the year. Defending champion Jason Day (69) was six behind. "I stood up here last night talking about that I got the most out of it yesterday, and today it was the complete opposite. I turned a 66 into a 70," McIlroy said. "Golf, it's a funny game and these things happen." Dufner didn't find too much funny about last year, when his world ranking fell from No. 41 to No. 124 and he missed the cut 11 times. That's when he decided to make changes to just about everything. "This is my fourth caddie of the year so far," he said. "I left Chuck Cook, started doing some other things. I started working with Phil Kenyon. I think I'm on my fourth or fifth putter this year. I'm on my fourth or fifth driver, my fourth or fifth golf ball, fourth or fifth lob wedge. I'm trying to find stuff that's going to work." It worked on Friday at Quail Hollow. He started his round by missing the green 35 yards to the left and holing the chip over the bunker. He made a 20-foot eagle. He missed a 3-foot par putt. He drove the green on the par-4 14th for another birdie. And he capped it all off with a 40-foot birdie putt on the peninsula green at the par-3 17th. It was the first time he shot 63 since Oak Hill in 2013, the year he won the PGA Championship. "I'm just getting to that point where I'm kind of settled with everything," he said. "Sometimes you make a change and it happens immediately. For me, that wasn't the case. But kind of getting past all those changes and settling into playing some better golf instead of coming to tournaments wondering how I might play or how it might go or is this going to be the right change. Getting to where I feel more comfortable with that and I can just go out play free and play some good golf." Dufner turned 42 in March and realizes he doesn't have many years left to compete at a high level. "I'm not really trying to be mediocre," he said. "I'm searching for things that are going to make me a better player." Homa always had the talent, winning the NCAA title at Cal with a three-shot victory over Jon Rahm. He just fell into the trap of thinking he had to be even better when he got to the PGA Tour, and he's had a rough go of it. But when he's driving it well, it frees up the rest of his game. He also went back to longtime friend Joe Greiner, who caddied for him his first year on tour until leaving for another friend, Kevin Chappell. "Joe stayed with me until it became financially irresponsible for him to work for me," Homa said. Chappell had back surgery and is out until the fall, and Homa brought him back. "My attitude is awesome nowadays," he said. "I don't really get too down on myself. I have an awesome, awesome caddie that doesn't let me. If I'm quiet, he yells at me and tells me quiet golfers are usually very mean to themselves, so we have a good thing going.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

2020 Masters Leaderboard: Live Coverage, Tiger Woods Score, Golf Score Today on Saturday at Augusta National

The 2020 Masters is going to be 3 days wild. Saturday will begin with the conclusion of Round 2 as John Rahm (-8) tries........»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

NBA Restart Team Overview: Boston Celtics

TEAM RECORD: 43 - 21 Boston is in third place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind secondplace Toronto and 2½ games ahead of fourth-place Miami. The Celtics have already clinched a playoff spot. OVERVIEW: Boston excels at both ends of the court, ranking fifth in the NBA in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. First-time All-Star Jayson Tatum is a go-to player at age 22, averaging 29.2 points in his last 16 games. Tatum (23.6 ppg), Kemba Walker (21.2 ppg) and Jaylen Brown (20.4 ppg) give the Celtics three 20-point scorers. The trio is joined by the resurgent Gordon Hayward and defensive anchor Daniel Theis in a versatile, talented starting lineup. NUMBER TO KNOW: The Celtics have advanced to the playoffs for the sixth straight season.  Seeding Games:  vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8/1)  vs. Portland Trailblazers (8/3)  vs. Miami Heat (8/5)  vs. Brooklyn Nets (8/6)  vs. Toronto Raptors (8/8) vs. Orlando Magic (8/10)  vs. Memphis Grizzlies (8/12)  vs. Washington Wizards (8/14) .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2020

Finau, Palmer share lead at Memorial as Tiger hangs on

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tony Finau figured he was on the right track when he shot 59 at Victory Ranch last week in Utah. That kind of score isn't happening at Muirfield Village, where the greens are getting firmer by the hour. Finau still took enough confidence from playing with his kids at home during a week off, and it translated into 14 birdies over two days and a share of the 36-hole lead at the Memorial. Finau recovered from two bogeys after three holes of his second round Friday, making birdie on the rest of the par 5s and finishing with a wedge to 2 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69. That put him at 9-under 135 with Ryan Palmer (68), who had only one bogey over two rounds. The way Muirfield Village is playing, both are impressive. They were a shot in front of Jon Rahm (67), who has another chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week for the first time in his career. U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland had a 70 and was two behind. For Tiger Woods, it was a matter of making it to the weekend. Woods said his back felt stiff while warming up, and missing a pair of 3-footers didn't make him feel any better. He managed two birdies and a 7-foot par save on his final three holes for a 76 that allowed him to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, matching his highest 36-hole score at the Memorial. “Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early, and whatever kind of momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and fought it the rest of the day.” Finau elected to stay home last week instead of playing Muirfield Village twice in a row. He won't compare Victory Ranch with Muirfield Village, though it inspired him. He was 14-under par through 16 holes until making a bogey on the 17th hole and settling for his second sub-60 round away from the PGA Tour. “I don't know how many times I've been 14 under through 16 holes on a good golf course,” Finau said. “But it told me I was in good form and just told me how good I am at scoring. So I think I definitely carried some of that right into this week, and that confidence I think is pretty cool.” The cut of 147 matched the highest of the season — it also was 147 at Bay Hill. Among those going home was Bryson DeChambeau, who was in reasonable shape until hitting his tee shot into a hazard on the 15th, taking a penalty drop, hitting the next two out-of-bounds and making 10. It was his highest score on a hole in his career. DeChambeau came into the Memorial having finished in the top 10 in seven straight tournaments, and having 19 consecutive rounds at par or better. He left with rounds of 73-76, and without comment. Dustin Johnson shot 80-80 for the highest 36-hole score of his PGA Tour career Collin Morikawa, who won at Muirfield Village last week in a playoff over Justin Thomas, recovered from a 76 with a 70 to make the cut with one shot to spare. Thomas had a 67 and was six shots behind. The way Muirfield Village began to look Friday, the weekend at the Memorial might be more about hanging on than going low. The course is replacing all the greens after this week, so officials are letting them go. It doesn’t matter if they’re so fast the grass dies because they’re being ripped up, anyway. Brooks Koepka appeared to hit a solid bunker shot from right of the 16th green until it rolled out a few feet past the hole, and then a few more feet until it was off the green and resting against the collar of rough. That wasn't his biggest problem. Koepka dumped a shot in the water on his final hole at No. 9 and made double bogey for a 75. That put him at 3-over 147, same as Woods. Rory McIlroy shot 72, which goes in the book as a round of even par. It was anything but that. He hit into the creek and muffed a chip for a double bogey on the par-5 11th. He smoked a fairway metal to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 fifth. He hit wedge to 10 feet for a pair of birdies. He chunked a wedge into a bunker and made bogey. He was at 2-under 142. “I don't know what it was,” he said. “It was a few birdies and an eagle thrown in there and a few mistakes. There's some good in there, some mediocre and there was some pretty poor shots. But I battled back well.” Palmer played the Workday Charity Open last week at Muirfield Village and missed the cut. Instead of staying in Ohio, he went home to Texas to work with swing coach Randy Smith, and he found a fix to whatever was holding him back. “One little, small flaw in my back swing,” Palmer said. He also did some work on the greens with Steve Stricker, and Palmer feels good enough about his chances on the weekend. Stricker didn't do too badly, either. The 53-year-old Ryder Cup captain had a 67 and was at 4-under 140, along with Jim Furyk, who turned 50 two months ago and shot 68......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Finau leads Memorial at 65 as Woods has quiet return to golf

