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Forward Connor Bedard to be first exceptional status player in WHL – Sportsnet.ca

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For the first time in WHL history, a player has been granted exceptional player status.

Connor Bedard, a 14-year-old North Vancouver native, was granted the status Tuesday after a review by BC Hockey and Hockey Canada and is eligible to play in the WHL next season.

“BC Hockey would like to congratulate Connor on being announced as the first player from Western Canada to be granted exceptional status in the CHL and WHL,” said BC Hockey Chief Executive Officer Barry Petrachenko in a statement. “Throughout the evaluation process, Connor has displayed the tremendous potential he has both mentally and physically to be able to be granted exceptional status.”

Bedard is a five-foot-eight, 165-pound forward who played on the West Vancouver Academy’s U18 team last season, scoring 43 goals and 84 points in 36 Canadian Sports School Hockey League game. He turns 15 in July.

Exceptional player status has been granted five times in the OHL (John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Shane Wright) and once in the QMJHL (Joe Veleno). According to a statement from the WHL, the status is awarded based on more than just on-ice ability and that Bedard’s “hockey skills, academic ability, and his mental and physical maturity,” were all considered in the evaluation.

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MCCARTHY: DeChambeau wins golf tournament, loses personality contest – Toronto Sun

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If you’re going to be the story of the week whether you win or lose, you might as well win.

Bryson DeChambeau capped off his hot PGA Tour restart with a victory on Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

The game’s biggest hitter was also the top putter of the week at Detroit Golf Club, an unbeatable combo that was good for a 23-under-par total, and a three-shot victory over runner-up Matthew Wolff.

“It’s really exciting to be able to get the job done here and it’s a lot of momentum for the majors,” DeChambeau said. “I feel like it’s a good test run for me hitting drives in some tight areas.”

The 26-year-old American has been the top story in golf since coming back from the 91-day COVID-19 shutdown. He hasn’t finished outside the top-10 in any of the four tournaments since the restart, but it’s his outrageously long drives and incredible physical transformation that have him dominating headlines. DeChambeau averaged 350.6 yards off the tee this week, a PGA Tour record. On the 17th hole on Sunday, he hit a 230-yard 8-iron into the green.

His seven-under 65 on Sunday was the low round of the day, and the win is his sixth on the PGA Tour.

“This is a little emotional for me because I did do something a little different, I changed my body, changed my mindset in the game and I was able to accomplish a win while playing a completely different style of golf,” he said. “And it’s pretty amazing to see that and I hope it’s an inspiration to a lot of people that if they set their mind to it, you can accomplish it.”

DeChambeau’s daily workout regimen is available for the world to see on Instagram. He gained 20 pounds of muscle during the tour’s three-month break apparently by lifting and eating everything in sight.

DeChambeau began the final round three shots behind Wolff, who is a 21-year-old star-in-the-making, and already a winner on tour. Wolff’s lead didn’t last long though as he bogeyed the first hole and DeChambeau — playing one group ahead of Wolff — birdied three of his first four holes to overtake him.

“How I started off the day, I feel like I was letting things get to me a little more than I had at the beginning of the week, just little bad breaks, bad shots, stuff like that,” Wolff said. “Next time I’m in this position I feel like I’ll be a lot more comfortable.”

DeChambeau nearly made things interesting on the par-5 14th hole when his sideways pitch-out from the trees ran through the fairway and into a rocky water hazard. He made bogey and his lead was cut to two. But Wolff was unable to capitalize on the par-5, making a par after his second shot bounced into the green-side rough. Wolff shot a disappointing one-under 71 on Sunday to finish at 20-under.

Kevin Kisner finished in third place at 18 under.

It was a great finish for Adam Hadwin who shot a five-under 67 in the final round. The Canadian eagled the 17th hole and birdied the last to get to 16-under par and jump into a tie for fourth with Danny Willett, Ryan Armour and Tyrrell Hatton.

With Nick Taylor’s win at Pebble Beach in February, Canadians now have a win and seven top-6 finishes this season on the PGA Tour.

ONCE UPON A TIME

Let’s start by saying I never liked science class. Perhaps that’s why right from the beginning I had an inkling that Professor DeChambeau was going to be, well, a bit of a handful on the PGA Tour.

Turns out, unlike in high school, I was ahead of the curve this time.

DeChambeau found himself trending on social media for the wrong reasons after an unpleasant exchange on Saturday with a cameraman when he hit a poor sand shot and felt the camera lens followed him too long. It wasn’t the exchange that got him in trouble, rather his self-absorbed defence of it afterwards.

