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A season unlike any other comes to a thrilling conclusion at the TOUR Championship

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The PGA TOUR’s Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards are
up for grabs, as well. Those races are still too close to call. Like the
FedExCup, they could come down to the final putt at Atlanta’s East Lake
Golf Club.

The rookie race comes down to Scottie Scheffler and
Viktor Hovland. Scheffler could be the second consecutive player to win
the Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year and PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year
awards in consecutive years. Sungjae Im did it last year. Before him,
only one player, Stewart Cink, had accomplished that feat.

Scheffler,
who’s 17th in the FedExCup, finished fourth in both a FedExCup Playoffs
event (THE NORTHERN TRUST) and a major (PGA Championship). He also had
two third-place finishes this season, and shot a 59.

Viktor
Hovland, on the other hand, has something Scheffler does not: a win.
Hovland’s came at the Puerto Rico Open. He also finished third in the
Workday Charity Open and ranks 27th in the FedExCup. He probably needs
to surpass Scheffler this week to have a chance at taking home top
rookie honors.

The race for Player of the Year is much more wide open.

At
least one-fifth of the TOUR Championship field has a chance at the
Player of the Year trophy, which is voted on by the players. Justin
Thomas leads the TOUR with three wins this season, including the World
Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Another five players
have won twice this season (strangely, we’ve seen more multiple winners
in this shortened season than we did last season). Any of those two-time
winners can lay claim to the Player of the Year Award if they win the
FedExCup. Not only would the TOUR Championship be their third win of the
year, but it would come with the prize of the FedExCup, which awards
season-long excellence.

The group of players with two wins
includes Johnson, Rahm, who has conquered two of the four hardest
courses this season (Muirfield Village, Olympia fields); Webb Simpson, a
medium-length driver thriving in an era of long hitters; Brendon Todd,
whose comeback from oblivion would undoubtedly garner votes from his
peers; and Morikawa, who was beat out by Matthew Wolff for college
golf’s top awards in 2019 but could be PGA TOUR Player of the Year a
year later.

Morikawa starts the first round at East Lake five
strokes behind Johnson. It’s the same position in which McIlroy started
before winning last year’s TOUR Championship and FedExCup.

This
is the second year of the TOUR Champioship’s staggered start. Johnson,
the FedExCup leader, starts at 10 under. Rahm is 8 under. And players
farther down the FedExCup standings will start farther behind Johnson.
Then, come Monday, the final leaderboard also represents the final
FedExCup standings.

One scoreboard. One championship. One trophy.

The
unique format plays mind tricks on the world’s best players, disrupting
their routines and throwing them out of their comfort zones.

Many
would consider the two-shot lead an advantage, but it’s not that easy.
At most tournaments, a player doesn’t hold a lead until Thursday night.
Johnson has been leading the TOUR Championship since he left Olympia
Fields on Sunday night. That wears on a player.

“You essentially
have the pressure of the FedExCup on your shoulders four days in a row,
even though you still need to play really good golf for four rounds,”
Rahm said. “It’s in your mind. Right? We’re constantly getting reminded,
you’re No. 1, you’re No. 2, or your No. 3. I think if you’re behind it
almost helps just because you already know where the leader is at.”

Thomas,
who’d won the FedExCup just two years earlier, arrived at last year’s
TOUR Championship in the pole position of the FedExCup. He couldn’t
maintain the advantage, though, eventually finishing five behind McIlroy
(even with the starting advantage).

“It was weird. Nobody in
golf can say that they have ever teed up on Thursday with a two-shot
lead and leading the entire field, so I (didn’t) know how to react, and
nobody really would,” Thomas said recently. “But I feel like I didn’t
handle it as well as I should have.”

Whoever handles it the best
this week can lay claim to being the best player in a PGA TOUR season
unlike any other. That’s a prize worth fighting for.

Source: – pgatour.com

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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, ‘inching closer,’ takes part in morning skate – Sportsnet.ca

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Limited to a single goal in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Final series, it remains to be seen whether the Tampa Bay Lightning could get some offensive reinforcements before they take the ice for Game 2 on Monday night.

On Sunday, after the Bolts fell 4-1 to the Dallas Stars in the first match of the post-season’s final stretch, head coach Jon Cooper said captain Steven Stamkos is “inching closer” to a return.

Monday morning, the captain was once again out with his team for a morning skate.