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods was back on the PGA Tour for the first time in five months Thursday and saw Muirfield Village like never before. It was practically empty. Woods opened with a 10-foot birdie and there was silence. He finished with a 15-foot birdie for a 1-under 71, leaving him five shots behind Tony Finau in the Memorial, and he walked to the side of the green and stood with Rory McIlroy, chatting briefly before they nudged their elbows toward one another without touching. It’s a different world, Woods keeps saying. It was a reasonable return. “Got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early,” Woods said. “I just didn’t make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn’t make much.” He left that to Finau, who seemed to make everything. Finau finished with seven birdies over his last 10 holes on a Muirfield Village course that was faster and tougher than last week in the Workday Charity Open. That gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Palmer. The greens are being replaced after the Memorial, so there’s no concern about them dying out. They were 2 feet faster on the Stimpmeter, the wind was strong and often changed direction without notice. That showed in the scoring. Only seven players broke 70, compared with 35 rounds in the 60s for the first round last week. This is the first itme in 63 years the PGA Tour has played consecutive weeks on the same course. Muirfield Village only looked like the same course. “It’s night and day,” Palmer said. “The greens, they’re 2, 3 feet faster for sure. So I knew it wasn’t a course you had to just go out and light up.” It wasn’t a course to overpower, either. Bryson DeChambeau hit one drive 423 yards with the wind at his back, leaving him 46 yards to the pin on No. 1, a hole where he recalls hitting 5-iron in the past. That was a rare birdie. With wedges in his hand, he still managed only a 73. Collin Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last week at 19-under 269, beating Justin Thomas in a playoff. Morikawa opened with a 76. Thomas, who didn’t make a bogey until his 55th hole last week, had two bogeys after two holes. He shot 74. Dustin Johnson shot 80, his highest score on the PGA Tour in more than four years. Rickie Fowler shot 81. By now, players are used to seeing open spaces with minimal distraction. That wasn’t the case for Woods, who last played Feb. 16 when he finished last in the Genesis Invitational during a cold week at Riviera that caused his back to feel stiff. The absence of spectators was something new, and it was even more pronounced with Woods playing alongside McIlroy (70) and Brooks Koepka (72). They still had the biggest group, with 36 people around them on the 16th green. That mostly was TV and radio crews, photographers and a few volunteers. No one to cheer when Woods opened with a birdie and quickly reached 2 under with a wedge that spun back to a foot on the third hole. And there was no one to groan when he wasted a clean card on the back nine with a bunker shot that sailed over the green into the rough. “I definitely didn’t have any issue with energy and not having the fans’ reactions out there,” Woods said. “I still felt the same eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was good. It was a good feel. I haven’t felt this in a while.” U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele each shot 68, with Jon Rahm among those at 69. McIlroy had two splendid short-game shots on the back nine that led to par and birdie, and he was in a group at 70 that included Jordan Spieth and defending champion Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay hit a pitch-and-run across the fifth green that last week would have settled next to the hole. On Thursday, it kept rolling until it was just off the green. Finau didn’t play last week, so he wouldn’t know the difference. “I don’t know about an advantage, but I definitely felt like I played this golf course this way before,” Finau said. “I don’t know what the numbers might be as far as the guys that played last week compared to this week. I’ve played this golf course in these type of conditions, and it definitely helped me.” DeChambeau brought the pop with five more tee shots at 350 yards or longer, two of them over 400 yards. Some of his tee shots wound up in places where players normally hit into the trees or rough and can’t reach the green. But he failed to capitalize with short clubs in his hands. He hit a wedge into a bunker on the 14th and his chip went over the green, which would not have happened last week. He had to make a 6-footer to save bogey. He also was a victim to the swirling wind at the worse time — a 7-iron from 230 yards over the water to the par-5 fifth. The wind died and he never had a chance, leading to bogey. “When I was standing over it, it was 20 miles an hour downwind. And when I hit it, it dead stopped. Can’t do anything about it,” DeChambeau said. “That’s golf, man. You’re not going to shoot the lowest number every single day. I felt like I played really bad. My wedging wasn’t great. If I can tidy that up, make some putts, keep driving it the way I’m doing, I’ll have a chance.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2020