“I understand that it’s his job to video me, but at the same point, I think we need to start protecting our players out here compared to showing a potential vulnerability and hurting someone’s image,” he said Saturday. “I just don’t think that’s necessarily the right thing to do. Not that I was going to do anything bad, it’s just one of those things that I hope he respects my privacy.”

There’s a lot to unpack there. First, it’s not a CBS cameraman’s job to protect DeChambeau’s image, and second, the last place a golfer should expect privacy is inside the ropes during a tournament.

He wasn’t done there though.

“For that to damage our brand like that, that’s not cool in the way we act because if you actually meet me in person, I’m not too bad of a dude, I don’t think,” DeChambeau said.

Not too bad of a dude, I don’t think.

Put that one on a shirt.

The game’s hottest player of 2020 began his professional career in April 2016, one week after playing in the Masters as an amateur. That week at Augusta National everyone was swooning over DeChambeau. He was so smart, and so different, they said. He was a Ben Hogan-hat-wearing raconteur amateur who could sign his name backwards from right to left, and tested golf balls by submerging them in epsom salt.

What’s not to like? The stories basically wrote themselves.

Except, I didn’t buy it.

Instead I looked around the media room, ducked, and wrote a column titled, “Bryson DeChambeau is golf’s most interesting (and annoying) man”. Where everyone else saw his personality as a shot-in-the-arm for a stuffy sport, I saw a know-it-all with a prematurely inflated sense of self.

I wrote at the time: “Even though he says his idol is Albert Einstein, his real idol seems to be Bryson DeChambeau.”

My main concern was that if an amateur could sit at the Masters and not seem the least bit humbled, what would the future hold?

More from 2016: “Now, there’s nothing wrong with being cocky and many of the best golfers are. Thing is, very few athletes get less pleased with themselves when the fame and money and success start coming. So watch out.”

I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

Four years ago his talent, drive, and commitment to his craft was obvious, but so was his polarizing personality. Now that he’s one of the top players in the game, not much has changed, except now he’s the one under the microscope.

CHIP SHOTS

With no grandstands or fans at tournaments during the restart, watching players have to chip over the cart path back to the green is perhaps the only good thing about 2020 so far … The next two weeks on the PGA Tour are going to be played at one golf course. Muirfield Village stepped forward to host the one-off Workday Charity Open after the John Deere Classic was cancelled. The following week Muirfield Village and Jack Nicklaus will host The Memorial. It will be an interesting lesson in course setup as the next week’s event will feature lower rough and slower greens before the course gets “Jacked” up for Memorial. Should be fun.

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Hamilton regrets being ‘silenced’ on taking a knee in the past

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By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) – Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has said he was “silenced” earlier in his Formula One career over his plans to protest racism by taking a knee.

The Mercedes driver was one of 14 who knelt before Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Afterwards Hamilton spoke of a discussion he had years ago with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protests in 2016 became a symbol of the fight against racial injustice.

“He sat down for the national anthem and got a lot of backlash … I thought that was a really powerful statement that he made and he lost his job,” said the Briton.

“I had actually spoken to him a couple of years ago shortly after that for the U.S. Grand Prix and I had a helmet and everything made in red with his number on the top.

“But back then I was kind of silenced, I was told to kind of back down, don’t support it. Which I will say that I regret. So it was important for me to make sure that during this period of time I did my part.”

Formula One’s only Black driver did not say who had told him not to kneel.

Hamilton wore a different T-shirt to the other 20 drivers on Sunday, his reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the front instead of ‘End Racism’. He said he had yet to decide what to do for future races.

“Whether that’s continuing to take the knee, I don’t know there’s going to be opportunities to do that. I definitely don’t want to do it on national anthems,” he said.

The 35-year-old recently took part in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march in London but said he was supporting racial equality rather than taking any political stance.

“When I wear the shirt and when I speak out, that’s what I’m supporting. I’m not supporting necessarily the political movements,” he added.

Hamilton, whose car has changed from silver to black for the season, said he would continue to speak out.

“There has been awareness for a few weeks and what we don’t need is for it to die a silent death and disappear and see no change,” he said. “I could be the guinea pig there. I’ve got to keep speaking out.”

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Like him or not, agree with him or not, Bryson DeChambeau is proving himself right – Golf Channel

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DETROIT – Things came full circle for both Bryson DeChambeau and his brand on the seventh green at Detroit Golf Club.

It was there during Saturday’s third round, at one of the farthest outposts of a Rocket Mortgage Classic that was already devoid of fans, where DeChambeau lost his cool. He lashed out at the sand after a poor shot, then confronted a cameraman for what he perceived as overly prying coverage.

