MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Maybe it was just happenstance, but given the narrative in golf at the moment, USGA CEO Mike Davis probably had more than a passing interest in the group teeing off Winged Foot’s first hole just past lunch on Monday.
The threesome included this week’s defending champion, Gary Woodland, and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Oh, and those two have also been known to launch a drive or two, so that probably factored into Davis being perched just left of the tee when the duo took flight.
Every major championship in recent years has felt like an unflinching staring contest between the game’s best players and the rules makers who appear to be growing increasingly weary of ever-increasing driving distances.
Winged Foot is a major championship blue blood and a chance for the USGA to subdue the distance debate by keeping the game’s best and brightest on their toes and somewhere around par.
The winners of the five U.S. Opens played at Winged Foot are a combined 16 over par, including Geoff Ogilvy’s winning 5-over total at the last national championship played on the West Course in 2006.
In the decade and a half that’s passed since that championship, the PGA Tour driving average has increased nearly 7 yards. To counter that, the USGA tacked on an extra 213 yards for this year’s championship that will be played at an eye-catching 7,477 yards (par 70).
“It’s long,” a wide-eyed Patrick Reed said of the course on Monday.
The USGA flipped par at Nos. 5 and 9 for this year’s championship. The ninth, which played as a 514-yard par 4 in ’06, will be a 565-yard par 5 this week, and the fifth, a 515-yard par 5 last time, will be a 467-yard par 4. There have been significant increases at Nos. 2 (30 yards), 3 (27), 8 (15), 10 (26), 17 (55) and 18 (19) for this edition.
Some of what awaits is dependent on the forecast. Reed, for example, hadn’t played on Monday and had only experienced the course with Sunday’s south wind. Rory McIlroy played nine holes early Monday with a north wind and had a much different take.
“It’s not that bad, actually. I had a couple 8-, 9-irons into some holes,” he said.
When it comes to set up, for the USGA, less should be more. If Winged Foot is simply allowed to be Winged Foot, with no tricks or gimmicks, it’s a product that more often than not challenges the world’s best while simultaneously evoking begrudging respect.
“It’s exactly what I thought it was and it’s why I loved it, because it was exactly what I’ve always seen from U.S. Opens and what I expected,” said Billy Horschel, who played in the ’06 Open as a 19-year-old amateur. “It’s going to be a fun week.”
Fun is probably not going to be the way most remember a 7,477-yard behemoth, lined with the thickest rough players have seen in more than a year, but it is the best way to quiet the ongoing distance debate for at least a few weeks.
Lightning not reaching for easy excuses after Game 1 letdown – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — The evidence that the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to make this an interesting Stanley Cup Final can’t be found as much in what they did as what they didn’t do.
Namely, they didn’t seize on any of the excuses easily on offer after a 4-1 loss here to the Dallas Stars in Game 1.
The most clear example came on the Jamie Oleksiak goal that stood up as the winner. The puck was clearly fired into the Tampa zone from the wrong side of centre ice by Miro Heiskanen, which was accompanied by an animated response from the Lightning bench in real time.
Yet, by the time everyone had a chance to double-check the receipts, a collective set of amnesia had taken hold.
“I didn’t really see it,” said Tyler Johnson.
“I didn’t look at the play,” said Yanni Gourde. “I don’t know.”
“To be honest, I can’t really remember the play,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “Sorry, me either.”
As dull as those quotes might read in print, that’s exactly the response a team needs following an emotional loss. The Lightning had a built-in explanation for why this game might not have turned out in their favour, but the true reason for a 1-0 series deficit was found more in the slow start and a strong goaltending performance by Anton Khudobin than anything else.
Tampa didn’t respond particularly well to the 48-hour turnaround after winning the Eastern Conference Final and couldn’t reverse a 3-1 deficit even while outshooting Dallas 22-2 in the third period.
The Oleksiak goal was a back-breaker. The lineseman didn’t raise his arm for icing when Heiskanen fired the puck in from the wrong side of centre, which is almost certainly why Victor Hedman never got below the faceoff dot to get the puck there.
