What a performance from a guy who besides looking like joaquin phoenix has very few distinguishing characteristics…but now has a green jacket…
Zach gives nothing; Tiger cannot reel him in …
Johnson, 31, fired a closing three-under-par 69 on Sunday to defeat Woods (72), Rory Sabbatini (69) and Retief Goosen (69) by two strokes for his first major championship and second Tour victory. His one-over-par 289 tied the highest winning score in Masters history. Sam Snead, in 1954, and Jack Burke, Jr., in 1956, also claimed green jackets with a 289.
Johnson’s victory came on a fast, dry golf course that stretched 7,445 yards. It came over four days of challenging conditions: warm and windy weather to start the tournament; a chilly, gusty Saturday; and a pressure-filled Sunday with swirling breezes.
It came six months after Johnson was one of four rookies on the United States Ryder Cup team and four years after he graduated from the Nationwide Tour.
“I think I’m mentally tough,” said Johnson, who entered the tournament ranked 56th in the world. “I don’t hit it very far, I don’t overpower a golf course, but I think I’m a pretty decent putter. At Augusta National, putting is premium.”
Johnson birdied three of the last six holes, offsetting a bogey on No. 17, to win the Masters in just his third appearance. He missed the cut in 2005 and finished tied for 32nd last year.
On a day when six golfers led or tied for the lead, Johnson outlasted the game’s biggest names, including a late charge from Woods, the four-time champion bidding for his third consecutive major.
Woods, who briefly held the lead by a stroke after making par on No. 4, stood four shots back as he played the par-5 13th hole. He curled a three-wood shot around the trees and was left with just over 190 yards to the flag. Woods then lofted an iron shot to 3 feet of the cup and made the putt for eagle to cut Johnson’s lead to two. The gallery erupted.
Two holes in front, on the par-5 15th hole, Johnson stepped away from his ball.
“I backed off the shot, partially because of the roars,” Johnson said. “I figured it was Tiger for an eagle. I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t know where I stood. I was still able to execute. I guess ignorance is bliss sometimes.”
Woods seemed to have momentum after the eagle, but he failed to capitalize on the final five holes. Two years ago, he chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th hole in an eventual victory over Chris DiMarco in a playoff.
On Sunday, trailing by two shots at No. 16, Woods laced an iron to 10 feet, but slid the putt past on the high side. On No. 17, Woods split the fairway, but left his iron shot in a bunker and could only make par.
Bases loaded – nobody out; frustration arrives …
The Rangers trailed by two going to the eighth, which is when the Red Sox went to the bullpen.
No. 8 hitter Gerald Laird, who had been impatient in the first week of the season, took a more disciplined approach to reliever Joel Pineiro and worked his way to a walk. Ian Kinsler followed with another walk.
It created the perfect situation for a bunt. Kenny Lofton laid down the perfect one. It caused enough confusion that when Mike Lowell fielded it, first baseman Kevin Youkilis was in the line of fire between Lowell and second baseman Alex Cora, who was covering first. It loaded the bases with nobody out.
And that's where the rally fizzled. The Red Sox called on lefty Javier Lopez and the Rangers pulled left-handed hitting Frank Catalanotto for Nelson Cruz. He lined hard to first base. Youkilis couldn't hold on to the ball or it would have been a double play ball. Instead, the Rangers got one run and Youkilis recovered to get Cruz at first.
That's when the Red Sox asked Papelbon to get five outs and to start with Young. He started with a 94 mph fastball that Young simply missed, then missed the strike zone with a split-finger fastball. Papelbon came back with another fastball, this one at 96. Young was a hair late and missed it.
"That's the pitch I wish I had back," Young said. "That's the one I should have hit."
Because the next one was simply unhittable. It tickled the black on the outside of the plate. Young could only shake his head and walk back to the dugout.
"The most you could have done with that is maybe foul it off," Young said. "It was a great pitch.'
Mark Teixeira followed with a pop out to end the inning. Papelbon retired the side in order in the ninth, including strikeouts of Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson to end the game. Wilkerson looked at a 96 mph fastball to end it.
"We had everything lined up perfectly," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Give Papelbon some credit. He was lights out."
In Mavs news, The #1 seed can be clinched tonight against a likely first round opponent …
Phoenix wouldn't surrender its improbable pursuit of the Western Conference's No. 1 seed Sunday, so the Mavericks will try to end it tonight.
The Mavs, admittedly not playing their best recently, have built such a cushion that with six games remaining, one win will secure the NBA's best record, and most important, home-court advantage through every round of the playoffs.
