Advertisements


Rose seeks 2nd major at PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Justin Rose sees uniqueness in the PGA Championship because, well, it doesn't have a specific identity. Unlike the Masters and its green jacket, the U.S. Open and its "toughest test in golf" character, and the British Open with its links-style golf and often inclement weather, the PGA doesn't stand out in individuality. It is, of course, a major title, and one that Rose — and every other golfer in the 156-man field — covets. "I've always felt that the PGA Championship is the championship that probably doesn't have an identity in terms of a style of golf," said Rose, who owns one major, the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and a third, fourth and ninth in his 16 previous PGAs. "You know, I feel like it's dependent on the golf course. It's dependent on the time of year. And it doesn't try to sort of fit in any particular category. "Even par doesn't mean anything necessarily at a PGA Championship. You get what the course gives you. And I think we've all respected that, to be honest with you." Still, there is a taste of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black this week. The public course has hosted two of those, won by Tiger Woods in 2002 and Lucas Glover in 2009. The rough is going to be deep and, if the rain that plagued Long Island for nearly a week returns — it was dry and sunny Wednesday — this monster of a course will play even longer than its 7,459 yards. "I think this one in particular, this one, if I was to bring — I don't want to bring in the word U.S. Open — but the golf course has more of that feel to it this week, I would say. And if it was a U.S. Open, you would say, 'Wow, this is a really fair test of golf.' "So I think from that point of view, it's going to be fun for the players. I think we all regard this test and this setup as incredibly fair but demanding. And it's probably ... one of the most demanding PGA Championship setups and venues that I've seen in those 17 years." The 2016 Olympic gold medalist , Rose, 38, has been a mainstay on the European Ryder Cup team, making five appearances. He is usually near the top of the leaderboard in the most pressure-packed events on the PGA Tour and is the current FedEx Cup champion. So big-time challenges are more routine for Rose than for most athletes. Yet he has just the one major among his 10 PGA Tour victories. "I think the pressure of trying to win a second is far less than the pressure of trying to win your first," he said. "From that point of view I haven't given it a second thought. Obviously I want to win more; I've been close on a couple of occasions; lost in a playoff there at Augusta (to Sergio Garcia in 2017 ). So a putt here, a putt there, a chip here, a chip there, I could have added a second to it. "And yeah, I feel like I'm still waiting for my run in the majors. I'm still waiting for a hot run where I can hopefully get an opportunity to put two, three, four away quite quickly." That's territory few golfers ever reach. Sure, Tiger Woods is way up there with 15 majors, and defending PGA champ Brooks Koepka has won three in the last two years. They are favorites this week, and Rose feels he should be in that category, too, among what he estimates as 30 players with a true shot to leave with the Wanamaker Trophy. "You know, I feel like the style of golf does suit me generally, so I'm still working hard," Rose said. "There's still a lot of focus for me. I try to build my whole year around trying to play well and peak in the majors. I still feel at this point in my career, yeah, second major, and then obviously on from there will kind of define my career from that point of view. I've done a lot of other really cool things, obviously, alongside my major championship win, but more majors equal a better career, there's no doubt.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 15th, 2019

Homa comes full circle and wins Wells Fargo Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Max Homa traded in a shovel for a ladder to get places he always thought he could reach. Two years ago in his second try on the PGA Tour, he made only two cuts the entire season and played only one round on a Sunday. Eight months ago, he was on the verge of going back to Q-school and an uncertain future until closing with four straight birdies to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event that gave him another shot at the big leagues. It made Sunday all that much sweeter in the Wells Fargo Championship. In a three-way tie for the lead, in the final group on the PGA Tour for the first time, with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia right behind him, Homa outplayed them all with a 4-under 67 for a three-shot victory at Quail Hollow and his first PGA Tour title. "I used to say when I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging. I went to some low, low places," he said. "I'd use a shovel and dig deeper. I went to some low, low places. I realized in that year or two when I started to play bad that my attitude was going to have to get a lot better. ... I'm very proud I finally found a ladder and started climbing, because it was getting dark down there." Suddenly, the immediate future is bright as can be. He has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a tee time at the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and a spot in the Masters next year. A former NCAA champion at Cal, Homa has "Relentless" in block letters tattooed on his right forearm. The 28-year-old Californian also has a signed photo from former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who once told him to look at the picture and be reminded to believe in himself. The trophy at his side, Homa's press conference was interrupted for him to take a call from the 91-year-old Lasorda. "I guess my whole world is different," he said. Golf felt so hard for Homa for so many years after he left Cal, and then he made it look so easy in a final round that made him so nervous he wanted to throw up, except when he had his hands on a golf club. He pulled away with two birdies to start the back nine for a four-shot lead. He didn't make a bogey until it only affected the final margin. But it was a one-hour rain delay that tested Homa the most. He was leading by three when he nearly went in the water on the 14th hole and chipped up to 6 feet when the horn sounded to stop play. With time he didn't need on his hands, he called his fiancée and his coach and can't remember what either of them said. And then he returned and buried the putt. Over an hour delay while trying to win for the first time on TOUR. Huge save for @maxhoma23. The lead is still three.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/F3tvjxRrrm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 5, 2019 "I knew in the back of my mind if I made that putt, I win this golf tournament," he said. Joel Dahmen, who pushed Homa as hard as any major champion, saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind. "I didn't beat myself today, which was kind of the goal," Dahmen said. "Max is playing awesome. He's a good friend. I think we're going to celebrate tonight." Homa effectively sealed it with a perfect play to the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, and a 10-foot par putt on the 17th to keep a three-shot leading playing the tough closing hole at Quail Hollow. He made a 10-foot par there, too, and the celebration was on. Homa finished at 15-under 269. "Over the moon, man," he said before going to sign his card. "It means a lot to do it under pressure, and job security is great. I haven't had that." The victory was worth $1,422,000, about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts. Justin Rose (68) finished alone in third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world. Rory McIlroy was primed to join Tom Weiskopf as the only three-time winners at Quail Hollow, starting the final round two shots behind. He never got anything going until it went the wrong way. He turned a 20-foot eagle attempt into a three-putt par on the par-5 seventh, failed to get up-and-down on the reachable eighth for a birdie, and then went bogey-double bogey around the turn to take himself out of the mix. No one else was much of a threat either, just two guys who had never come remotely close to winning on the PGA Tour. Former PGA champion Jason Dufner, part of the three-way tie for the lead to start the final round, made consecutive bogeys early and had no bearing on the final round. A double bogey on the 18th gave him a 73 and dropped him into a tie for fourth. Rose pulled within two shots with a birdie on the par-5 10th, only to settle into a series of pars. By the time Sergio Garcia reached double digits under par, Homa was well on his way. Homa and Dahmen were at 13 under until Dahmen blinked first. He found a fairway bunker on No. 9, couldn't get to the green and made bogey and dropped another shot on the 11th. Homa, playing behind him in the final group, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th for a two-shot lead, made birdie from the left rough on the 11th with a 12-foot putt and escaped more trouble off the tee on the 12th with a two-putt from 80 feet. He survived the rain delay, the nervy finish. Homa has endured a lot more than that over the last few years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Tiger s last Masters as much about family as a green jacket

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green as a Masters champion for the fifth time, a major champion for the 15th time, and the sensation was unlike anything he had ever felt. More memorable than any shot — the 8-iron that trickled by the hole at the 16th was the decisive blow — was the purposeful stride toward his son, grabbing Charlie with both arms, lifting the boy and turning from side to side. His mother was next. His daughter. His loyal support staff. And then a lineup of players outside the clubhouse, some of them in green jackets. They had been upstairs in the locker room reserved for champions, yet they shared a feeling with the entire golf world. Memories gave way to reality. “That's going to be in people's minds forever,” Rickie Fowler said last month, just two days before the Masters was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Was it his biggest win? It would be hard to rate that over his first Masters title in 1997, a “hello, world” moment not tied to advertising. Woods set 20 records that signaled the arrival of a brand of dominance never seen in golf. The most historical? His 2001 victory at Augusta gave him a sweep of the four majors in a span of 294 days. He stands alone there. This was no less significant because of what it meant — to Woods, to his sport, to peers who grew up idolizing him and to a worldwide audience that had reason to believe it might never happen again. “I had just an amazing amount of emails and texts that were flowing in,” Woods said in a conference call leading up to the Masters. “But I was more surprised by the amount of videos of people watching the Masters and seeing their reaction when I hit the shot on 16 or when I made the putt, whether it was on airplanes or in airports or restaurants. “The amount of emotion that people were showing, that's what blew my mind." That's what made this Masters different from his other four, this major different from the other 14. Adam Scott doesn't usually stick around when he's finished with a major. One exception was in 2006 after the U.S. Open at Winged Foot when he was headed for the airport and turned around when close friend Geoff Ogilvy emerged the winner. He finished Sunday at Augusta National about the time all hell broke loose at Amen Corner. “You got a sense, as he was kind of taking the lead on the back nine, that something special could be happening,” Scott said. “There was a lot of guys watching in the champion's locker room and I stayed and watched. You don't often get that group of people together very often. You just had that sense it's a significant moment in the sport again.” Gary Woodland wasn't about to miss it. “I don't usually watch much golf,” he said. “I had my family there. I was flying out Sunday afternoon. I played early that day, and we pushed the flight back. I wanted to watch that.” The only mystery is where it leads. Woods was never the same the rest of the major season. He played nine holes of practice at Bethpage Black and missed the cut in the PGA Championship. He was never a factor at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, site of his 15-shot victory, as untouchable as any of his records. He missed the cut at the British Open. Woods had another knee surgery to repair minor cartilage damage. And then he won again, this time in Japan, to tie the PGA Tour's victory record with No. 82. In only two starts this year, in chilly California weather, he didn't look like the Masters champion. His back felt stiff and he skipped three tournaments he ordinarily plays. And now golf is shut down, which Woods said has given him time for his 44-year-old body to feel stronger. He had caddie Joe LaCava come down a month after the Masters to watch the final round together. Woods has watched that Masters plenty of times, and he taped a segment with Jim Nantz for perspective unlike any other for CBS to show it again Sunday to fill the void of not having the Masters this April. Each time Woods won a major — even the first of his 15 — it was one major closer to the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. This one was different. This was more about satisfaction and redemption than a thirst for more. Woods said his kids once looked at him as the “YouTube” golfer because they never saw him at his best. They were at Carnoustie in the summer of 2018 when he had the lead briefly in the final round of the British Open. They were with him at Augusta National, and that meant as much as the green jacket he wore — the jacket, he said, they fought over who could wear it on the flight home. “It's been incredible for myself and my family to be a part of this, and for me to be the current Masters champion, it's crazy that somehow it all came together for one week,” he said. “One magical week.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2020