The Tour’s bulkiest star admitted the sand swipe was “dumb,” but the comments he made in an effort to explain himself only made things worse: that the camera lens should deflect when players face a “potential vulnerability” and defer to a star’s right to “privacy” even when inside the ropes.

Bryson DeChambeau got into an exchange of words with a cameraman during Saturday’s third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Those comments only intensified the flood of online opinions centered around the 26-year-old, with many noting a jarring juxtaposition: that a player who released a 15-minute hype video detailing his body transformation last month would play the privacy card the moment he’s caught in an unflattering light.

And that’s a shame, because the on-course DeChambeau brand was floating by just fine on its own merits before the man himself poured gas on an unlit fire and reached for a match.

Outside of the Tour’s efforts to cope with an ongoing pandemic, DeChambeau has been the single biggest story in the sport since competition resumed last month. Hours of programming, interviews and commentary have been devoted to his head-turning transformation and prodigious gains off the tee.

And that was all before he arrived in Detroit, put some extra muscle behind a closing 65 and left the field in the dust for his first win in 20 months. Those powers were on full display on the par-5 seventh, back at the site of his earlier blow-up, where this time around he launched a 366-yard drive that came to rest in the middle of the fairway. From there it was a smooth 8-iron into the green and a two-putt birdie, a shining example of the gains possible when playing by rules that only he can currently follow.

After starting the day three shots behind Matthew Wolff, DeChambeau was suddenly three clear of the field before making the turn. And while things got a little interesting down the stretch, it was a lead he never relinquished.

With a final-round 65, Bryson DeChambeau quickly overcame early deficit and then ran away to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three over Matthew Wolff.

“This is a little emotional for me, because I did do something different,” DeChambeau said. “I changed my body, changed my mindset in the game, and I was able to accomplish a win while playing a completely different style of golf. And it’s pretty amazing to see that.”

In a game that can often skew toward homogeneity, DeChambeau stands out. From the single-length irons to a single-plane swing and now a singular focus on getting bigger and longer, everything about him is different – and often polarizing. He has recently become more vocal about a mindset he first adopted as a teenager, which is to “be the casino,” since the house always wins. To that end, he’s looking to parse every possible advantage in a game where each player starts the week with the same score from the same teeing ground.

“I think the most important thing is that I’ve shown people that there’s another way to do it, and there’s going to be other people trying to come up and do it that way,” DeChambeau said. “For me, I think there are going to be people trying to hit it a little harder, some of them, but at the end of the day, it’s going to take a generation for all this to evolve into something different.”


DeChambeau on Rocket Mortgage win: ‘It’s vindicating’

DeChambeau on Rocket Mortgage win: 'It's vindicating'

While his pursuit of perfection may never end, this week’s assault on Detroit GC came pretty close. DeChambeau opened the week by apologizing to late course architect Donald Ross for his planned aerial assault that would take many of the bunkers and much of the other trouble out of play. He followed up by leading the field in driving distance (350.6 yards on measured holes, 329.8 on all tee shots) and strokes gained: off-the-tee. But he also led in strokes gained: putting, the first player in the ShotLink era to top the field in both categories en route to victory. Given that statistical edge on both sides of the stat line, his three-shot cushion over Wolff almost seems smaller than expected.

“It shows me how much time he has on his hands. He needs kids or something,” said Kevin Kisner, who finished alone in third place at 18 under. “It’s amazing that he’s that dedicated to the sport that he’s going to put that much time and effort into being a consummate professional, really. I mean, he’s changed the entire way the game’s played.”

DeChambeau isn’t a conformist. He’s not going to adjust to the mores that have governed the game for hundreds of years. He’ll continue to swim upstream one technical innovation at a time, attracting a wide range of opinions on his tactics and philosophies, and likely won’t reach the levels of universal adulation achieved by some of his peers.


Begay on Bryson the ‘innovator’: He’s not afraid to challenge status quo

Begay on Bryson the 'innovator': He's not afraid to challenge status quo

Begay on Bryson the ‘innovator’: He’s not afraid to challenge status quo

“I will say for the people at home, no matter how much you want to say about me, I love everyone,” he said. “I hope everybody just appreciates the hard work I’ve put in.”

What he is, though, is the undisputed hottest player in the game. He’s long and straight and seemingly only getting longer and straighter, leaving him with fewer aspects in need of fine-tuning to put up a performance like this week’s Motor City romp. He’s a deserved betting co-favorite for next month’s PGA Championship, and he’s in the process of reinventing the blueprint for how to dissect each and every Tour venue he faces.

Sunday was a good day for Bryson, both the player and the brand. And there will be many more in the near future as the game’s foremost innovator continues to hone his protein-infused craft.

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