Morikawa builds big lead at Muirfield Village before storms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Among the lessons Collin Morikawa took away from missing his first cut as a pro was that his reliable cut shot had left him. He found at it Muirfield Village, and suddenly looks as though he'll be tough to catch at the Workday Charity Open. Morikawa ran off four straight birdies after making the turn Friday, finished with another birdie and shot 6-under 66 to build a four-shot lead over Sam Burns (66) in the storm-delayed tournament. His 13-under 131 was one shot off the course record set by Jason Dufner in 2017 at the Memorial. The Workday Charity Open, which replaces the canceled John Deere Classic for this year only, has been set up a little easier than it will be for the Memorial next year, with slightly slower greens and rough that isn't quite as high or thick. Morikawa is still playing a different brand of golf than anyone else. Through two rounds, he has 15 birdies and an eagle. His four bogeys have come from silly mistakes that are bound to happen. Ian Poulter, back at Muirfield Village for the first time since 2009 because of a reconfigured schedule brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, had a 69 and joined Chase Seiffert (69) at 7-under 137. The second round had a pair of 75-minute delays because of the rumbling thunder and lightning that seems to appear whenever the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village. “Who knows who's going to take it deep today?” Morikawa said. “Whether I have the lead or not, I've got to go into the weekend feeling like I've got to make the same amount of birdies I have the past two days. I feel like there’s a lot of birdies out there for me especially, the way I’ve been hitting it.” Morikawa, who turned pro just over a year ago after graduating from Cal, is making his debut at the course Jack Nicklaus built, and perhaps it's no coincidence that Nicklaus was famous for hitting a cut. “I had heard from a lot of people before, this course was going to suit a left-to-right shot, anyway,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, Jack hit that, and I think it does. But I’ve been able to leave myself some really good numbers into approach shots. I’ve been keeping myself in the fairway for the most part, and that obviously helps.” Among those playing in the afternoon, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka first had to worry about making the cut after sluggish starts. Koepka started at 2 over. Rahm was at even par. Phil Mickelson had another exciting day, minus the meltdown at the end of his round. He opened by chipping in for birdie and making a 12-foot eagle putt. With the tee moved forward on the 14th hole, the par 4 guarded by a pond right of the green, he hit driver to 10 feet and had to settle for birdie. And right before the first batch of storms arrived, Mickelson felt the wind shift and get stronger, so he took driver on the par-5 fifth and whaled away over the trees and just inside backyard fences. It settled in the rough, but it left him only 114 yards away and a pitching wedge to the green. The speed of the greens fooled him, and he repeatedly left putts short. Even so, he managed to post a reasonable number. Jordan Spieth wasn't as fortunate. He took double bogey on his 17th hole, the par-3 eighth, and was likely to miss the cut. Morikawa had made 22 cuts in a row to start his pro career, a streak that ended two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship. That was three short of the streak Tiger Woods put together when he turned pro. But the 23-year-old Californian was more interested in low scores than simply getting in four rounds and a pay check. “At the end of the day, you’re out there to win tournaments,” he said. “If you miss the cut, make it by whatever, you just want to learn from each week. And like I said, I learned a lot from those two days missing the cut than I have in a lot of events so far when I’ve been finishing whatever." This one caused him to take a closer look at what was lacking in his game, instead of being reasonably content with a solid finish. “I think sometimes when something really doesn’t go your way, like missing a cut, it just stands out a little more,” he said. Somewhere along the way, he couldn't rely on his cut shot, allowing him to aim some 6 yards left of his target and fade it toward the pin, no matter where it was located. It was after his practice round Wednesday that he figured out what was missing, and he went back to an old drill of sticking his glove under his left arm. It's a rotational drill, and it paid off. He had to wait until the storms to see if anyone could catch him, with the second round not likely to end until Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

Morikawa back from missed cut with strong debut at Muirfield

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Collin Morikawa didn't get rattled by his first missed cut as a pro or his first time playing Muirfield Village. Morikawa finally had a forced weekend off two weeks ago after 22 consecutive cuts to start his PGA Tour career, three short of the standard set by Tiger Woods. He bounced back Thursday in the Workday Charity Open with a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Hadwin. It was a quiet day of work, typical for the PGA Tour with no spectators allowed in the return from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. It was never more evident at Muirfield Village, which typically has enough fans to frame just about every hole. Morikawa goes about his work quietly in any circumstances, and he was dialed in from the start of a relatively calm and steamy afternoon on the course Jack Nicklaus built. His shot into the par-5 fifth settled 3 feet away for eagle. All but one of his birdie putts was inside 12 feet. The only setback was a bogey from the fairway on the 18th. “It's a beautiful track. It’s a very tough course, obviously, but you just have to map your way around it,” Morikawa said. “You've got to be really smart. If you’re not in the fairway, you’ve got to make sure you play smart. I was playing smart but I felt good with my irons, so I was able to attack some pins when they were accessible.” He liked it so much that Morikawa is even more excited about spending two weeks at Muirfield Village. For the first time in 63 years, the PGA Tour will have tournaments on the same course in consecutive weeks. The Workday Charity Open fills a void this year for the John Deere Classic, which decided to cancel without being able to have spectators, a pro-am or corporate hospitality. The second week at Muirfield Village — the Memorial — was supposed to be the first with fans since the PGA Tour returned June 11. That plan was scrapped at the last minute and it was clear how much work went into it. There were signs for spectator parking along the streets outside the club. Concession and hospitality tents were a few days away from being completed. There was no point taking them down, because sound travels when no one is around. Rory Sabbatini found out the hard way. He was at the top of his swing for his opening tee shot when a volunteer some 80 yards away laughed in conversation. Sabbatini flinched, sent his drive well to the right and he stood looking at the volunteer, too far away to realize what had happened. Jon Rahm was in a perilous spot in juicy rough left of the 14th green, facing a downhill chip toward the water. He took a full swing for a flop shot, it came out softly and raced down the green and into the cup for a birdie. That hole — that shot — is best known for when Tiger Woods chipped in for par on his way to victory in 1999. Rahm was a 4-year-old in Spain at the time, but apparently he has seen enough video of the shot that as he stood to the side of the green, he smiled and said of the empty theater, “Just like when Tiger did it.” Phil Mickelson made plenty of noise, at least for nine holes. Lefty was 4 under at the turn and narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the 11th. He made bogey from the bunker. He missed a 5-foot par. He needed two chips from 25 feet to get on the 14th green. He hit in the water for double bogey on the 16th. He shot 41 on the back for a 73. Brooks Koepka played for the first time since withdrawing from the Travelers Championship two weeks ago after his caddie tested positive for the coronavirus. He used PGA Tour winner Marc Turnesa as a caddie for this week, which might be a short week. Koepka opened with a 74. Most of the good scoring came in the morning. Hadwin had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Nick Taylor, a new father who chose to stay home in Canada for an extra month after the tour resumed, had an eagle at No. 11 and kept bogeys off his card for a 67. He was joined by past Muirfield Village winner Hideki Matsuyama. Keegan Bradley had a 69 and was among 35 players who shot in the 60s. One shot summed up the environment at PGA Tour events at the moment. He hit a 6-iron on the par-3 fourth hole for an ace, and didn't even know it. “There was probably five or six people up by the green, and no one did anything,” Bradley said. “We walked up to the green, I fixed my ball mark. I'm looking all over the green for it. And someone just goes, ‘It’s in the hole,' like really casually. It was just bizarre.” And it will be that way for two weeks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2020