Woods closer to Snead than Nicklaus at Memorial

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Winning the Masters gave Tiger Woods his 15th major and allowed him to resume the pursuit of Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors. It moved him even closer to another record that Rory McIlroy believes should get more attention. Woods now is at 81 career victories on the PGA Tour, one short of the official record — as official as the tour can determine — that Sam Snead set from 1936 to 1965. "Especially this day and age, I think it's more impressive than his major tally," McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the Memorial. "Eighty-two wins ... if you're around for 20 years, that's four a year, every year. It's very, very impressive. I think if you're winning multiple times a year, you're doing pretty well. So to have the average that he's had — eight-win seasons, nine-win seasons — if he does pass that record of Snead's ... it's almost more impressive than the 15." Woods is a five-time winner at the Memorial, and the most recent victory at Muirfield Village (2012) was significant because it was his 73rd title on the PGA Tour, which tied him with Nicklaus for second on the career list. What to expect from him this year remains a mystery. He looked like the Woods of old when he won at Augusta National by hitting all the right shots and letting everyone around him make the mistakes. A month later, without having played since the Masters, he missed the cut at Bethpage Black in the PGA Championship. Woods attributed his lack of play to the emotional toll of winning the Masters — it had been 11 years since his last major — and to being sick during the three days of practice rounds at Bethpage Black, which limited him to nine holes. He rarely misses the Memorial except for injury or the death of his father in 2006, and Woods wants to start getting his game in gear with the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach just two weeks away. He played the pro-am Wednesday with retired NFL great Peyton Manning, who knows about returning from injury to win the big one. "I think the most impressive thing is how he's been able to adjust and be adapted to playing in a new physical state," said Manning, who returned from a neck injury to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. "That's kind of what I did. To use a baseball analogy, I couldn't throw the 100 mph fastball anymore, but you could still work the outside edges of the plate. You could still strike a guy out that way. He struck a lot of guys out. He came home with the win." The fastball in golf is power, and that never hurts around Muirfield Village, especially in a week when the course is expected to be softened by storms. Woods said he feels refreshed after the PGA Championship and now needs to get in competitive rounds in his final start before the U.S. Open. He was at Pebble Beach last week for a day of practice in damp conditions, having not seen the course since 2012 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he closed with a 75 to tie for 15th. As for 82 victories? Woods had had 10 seasons of five victories or more — only Vijay Singh and Nick Price have had more than five wins in any season over the last 25 years. Woods had 79 victories in 18 years and then was slowed by back surgeries to the point where he nearly didn't return at all. "To get into those numbers, it takes longevity and hot years," Woods said. "I think you need multiple winning seasons. You need to do that for decades. That's something I'm proud of. That's not something that happens overnight. To be able to come this close to get to one behind Sam Snead has been pretty amazing." Snead compiled his victories before the modern PGA Tour began in 1970, when the schedule was unwieldy and there was not always agreement on what should constitute an official victory. His tally includes five team events, an 18-hole event and one year at Pebble Beach when it was a four-way tie with no playoff. Snead long believed his total should have been 89 before the PGA Tour took some away during a research project by a nine-person panel. Whatever the case, the PGA Tour lists the record at 82. Woods is at 81. "I don't know how you add up tournaments anymore," Nicklaus said. "No one in the world could know how many tournaments Sam Snead won. ... Tiger is the winningest, probably, player there ever was. And he's probably won a higher percentage of tournaments than anybody that ever played. Of course, I've always measure my life differently. I never measured it on tour wins. I measured it on major wins." That's the number that hasn't changed since Nicklaus won his 18th professional major at the Masters in 1986. "They're the only ones you can compare back and forth, I think," Nicklaus said. "Would 82 be a major achievement? Absolutely. But you ask Tiger which he would rather win, 82 or 18, I think you might get a different answer.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Koepka survives Bethpage Black to win PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka took his place in PGA Championship history with a wire-to-wire victory, minus the style points. In a raging wind that turned Bethpage Black into a beast, Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead Sunday. He lost the brutal Long Island crowd, which began chanting "DJ!" for Dustin Johnson as Koepka was on his way to a fourth straight bogey. But he delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys, and Koepka closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958. Koepka said at the start of the week that majors are sometimes the easiest to win. This one should have been. It wasn't. His 74 was the highest final round by a PGA champion since Vijay Singh won in a playoff in 2004 at Whistling Straits. "I'm just glad I don't have to play any more holes," Koepka said. "That was a stressful round of golf. I'm glad to have this thing back in my hands." Koepka appeared to wrap it up with a gap wedge from 156 yards to 2 feet on the 10th hole for a birdie, as Johnson made his first bogey of the round up ahead on the 11th. That restored the lead to six shots, and the coronation was on. And then it all changed in a New York minute. Koepka missed three straight fairways and made three straight bogeys, having to make a 6-foot putt on No. 11 to keep it from being worse. The wind was so fickle that it died as he hit 7-iron to the par-3 14th that sailed over the green, leading to a fourth straight bogey. The crowd sensed a collapse, and began chanting, "DJ! DJ! DJ!" as Koepka was playing the hole. Ahead of him, Johnson made birdie on the 15th — the toughest hole at Bethpage Black all week — and the lead was down to one. That was as close as Johnson got. His 5-iron pierced through a wind that gusted close to 25 mph, over the green and into a buried lie. He missed the 7-foot par putt, went long of the green on the par-3 17th for another bogey and had to settle for 69. "Hit the shot I wanted to right at the flag," Johnson said of his 5-iron from 194 yards on the 16th. "I don't know how it flew 200 yards into the wind like that. Johnson now has runner-up finishes in all four of the majors, the wrong kind of career Grand Slam. "I gave it a run," he said. "That's all you can ask for." Koepka returned to No. 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf's biggest events. He becomes the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, having won a second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills. He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983. And what stakes his claim as one of the best in his generation was a third straight year winning a major. He joins a most elite group — only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have done that since the Masters began in 1934. He now has four majors in his last eight, a streak not seen since Woods won seven out of 11 when he captured the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Next up is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Koepka defends his title for the third time. No one has won the U.S. Open three straight years since Willie Anderson in 1905. No one will doubt whether Koepka is capable the way he is playing. The 29-year-old Floridian is an imposing figure, a power off the tee and out of the rough with no obvious weakness in his game and the kind of mental fortitude that majors require. He needed all of it over the final hour of this one. Koepka doesn't know his resting heart rate, and he said on the eve of the final round that it probably was not much different on the first tee of a major than when he was chilling on his couch. But he could feel this one getting away from him. He could sense Johnson making a charge. He could hear it. "How could you not with the 'DJ' chants," Koepka said. "I heard everything." Bethpage has a reputation for being over the top, and it irritated Harold Varner III, who shot 81 playing in the final group. "I thought it was pretty weird how they were telling Brooks to choke," Varner said about the 14th hole. "That's not my cup of tea. I was pulling for him after that." Koepka held it together at the most crucial moment. He piped his driver down the 15th fairway and two-putted for par. And he drilled another one into the 16th, which played the most difficult in the final round because it was into the wind. Johnson hit 5-iron just over the green. The wind died enough 20 minutes later that Koepka hit 7-iron only to 50 feet and had another good lag putt to get par. He kept it interesting to the end, three-putting the 17th as the lead went back to two shots, and pulling his driver on the 18th into fescue so thick it left him little choice but to lay up and scramble for par. Once his medium lob wedge settled 6 feet away, he could relax. Finally. Woods won the Wanamaker Trophy in consecutive years twice, in 1999 and 2000, and again in 2006 and 2007. Koepka was starting to draw comparisons with Woods for the way he obliterated the competition, much like Woods in his 12-shot victory in the 1997 Masters and 15-shot victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Koepka tied the PGA Championship record by opening with a 63. He broke the major championship record for 36 holes at 128. He set another PGA Championship record with his seven-shot lead. In the end, just having his name on the heaviest championship trophy in golf was all that mattered. Jordan Spieth registered his first top 10 since the British Open last summer with a 71 to finish at 2-under 278, six shots behind. He tied for third with Patrick Cantlay (71) and Matt Wallace (72). This really was a two-man race over the back nine that not many would have seen coming at the start of the final round. Only the outcome was expected......