Today is the first day of a Golf Major. So, for 4 days, I am hardcore Golf fan. I will try to watch the whole thing. Bring it on. Let’s enjoy watching this course bring the golfers to their knees.
Examine the Course time …
This is not just another garden-variety U.S. Open, with ankle-deep rough and lightning-fast greens. Those elements will help decide who hoists the trophy -- and they probably will keep the winning score above par, if the course dries out after Wednesday's brief but ferocious thunderstorm -- but they are not the most distinctive wrinkles on this course.
Follow the tour:
-- There actually are two bunkers with "church pews" of grass -- one between the Nos. 3 and 4 fairways and another, smaller one along the left side of No. 15. Heaven forbid an actual church has pews this unkempt.
The bunker between Nos. 3 and 4 is massive, 30 yards wide by 100 yards long, and the USGA has let the rough on the 12 elevated aisles of grass grow four inches high. That grass is a tangle of tall, gnarly weeds eager to swallow wayward shots.
One spectator glanced at the bunker and announced, in a tone of nonchalant resignation, "I would never get out."
Arnold Palmer holed out from this bunker in the 1962 Open, with a 5-iron, but do not count on the players in this week's tournament duplicating the King. Sergio Garcia hit his tee shot on No. 4 into the bunker Tuesday, then dropped a ball on the fairway for his next shot.
"It's interesting," Garcia said of the church-pews bunker. "I mean, you can get some really bad lies there."
Said Phil Mickelson: "I think it's really cool."
Mickelson suggested he might even try to copy the church pews as he begins designing courses, an ambition apparently not shared by Tiger Woods. Asked if he practiced any shots out of the bunker, Woods scoffed.
"I don't really think you should be practicing negativity," he said. "If you end up there, you're basically just going to wedge out, anyway. Accept your mistake and move on."
-- The view from the back tee on No. 8 -- at 288 yards, the longest par-3 in major-championship history -- requires superhero eyesight. It was difficult to spot the red flagstick Wednesday, even if it was planted in the middle of the green.
Dean Wilson stepped to the tee and chortled when his caddie, Michael Bestor,
informed him of the distances: 277 yards to the front edge and 18 more to the hole. Yes, that's 295 yards from tee to pin -- on a par-3.
"This hole needs wind in your face, to make it challenging," Bestor said dryly.
Most players will use a 3-wood or hybrid club, hoping they can leave the ball near the front edge of the green and salvage par from there. Then they will trudge away, knowing the longest par-5 in major history, No. 12 at 667 yards, still awaits.
-- Lest you think Oakmont is merely another elongated beast, given those two monstrous holes, think again. There are three par-4s measuring 360 yards or shorter, sure to tempt today's power hitters into pulling out their driver and going for the green.
Most tantalizing is No. 17, a 313-yard gem winding uphill around a series of steep, daunting bunkers. Ben Hogan drove the green and two-putted for birdie to cement his Open victory in 1953. Palmer drove the green and made eagle in '62. Any player within reach of the final-round lead probably will give it a whirl.
Fair warning: During our visit, one course official raked the bunker to the right of the No. 17 green. The man stood at least 6 feet tall -- and the face of the bunker, probably 10 feet tall, dwarfed him. Not a good place to hit your ball.
Now, you likely know that I am another Tiger-homer. I really am no golf expert, but this golf expert lists his favorites, and has decided Tiger is behind Rod Pampling! …
1. Jim Furyk The world's third-ranked player is still searching for his first victory of the year, but Oakmont should be right up his alley. A Pennsylvania native, Furyk has become more accurate off the tee than ever, second to only Jose Coceres in hitting fairways this season. And despite a final-hole putting foible at Winged Foot last year, he's a proven winner (claimed the Open title in '03 at Olympia Fields) who should remain mentally tough down the stretch on Sunday.
2. Padraig Harrington See Paddy plod. Watch Paddy grind. It may not look pretty, but Harrington can make pars with the best of 'em. More importantly than anything else, though, Harrington finally believes that his game is good enough to win one, saying recently, "I'm only starting to come into a situation where I'm probably a little bit more capable of winning a major."
3. Rod Pampling No major leaderboard is devoid of players whose inclusion will raise an eyebrow and such will be the case for Pampling. Though his previous claim to fame came at the 1999 British Open, during which he parlayed the first-round lead into a missed cut, the Aussie is a patient player who's been hot this year, with seven top-25s and only one MC this season. Don't be surprised to see him contend this week.
4. Tiger Woods Still the prohibitive favorite anytime he tees it up, Woods has played in four straight U.S. Opens without winning one, his second-longest winless streak at any of the majors since turning pro. Though he's made three separate trips to Oakmont in the past month, Tiger has never played the course in competition. Then again, how much stake can we place on that? After all, the same could be said for last year's British Open at Hoylake and he won.