Mickelson added to field in a US Open without qualifying

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The USGA is leaning a little more on the world ranking and a lot more on tournament results over the next two months to fill the 144-man field for a U.S. Open that will be without open qualifying for the first time in nearly a century. The exemption categories announced Thursday include a spot for Phil Mickelson. A runner-up six times in the only major Lefty hasn’t won, the most devastating was in 2006 at Winged Foot, just north of New York City, where the U.S. Open is set to return Sept. 17-20. The COVID-19 pandemic that forced the U.S. Open to move from June also cost the championship its identity of being open to all. Open qualifying wasn’t possible for two stages at nearly 120 courses across the country and into Canada, England and Japan. The idea was to create a field that reflected a typical U.S. Open — the elite and the aspiring, from every continent in golf, pros and amateurs. And while it won’t be 36 holes of qualifying, it still comes down to playing well. “We are excited that players will still have an opportunity to earn a place in the field,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of USGA championships. The top 70 from the world ranking on March 15 are exempt. Along with increasing that category by 10 spots, the USGA chose to use the last ranking before it was frozen during the shutdown in golf worldwide. That helps European Tour players, such as Eddie Pepperell and Robert MacIntyre, who are not able to play until July 9 — a month after the PGA Tour resumed with strong fields and big ranking points. That also momentarily leaves out Daniel Berger, who went from outside the top 100 to No. 31 with his victory against a stacked field at Colonial. But the USGA will use the Aug. 23 ranking — after the first FedEx Cup playoff event — as its reserve list, and about seven spots are expected to come from there. Mickelson was No. 61 when the ranking was frozen, and now is at No. 66. Mickelson, outspoken about the USGA and how it sets up U.S. Open courses, said in February that he would not ask for a special exemption if he was not otherwise eligible. With his five majors and Hall of Fame career — not to mention his legacy of silver medals in the U.S. Open — Mickelson likely would have received at least one exemption. Now he won't have to worry about that. In 2006, Mickelson had a one-shot lead playing the 18th hole when he drove wildly to the left and tried to hit 3-iron over a tree. He hit the tree, hit into a plugged lie in the bunker and made double bogey to finish one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy. Bodenhamer said the 36-hole qualifier in England typically is the strongest, along with one in Ohio after the Memorial. Thus, 10 spots will be awarded to the leading 10 players (not already eligible) from a separate points list of the opening five tournaments on the European Tour’s U.K. swing when its schedule resumes. The Korn Ferry Tour also gets 10 spots — five from this season’s points list through the Portland Open, and then a special points list of three events that typically comprise the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The leading five players from that list also get into Winged Foot. “We’ve got a pretty good mix of players,” Bodenhamer said. “Looking at the data, looking back at what the fields have been the last five years, there was a lot of Korn Ferry representation. We wanted to create pathways and allow those categories to earn their way in.” That held true for the amateurs. The U.S. Open already has six amateurs who earned spots by winning the U.S. Amateur or British Amateur, for example. The USGA also will take the leading seven amateurs available from the world amateur ranking on Aug. 19. The rest of the field is similar to what the British Open has done with its International Finals Qualifying for the PGA Tour. Two spots from the top 10 will earn exemptions from the Memorial, 3M Open, Barracuda Championship, FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Wyndham Championship. Three spots will be available from the PGA Championship. And for the international presence, two spots will be given to the leader money winner in the most recent season on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Japan Golf Tour, which gets two spots. “We think this is the best path forward,” Bodenhamer said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2020