"If you can use it to your advantage, it's great," coach Avery Johnson said. "For us to be in position to get it, especially being in the Western Conference, you can't discount that. You've got to be doing something right."
The Mavs have never earned the top seed in the West. They will tonight if they can defeat the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center, where the Mavs are 34-4.
"You definitely want to have it," guard Jason Terry said. "There's no team in the league I know that would say they'd rather give the other team home-court advantage. So we want to have it. Our record speaks for itself at home."
Johnson would like to wrap up things immediately. Four of the Mavs' final six opponents are fighting to make the playoffs or for critical positioning. Johnson would prefer to be able to control how much everyone plays and prepare for the playoffs on his terms, like a baseball manager who can set his pitching rotation.
The Mavs are on the downhill stretch of a draining month. Tonight's game is their 17th in 30 days. Through it, Greg Buckner and Devean George have worked back from injury just as Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki had ankle problems.
Howard missed Saturday's game against Portland. He said he hopes to play tonight. That will be Johnson's decision as he balances who to play -- Jerry Stackhouse sat out Saturday night -- and for how long against a team that is battling to keep the final playoff seed, which means, in all probability, a first-round meeting with the Mavs.
The guys at DallasBasketball.com take on the “Big Game Dirk” Debate …
It's subjective, but I'll generously use the Sam Smith-type definition of "big game'' here. "Big games'' involving the Mavs are on Sundays on ABC. They're against the marquee teams, they're against their rivals, they're against hot "trendy'' teams, they're against superstar individuals. The LeBron games and the Kobe games and the games in which the network trots out those whorish Pussycat Doll girls in cleavage-cut NBA jersey-dresses.
Trust me, I did no cherrypicking here. I didn't search out any certain high- or low-performance games on purpose, nor did I eliminate even "big games'' that were so dominated by Dallas that Dirk played limited minutes. I simply chose, again, games that Dirk's critics would choose, at the time they were played, when trying to define "big games.'' The ones TNT and ESPN wanted. The ones that led the sportscasts. The ones that Barkley and Peter V. and Sam Smith bother flipping on. The ones that would in theory give fuel to the critics of The UberMan's "big-game'' hunting.
* Nov. 2 h Spurs L 91-97 9-20 FGs, 1-2 FTs, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 21 points.
* Nov. 9 @ Phx W 119-112 11-19 FGs, 12-12 FTS, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 35 points.
* Nov. 24 @ Spurs W 95-92 12-23 FGs, 6-6 FTs, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 31 points.
* Dec. 7 h Pistons L 82-92 9-15 FGs, 10-10 FTs, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 29 points.
* Dec 13 h Lakers W 110-101 8-14 FGs, 7-10 FTs, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 23 points.
* Dec 28 h Phx W 101-99 8-20 FGs, 10-11 FTs, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 27 points.
* Jan 5 @ Spurs W 90-85 14-23 FGs, 6-6 FTs, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 36 points.
* Jan 7 Lakers L 98-101 10-24 FGs, 8-8 FTs, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 29 points.
* Jan 14 @ Tor W 97-96 14-30 FGs, 7-9 FTs, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 38 points.
* Jan 18 h Lakers W 114-95 11-18 FGs, 3-3 FTs, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 27 points.
* Jan 21 @ Miami W 99-93 10-23 FGs, 2-3 FTs, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal,1 block, 22 points.
* Feb 22 h Miami W 112-100 11-17 FGs, 9-9 FTs, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 31 points.
* Mar 1 h Cleve W 95-92 9-19 FGs, 6-6 FTs, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 24 points.
* Mar 11 @ Lakers W 108-72 6-13 FGs, 7-7 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 19 points.
* Mar 14 h Suns L 127-129 11-28 FGs, 8-12 FTs, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block, 30 points.
* Mar 18 @ Pistons W 92-88 11-20 FGs, 4-5 FTs, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 28 points.
* Mar 21 @ Cleve W 98-90 9-24 FGs, 3-3 FGs, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 23 points.
* Apr 1 @ Phx L 104-126 6-18 FGs, 9-9 FTs, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 21 points.
That's 18 games. Again, you and I know that there have been other "big games.'' (Or maybe, because of our rare and freshly-minted division title, we should agree that they've all been "big''!) But for the sake of the casual observer, the Dirk disliker, and I guess even dunderheaded national media people who actually have MVP votes but are nevertheless in need of a Common Sense Injection, I'm making it awfully simple.