Does NBA Season end tonight? …
Finals history is not on the Cavs' side but the team can draw on its past to help. A big game from LeBron James, like in Game 6 of the conference finals against the Pistons, could make the difference and give them momentum for the rest of the series.
"We have no choice but to win or the season is over and there's a new champion," James said. "We have to come out with the mind-set to take one game at a time and just continue to try to win four in a row. We still feel confident. It's all about the first team getting No. 4. They're definitely closer than we are, but at the same time, the series is not over until somebody hits four."
The Spurs will likely become that team, but before Spurs fans begin the parade, the Cavs' Damon Jones said his team will have something to say about it.
"Everyone is saying now that no one has ever come back from 0-3, but I believe just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done," Jones said. "That's our focus going into Game 4, is to get to the next game and go from there."
Hitting open shots and limiting mistakes, especially near the end, could be enough to extend this series - or even better.
"Nobody has come back from an 0-3 deficit like this, but like I was saying, there's always a first time for everything," said Cavs coach Mike Brown.
Could Ranger season end soon? …
The Rangers are running out of ways to describe one sloppy loss after another. But they continue to say volumes with their play on the field. Wednesday's 8-1 loss was another chapter in that sad tale.
It included another poor start by a starting pitcher. Two more errors and a couple of more statistically nondocumented misplays. And a handful of wasted opportunities. In other words, more of the same.
The Rangers are 19 games under .500. A loss today, which would give Pittsburgh a sweep of the three-game series, would make it the second earliest date since the Rangers moved to Texas that they have fallen 20 games below .500. The only time it's happened earlier: 2003. The Rangers were 22-42 on June 13, 2001. That season was memorable only because the manager and the pitching coach lost their jobs before the All-Star break.
The general manager was fired on the final day of the season.
"I hate this; I absolutely hate it," said shortstop Michael Young, who sat staring into his locker, arms folded tightly across his chest some 15 minutes after the game. "I can't stand losing. It's driving me nuts. You have two choices: You can go in the tank or you can battle through this and make yourself a better player and help the team get better."
Asked if he was concerned the team had started to do to the former, Young replied emphatically: "No. No. No."
Whatever the case, the Rangers aren't getting better.
There was plenty of evidence of that in the first few innings Wednesday as the Rangers fashioned themselves an 8-0 hole. For those scoring at home, they have fallen behind by at least five runs on 27 occasions this year in the first 65 games.
Mike Nolan, who loves to wear a suit and tie, gets permission to wear it all season at home …
Mike Nolan will be allowed to wear a suit on the sideline for each of the 49ers' eight home games, an NFL spokesman said today.
"We've agreed to coach Nolan's request," said Brian McCarthy, the NFL's director of corporate communications. "He told us he was looking (to wear the suit) for the eight home games."
The issue generated a lot of conversation among 49ers fans in the past week, as Nolan said he had been told that he could wear a suit on the sideline for only two games this season. He and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio wore suits during two games last season, too.
McCarthy emphasized it is the NFL that determines the policy for what coaches wear on the sideline. Nolan said last week that he was under the impression it was Reebok making the decision. Reebok pays the NFL a reported $250 million to be the clothing supplier for the league.
Dale Jr. will now have the resources to win …
Now that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has signed a five-year contract with the most powerful team in NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt will be driving the best cars and will be supported by the best personnel in NASCAR starting in 2008. No longer will he have to complain about a lack of horsepower or a lack of research and development, which were two lingering problems he confronted at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). In short, with a stroke of a pen, Earnhardt has been transformed from a longshot into a serious title contender.
As I wrote last week when I first learned that Rick Hendrick was going to sign Earnhardt, Hendrick will now boast a dream team of drivers in '08: Little E, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Earnhardt, by any measure, is the most popular driver in the sport, followed by Gordon, Tony Stewart and Johnson. Though to Earnhardt fans it may seem like their driver is crossing over to the dark side to drive for Hendrick, who was one of Earnhardt Sr.'s greatest rivals, this move makes perfect sense for Junior -- both on a professional level and, more important to him, on a personal one.
Dumbest Story of the Day: NHL is considering Expansion?????….Please!
In the wake of a Stanley Cup playoffs that broke records for irrelevance and low ratings, with empty seats in both new and established markets, coming off the infamous “Preakness Game” that highlighted the worst TV package in sports, the worst commissioner in sports and the lingering hangover from two suicidal lockouts, what does the NHL think is the answer?
If this wasn’t the NHL, we’d think it was a joke. But as the Sports Business Journal reported, the league is moving toward adding a 31st and 32nd franchise in those noted hockey hotbeds of Las Vegas and Kansas City.
Yes, that ought to do it.
Hey, instead of trying to fix the apathy in your current markets, why not add new ones. Las Vegas may be good news for Janet Gretzky and Rick Tocchet, but since the NHL can’t beat Law & Order reruns, what chance does it have against The Strip?