A look at the status of Olympic qualifying events

By The Associated Press As the IOC attempts to keep the 2020 Olympics on schedule, many of the events that determine who would compete in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled. Here is the status of U.S. or world qualifying in many of the Olympic disciplines: ATHLETICS The U.S. Olympic track and field trials are still scheduled for June 19-28 in Eugene, Oregon. Other countries use a variety of methods, including trials, world rankings, and appointment based on results. BASEBALL Four countries — Israel, Mexico, South Korea and host Japan — are in the six-team field. The final two spots are to be determined by tournaments that were postponed: An Americas qualifier in Arizona has been indefinitely postponed, and a last-chance qualifying tournament in Taiwan slated for April is now scheduled for June 17-21. BASKETBALL Men: Eight teams, including the United States, have already qualified. The remaining spots in the 12-nation field will be determined in four winner-take-all, six-team tournaments scheduled from June 23-28 in Serbia, Canada, Croatia and Lithuania. Women: The 12-team field was filled in February with four tournaments. Although defending world champion United States and the host Japanese were already guaranteed spots, both finished in position to qualify anyway. 3x3: FIBA has postponed the qualifying tournament scheduled for March 18-22 in India. A second qualifying tournament scheduled for April in Hungary is in limbo. Four women’s teams and four men’s teams have already qualified for the eight-country fields. BEACH VOLLEYBALL Most Olympic spots are earned over a two-year points race on the international tour. At least three of the final 10 events have been canceled or postponed, and the final event is scheduled for Rome on June 9-14. BOXING Two of the four regional Olympic qualification tournaments have already taken place, and the third for European fighters began Saturday in London. The Americas qualifier scheduled for March 26 in Buenos Aires has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and organizers haven’t set a plan for the final steps in qualification, including the last-chance World Olympic Qualifying Tournament scheduled for May 13 in Paris. CYCLING The selection criteria is different for each discipline: BMX freestyle and racing, mountain biking, track cycling, and the road race and time trials. Each discipline has a series of automatic qualification standards, and a committee will choose athletes to fill out the U.S. team. The world championships May 30-31 in Houston is crucial for BMX, and at this point is still scheduled. The last Olympic qualification event in freestyle BMX, the World Series in Hiroshima April 3-5, has been postponed. Final rosters for each discipline are announced in June. DIVING Dozens of divers have already qualified based on their performances at last summer's world championships or other major meets over the last eight months. The last big qualifier is the Diving World Cup, set for the new Olympic aquatics venue in Tokyo on April 21-26; FINA is still considering whether to proceed. U.S. divers also must get through the national trials in Indianapolis on June 13-21 to confirm their Olympic spots. No decision has been announced on the Canadian trials scheduled for March 30-April 5 in Toronto. EQUESTRIAN All of the equestrian qualifying events have been completed in every discipline. None of the events was affected by the virus. FENCING Qualification was to be based on rankings set to be released on April 4, with some additional slots to be determined in zonal events from April 15-26. But the International Fencing Federation suspended all international competitions for 30 days, delaying five major competitions that must be completed before zonal qualifying. The FIE is requesting an extension of the qualification period. FIELD HOCKEY Tournaments to fill the 12-team men's and women's fields were completed in 2019. Ten countries qualified for both: Australia, Argentina, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain. GOLF Sixty golfers are determined by the world rankings, two per country with a maximum of four if they are among the top 15. The PGA Tour and European Tour, which offer the most ranking points, have canceled or postponed all events at least through April 12. GYMNASTICS The team fields for both men’s and women’s gymnastics were set at last year's world championships. The remaining individual all-around and single apparatus spots are determined at World Cup events. The International Gymnastics Federation has cancelled an all-around World Cup event in Germany and postponed an apparatus World Cup event in Qatar from March until early June. HANDBALL The International Handball Federation has postponed the final qualifying tournaments until June. The host nations were Spain, Hungary and Montenegro for the women and Norway, France and Germany for the men. Six of 12 spots remain open for each field. JUDO The International Judo Federation has canceled all Olympic qualifiers through April 30, including a Grand Slam and two Grand Prix. Another Grand Prix last weekend, in Morocco, was canceled earlier. Qualifying ends on May 25. ROWING World Rowing has canceled a European Olympic qualifying regatta that was scheduled for April 27-29 in Varese, Italy, and relocation is being considered. US Rowing said Olympic trials in Sarasota, Florida, from March 16-21 and April 13-18 have been postponed and the organization will not hold a national team event for at least 30 days. SAILING Many spots in the 10 classes have been clinched. An Asian Olympic qualifier in Abu Dhabi has been postponed until mid-April, and a World Cup Series regatta in Genoa, Italy, that would have been a qualifier for African, Asian and European countries, has been canceled. The IOC has granted World Sailing an extension of the qualification period to June 30. SOCCER Men: Fourteen of 16 teams have already qualified. The tournament to produce the two teams from the North and Central American and Caribbean region was scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico, but was indefinitely postponed. Women: Ten of 12 teams have already qualified, including the reigning World Cup champion United States. China and South Korea were scheduled to play in a two-legged playoff that has been pushed back to early June. Cameroon is set to play Chile in a two-legged playoff in early April but no announcement on those matches has been made. SOFTBALL The field for the six-nation competition was set in four qualifying tournaments in 2018 and 2019. SWIMMING Most Olympic berths will be determined at national trials. The U.S. meet is scheduled for Omaha, Nebraska, on June 21-28; Australia's is scheduled for June 14-19 in Adelaide; Japan's national championship is in Tokyo on April 1-8. The final two events on the TYR Pro Swim Series, a big part of pre-Olympic training, are scheduled for April 16-19 in Mission Viejo, California, and May 6-9 in Indianapolis. TABLE TENNIS The U.S. already wrapped up qualifying, with three men and three women earning spots in Tokyo. Qualifying elsewhere was still in progress and scheduled to continue through May. But the International Table Tennis Federation suspended all activities until the end of April and recommended that continental associations follow that decision. An emergency meeting of the ITTF executive committee is scheduled for Monday. TENNIS The International Tennis Federation says Olympic eligibility still will be based on the WTA and ATP rankings of June 8, even though more than a month of the tours' schedules in March and April have been scrapped. Requirements related to minimum participation in Fed Cup or Davis Cup remain in place — as does an appeal process for players who do not meet those standards. VOLLEYBALL The qualification was completed in January with the 12 teams for both the men’s and women’s competitions already set. WATER POLO Men's and women's qualification tournaments scheduled for this month have been postponed until May. At stake are the final three spots for the 12-team men's field and the last two openings in the 10-team women's competition. The U.S. men and women have already qualified. WEIGHTLIFTING Spots are decided by the world ranking. The continental championships next month were meant to be the last gold-level events offering extra qualifying points. However, the European, Asian and African championships have all been postponed along with another gold-level event, junior worlds. WRESTLING The U.S. trials that had been scheduled for April 4-5 in State College, Pennsylvania, have been postponed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 15th, 2020