“Well you wouldn’t be asking the question if you didn’t think the same that we may have thought. But it’s a moot point now. So you can’t go back and change the call,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
They also couldn’t go back and find more purpose in the opening minutes. Dallas dictated the pace, grabbed an early lead and parked the bus.
That raised some questions about a Lightning team that has given up the first goal in six straight games. However, they’ve responded with the 1-1 goal each time, and lost their grip here in a second period where Dallas regained the lead.
“I’m just disappointed in the fact that we got away from our strengths,” said Lightning defenceman Ryan McDonagh. “They’re a great skating, great structured team, but I think we could have played to our strengths a little bit better. Simplified our game and get going north a little bit more early on and allow ourselves to so-called find our game with our forechecking and our offensive zone play.”
Those will be key talking points before Monday’s Game 2 at Rogers Place.
When the Lightning look at this Cup opener with clearer eyes, they’ll focus on creating more chaos in front of Khudobin. The power play will be a natural focus after going 0-for-3 in the third period and seeing it fall quiet late in the Islanders series.
“He’s a very good goalie,” said Johnson. “When he’s on, he’s on. I thought we generated some pretty good chances and he made some really big saves. Did we do enough? No, because we lost the game. I mean we’ve got to do more. We’ve got to do more than score one goal.”
Still, deep down, there were no excuses in this loss. Tampa didn’t play with nearly the same verve it had in the previous rounds.
But the Lightning have been buckling in for a real series.
“I think we probably dipped our toes in the water a little bit and watched them skate around for a bit,” said Cooper. “It’s too bad, but you’ve heard me say it a million times: Turn the page and move on.
“Short memory in the playoffs.”
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees – 9/19/20 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction – Sports Chat Place
New York Yankees (29-21) at Boston Red Sox (19-32)
MLB Baseball: Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 7:30 pm (Fenway Park)
J.A. Happ (1-2) (3.96) vs. Chris Mazza (1-1) (5.57)
The Line: Boston Red Sox / New York Yankees — Over/Under:
Click Here for the Latest Odds
The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox meet in an AL East division matchup in MLB action from Fenway Park on Saturday.
The New York Yankees will look to keep the ball rolling after nine straight wins following a 6-5 win over the BoSox on Friday. Gary Sanchez led the way, going 2 for 5 with a home run, a double and three RBIs while DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton each had a double and an RBI and Luke Voit added an RBI as well to finish off New York’s scoring as a team in the win. Aaron Hicks went 2 for 5 at the dish while Clint Frazier, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge all had base hits as well to finish the offense for the Yankees in the victory. Jordan Montgomery allowed four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over 4.2 innings in the start, not factoring in the decision. Jonathan Loaisiga got the win to improve to 3-0 on the year in relief. J.A. Happ will start here and is 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA and 30 strikeouts this season. In his career, Happ is 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA and 116 strikeouts against Boston.
The Boston Red Sox will try to rebound after blowing an opportunity against the Yankees on Friday. Christian Arroyo went 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs while Christian Vazquez went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI to round out Boston’s scoring as a team in the win. Xander Bogaerts went 2 for 5 while Alex Verdugo and Jackie Bradley Jr. all had base hits to finish off the offense for Boston in defeat. Martin Perez threw six shutout innings, giving up just three hits while striking out seven, not factoring in the decision. Ryan Weber took the loss in extras to fall to 1-3 on the year, Chris Mazza is expected to start here and is 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA and 22 strikeouts this season. This will be Mazza’s second career start against the Yankees.
Trends will be updated once they’ve been released.
Part of me would’ve liked to consider the over as I don’t trust either of these pitchers as far as I can throw them, and you never really know about which Happ you’re going to get. With that said, I think that the Yankees keep the train rolling here and Mazza’s already faced New York this season, allowing four runs in three innings of work. I don’t see how Mazza keeps the Red Sox in this one. Give me New York by at least two so I’ll side with the Yankees on the run line in this one.