Look, if the league wants to further strangle itself with expansion, why not Chicago? It hasn’t had a team since Bill Wirtz disbanded the Blackhawks in the mid-1990s.
Only the NHL could even dream this stuff up. The league needs to contract, not expand. It needs to improve the product, not disperse the talent, dilute rivalries and provide another slap at the game’s tradition.
No offense to Vegas and KC, but we've seen this act before. The few million in expansion fees isn't worth adding a couple more cities that aren’t all that interested in hockey, save the core of 10-15,000 fans who will still be paying attention once the novelty wears off.
As for Commissioner Gary Bettman, well, he hasn’t overseen many good ideas in his first 15 years on the job. At this point our only hope is that his various disasters in leadership were part of a secret 16-year plan and good things are about to happen.
A past expansion under his watch – slogan: “If you’ve got two Winn Dixies, welcome to the NHL” – gave us the Nashville Predators. This year Nashville, despite having an exciting, hard-hitting and winning team, violated its lease by failing to draw an average of 14,000 fans. The local government may have to buy the remaining tickets next year, a tremendously prudent use of tax money.
Who among us isn’t shocked, just shocked, to find out that a small market, football mad Southern city wasn’t all that interested in an NHL team after all? Yep, no one could have seen that one coming.
Nashville may get moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario. The punch line isn’t that Ontario has a Kitchener-Waterloo region. It’s that at this point, it’s a pretty good option.
That’s how low this league is.
For all your off-season Hockey needs, check out Spector’s Blog …
Will Kobayashi even show up on the 4th of July? …
Japan's wiener-chomping maestro has found his career at a crossroads just at the moment when it was time for him to prove that he's the top dog with a hot dog, according to Shukan Gendai (6/26).
Takeru Kobayashi was the long-time holder of the world record for hot dog consumption, with 53 and 3/4 tucked away in just 12 minutes.
But 23-year-old American Joey "Jaws" Chestnut recently scoffed down 59 and 1/2 hot dogs in the same time frame, snatching Kobayashi's world record and setting himself up to take on Kobayashi in the battle for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York on July 4.
Kobayashi has claimed the past six Nathan's crowns and the only time he has ever been beaten in an eating contest in the U.S. was by a 500-kilogram Kodiak bear, so he should be confident of his chances when he takes on "Jaws."
Shukan Gendai points out that Kobayashi first emerged into the spotlight in 2000, when he won TV Tokyo's "TV Champion Zenkoku Oogui Senshuken (National Gluttony
Championships)." Apart from his hot dog exploits, he has since racked up a series of eating records, including stuffing down 97 hamburgers in 8 minutes, scoffing 100 pork dumplings in 12 minutes and chomping away on 41 lobster rolls in 10 minutes.
The weekly says he doesn't really "eat" food during competition, but rather "pours them down his throat." When it comes to hot dogs, he first soaks the buns in a liquid, usually water, to soften them, then shoves the frankfurter down his throat without chewing it.
Kobayashi regards competitive eating as a sport and has worked hard to build up his entire body, placing special emphasis on abdominal and heart muscles. He also consumes copious quantities of supplements to keep his internal organs in check, the roughly 50 types he takes costing him around 150,000 yen a month.
Kobayashi normally eats regular meals, spending only around 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen a month on food, virtually meaning he builds his body up on supplements.
He's due to go for his seventh Nathan's crown next month, but his manager Kumi Ozeki suggests that Kobayashi's title defense might be in danger.
"Kobayashi's mother died in March and he's currently taking a sabbatical. He's not even in training," the hot dog eating champion's manager tells Shukan Gendai. "I haven't heard a word from him about whether he's going to take part in the July contest and there's no way that I know to get in touch with him." (By Ryann Connell)
This Email From a good P1
The Euless Giants need your help!!!
We are the Euless Giants, a 6U T-Ball team from the Mid-Cites ( Euless, Texas ).
The Euless Giants are currently ranked # 2 in the nation out of 604 teams.
The Euless Giants are currently 19 - 1 and have won the opportunity to compete in the USSSA World Series in Granbury, Texas June 17 - 22nd. Link
This is a once in a life time opportunity for these young boys and something they will remember for a life time. But, we need to raise funds to help get these boys to Granbury and to be able to play. Travel, food, entry fees, etc. all add up and we are looking for sponsors / donations to help. ANY amount will help.
We have provided a link on our team web site on how to become a sponsor:
Anything you can do to help would be appreciated. We are not only representing our team but the City of Euless and the State of Texas as there will be teams competing from all over the country.
Please help support these boys and this opportunity they have in front of them.
Please visit the Euless Giants Team Web site: www.leaguelineup.com/eulesstballgiants
Evan O’Dorney on Kimmel
Kimmel Spelling Bee with Evan