Dustin Johnson decides against playing in the Olympics

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer On the fence about the Olympics at the start of the year, Dustin Johnson decided he won't be going. Johnson's manager said in a text message Monday that the FedEx Cup playoffs hold as much importance to Johnson as chasing a gold medal in Tokyo this summer. “I feel certain he would choose otherwise if the timing were different, but feels he is making the best decision under the circumstances,” said David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management. Johnson's name was removed from the Olympic golf ranking Monday afternoon. At No. 5 in the world ranking, he currently would have been No. 3 among Americans behind Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas. Countries are allowed a maximum of four players in golf provided they are among the top 15 in the world ranking. Golfweek first reported Johnson's decision. Johnson was the leading American for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when he decided at the last minute to withdraw because of concerns over the Zika virus. This was more about the FedEx Cup and the lucrative prize Johnson has yet to win. The top prize is now worth $15 million. Asked about the Olympics at the beginning of the year, Johnson said he wasn't sure how his schedule would be in the summer with the Tokyo Games coming after the final major and before the FedEx Cup playoffs. “Having had a few close calls in the playoffs, he really wants to win them before his time is done and feels that he wouldn't be giving himself the best opportunity to do so if he added a lengthy international trip,” Winkle said. Johnson plans to play five out of seven weeks through the British Open. He then would have a week off before heading to Japan for the Olympics. Now, he is contemplating the 3M Open in Minnesota after returning from the British, and then two weeks off before the FedEx Cup playoffs. Johnson nearly won the FedEx Cup in 2016 until he lost the 54-hole lead and lost the FedEx Cup when Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship and its then-$10 million prize. He has spent 91 weeks at No. 1 in the world, third only behind Tiger Woods and McIlroy among active players. With just over three months before Olympic qualifying ends, the leading four Americans are Koepka, Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson, following by Patrick Reed and Woods. There are still three majors, The Players Championship and a World Golf Championship — all offering big ranking points — before qualifying ends on June 21 after the U.S. Open......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2020

Brady says I still have more to prove in Instagram post

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Whether Tom Brady will return as quarterback of the New England Patriots next season is still an open question. But the 42-year-old on Wednesday gave another indication that he isn't done playing football. In an Instagram post to fans, Brady said “I still have more to prove” following a season that ended with the Patriots failing to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 2015.         View this post on Instagram                   I just wanted to say to all of our fans, THANK YOU! After a few days of reflection, I am so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support you have shown me the past two decades. Running out of that tunnel every week is a feeling that is hard to explain. I wish every season ended in a win, but that’s not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose. But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!! I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way. Every one of us that works at Gillette Stadium strived to do their best, spent themselves at a worthy cause, and prepared to fail while daring greatly (h/t Teddy Roosevelt). And for that, we’ve been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won’t show - the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about. In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You dont always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove. A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on Jan 8, 2020 at 5:50am PST “In both life and football, failure is inevitable," he wrote. “You dont always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again.” New England's season ended with a 20-13 loss in the wild-card round to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. A six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Most Valuable Player of the NFL title game and three-time winner of the league MVP, Brady could become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career when his contract ends in March. That has placed team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick on the clock to either bring back Brady for his 21st season or watch the franchise’s greatest player depart from the only team he's called home. Belichick said this week that there isn't an established timeline to resolve Brady's status, but he acknowledged that his case is unusual. “Everybody's situation is different," Belichick said. "Certainly, Tom is an iconic figure in this organization. And nobody respects Tom more than I do.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2020