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Koepka keeps 7-shot lead at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka is on the cusp of some elite company at the PGA Championship — in the record book, not on the leaderboard. He is all alone on Bethpage Black, the public course he has turned into his private playground. Koepka wasn't at his best, particularly with his putter on the toughest scoring day of the championship, and he still kept everyone far enough behind to make the final round feel more like a victory lap. With an even-par 70 that featured a pair of three-putt bogeys, he kept a seven-shot lead and earned another entry in the record book with the largest lead since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958. No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round at any major, or even a PGA Tour event. That leaves Koepka 18 holes away from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA in stroke play. He is one round away from becoming the first player to hold back-to-back major title at the same time. Not since Hal Sutton in 1983 has anyone led from start to finish in the PGA Championship. And a third straight year winning a major? Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players to have done that over the last 30 years. Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only others to win majors in three straight years dating to 1960. Asked if there was any doubt he would win, Koepka said flatly, "No." He is unflappable in speech and on the golf course. Koepka has never bothered to check his heart rate at rest, but he figures it wouldn't be much different from standing on the first tee of a major championship with a big lead and thousands of rowdy New York fans witnessing a master performance. "Every time I set up to a golf shot, I feel like I know what the ball is going to do," Koepka said. "And if I don't, then I guess I'd be nervous. ... I'm trying my butt off, and from there, sometimes you need a little bit of luck. But I'd say I'm pretty flat-lined most of the time, as you can tell." He has all but flattened the strongest field in golf. Koepka was at 12-under 198, the first time this week he did not set or tie a scoring record. "I think we're all playing for second," said Luke List, one of four players tied for second. Dustin Johnson tried to make a run with six birdies, only to stall with five bogeys in his round of 69. No bogey was more damaging than the 18th. A drive into the fairway would have given the world's No. 1 player a reasonable shot at birdie. Instead, he sent it right into bunker, came up well short into the native grass, left the next one in the bunker and had to scramble to limit the damage. That kept Johnson from joining his close friend in the final group. Koepka will play the final round with Harold Varner III, whose week began with plans to play a practice round with Woods on the eve of the PGA Championship until Woods called in sick. Varner birdied the 18th to cap off a bogey-free 67 and lead the group at 5-under 205 that includes Jazz Janewattananond (67) and List, who holed two shots from off the green for a 69. Jordan Spieth did not put any pressure on Koepka at all. Playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time since the British Open last summer, Spieth didn't have a realistic birdie chance until the sixth hole, and he missed that one from 8 feet. He shot 72 and was nine shots behind. Spieth would not speak to a reporter after the round. There was simply no stopping Koepka, who is one round away from a fourth major in his last eight tries and a return to No. 1 in the world. The plan for Sunday was no different from the previous three rounds. "It doesn't really matter. I'm just trying to play good golf," Koepka said. "If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, these first six holes are very scorable. I feel like if you can get 1 or 2 under after six, you're in a good spot." That's what worked on Saturday. Koepka had birdie chances on the opening six holes and converted two of them, from 5 feet on a blind shot up the hill at No. 2, and a gap wedge that landed next to the pin and settled just over 2 feet away on No. 5. His only struggle was missing a 2-foot par putt on the ninth hole for a three-putt bogey, and then missing the 10th fairway to the right to set up another bogey. The most important putt for Koepka was just under 5 feet for par on the 11th, which kept him from three straight bogeys. And then he was back in his groove. List ran off three straight birdies, chipping in from 70 feet on No. 12, holing a 30-foot putt on the par-5 13th and making a 15-foot putt on the 14th. That pulled him within five, but it wasn't long before Koepka birdied the 13th and List began missing enough shots that it finally cost him. Johnson has the most experience and skill among those chasing Koepka, if he even allows there to be a chase. "It's going to take something special to catch Brooks, but it's doable," Johnson said. He then tried to work out the math, and then he stuck to a more practical outlook. "I'm going to need some help from him," Johnson said. "And then I'm going to have to play very, very well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Spieth tries to stay close to Koepka at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth doesn't feel as though his confidence is getting higher. All that mattered was his score getting lower. Spieth did his best to stay within range of Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship on Friday by making five birdies over his last 11 holes for a 4-under 66 and his lowest 36-hole score in a major since he won the British Open two years ago. He had to wait on Koepka playing in the afternoon to see how close he could stay. But this was an important step for Spieth, who hasn't won since his 2017 British Open victory gave him the third leg of the career Grand Slam, which he can complete by winning the PGA. That was still far from his mind. "I haven't been in contention on a Sunday since The Open last year," said Spieth, who shared the 54-hole lead at Carnoustie and tied for sixth. "And if I'm able to put some good work in tomorrow, I will be in contention on Sunday. And at that point, it will be just more of trying to win a golf tournament. It won't matter to me what tournament it is." It will be proof to Spieth that his struggles over the last year — he even used the words "bit of a slump" earlier this week — are finally turning in his favor. He was at 5-under 135, one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson (67) and Daniel Berger (66) among those who finished early. Koepka started with a 7-under 63, after becoming the only player to post 63 in the same major twice. He opened with three birdies over the opening four-hole stretch at Bethpage Black and threatened to pull away. Tiger Woods, playing in the same group as Koepka, started at 2 over and was trying to make sure he at least made the cut. Spieth has been showing signs of making progress, only to be done in by one round or a nine-hole stretch. It looked as though that might be the case Friday when he made bogey from the right rough on the 15th and bogey from the left rough on the 16th, putting him 1 over for his round. The key moment was a 6-iron to 8 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th, mainly because it got him back to even after the toughest stretch. "My goal in turning was try and get to a few under for the championship," Spieth said. "You don't expect Brooks to fall at all, so I thought I needed to be within five or six or seven to feel like I had a chance on the weekend." He was helped by his tidy short game. Spieth used his putter only 13 times over the last 11 holes, making five birdies and four par saves, only from about 12 feet after finding a bunker on the par-3 third. Berger is best known in these parts for his 66 in the third round at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open last year that put him in the final group. He dropped only one shot early in his round at No. 12. Johnson played alongside Spieth and reached 5 under for the tournament approaching the 18th, only to miss the fairway and go over the green. He also three-putted from long range on the par-3 third, but made a 20-foot birdie putt late in his round at No. 7 for a 67. "The afternoon guys still got 18 holes to play," Johnson said. "I feel like I'm in a good position. I'm happy with where I'm at no matter what the lead is after today. I'm going to be somewhere around it or close enough to where with 36 holes left, I'm OK." Danny Lee was among the few early starters who failed to take advantage. He opened with a 64 and was one shot behind Koepka, and he never got any closer. Lee made a pair of double bogeys on the back nine for a 41, and salvaged a 74 to join a group at 2-under 138. Rory McIlroy was happy to still have any chance at all. He started with two double bogeys and a bogey and was 7 over for the championship through three holes when he rallied with four birdies over his last six holes for a 71. Spieth did enough to believe the worst days of his slump are behind him. It was only in the last few weeks that he felt comfortable enough to return to a familiar philosophy: aim small, miss small. "I'm not 100% hitting it as well as I did a couple of years ago," Spieth said. "But I'm hitting it a lot better than I did the end of last year, beginning of this year." And the putting looks as strong as ever. So when someone suggested Spieth looked freer than he has lately, he smiled and said, "When you're making everything you look at, anybody is going to walk around feeling pretty free.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