Crummy ol' no-show Dirk, in those 18 "big games,'' has produced:
* 11 games in which he's scored 27 points or more;
* 48.6-percent shooting from the field;
* 90-percent shooting from the line;
* 14 games in which he's totaled 9 rebounds or more;
* 6 games in which he's totaled 5 assists or more;
* 12 double-doubles;
* Leadership of a team that, in those "toughest'' and "spot-lit'' games, has a 13-5 record.
* An average linescore of 10.2 rebounds, 4 assists and 27.4 points.
Dirk "doesn't show up in big games''? Those numbers are all the essentially the same or better than Nowitzki's stats over the course of all 74 games -- all of which, to the starved-for-success Mavs fan, should be considered "big.''
Dirk = MVP
The Start times could be worse …
Hey, start times are not bad. Here is the sked (courtesy of a Stars news release):
Game 1, at Vancouver, Wed., 9 p.m.
Game 2, at Vancouver, Fri., 8 p.m.
Game 3, at AAC, Sun., April 15, 8:30 p.m.
Game 4, at AAC, Tues., April 17, 7 p.m.
Game 5, at Vancouver, Thurs., April 19, TBA*
Game 6, at AAC, Sat., April 21, 7 p.m.*
Game 7, at Vancouver, Mon., April 23, TBA*
* - if necessary. All times Central.
All playoff games for the Dallas Stars will be televised in the DFW Metroplex. The specific local television information for the series is expected to be announced on Monday. All Dallas Stars playoff games can be heard via radio on News/Talk 820 WBAP.
Good tickets are available for all Dallas Stars home games in the first round of the playoffs. Fans can buy them by logging on to DallasStars.com or by calling 214 GO STARS.
Heika looks at the importance of this playoff run …
This will be a very interesting postseason. While I'm sure the Stars will say they are not looking at the long-term picture and are concentrating on one game at a time, the impact of a poor performance could be monumental.
With three failures in the playoffs so far for the trio of Marty Turco, Dave Tippett and Doug Armstrong, it's impossible to look at this as just one series. If Dallas loses, the call will be for change – possibly major change. Either that, or the sound will be of crickets and apathy.
And that's something that could force even bigger change.
All I know is that the natives are restless and are not tolerant of poor
performances at this point. If the Stars have any in the playoffs, you can be sure fans will react with twice as much knee-jerk as they did this week.
I wholeheartedly agree…
Meanwhile, since we goof on the media so much, I thought it would only be fair that we point out when one of our scribes proves what a big brain he has…So, Here is Mike Heika’s Western Conference Prediction from October …
Staff writer Mike Heika correctly picked all eight Western Conference playoff teams before the season and nearly picked them in the correct order.
Seed Actual Heika
1 Detroit Detroit
2 Anaheim Vancouver
3 Vancouver Anaheim
4 Nashville Nashville
5 San Jose San Jose
6 Dallas Dallas
7 Minnesota Minnesota
8 Calgary Calgary
WOW. That is amazing…
Now, this email from Adam:
Thought you might like this statistical breakdown of the Vancouver Canucks so you could give the p1's the lowdown on the Stars first round opponent.
Vancouver Canucks before December 26th
17 Wins - 18 Losses - 1 OTL
Goals per game -2.22
Goals Against Avg - 2.64
notes- Canucks only offense was coming from the Sedin twins and Luongo was good but not great.
Vancouver Canucks since December 26th
32 Wins - 8 Losses - 6 OTL
Goals per game -3.09
Goals against avg - 2.30
notes- Canucks finally got some secondary scoring to go along with the Swedish twins and Roberto Luongo stands on his head.
And now, The Aggies appear to have hired a Shocker …no way am I the first one to use that…
Texas A&M is leaning toward offering the men's basketball job to Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon to replace Billy Gillispie, multiple sources close to the situation told ESPN.com Sunday night.
Turgeon still needs to agree to the terms of the contract before accepting the position. He is expected to meet with Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne Monday with a possible news conference Tuesday in College Station.
Gillispie left Thursday after three seasons to replace Tubby Smith at Kentucky.
Turgeon led the Shockers to the Sweet 16 two seasons ago after winning the Missouri Valley Conference with a 14-4 record. Turgeon entered this season with a 111-76 record in six seasons at Wichita State.
Is this the goal that cost Manchester United the Premiership? They lost to Portsmouth, meaning that Chelsea now has the door open to tie them atop with the win at Stamford Bridge in May. One more slip from United, and the Title could go back to Chelsea. For me, it is like choosing the measles or the mumps.
Its just like a Mini-Mall – Tribute time