San Francisco roars back into playoffs as NFC s top seed

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press For the first time since 1997, the San Francisco 49ers are the top seed in the NFC playoffs, a stunning turnaround for a team that owned the second overall pick in the NFL draft just nine months ago. After four straight losing campaigns, including only 10 wins in coach Kyle Shanahan's first two seasons, the 49ers went from 4-12 to 13-3 this season. They emerged as the top team in the NFC thanks a big-play offense and a vastly improved defense sparked by Nick Bosa, whom they chose with that No. 2 draft pick. They earned the top seed with a thrilling finale at Seattle when rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made a stop inches from the goal line, earning his team a week off and up to two home games in the 49ers' quest to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years. "It feels good to get where we're at," Shanahan said. "Our goal was to get in the playoffs, it feels much better with being the one seed. By now everyone knows there is only one team that is happy at the end of year." The Green Bay Packers secured the other first-round bye. The Seahawks visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings visit the New Orleans Saints in the other NFC wild-card game. 1. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 3. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 29, 49-26 over San Diego Chargers on Jan. 29, 1995. Last year: 4-12. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2013. YEA: The 49ers have won different ways with the defense dominating early and the offense playing better late. The returns of edge rusher Dee Ford and S Jaquiski Tartt should help the defense return to its early season form. If QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense can maintain its play from the second half when the team ranked second in plays of at least 20 yards, the Niners should be tough to beat. NAY: The Niners will still be missing at least one key defensive piece at the start of the playoffs in LB Kwon Alexander and several depth pass rushers also are out for the year. That could limit the improvement on defense and there is little playoff experience on offense with WR Emmanuel Sanders the only key skill position player who has been in the postseason. Garoppolo has improved the past few weeks but still has a propensity for turnovers, which could prove costly. SAY: "We knew going into the year we had a chance to be pretty good with what we had on paper and watching the guys throughout training camp. We knew that pretty well after the first five games, we could feel it. Then you go through a number of injuries and stuff and you never know how you're going to be able to fully handle that. That's what I have been impressed the most with the guys, no one has wavered." — Shanahan. 2. GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 5. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 45, 31-25 over Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6, 2011. Last year: 6-9-1. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2016. YEA: RB Aaron Jones is the team MVP. The third-year pro is Green Bay's first 1,000-yard rusher since Eddie Lacy in 2014 and his 19 total touchdowns (16 rushing, three receiving) tied Carolina's Christian McCaffrey for the league high. In the Packers' three losses this season, Jones averaged fewer than 42 scrimmage yards. If first-year coach Matt LaFleur gets Jones the ball early and often and QB Aaron Rodgers can add in a splash of his old magic, Green Bay could find itself in Miami in February. NAY: Though Rodgers has had flashes of his old greatness, the 36-year-old two-time MVP has played far below his soaring standards. Rodgers had a passer rating of less than 80.0 in each of his last three starts and had a career-high 16 overthrows against Detroit in the regular-season finale. If the Packers are going to win another Super Bowl, they're going to need the Rodgers of old, not the old Rodgers. SAY: "We haven't always made it easy and we haven't always made it pretty, but for the most part, we've found a way to win every game. You have to say a lot about the resiliency of this team, because we've gotten ourselves into a lot of different scenarios, but we always believe we can go out there and put up a bunch of points in a hurry." -- WR Davante Adams 3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 2. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 44, beat Indianapolis 31-17 on Feb. 7, 2010. Last year: No. 1 seed, beat Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 at home in divisional round, lost to Los Angeles Rams 26-23 (OT) in NFC championship at home. Third consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: QB Drew Brees, who'll turn 41 on Jan. 15, has been in vintage form lately with a big assist from the NFL's top WR Michael Thomas. Brees has passed for 1,188 yards and 15 TDs in the past four games, evidence of his strong comeback from a thumb surgery that sidelined him five games. Thomas racked up a single-season record 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine TDs. The Saints' eight turnovers are an NFL record low for a season. New Orleans had 51 sacks, third most in the NFL and ranked fourth against the run. NAY: While the Saints don't have many weaknesses, they can be their own worst enemy. Their 120 penalties for 1,036 yards ranked sixth worst in the NFL in both categories and their minus-323 net penalty yards ranked second worst. New Orleans' secondary has been beset with late-season injuries. Both starting safeties and a starting cornerback did not play in Week 17. SAY: "Down the stretch here I think we've been an ascending team. We've been playing a little bit better each and every week, despite the fact that we have had some guys go down." — Brees 4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 11. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 52, 41-33 over New England Patriots, Feb. 4, 2018. Last year: No. 6 seed, beat Chicago Bears 16-15 in wild-card game on road, lost to New Orleans Saints 20-14 in divisional round on road. Third consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: The Eagles are hungry and Carson Wentz is determined to do what Nick Foles did in his absence two years ago — win a Super Bowl. If Wentz continues playing at the MVP level he displayed in December, the Eagles are dangerous. They have a strong rushing attack that can control the clock and an experienced defense that shuts down the run and forces teams to be one-dimensional. NAY: Seattle beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 17-9 on Nov. 24. Russell Wilson is 4-0 against Philly. The Eagles have been riddled by injuries and finished the regular season without seven starters on offense. Three of those players could return to face the Seahawks but it's likely two will be game-time decisions. SAY: "In the last couple games, (Wentz) has really put this team on his back and said, 'Hey, follow me.' And I think that's a sign of growth, a sign of maturity. I spent eight years in Green Bay with Brett Favre, and that's what Brett did. Brett just put the team on his back when the chips were against us and just said, 'Follow me.' And that's what Carson can do." — Coach Doug Pederson. 5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 6. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 48, 43-8 over Denver Broncos on Feb. 2, 2014. Last year: No. 5 seed, lost to Dallas Cowboys 24-22 in wild-card game on road. Second consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: Unlike years past, if the Seahawks are going to make a deep playoff run, it's going to be because of QB Russell Wilson. He's coming off the second-best season in terms of passing yards, completion percentage and a career-low five interceptions. Wilson's never been asked to carry Seattle in the playoffs but if he can rediscover the success from when he was in the MVP conversation with Lamar Jackson, Seattle has enough other parts to make some noise. NAY: Injuries have stacked up for Seattle. The Seahawks lost their top three running backs, a starting edge rusher, tight end and center to season-ending injuries. Jadeveon Clowney is playing through a painful core muscle injury. Bobby Wagner has a bad ankle as does safety Quandre Diggs. Left tackle Duane Brown underwent knee surgery after Week 16. Eventually the lack of some key stars is likely to catch up with Seattle. SAY: "We have everything we want in the locker room. We have everything that we could need. We have everything that it takes. So it's been a tremendous season. It's been a battle so far. It's been a long one, but it's been a great one so far. The good thing is it's a refresh button, you get to hit the refresh button, start over, 0-0, see how far we can go." — Wilson. 6. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 8. No Lombardis. Last year: 8-7-1. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2017. YEA: The Vikings have an experienced, accomplished defense that can pose problems for elite QBs and clever play-callers on the other side. The Vikings were sixth in the NFL with an average of 18.9 points allowed and fourth with 31 takeaways. Their play-action passing attack with Pro Bowl RB Dalvin Cook poses a dual threat and QB Kirk Cousins throwing deep to WR Stefon Diggs, can be awfully dangerous, too. NAY: The downside on defense is the erosion of the pass coverage. After ranking in the top three in passing yards allowed in the league in each of the past three years, the Vikings dropped to 15th in 2019. They also fell to 19th in the NFL in third down conversions allowed after leading the league in 2017 and 18. The offense carries its own reasons to doubt a playoff run, with Cousins never having won a postseason game in the NFL and a recent dud at home against division rival Green Bay. SAY: "I know it's been done before. Why not us?" — coach Mike Zimmer on the prospect of winning three road games to reach the Super Bowl. ___ AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow, Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Brett Martel and Keith Jenkins contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2020