“You don’t get this many chances to be where we are and he wants to be a part of it, which he has,” Cooper said Sunday. “He’s collectively helped the group on the mental side of things, but he wants to be part of it on the ice as well. We’re not sure when that’ll be. We’re hopeful he’ll come back at some point in this series, but there’s no way we can tag that. When he’s not on the ice, he’s been an influential leader off the ice.

“I guess there’s always a chance [he plays in Game 2], but as of now, I don’t think so. You’ll have to tune in and find out.”

Stamkos has yet to play in the 2020 post-season, suffering an injury before the club reconvened from the season pause to begin training. The centreman’s last appearance game came back in late February — his exit from that Feb. 25 tilt ending a 15-game, 22-point scoring streak.

Cooper noted Sunday that the club would prefer Stamkos be up to speed before making a potential return.

“If [he does return], you have to make sure the player’s conditioned enough,” Cooper said. “You need guys to be able to contribute. He wouldn’t want that, either. Nobody wants to go into a game and sit on the bench the whole time. You have to be ready to play minutes and contribute. But we have a full medical staff, and Steven will be the first to tell you if he can go or not. If that time comes, he’ll be put in to play, not just sit on the bench.”

While Stamkos has skated with the team during optional practices and morning skates as of late, his work with the other scratches Monday suggested Game 2 still may be too soon for a return.

Watch Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN NOW.

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Canadian athletes support protest at Olympics 'in certain situations' – CBC.ca

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Canadian athletes took the middle ground in their statement on the International Olympic Committee’s anti-protest rule on Monday.

The Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), with support from the national committee, put forward seven suggestions to Rule 50 that states “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

The Canadian athletes suggested the addition of neutral protected spaces at the Games for peaceful demonstrations that don’t interfere with the competition.

They also suggested clear guidelines be established for what constitutes demonstration, protest and propaganda, as well as provisions for what are considered acceptable actions.

Oluseyi Smith, two-time Olympian and COC AC chair, said the consensus showed a desire for protests not to interfere with competition on the field of play. There was little agreement, however, about demonstrations on the podium or at the opening and closing ceremonies.

“Athletes agree that the games have to remain for sport while at the same time giving an opportunity for athletes who have earned their right to speak — to champion things which are important to them while the world’s watching,” Smith said.

The rule was made stricter in January when the IOC reduced the number of spaces at which it would allow the athletes to protest.

WATCH | CBC Sports panel on Rule 50 recommendations:

The COC Athletes’ Commission has presented 7 recommendations in regards to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. 17:20

Those changes came under fire following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May that prompted worldwide protests against racial injustice, including among professional athletes.

Smith and fellow Canadian athletes like sprinter Aaron Brown, wrestler Jasmine Mian and decathlete Damian Warner all made reference to the NBA’s efforts to promote racial justice in the wake of the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake.

“This is really just a discussion of, ‘Is this place for sport, or is this a place to champion what we hold dear?’ And I really believe we can have our cake and eat it, too. I think we can go out there and be the best athletes we can [be],” said Smith. “But also bring attention to topics that are important to us as individuals but also to us a nation just like the NBA has done around Black Lives Matter.”

Recommendations weaker than U.S. statement

The Canadians’ recommendations were weaker than the U.S. statement on the matter, which called for the abolition of the rule entirely and was backed by pioneers John Carlos and Tommie Smith, renowned for raising their fists on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in protest of racial inequality.

Mian, 30, competed at the 2016 Olympics and graduated from the school of public policy in Calgary. In July, Mian wrote for CBC News that abolishing Rule 50 could do more harm than good.

She suggested that threatening a boycott would be more effective than simple acts at the Games.

WATCH | Sprinter Aaron Brown says recommendations don’t go far enough:

CBC’s Scott Russell spoke with Canadian Olympic sprinter Aaron Brown about Rule 50, that bars protesting at the Olympic Games. 5:14

“I think it would be incredibly powerful if we came together as a collective and said, ‘Look, we’re not going to go do Tokyo next year until and unless the government is willing to make progress on certain policy issues that we have at home or that exist internationally,'” said Mian. 

“I think waiting to talk about this on the Olympic podium actually misses our opportunity to do true activism.”

Once the Games begin, Mian said athletes lose their negotiating power and protests becomes less effective.

“There are aspects of the Olympic movement and aspects of neutrality that are worth preserving, and I think that we have to have a more nuanced conversation about what is the middle ground between having complete autonomy to say whatever you want and being able to say nothing at all,” Mian said.