PBA: What s in a Name? San Miguel Beermen

Name changes happen a lot in the PBA, especially with the league’s company based-teams. It’s equal parts marketing and prestige when it comes to the naming of PBA teams. There are no cities represented here and no need for sponsorships.  Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA, even the pioneers like San Miguel Beer have gone through some name changes over the years, while teams like Columbian juggle through monikers like crazy. However, there are also teams like Alaska that have stayed solid through its brand all along. This series is not about those teams though. This series is about the franchises that have taken advantage of the PBA’s somewhat unique naming convention as we shuffle through their history of changes. What’s in a name, San Miguel Beermen?   TRU Pioneers: Royal Tru-Orange San Miguel was an original team when the PBA was first established in 1975, but the Beermen name wouldn’t come until years later. The team was first known as Royal Tru-Orange, after the soft drink. It took four years and 13 conferences before Royal won a PBA title, that being the 1979 Open Conference after beating Toyota in the Finals.   San Miguel Beermen 1.0 (Early 1980s) The franchise’s first use of the San Miguel Beermen produced two Finals trips in the 1982 Reinforced Filipino Conference and the 1982 Invitational Conference. Facing Toyota for the Reinforced Filipino title, the Beermen lost in seven games. San Miguel then turned around and won the Invitational tournament against Crispa.   San Miguel Beermen 2.0 (1987 Reinforced Conference – 2007 Fiesta Conference) For a good four years in the mid-1980s, the Beermen would carry the name of Gold Eagle Beer and the Magnolia Ice Cream brand before returning as SMB in the final conference of the 1987 season. San Miguel would keep its Beermen name for two decades, winning 15 league championships to build the foundation for their status as the PBA’s winningest franchise. Several dynasties and great teams were under the Beermen banner, the first major one being the 1989 Grand Slam team coached by Norman Black. With players like Mon Fernandez, Hector Calma, Alvin Teng, Samboy Lim, Franz Pumaren, Ricardo Brown, rookie Ato Agustin, and imports Michael Phelps and Ennis Whatley, the Beermen were the top-ranked team in all three conferences and beat Shell, Purefoods, and Anejo for the Grand Slam. After the Grand Slam year, San Miguel would go three full seasons without a title, but would win a championship at least once in each of the next three seasons that followed. 1992 MVP Ato Agustin, Samboy Lim, and Allan Caidic, made sure the Beermen were well taken cared off in the early 1990s before the team would go on a mini cold period. After back-to-back titles in the 1993 Governors’ Cup and the 1994 All-Filipino, San Miguel wouldn’t win another title until a new era of Beermen, led by coach Jong Uichico, took over towards the new millennium. With the pairing of eventual two-time MVP Danny Ilfefonso and Rookie of the Year Danny Seigle, the Beermen returned on top of the PBA mountain in 1999, winning the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup to bring a close to the millennium. As Danny I finally emerged as the MVP, San Miguel defended its two titles in 2000. The Beermen also won the 2001 All-Filipino to complete a trifecta of championships. They actually had a chance for a Grand Slam in 2001, but SMB would lose the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup Finals to Red Bull and Sta. Lucia respectively. Still with the core of Danny I, Danny S, Dondon Hontiveros, and Olsen Racela, San Miguel would end a four-year drought and capture the 2005 Fiesta Conference with a 4-1 win over Talk ‘N Text, the franchise’s 17th title.   Magnolia Beverage Masters (2007-2008 season) The Magnolia name would come back for one season in the late 2000s for mostly uninspiring results. In the 2008 Philippine Cup, the Beverage Masters finished with a 10-8 record and entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed. They lost in the first round. In the 2008 Fiesta Conference, the Beverage Masters again entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed with a 10-8 record. They lost in the semis and finished fourth, ending their run with a loss to Red Bull, just like in the All-Filipino.   San Miguel Beermen 3.0 (2009 Philippine Cup – 2011 Commissioner’s Cup) Back as the San Miguel Beermen, the team rebuilt its frontline in an attempt to recreate the Danny Ildefonso-Danny Seigle tandem almost a decade prior. The Beermen dealt the no. 3 pick of the 2008 Draft to Talk ‘N Text to acquire Jay Washington. The pick was used to select Jayson Castro. San Miguel then used a trade package centered around Marc Pingris to bring Arwind Santos to the fold. However, the mega trade happened after the Beermen won the 2009 Fiesta Conference championship for the franchise’s 18th title. Unfortunately, San Miguel’s power moves wouldn’t yield immediate results, losing back-to-back Finals to Alaska and Talk ‘N Text in the 2010 Fiesta Conference and 2011 Philippine Cup respectively. The San Miguel Beermen name would experience an unprecedented result in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup when a 2-9 record landed the team in last place.   Petron Blaze Boosters (2011 Governors’ Cup – 2014 Philippine Cup) Refreshed as the Petron Blaze Boosters, Arwind Santos would lead the team to the championship of the 2011 Governors’ Cup. The title win is significant as the Blaze Boosters stopped Talk ‘N Text from winning a Grand Slam with a seven-game decision in the Finals. Unfortunately, Petron blew a 3-1 lead in the semifinals of the 2012 Philippine Cup, allowing the Tropang Texters to get their win back on their way to back-to-back All-Filipino championships. The infamous Petronovela would follow as the Blaze Boosters would consistently fail to meet expectations. After the semifinals debacle against Talk ‘N Text, Petron finished 9th and failed to make the playoffs in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. After three underwhelming conferences, the Blaze Boosters would make their way to the Finals of the 2013 Governors’ Cup, only to lose Game 7 to San Mig Coffee. Perhaps the peak of the Petron name in the PBA came in 2012, when the Blaze Boosters selected June Mar Fajardo with the first pick of the Draft.   San Miguel Beermen 4.0 (2014 Commissioner’s Cup – present) Despite reverting back the San Miguel Beermen name, the remnants of Petronovela would remain as the team got booted out in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup without winning a single game. The true return of the Beermen would come in the 2015 Philippine Cup, beating Alaska in a dramatic Game 7 to win the title. Coached by Leo Austria and with the core five of June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot, a new Beermen dynasty would be born. After the 2015 All-Filipino title, San Miguel would beat Alaska two more times in the Finals. The first one was a sweep in the 2015 Governors’ Cup before the Beermen took the Aces down again to win the 2016 Philippine Cup. The “Beeracle” run to win back-to-back All-Filipino titles will be marked in history as the first time a PBA team came back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-7 series. San Miguel’s next history-making event came in the 2017 Philippine Cup after the Beermen matched Talk ‘N Text’s earlier feat by becoming the second-ever Perpetual Champions with three straight All-Filipino titles. However, San Miguel has its rival beat by winning a fourth and fifth straight Philippine Cup title in the next two years. The Beermen have also attempted to win a Grand Slam twice in recent years, doing so in 2017 and 2019. Unfortunately, both bids ended at the hands of Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governor’s Cup. Still, in adding eight championships so far, the Beermen have increased their all-time lead as they now hold 27 league titles. This era also produced arguable the greatest PBA player ever in six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Jose Mourinho brings passion to task of reviving Tottenham

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Ousted from previous jobs for fomenting friction, Jose Mourinho is returning to coaching trying to show he is rejuvenated with the smile back. Will Tottenham be getting a mellowed manager, rather than the one who stoked internal feuds at Chelsea and Manchester United? Mourinho’s exile from management ended after being appointed on Wednesday by Tottenham within 12 hours of the announcement of Mauricio Pochettino’s firing. “I couldn’t be happier and look forward to the challenge,” Mourinho said in a video released by Tottenham. “What can I promise? Passion, real passion. “Passion for my job, but also passion for my club, that’s the way I have been all my career and I want to try, obviously, everything to bring happiness to everyone who loves the club.” Mourinho has always delivered happiness in the form of trophies and title successes. But several of his stints have also seen the atmosphere around the team sour as his relationship broke down with club officials, players and even fans. There was the “palpable discord” that curtailed Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea in December 2015. A turbulent 2½-year spell followed at Manchester United that ended in December 2018 when the club tired of the volatile coach constantly picking fights and criticizing his own players as the team struggled. But he won three Premier League titles during his two spells at Chelsea, and lifted the Europa League trophy as the highlight of his time in Manchester. He now arrives at a club without a track record of winning titles, with no trophy lifted since the 2008 League Cup. While Pochettino transformed Tottenham, achieving an unprecedented four consecutive Champions League qualifications as the team rose in status, a trophy eluded the Argentine during his 5½-year stint. He led the club to its first Champions League final last season, only to lose to Liverpool. Rather than being a springboard for a sustained challenge in the Premier League to deliver Tottenham’s first championship since 1961, Pochettino sounded increasingly unsettled. Having said on the eve of the Champions League final he could choose to walk away from Tottenham, that decision was taken out of Pochettino ’s hands 173 days later when he was fired on Tuesday night. Tottenham’s improbable run to a first European Cup final masked a drop-off in form in the Premier League that has seen the team win just six of its 24 games since February, straddling the end of last season and the start of this season. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said he turned to Mourinho to bring “energy and belief” back to the club. “He has a wealth of experience,” Levy said, “can inspire teams and is a great tactician.” Mourinho takes charge of Tottenham for the first time on Saturday at West Ham with the team 14th in the Premier League after 12 games, 11 points off the four Champions League qualification positions where Tottenham grew accustomed to finishing under Pochettino. “It’s a privilege when a manager goes to a club and feels that happiness in relation to the squad he is going to have,” said Mourinho, who oversaw his first Tottenham training session on Wednesday. Since leaving Porto for Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho has always worked at clubs with big budgets so Tottenham is not necessarily a natural fit. Pochettino had to battle against the biggest teams in Europe while working with strict financial constraints, particularly as Tottenham prepared to move into its new stadium last season. The club has prioritized developing young talent from within the academy, including striker Harry Kane and midfielder Harry Winks, and Mourinho knows he has to follow the same philosophy. "There is not one manager in the world who does not like to play young players and help young players to evolve,” Mourinho said. “The problem is sometimes you get into clubs and the work that is below you is not good enough to produce these players.” Tottenham’s players will certainly respect Mourinho’s resume, which also includes league titles with Porto in Portugal, Inter Milan in Italy and Real Madrid in Spain. He has won the Champions League with two clubs, Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010. It is Mourinho’s man-management that has mostly been questioned in the latter years of his coaching career, given his penchant for publicly criticizing his own players. The 56-year-old Portuguese is surrounded by a new coaching staff at Tottenham, with Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos joining from Lille. Mourinho signed a contract to the end of the 2022-23 season with Tottenham but has never spent more than 3½ years in a single stint at one club. While Mourinho says Tottenham has “good players that the majority of the big clubs in Europe would be looking for”, the squad needs a revamp after growing stale because of the lack of recent recruitment. He will need to quickly fix Tottenham’s leaky defense and get more out of the team’s underperforming midfielders, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. The main playmaker, Eriksen appeared to be on his way out of the club as he seeks a new challenge but working under Mourinho might offer that. Mourinho, who still has a house in London, will be back coaching the Champions League next week, too, with Tottenham needing one win from its final two group-stage games to qualify for the knockout stage. The team is out of the English League Cup, having been eliminated by fourth-tier Colchester in one of a number of humiliating results under Pochettino this season. ___ AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2019