New York Yankees -1.5
Wolff shoots 65, takes 54-hole lead at U.S. Open – pgatour.com
MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Matthew Wolff might be too young to realize he’s supposed to hit fairways to have a chance to win the U.S. Open. Or maybe he’s so good it doesn’t matter.
Wolff hit only two fairways Saturday and still matched the lowest score ever at Winged Foot in a major, a 5-under 65 that gave the 21-year-old Californian a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau going into the final round.
Whether it was the first cut or the nasty rough, Wolff kept giving those hips one last swivel before blasting away and giving himself birdie chances. He made enough of them to seize control, and then let so many others crumble.
Patrick Reed, tied for the lead at the turn, couldn’t find the fairway and paid dearly with a 43 on the back nine. Reed had a three-shot lead after two holes. He walked off the 18th green with a 77 and was eight shots behind.
Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship last month in his first try at age 23. Wolff is playing his first U.S. Open at age 21. Is he next?
“I’m probably going to be a little antsy. It’s the U.S. Open, and I have a lead,” Wolff said. “I’m going to try to keep my nerves as calm as they can be. I put myself in a really good spot. I did everything that I could do up until this point, and tomorrow I’m going to go out there, I promise you I’m going to try my best.”
He was at 5-under 205. Not since Francis Ouimet in 1913 — also the last time the U.S. Open was played in September — has a player won the U.S. Open in his debut.
DeChambeau could easily have gone the same route as Reed, missing left and right, gouging his way out of the grass. But after opening with two bogeys, he kept scrambling away — 15 straight holes with nothing worse than par. He rallied with two late birdies until missing a short par putt on the 18th for a 70.
He will be in the final group for the first time in a major, another quiet affair with no spectators on the course.
The U.S. Open began with 21 players under par. There were six going into the weekend. Now it’s down to three, with Louis Oosthuizen efficiently putting together a 68 to finish at 1-under 209.
Hideki Matsuyama (70), Xander Schauffele (70) and Harris English (72) were at even-par 210. Another shot back was Rory McIlroy, who posted his 68 some three hours before the leaders finished.
“It doesn’t take much around here … and all of a sudden you’re right in the thick of things,” McIlroy said. “No matter where I am at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good shot.”
It all depends on Wolff, an NCAA champion at Oklahoma State who won on the PGA TOUR in his third event as a pro last summer in the 3M Open in Minnesota.
From the first cut of rough on the opening hole, he hit it to right level of the contoured green for a 15-foot birdie. From the right rough on No. 4, he wound up with another 15-foot birdie putt. And then he really poured it on.
He drove next to the green on the short par-4 sixth, getting up-and-down from a bunker for birdie. He holed a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 seventh. And when he finally hit his first fairway on No. 8, he missed a 6-foot birdie attempt.
His lone bogey came on the 16th when he was in such a bad lie in the rough he couldn’t reach the green. And he finished with a most fortuitous hop. His iron off the tee hopped into the thick rough and back out to the first cut. He ripped 7-iron to 10 feet for one last birdie.
“If I don’t hit fairways tomorrow, I know I can play well,” Wolff said with a smile. “Even when I was in the rough, I had a bunch of good numbers and a bunch of good lies.”
And he played a lot of good golf, so good that even at his age, he looked to be a daunting figure to catch.
“I don’t think there’s any `chasing’ out here,” Schauffele said, adding that if Wolff had another good round Sunday it would be “impossible to catch him.”
DeChambeau gave himself hope, among five players within five of the lead on a course where anything goes. Think back to the last U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006, when Geoff Ogilvy hit a superb pitch to 6 feet for par that he thought was only good for second place until Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie closed with double bogeys.
“I feel like I’m ready to win out here and win a major,” Wolff said. “It is a major. It’s really important and yes, it is really early in my career. But I feel like I have the game to win. Collin won at 23. I’m 21. And I’m not saying that it’s going to happen. But I put myself in a really good spot, and obviously I’m feeling really good with my game.”
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