Lefty Madison Bumgarner, D-backs reach $85M, five-year deal

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Longtime Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has reached agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks on an $85 million, five-year contract that ends his run of success in San Francisco, a person with direct knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the 2014 World Series MVP still needed to pass a physical to complete the contract. Bumgarner pitched 11 seasons for the Giants but knew his time likely had ended. He bid farewell along with retiring manager Bruce Bochy on the season's final day. The Giants said during the winter meetings this past week in San Diego they had remained in contact with representatives for the 30-year-old Bumgarner, who helped them win World Series titles in 2010, ‘12 and ’14. The seven-time defending NL West champion Dodgers also were among the clubs interested in signing the free agent. Bumgarner went 9-9 with a career-high 3.90 ERA in 34 starts last season. The lefty has been especially valuable in postseason play — he is 4-0 with a memorable Game 7 save and an 0.25 ERA in World Series play, and has pitched two shutouts in NL wild-card games. ___ AP Sports Writer John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2019

PBA: Parks makes late free throws and TNT ends Magnolia’s title reign in thriller

Bobby Ray Parks Jr. just proved himself at TNT. Parks Jr. hit two clutch free throws with seven seconds to go and TNT completed a wild 98-97 comeback win to eliminate champion Magnolia in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals Monday at the Big Dome. After Romeo Travis split his own free throws to put the Hotshots up one, Parks got the ball off of Jayson Castro’s miss and ended up with a perfect trip to the stripe for a 98-97 TNT lead. With no more timeouts, Magnolia had to rush the length of the courth only to see KJ McDaniels block Travis. With 1.1 seconds to go, the Hotshots failed to convert allowing the KaTropa escape despite being down by as many as 18 points in the second half. TNT was still down by 13 with less than five minutes left when Jayson Castro sparked a KaTropa run, scoring seven of the team's next 10 points. But the play of the game goes to McDaniels and Troy Rosario. Down three in the final minute, Troy blocked Ian Sangalang to force a 24-second violation for Magnolia. In TNT's offensive set, McDaniels missed a good look drom deep but he tracked his own miss before finding Rosario for an open three from the corner which tied the game at 96-all. In second game back from injury, Castro led the KaTropa with 30 points and seven assists. McDaniels added 25 points and 17 rebounds. Rosario scored 12 points while Parks Jr. ended up with seven points and eight rebounds. The Hotshots got a monster effort from Travis, who finished with 32 points and 26 rebounds but that final miss from the line proved costly. Rome dela Rosa was the top local scorer for Magnolia wirh 13 points.   The Scores: TNT 98 - Castro 30, McDaniels 25, Rosario 12, Reyes 10, Pogoy 8, Parks 7, Digregorio 6, Williams 0. Magnolia 97 - Travis 32, Dela Rosa 13, Jalalon 12, Lee 11, Barroca 9, Banchero 8, Sangalang 7, Pingris 4, Melton 1, Reavis 0. Quarters: 22-26, 48-54, 68-80, 98-97.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2019

NCAA 95: Letran endures Ilagan onslaught to enter next phase of stepladder

Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s definitive depth was on full display, Tuesday at Cuneta Astrodome, as it overwhelmed San Sebastian College-Recoletos’ 1-2 punch of RK Ilagan and Allyn Bulanadi for a 85-80 decision. Six Knights were in double-digit scoring and everybody from Jerrick Balanza to Fran Yu and from Bonbon Batiller and Allen Mina did their part in propelling their side to the next round of the stepladder playoffs in the NCAA 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament. "Isa lang masasabi ko - ayaw ng mga veteran ko na last game na nila," head coach Bonnie Tan said. From a tight tally of 33-32 in their favor early in the second quarter, Letran rode an all-out attack at both ends for 11 unanswered points and a 43-32 lead. RK Ilagan injected life into the Golden Stags, however, and shot them within 80-81 inside the last two minutes only to see the Knights’ defense focus all its efforts on him. With that, Ilagan was forced into a backcourt violation and then out of the game due to cramps while at the other end, Fran Yu sealed the deal once and for all with a split from the stripe. "Yung players namin, gusto pa nila maglaro, gusto pa nila mag-practice pa bukas. Hindi sila bumigay sa magandang pinakita ng Baste," coach Bonnie said. In the end, Yu had 10 points, seven rebounds, and two assists while Balanza had 15 markers, six boards, and four dimes. Batiller and Mina then chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Larry Muyang and Ato Ular combined for 21 markers, seven boards, and four assists. That balance proved to be more than enough for them to survive Ilagan's career-high 36-point eruption. Letran charges into another knockout bout on Friday still at the same venue, that one up against second-seed Lyceum of the Philippines University. For Baste, Ilagan also had six rebounds and three assists. Playing their last games in gold and red, Allyn Bulanadi had 15 points, seven rebounds, and three assists while Alvin Capobres had five markers and three boards. Despite the early exit, this finish is still an improvement from their ranking at no. 6 a year ago. BOX SCORES LETRAN 85 - Balanza 15, Batiller 14, Mina 12, Muyang 11, Ular 10, Yu 10, Caralipio 9, Balagasay 4, Ambohot 0, Olivario 0, Reyson 0, Sangalang 0, Javillonar 0. SAN SEBASTIAN 80 - Ilagan 36, Bulanadi 15, Villapando 8, Calahat 7, Capobres 5, Altamirano 5, Desoyo 2, Sumoda 1, Cosari 1, Calma 0, Isidro 0. QUARTER SCORES: 23-20, 50-40, 69-59, 85-80. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2019

Beijing ends key conclave with promise to protect Hong Kong

BEIJING, China – China's Communist Party elite concluded a key meeting in Beijing Thursday, October 31, with a promise to protect the "stability" of Hong Kong, which has been rocked by months of unrest . The Fourth Plenum of the Party's Central Committee is a closed-door meeting of high-ranking officials where ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019