Addressing growing fan behavior problem top priority for NBA

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press About a dozen NBA players gathered for a teleconference with officials in the league office this summer, making their case about what they believe is one of the biggest problems in the game. Fan behavior, they said, is getting worse. The numbers show they’re right, and if that isn’t troubling enough race only adds to the complexity of the issue: Most NBA players are black, and it seems like most of those in the closest seats are white. Not every incident is racially motivated, though some clearly are. After high-profile incidents involving Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyle Lowry and others last season — including ones involving racist taunts — zero tolerance for abusive or hateful behavior is now to become the NBA’s policy going forward. The league is changing and toughening its code of conduct for fans, especially putting those in closest proximity to the players and the court on alert that anything over the line will lead to ejections and possibly more. “We’ve added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball related,” said Jerome Pickett, the NBA’s executive vice president and chief security officer. “So ‘your mother’ comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball related, we’ve added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened.” Westbrook and Cousins were subjected to racist taunts in Salt Lake City and Boston and the fans involved in those incidents were banned by the Jazz and Celtics. Lowry was shoved by a minority partner of the Golden State Warriors’ ownership group, seated courtside during the NBA Finals, and that person was banned from team business for a year by the league. There were more. Those were just the highest-profile ones. The NBA would not release exact numbers — and the totals are believed to be very low — but Pickett said the ejections of fans in the courtside area still more than doubled last season. Westbrook declined comment for this story, saying through a Rockets official that he was not comfortable discussing the matter. But the players’ union insists that the problem is getting bigger and bigger. “Last season, I began to sense even at the games I was attending that there was a certain, I’ll call it absence of civility, that permeated the games,” said Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. “I was seeing more bad-mouthing opposing teams that were not simply ‘you suck,’ which every one of us will tolerate, but really nasty, nasty comments being directed at players.” The Celtics banned a fan for two years for directing racist chants at Cousins. Westbrook was involved in a pair of incidents in Utah that came to light last season; was offended by a fan during the 2018 playoffs by a fan calling him “boy” before a playoff game, and then last season was involved in a back-and-forth shouting match with another fan. The Jazz banned both fans for life, and Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA for threatening the fan involved in last season’s incident. “I try very hard not to have my default answer be, ‘It’s racism.’ I really do because I don’t think that necessarily advances the argument,” Roberts said. “If it’s undoubtedly that, then I’m happy to say it.” It’s not always racism, either — Roberts also said she’s received complaints from many white players about being the subject of nastiness from fans. Amira Davis is an assistant professor at Penn State specializing in 20th Century American History with an emphasis on race, gender, sports and politics. She believes fans feel more emboldened now to say whatever they like, without fear of repercussions. “There have been plenty of sober fans yelling slurs and attacking players in the worst way,” Davis said. “I think it’s a mix of all of those things and when looking at predominantly white spaces like Utah and a largely black labor force, it ratchets it up a little bit more and makes it a lot more intense. Particularly in this political climate in which it’s very easy to project onto high-profile black athletes and pathologies and misconceptions about the black community.” Fan behavior is not just a concern in the NBA. It is being noted everywhere. Racist chants and taunts are a major issue in European soccer, including at a Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England last week. Green Bay and Philadelphia fans fought in the stands at Lambeau Field last month. The Atlanta Braves had fans stop doing their “tomahawk chop” during the playoffs earlier this month. During the AL Championship Series between Houston and New York, Astros manager A.J. Hinch told umpires that he felt the behavior of fans at Yankee Stadium had crossed the line and that it “was becoming a dangerous situation.” “There’s no place for that,” Hinch said, referencing matters like debris being thrown from the stands toward players and taunts directed toward some of the Astros. “Both teams will agree. And it’s really hard to stop fans from doing that. But it’s also very dangerous.” And the athletes are not always just victims, either. Golfer Bio Kim was suspended by the Korean PGA for three years for making an obscene gesture at the crowd during the final round of a tournament that he won, angry because of noise from a cellphone camera. In the NBA, the league is expanding the area in arenas most closely monitored when it comes to player-fan interaction. The top-priority area used to be just those seated with feet on the court itself or maybe the first couple rows of courtside seats; now, that area goes several rows deep in every building, plus the areas where teams and referees enter and exit the court. The fan code of conduct, a standard announcement at every NBA arena for years, is now being shown and promoted more times in each game. Season-ticket holders have been put on notice by teams that they may lose their seats even if they give their tickets to someone who goes over the line and harasses players or officials too vociferously. Fans believed to have been involved in incidents will be removed from seats while officials investigate; many times, when a security guard asks those in a certain area what just happened, no one would volunteer information with the suspected heckler present. “I think players are definitely vulnerable,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said after the Lowry incident. “Any time you’re in a situation where you can do no right, like in defending yourself, you’re vulnerable.” ___ AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 21st, 2019

US Open champ Andreescu is WTA s No. 5; Medvedev 4th in ATP

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A year ago at this time, Bianca Andreescu was ranked outside the WTA's top 200 after losing in the first round of U.S. Open qualifying. Look at her now. Thanks to winning her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, Andreescu jumped 10 spots to a career-high No. 5 in the rankings on Monday, while Ash Barty again replaced Naomi Osaka at No. 1. Andreescu's 6-3, 7-5 victory over Serena Williams in the final on Saturday continued the 19-year-old Canadian's rapid rise from 178th at the end of last season. She is the first woman in the Open era, which began in 1968, to win the U.S. Open in her main-draw debut at the tournament. This was only her fourth career appearance at any Slam. "I don't think I was ever as composed as I am now, or even a year ago. I would get really down on myself and I would get very negative thoughts going through my mind. I would smash rackets. I'd just yell at myself during matches. Actually not even during matches, even during practice, too," Andreescu said. "But I found that that way wasn't working to my advantage at all. So I started ... seeking some advice from other people," she said. "Ever since then, I've been trying to have a very positive outlook on everything. I think that's really been helping me, even in tough situations." Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, slid from No. 8 to No. 9 after losing in the U.S. Open final for the second consecutive year — and finishing as the runner-up for the fourth time in the past six majors. Osaka, the 2018 champion in New York, and Barty both lost in the fourth round. That allowed Barty to move up from No. 2, and Osaka dropped to No. 4. Barty already briefly was No. 1 after winning the French Open in June for her first major championship. Karolina Pliskova is No. 2, and Elina Svitolina is No. 3. Three Americans made big moves in Monday's rankings: 15-year-old Coco Gauff went up 34 places to 106th after reaching the third round before losing to Osaka, Kristie Ahn moved up 48 to 93rd and Taylor Townsend rose 33 to 83rd. U.S. Open men's champion Rafael Nadal stayed at No. 2 in the ATP rankings and closed the gap between him and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion who exited in the fourth round. Runner-up Daniil Medvedev is up to a personal-best No. 4 from No. 5 after reaching his first Grand Slam final, where he erased a big early deficit and pushed Nadal to five sets before losing to the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in a match Sunday that lasted nearly five hours. Nadal collected his fourth trophy in New York and his 19th Grand Slam title in all, moving within one of Roger Federer's record for men. Federer remained at No. 3 in Monday's rankings after losing in the quarterfinals while bothered by a bad back. The man who beat him in five sets before losing to Medvedev in the semifinals, Grigor Dimitrov, went from No. 78 to No. 25. The other man who lost in the semifinals, 23-year-old Matteo Berrettini, rose 12 spots to a career-best 13th......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 10th, 2019