Brown, 28, also competed in Rio. The sprinter said Rule 50 goes against the values of the Olympic movement, quoting the charter as saying to play “sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

“When you have a rule in place that prevents you from doing that and restricts you in certain elements, I just think that it goes against the spirit of what it’s supposed to stand for,” said Brown.

The Toronto native said Olympic athletes should use the attention of the Games to their advantage.

“If they’re going to be leaders on the field or in the court of play, why not be leaders off of it? They can exact change and shine light on injustices that are happening around the world,” said Brown.

Warner, a 30-year-old London, Ont., native, agreed that athletes should use the Olympic platform.

“In certain situations where your voice is more powerful than your legs or your throwing arm, I think you should be able to speak your mind or talk about the things that have plagued you and your communities,” Warner said.

WATCH | Damian Warner slams IOC protest rule:

Canadian decathlete Damian Warner had strong words for the IOC, calling their stance on athletes protesting ‘unfortunate’ and said they are on the ‘wrong side of history.’ 0:50

Consequences for breaking new rule

One other issue considered by the Canadian athletes was that of consequences for breaking their proposed new rule. Mian said governments interfering with individual athletes’ right to protest is a potential negative outcome from the complete abolition of Rule 50.

“Even if we gave athletes from all around the world the same rights to protest on the podium, the consequences for them in their home country are going to be very different, and I think that that’s a real concern,” she said.

To that end, the COC AC recommended establishing clear consequences and “degrees of violation” for athletes who break the rule.

Rule 50 also includes language banning the commercialization of the Olympics through athlete advertising, which the Canadian athletes recommended be separated from protest guidelines.

The athletes’ commission said it only made recommendations that were supported by a clear majority of its members, following a process including public seminars, one-on-ones with individual athletes and an open Q&A.

Below are the COC AC’s full recommendations to amend Rule 50:

  • Establish two separate rules when expressing views: one regarding expressions through commercial matters such as emblems, advertising and commercial installations and the other, regarding demonstrations, protests and propaganda.
  • Clearly define the terms used within Rule 50 including what constitutes a demonstration or protest or propaganda.
  • Establish provisions for what is viewed as an acceptable demonstration based on the values and principles of Olympism.
  • Establish clear parameters for an acceptable demonstration that is peaceful and respectful of other athletes and countries.
  • Maintain and/or establish neutral or protected spaces that allow for a peaceful demonstration that do not interfere with competition.
  • Clearly define and outline the consequences and the “degrees of violation” around demonstration, protest and propaganda.
  • Explore other opportunities to meaningfully celebrate unity and inclusion by taking a stand against racism and discrimination.

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Cam takes blame for failed SNF final play: 'Just thinking too much' – theScore

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Cam Newton looked like his old MVP self for most of the New England Patriots‘ Sunday night shootout with the Seattle Seahawks, but the quarterback came up short during the game’s biggest play.

After running for his second 1-yard touchdown of the contest to bring New England within one score with 2:16 remaining, Newton again advanced his new team to the goal line, this time with three seconds left.

But Seattle was ready for Newton’s run. The defense swarmed to stuff the quarterback and seal the 35-30 victory.

“I just didn’t make everybody right and that’s the only thing I regret,” Newton said after the game, according to USA Today’s Mark Daniels. “In that type of situation, it’s humbling to be able to have the respect of a team to have the ball in my hands. I just have to deliver. I saw a clip of it; I could’ve made it right by just bouncing it (outside). I was just trying to be patient. Just thinking too much, man. Or even just diving over the top. There’s so many things that flashed over me.

“Playing a fast defense like that, as soon as you guess, you’re wrong. I’ll definitely learn from this. The play was there. The play was there all game.”

Newton couldn’t finish the job, but the 31-year-old arguably produced one of his best career performances.

In addition to the two short touchdown scampers, Newton finished with 397 passing yards – his highest total since 2011 – and one passing touchdown against one interception. He also added a team-high 47 yards on the ground.

Russell Wilson ultimately outgunned Newton, pushing himself to the front of the early MVP race with a five-touchdown outing.

While New England sent a clear message to the rest of the league that it can contend without Tom Brady and a host of key defenders who departed this offseason, Newton isn’t satisfied with a moral victory.

“It’s many ways you can win in this game. We don’t want to become one-dimensional,” Newton said. “We had our opportunities. Just moving forward, we have a lot of things about being optimistic about but yet, we still have to get better.

“The reason why you play this game is for (one) stat and one stat only. We didn’t get that statistic today and that’s the win. For us, this is a disgusting taste in my mouth. I’ve just got to grow and get better in this offense and hopefully have a better result next week.”

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