Column: FedEx Cup about the money, not the majors

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — The FedEx Cup is still about the money. Whoever wins this week at the Tour Championship gets $15 million, more than Greg Norman's career earnings on the PGA Tour. The FedEx Cup might one day be as much about prestige. Tiger Woods (twice), Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk won the first four FedEx Cup titles, and all four will be in the World Golf Hall of Fame if they're not in already. The last four winners were Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. That's good company to keep. The FedEx Cup was never about major championships. Woods is absent from East Lake, this time not by choice but because he didn't qualify. It stands out because of his last two victories, Nos. 80 and 81, both in Georgia. The first was the Tour Championship, the most electric moment in golf all of last year. Woods won at East Lake to cap a remarkable return from four back surgeries, a DUI arrest stemming from his reliance on painkillers and his own fears that he would never compete again. Memories would be a lot stronger if he were here. Instead, he becomes the seventh player to win the Tour Championship and not be eligible to return the following year during the FedEx Cup era. Should he be at East Lake? It seems that way because of his other victory, this one in April at Augusta National, as captivating as any of his 15 majors. Woods said Sunday at Medinah when his season officially ended that he was disappointed and he wished he could be at East Lake. But he hardly was torn up over it, for one reason. "I'm the one with the green jacket," he said of winning the Masters. He also has company. British Open champion Shane Lowry didn't make it to East Lake, either. He has a claret jug at home in Ireland to console him. This is the fifth time in 13 years of the FedEx Cup that at least two major champions were not at the final event, usually with extenuating circumstances involved. Five major champions who didn't make it to East Lake were not PGA Tour members, three of them in 2010 — Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer. The last time was in 2016, when Masters champion Danny Willett and British Open champion Henrik Stenson fell short. Willett didn't become a PGA Tour member until after he won the Masters. Stenson had a knee injury he wanted to protect for the Ryder Cup and wound up playing just two playoff events. Given their stature, it would seem the majors should get more FedEx Cup points than a measly 20% bump. For example, Woods received 600 points for winning that little invitational at Augusta National. That's only 100 points more than Kevin Tway got for winning the Safeway Open. Could it be more? Sure. Does it need to be? Not necessarily. Would anyone even be talking about major champions not being at East Lake if not for Woods being one of them? Because while the PGA Tour has drastically changed its season with the FedEx Cup format, what hasn't changed is what matters — winning majors. The reward for capturing a Grand Slam event is worth far more than having a tee time at East Lake and a chance to win $15 million. Besides, it's not like Woods and Lowry didn't have the opportunity. Woods played only six times after he won the Masters — three times he failed to make the cut, the other three he was a combined 39 shots behind the leader — and finished the season with 12 events. Lowry played 14 times, a product of having only conditional status at the start of the year. He had middle-of-the-pack performances at two playoff events. He finished 57 points short of East Lake, which equates to being two shots better at Liberty National and at Medinah. "I think what it says is that it's really hard to get to Atlanta and the Tour Championship," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. "You've got to play exceedingly well over the course of an entire season. And with volatility, there's risk." The volatility refers to the playoff events offering four times as many points. If any change should be considered, perhaps triple the value would do the trick. Or the tour could double the points for the first event and triple the points for the next one. It really doesn't matter. The majors are over. Names are etched on silver trophies and in golf lore. The FedEx Cup is merely an end-of-the-year competition to keep golf compelling and to give the PGA Tour season a definitive end. It hasn't done any harm. If anything, it has kept the best players competing against each other after the majors. And they all get rich when it's over. Total bonus money for the 30 players who made it to Atlanta is $46 million. That's what they will be chasing over the next four days. Woods and Lowry now can only look behind them. The view is just as sweet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2019

A US Open, and a summer of stress for Gary Woodland

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Gary Woodland made sure plans were in place for him to leave tournaments before he even arrived. And when he did show up, just the sight of officials in a golf cart made him nervous. Most of the time, they were on their way to administer a ruling. Woodland always assumed they were coming to tell him his wife had gone into labor. It was like that for the last six weeks. So the smile that never left him Tuesday at Liberty National Golf Club had nothing to do with the $15 million prize at stake as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin. It was all about his twin daughters Maddox and Lennox born Thursday, making his best year in golf the greatest year of his life. "I feel 100 pounds lighter," Woodland said as he walked off the course during a weather delay in a practice round Tuesday for The Northern Trust. "Obviously, I had a huge win and that was great. But it's been stressful every week because every cart I see ... 'Are they coming to get me? Is Gabby going into labor?' The last month has been stressful for both of us." That huge win was the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, which was filled with plenty of tense moments. Woodland handled those with ease, no small task with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka chasing him all the way to the finish line. He drilled a 3-wood from 263 yards onto the 14th green to set up a pivotal birdie, and then turned to another high-risk shot by using a 64-degree wedge to pitch the ball off one end of the green to a pin some 90 feet away on No. 17, a shot that will take its place in U.S. Open lore. That still didn't equip him for six weeks of nerves that followed. "At Pebble, I felt in control. The last month, I've had no control," Woodland said. "That was the hardest part for Gabby and I, the uncertainty." It was at the Dell Match Play two years ago when Woodland learned that one of the twins his wife Gabby was carrying had died. Their son, Jax, was born at 30 weeks and spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. The following April, she had a miscarriage. So imagine the surprise — and trepidation — when they learned in January that she was pregnant with twins. "One, they told us she couldn't get pregnant," Woodland said. "Two, they didn't think there was any chance she'd make it to 36 weeks. That was almost as much a miracle as her getting pregnant." Her last trip was to the PGA Championship at Bethpage, where she was sick and never made it out to the golf course. She stayed up late at home in Florida to watch Woodland hold off Koepka at Pebble Beach, and she saw that rare burst of emotion when he made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th to win by three. With the silver trophy at his side that evening, Woodland thought about the next two months and said life was about to get real. The U.S. Open, his greatest achievement in golf, didn't feel real at all. Woodland went home to Florida, and soon thereafter brought his family to Kansas, where Jax had been born. He went to Topeka, Kansas, so his hometown could celebrate his U.S. Open victory with a block party. Gabby was in the hospital that day and couldn't make it. "It was awesome to win," Woodland said, "but I haven't really enjoyed it." That was a time to wait and to hope. Woodland anticipated the twins being born prematurely and having to spend a month or two in the neonatal intensive care. He tried to keep playing, and golf never felt so hard. He missed the cut in Detroit. He missed the cut in the British Open. There was no cut at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational, where Woodland failed to break par in any round and tied for 55th. "Detroit, I shouldn't have played. I wasn't ready to go and I got into bad habits," Woodland said. "The British, and even Memphis, it was like I wasn't there." He had a plane ready to go in Memphis that would have taken him the just over an hour to get to the hospital in Kansas. Woodland saw plenty of carts at that week on the golf course and held his breath as they drove past. No news was good news. The best news was four days after he got home. The twins were born Thursday, 15 seconds apart. His wife was released from the hospital on Sunday. If all goes well, the twins will be ready to come home by the end of the week. Woodland spent five hours on the range with Pete Cowen when he arrived at Liberty National — the first time in more than a month that he didn't make arrangements for a quick exit — and said Tuesday was the best he has hit the ball since he won the U.S. Open. He never looked happier. Woodland has three FedEx Cup events to play, and then he'll be home with his wife, his son, his twins, the U.S. Open trophy, everything he could want. "I can enjoy it now," he said of his major victory. "I think it will hit me more after I get home from East Lake, not having to think about the stress and everything. I'm excited to play these three weeks. I'm excited to have three kids at home.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2019

Lowry s British Open win caps off big year in majors

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Winning the British Open didn't sink in right away for Shane Lowry. It apparently didn't take long. A celebration that began on the 18th fairway of Royal Portrush extended well into the night in Dublin. The European Tour posted a video on Twitter of Lowry, still dressed in all black from his final round with his cap flipped back. He was holding the claret jug in his right hand and a beer in his left as he belted out "The Fields of Athenry," an Irish folk ballad that has become popular for Irish sports fans. About last night...@ShaneLowryGolf #TheOpen pic.twitter.com/zdXW66yetz — The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 22, 2019 It might as well have been a celebration for all the majors this year. Nothing could top Tiger Woods in the Masters, which dwarfed an otherwise four-month stretch of compelling outcomes. Brooks Koepka had a major season not seen since before Woods began having surgeries, and the run is not over. He joined Woods as the only back-to-back PGA Championship winners in stroke play. He had chances in the final hour at the Masters and U.S. Open. And he was three strokes behind going into the weekend at the British Open, where he wound up in a distant tie for fourth. Thanks to the PGA Championship moving from August to May, all Koepka has done in the last 12 months is win two majors, finish runner-up in two others and tie for fourth. Along the way, he joined some elite company. Koepka, Woods, Jordan Spieth and Jack Nicklaus are the only players to finish no worse than fourth in all four majors in the same year. "This week is disappointing, but the rest of them ... it's been great," Koepka said Sunday. "I'm not going to lie. It's been fun." Lowry and Gary Woodland were first-time major champions, making it five straight years of at least two players winning majors for the first time. Their victories were special in their own right. Already popular with his peers, Woodland won over golf fans around the world with his gracious support of Amy Bockerstette, the 20-year-old with Down syndrome who played one hole with him in the Phoenix Open pro-am and made par from a bunker on the 16th hole. She also inspired him with three words that he kept thinking about in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach: "You got this." Lowry wrote the perfect ending to the return of the British Open to Northern Ireland after 68 years. Sure, the focus of a sellout crowd at Royal Portrush was on Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke at the start. But as Lowry so beautifully and simply said when his name was on the claret jug, "Everyone knows we're all one country when it comes to golf." Woods should win anyone's award for best performance, even in the year of a World Cup when England's victory in cricket was amazing. It just doesn't seem that way. Rewind to April and find Woods trailing by two shots going into the final round of the Masters, a position from which he has never won. It had been two years since he suggested at the Champions Dinner he was done, only to fly across the Atlantic in a desperate search for help before realizing fusion surgery — the fourth procedure on his lower back — was the only route to a healthy life. Then he capped off his comeback with a flawless back nine to win a fifth green jacket and a 15th major, three short of the record set by Nicklaus. And then he took a month off and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He tied for 21st in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but only because of six birdies on his last 12 holes. He took a vacation to Thailand, spent a month away from golf and then missed the cut in the British Open. It was a reminder that while Woods is able to win on the biggest stage — none bigger than Augusta National — he also has weeks where his back or his game, and sometimes both, don't allow him to contend. "Things are different," he said before leaving Portrush. "And I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments. But there are times when I'm just not going to be there." It doesn't look great now. It will later. Golf now waits nearly nine months until the next major. The longer the year goes on, the stronger memories will be of what he did at the Masters far more than the other three. If there was disappointment, look no further than McIlroy, who finished a combined 25 shots behind in the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open, and lasted only two days at Royal Portrush. Ditto for Dustin Johnson, still stuck on one major, which stings even more considering he had a pair of runner-up finishes. A generation ago, Colin Montgomerie said it was tough to win majors because of Woods, which meant fewer opportunities for everyone else. That's truer now than it was then. Spieth has gone two years without winning anything. Justin Thomas was slowed by injury. It's tough to win. Tougher still is waiting 263 days from the end of the British Open to the start of the Masters......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2019

Lowry, Holmes share Open lead as McIlroy leaves with cheers

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Everyone in the massive grandstand rose to cheer and celebrate a bold performance by Rory McIlroy, who longed for such support and affection on his walk toward his final hole at Royal Portrush in the British Open. Except this was Friday. And now McIlroy can only watch on the weekend as one of his best friends, Shane Lowry of Ireland, goes after the claret jug. Lowry birdied four of his opening five holes on his way to a 4-under 67 and shared the 36-hole lead with J.B. Holmes, who had a 68. Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood were one shot behind. Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth were three back. That can wait. This day was all about McIlroy, who kept the sellout crowd on edge as he tried to make the cut after opening with a 79. The roars had the intensity of a final round as McIlroy ran off five birdies in seven holes to brighten a gloomy sky over the North Atlantic. Needing one last birdie, his approach took a wrong turn along the humps left of the 18th green. He made par for a 65. "It's a moment I envisaged for the last few years," McIlroy said. "It just happened two days early." He was disappointed. He was proud of his play. Mostly, though, he said he was "full of gratitude toward every single one of the people that followed me to the very end and was willing me on." "As much as I came here at the start of the week saying I wanted to do it for me, by the end of the round there today I was doing it just as much for them," he said. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won't be around, either. It was the first time in 77 majors they have played as professionals that both missed the cut in the same major. Darren Clarke, who honed his game on the Dunluce Links as a junior and now calls Portrush home, missed the cut in a most cruel fashion with a triple bogey on his final hole. And now the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951 moves on without them, still with the promise of a great show. Lowry was so nervous he was shaking on the tee when the tournament began Thursday, swept up in the emotion of an Open on the Emerald Isle, and on a course he knows. He gave fans plenty to cheer when he opened his second round with three straight birdies, added a birdie on the fifth and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to reach 10 under, making him the only player this week to reach double figures under par. The cheers were as loud as he has heard. "Just incredible," Lowry said. "You can't but smile, but can't but laugh how it is. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling getting applauded on every green, every tee box. I'm out there giving my best, trying to do my best for everyone." He three-putted the 14th, saved par on the next three holes with his deft touch around the greens, and closed with a bogey to fall back into a tie with Holmes, who played earlier in the day and was the first to post at 8-under 134. Holmes won at Riviera earlier this year, and then failed to make the cut in eight of his next 12 tournaments as he battled a two-way miss off the tee and felt so bad that he never thought he'd recover. But he did enough in Detroit three weeks ago to regain some confidence, and he has been in a groove at Portrush. "You can have that great round and that day where everything goes right. But it's nice to get two rounds in a row," Holmes said. "It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well." Fleetwood and Westwood, two Englishmen at different stages in their careers, each had a 67 and will play in the group ahead of Lowry and Holmes. Westwood is 46 and can make a case as the best active player without a major considering his status — a former No. 1 in the world and on the European Tour — and the number of near misses in the majors, such as Muirfield and Turnberry at the Open, Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open and Augusta National when Mickelson out played him in 2010. Is it too late? Westwood wasn't willing to look that far ahead. "There's too much ground to cover before Sunday night," Westwood said. "There's a long way to go in this tournament. I've never felt under that much pressure, to be honest. You lads write about it. I've always gone out and done my best. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and if it doesn't, it doesn't." The experience of winning majors was behind them. Justin Rose had a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Cameron Smith of Australia and Justin Harding of South Africa. Another shot back was a group that included Koepka, who has won three of the last six majors. He was in a tie for eighth, the 16th time in his last 17 rounds at the majors he has ended a round in the top 10. Koepka wasn't happy with much about his 2-under 69, calling it "a little bit disappointing," perhaps because he played in dry weather and only a mild wind. "But at the same time, I'm close enough where I play a good weekend, I'll be in good shape," he said. Spieth hasn't quite figured out how to get the ball in play more often — too many bunkers on Thursday, too much high grass on Friday. But that putter is not a problem, and it carried him to a collection of mid-range birdie and par putts for a 67. "I'm in contention. I feel good," Spieth said, winless since his Open title at Royal Birkdale two years ago. "I feel like if I can continue to improve each day, hit the ball better tomorrow than I did today, and better on Sunday than Saturday, then I should have a chance with how I feel on and around the greens." Graeme McDowell, born and raised in Portrush, played well enough to make the weekend. He finished with four straight pars for a 70 to make the cut on the number at 1-over 143, and felt the pressure of sticking around for the home crowd. Woods, meanwhile, began this major championship season as the Masters champion, ended it as a mystery. He missed the cut in two of the next three majors, and never seemed fully fit or engaged at the British Open. He was 3 under for his round through 11 holes with hopes of making it to the weekend, but he had no more birdies and finished with two bogeys for a 70 to miss by five shots. "I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments," Woods said, facing the reality of a 43-year-old who has gone through eight surgeries on his knee and back. "But there are times when I'm just not going to be there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Kaymer shows sign of resurgence, tied for lead at Memorial

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer is tied for the lead going into the weekend at the Memorial, and whether he wins is not what drives him. He knows his game is close enough that he can. Kaymer kept it simple Friday with birdies on all the par 5s, a tee shot to 10 feet on a dangerous right pin at the par-3 12th and a bogey on his final hole at Muirfield Village for a 4-under 68 that gave him a share of the lead with Troy Merritt (66) and Kyoung-Hoon Lee (67). They were at 9-under 135. Jordan Spieth had a 70 and was another shot behind. Tiger Woods had a chance to be a lot closer to the mix than seven shots except for the par-5 15th. He was in the shaggy rough on a hill above the green in two, and took five to get down for a double bogey. Woods had to settle for a 72. "I just wasn't able to get anything really going," Woods said. Kaymer is coming up on the five-year anniversary of his last win, and that wasn't just any victory. He demolished the field at Pinehurst No. 2 for an eight-shot victory, this coming one month after he beat the strongest and deepest field in golf at The Players Championship. And then he was gone. "I distract myself," Kaymer said. "I listen too much to other people, and also a bit of belief. Sometimes, you would think I won so many big tournaments I should have so much belief in myself that I can win any week. ... The last two years, I was just not there. I just didn't believe that I could win the tournament I'm playing." He recently got off social media because he found no value except for gossip, innuendo and otherwise useless information. He was reminded of why that was such a smart move when he stopped for coffee Tuesday morning and stood in line between a half-dozen people, all staring at their phones. "It's just distraction, stimulation for your brain, just not thinking, not being there," he said. Spieth appears to be getting closer to ending nearly two years without a victory. One day after he holed two chips and made a long eagle putt, he was in position for a low score and had to settle for a 70. "I probably shot the highest score I could have today," Spieth said, though he immediately saw one upside. His only bogey was on No. 10 when he missed a 4-foot putt. But that was only his second bogey through 36 holes. "I'd like to think I'd make as many or more birdies over the next two days," he said. "For me, it's about eliminating mistakes, and I've done a good job of that." Justin Rose made the biggest move of the way. He opened with a 75 and dropped to 4 over with a bogey on the third round. And then Rose strung together six consecutive 3s on his card, especially impressive because two of them were par 5s. He chipped in for another birdie. He wound up with a 63 and went from a weekend off to being within three shots of the lead. Woods watched the whole thing and was mostly stuck in neutral. "All of us were watching Rosie get things going on the front nine," Woods said. "I just wasn't able to make anything happen today." No shot did more damage than his 5-wood to the par-5 15th, where it sailed to the left, the one place he couldn't afford to miss. He was trying to bounce it one green and it took two tries to do that, and then he three-putted from just over 25 feet for a double bogey. "I just need a round like what Rosie played today," Woods said. At least he's still playing. Phil Mickelson started with a triple bogey and ended the back nine with a double bogey. He matched his worst score at Muirfield Village with a 79 and missed the cut. It was even more painful for Rory McIlroy, who was on the cut number (1-over 145) when his wedge to the 15th came up 5 feet short of where it needed to land and rolled off the green, down the fairway and into a light cut of rough, leading to bogey. He also missed a 4-foot par putt on the 17th, making his birdie on the 18th meaningless. Also leaving early was Justin Thomas in his first tournament since the Masters because of a bone bruise in his right wrist. He was in good shape until hitting into the water on both par 3s on the back nine, and when his hopes were gone, catching a flier out of the first cut that went off the cart path behind the 18th green and into the dining room. He left in style. For Kaymer, he can only hope this 36-hole performance is an arrival. "It's very early to think that way," he said. "But you're excited to be in position again. You work quite hard over the last few years, and you want to feel that excitement of playing one of the last groups. And who knows what happens by Sunday afternoon, if I'm still up there or not. But I'm very pleased right now that I put myself in that position. ... knowing and proving to myself that I have it in me right now. "I don't need to work on something special right now. I just need to play the game.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Brooks Koepka survives Bethpage Black to win PGA Championship - Inquirer Sports

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. His place in PGA Championship history finally secure, Brooks Koepka draped both arms around the top of the Wanamaker Trophy and let out a deep sigh. The stress was more than he want.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Tiger chases 16th major crown

The 43-year-old American, who snapped an 11-year major win drought by capturing last month’s Masters, toured the front nine at Bethpage Black in just under 2 1/2 hours ahead of Thursday’s start to the year’s second major tournament......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019

Against backdrop of controversy, Red Sox honored by Trump

By Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump honored the World Series champion Boston Red Sox — well, some of them — at the White House on Thursday, but made no mention of the controversy that shadowed the visit. The team's manager, Alex Cora, did not attend the ceremony after citing his frustration with the administration's efforts to help his native Puerto Rico recover from a devastating hurricane. And nearly a dozen members of the team, all players of color, skipped the opportunity to shake Trump's hand. Meanwhile, every white player on the team — as well as outfielder J.D. Martinez, who is of Cuban descent — attended. The Red Sox repeatedly denied that there was any sort of racial divide caused by the White House visit, which has been transformed from moment of celebratory ritual to hyper-politicized event under Trump. And there was no sign of discord during the rained-upon ceremony on the White House South Lawn. The U.S. Marine Corps band played versions of "Dirty Water" and "Sweet Caroline," two unofficial Red Sox anthems. A derogatory shout about the Red Sox rival, the New Yankees, was heard. Trump was presented with a Red Sox jersey with No. 18 on the back. The day was not without mishaps: The White House first incorrectly labeled the team as the "Red Socks" on its website and then later, in an email, dubbed them the champions of something called the "World Cup Series." But Trump himself stuck to the correct script, honoring the team's dominant run to the title. "Frankly, they were unstoppable. I watched," said Trump, who noted that the squad had now won more World Series titles than any other franchise this century. He laughed when Martinez teased him for being a Yankees fan. The president was accompanied by two of the team's stars, Martinez and pitcher Chris Sale, from the Oval Office and joined the rest of the team assembled under the South Portico. The team's third base coach, Carlos Febles, who is from the Dominican Republic, stood two rows behind the president. And dozens of administration officials and members of government, many of whom hail from the six New England states, stood on the lawn to cheer. Tom Werner, the team's chairman, downplayed the no-shows, saying that it was each player's personal decision whether to attend. "We don't see it as a racial divide," he said after the team received a post-ceremony tour of the Lincoln Bedroom. "I think, to the extent that we can, baseball is apolitical." A championship team's coach rarely, if ever, misses the White House visit, a tradition that began in earnest in 1924 when then-President Calvin Coolidge invited the Washington Senators. Cora had considered attending Thursday's White House event to call attention to the plight of those in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria is estimated to have caused nearly 3,000 deaths. But in the end, he opted not to go. "Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting," Cora said in a statement. "Some people still lack basic necessities, others remain without electricity and many homes and schools are in pretty bad shape almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck. I've used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten, and my absence is no different. As such, at this moment, I don't feel comfortable celebrating in the White House." Before the visit, Trump defended his stance on Puerto Rico, falsely asserting once again that the territory received $91 billion in hurricane relief money, which he claimed was "the largest amount of money ever given to any state." In fact, Congress has allocated Puerto Rico just a fraction of that figure. The White House has said Trump's $91 billion estimate includes about $50 billion in speculated future disaster disbursements that could span decades, along with $41 billion already approved. Actual aid to Puerto Rico has flowed more slowly from federal coffers, with about $11 billion given so far. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cost the U.S government more than $120 billion — the bulk of it going to Louisiana. Trump nonetheless told reporters, "the people of Puerto Rico should really like President Trump." Those around the Red Sox locker room stressed that a player's decision to attend was a personal choice and not, in many cases, political. "Politically, it didn't matter who was in the White House. If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I'm going to go," relief pitcher Heath Hembree said Wednesday. "Nobody tried to persuade me. They have their reasons why not to go." For some players, it may be their only chance for a White House invite. It also reflects a larger trend across baseball: A number of players hail from Trump-friendly states like Texas and Florida, while the sport has also seen a surge in Latino players and a decline in African Americans. Having also won World Series titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the Red Sox — who also visited wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Thursday — have been honored at the White House under both Republican and Democratic presidents. But the events have taken on sharp political overtones since Trump took office. When the New England Patriots visited in 2017, Trump's first year in office, far fewer players attended than when the franchise won a title under President Barack Obama. After several players on the Philadelphia Eagles and Golden State Warriors publicly declared that they would skip White House ceremonies, Trump disinvited the teams. Trump has also instituted a new tradition for the ceremonies, scrapping gourmet meals in favor of offering plates of fast food to the athletes. The Red Sox were not at the White House for a meal, Werner said. Moreover, the optics of the Red Sox visit are certain to receive additional scrutiny due to the history of racially charged moments for both the team and the city it calls home. The Red Sox, infamously, held a failed tryout for Jackie Robinson before he broke the sport's color barrier. They were the last team in the major leagues to integrate. And an Elks Club in the team's former spring training home of Winter Haven, Florida, invited only white players to events, a practice that stopped only in the 1980s, when black players complained ___ Associated Press writers Kevin Freking in Washington, Jimmy Golen in Boston and David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

Rose, Johnson try to make up ground on Thomas

 DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer HONOLULU (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and Zach Johnson did their parts to stay in the game Friday at the Sony Open. Then it was up to Justin Thomas. Johnson birdied his last three holes for a 9-under 61, and Rose shot a 64. They joined Hudson Swafford (68) at 10-under 130. That allowed them to get within one shot of Thomas, who played Friday afternoon after opening with a 59. br /> 'Today was an important round to keep pace with them and obviously Justin Thomas, I also anticipate him playing well,' Rose said. 'It's about consistently playing well the whole week and waiting for your hot round.' br /> The conditions were so pure again — fast fairway, soft green and barely enough wind to blow a palm frond — that Rose isn't sure his 64 will be his best this week.' br /> Johnson, who has posted a 60 at the Tour Championship and at the Texas Open, holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 18th as he made the turn, and he closed with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7, a birdie from 6 feet on No. 8 and a two-putt birdie from 30 feet on the par-5 ninth. br /> 'There wasn't any major stress,' Johnson said. br /> Swafford, who opened with a 62, could only manage a 68. br /> Webb Simpson (65) and Charles Howell III (66) were among those at 9-under 131, while the group at 132 included former Navy lieutenant Billy Hurley III (68) and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, who had his best year in 2016 on the Asian Tour. br /> Thomas posted the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday with a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole. The only other player to shoot 59 in the first round was Paul Goydos in the 2010 John Deere Classic. He finished second that week to Steve Stricker, who opened with a 60. br /> Rose knows the feeling of a hot start. br /> Just over 10 years ago, he flirted with a 59 on the Palm course at Disney and settled for a 60. He was just as good the next day, but only for a short time, and had to settle for a 67. On the weekend, rounds of 72-69 left him in fourth place, five shots behind the winner, Joe Durant. br /> The message from that: It's a long week. br /> 'I think I started strong the second day ... and then yeah, stalled a bit,' Rose said. 'The rest of the field is going to keep making birdies, especially when they're playing free with nothing to lose when you are up ahead of them. You definitely need the mindset when you're that far ahead to keep the accelerator down. But it's hard to keep that sort of momentum going, for sure.' br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017