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Let Winged Foot be Winged Foot, let golfers beware

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Let Winged Foot be Winged Foot, let golfers beware

Winged Foot will be Winged Foot, and that should be all it takes to produce a classic US Open golf championship in a year upended by COVID-19.

“This place tests every single aspect of your game,” Northern Ireland star McIlroy said of the Winged Foot West course in Mamaroneck, New York, where the 120th US Open tees off on Thursday in its unusual September time slot. “It’s all pretty tough.”

Tough enough that the US Golf Association, which prides itself on a national championship that is a “searching test” of every facet of a player’s game, will leave it up to the course to determine the champion, with no gimmicky set-up strategies.

“We will let Winged Foot be Winged Foot,” said the USGA’s head of championships John Bodenhamer, who added that he was inspired by comments from course architect A.W. Tillinghast, who was asked if the USGA would try to toughen up the course for the 1929 US Open.

“We’re not going to outfit Miss Winged Foot in any different way than she otherwise would be,” Tillinghast said. “No fancy clothes, no special jewelry … just wash her face up for the party, and she’ll be good enough.”

Narrow fairways and rough ranging from three to five inches place a premium on accuracy off the tee. Subtly sloping greens make keeping the ball below the hole crucial.

– No tricks –

“The golf course is in front of you,” said Gary Woodland, who finally has a chance to defend the US Open title he won in June of last year at Pebble Beach.

“There’s no tricks to it. You’ve just got to step up and hit good shots.”

McIlroy said he arrived at Winged Foot primed by stories of Opens past: the 1974 “Massacre at Winged Foot” won by Hale Irwin and the 2006 meltdowns of Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie that opened the door for Australian Geoff Ogilvy to seize the title with a five-over par total.

“It’s hard, obviously, but I think it’s very, very fair,” McIlroy said. “Something would have to go seriously wrong to get into the realms of goofy golf.”

McIlroy will open off the 10th tee on Thursday at 8:07 a.m. (1207 GMT) alongside Australian Adam Scott and England’s Justin Rose.

At the same time 15-time major champion Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and newly minted PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa will tee off on the first hole.

Woodland will play alongside 2019 British Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland and US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, teeing off at 1:05 p.m.

World number one Dustin Johnson, aiming to crown a dazzling return to form with a second career major title, will play alongside fellow Americans Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.

While USGA chief executive Mike Davis said officials had even looked at ways to make the golf course “a little bit easier,” straying from the fairway will be punitive.

Woodland said he was practising chips on Saturday and “lost a ball for about five minutes — and it was right in front of me.

“We didn’t find it until we stepped on it,” he said.

With no spectators to trample down the rough — or offer clues to the whereabouts of errant balls — volunteer marshals will be on watch.

“So beware,” Bodenhamer said. “If you get it outside the rope lines this week, it’s going to be significant.”

bb/gph

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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George Kittle heads lengthy list of absences

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George Kittle heads lengthy list of absences

It’s only Week 2, and the injury list is expansive. It could be the year of the hamstring injury. I don’t say this to be glib; obviously it’s no fun when players get hurt. But your fantasy football success this year, more than ever, will rely on your ability to grind the news, work the wire, and stay focused. Let’s take a good look around. 

• George Kittle (knee) won’t play at the Jets; perhaps the Niners were encouraged to rest Kittle given the unthreatening opponent. With Deebo Samuel already on IR, Jimmy Garoppolo will be throwing to a skeleton crew. Jordan Reed becomes the stand-in at tight end. 

• The Eagles expect Miles Sanders (hamstring) to play against the Rams, and would love to feature him immediately. Of course, he’s running behind a patchwork offense line. It’s also worth mentioning that Devonta Freeman met with the Eagles on Friday. Perhaps Freeman will be more amenable to signing with someone now that he’s parted ways with former agent Drew Rosenhaus; Freeman’s summer asking price may have turned off some potential suitors. 

• Although the Saints have yet to rule out Michael Thomas (ankle), he didn’t practice Thursday or Friday and seems highly unlikely to play Monday at Las Vegas. This looks like a week-to-week situation. The Raiders probably won’t have Henry Ruggs (knee) available. 

• Mike Evans (hamstring) had a full practice Friday and will play against Carolina. But the Buccaneers are expected to miss Chris Godwin (concussion/doubtful), setting up Scotty Miller to have another prominent role. The Panthers have the youngest defense in the league, making this a prime get-well spot for the Bucs offense. 

• James Conner (ankle) had two good practices and is cleared for Sunday’s home opener against Denver. The Steelers generally view Conner as a bell cow, but it will be interesting to see how much time Benny Snell receives, after running sharply against the Giants. Pittsburgh usually has one of the league’s best offensive lines, but it wil be without three primary members (David DeCastro, Zach Banner, and Stefen Wisniewski). 

• A.J. Brown (knee) won’t play against Jacksonville and is considered week-to-week. It’s an interesting moment for post-hype sleeper Corey Davis, though Davis is also battling a sore hamstring. He’s still expected to play Sunday. 

• Sam Darnold looked lost in the opener at Buffalo, and now he has to make do without Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring). By default, Frank Gore appears set to start at running back. Perhaps Breshad Perriman, off an abbreviated preseason, is ready to do something. 

• Kenny Golladay (hamstring) will miss his second straight game. Rookie Quintez Cephus saw 10 targets last week, though only three were complete. The Lions still have a makeshift secondary; Justin Coleman went on IR, and Desmond Trufant (hamstring) is out for Week 2. Detroit will have rookie CB Jeffrey Okuday, however. 

• Phillip Lindsay (turf toe) is week-to-week, and won’t play at Pittsburgh. Melvin Gordon will get as many touches as he can handle. Courtland Sutton (shoulder) is a game-time decision. 

• Amari Cooper (foot) declared himself good to go for the home opener against Atlanta. 

• DeVante Parker (hamstring) was injured in Week 1 and had a limited practice week. He’s questionable for the home opener against Buffalo. 

• Duke Johnson (ankle) did some work at practice this week and might be able to play against Baltimore. 

• The Colts will be without Jack Doyle (ankle), and he could miss multiple games. Mo Alie-Cox steps in as the new starting tight end. Michael Pittman (toe) is questionable. 

• The Falcons gave Julio Jones (hamstring) some maintenance rest this week, but he should be fine at Dallas. 

• Golden Tate (hamstring) had a limited practice week, but looks on target to make his 2020 debut at Chicago. I’m still ranking him far below Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.

• The Patriots always have something cooking with their injury report — Julian Edelman (knee) and N’Keal Harry (shoulder) are both listed as questionable and had limited practice weeks. It would be surprising if either didn’t play at Seattle. 

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson miss cut, possibly marking Mickelson’s final U.S. Open

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Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson miss cut, possibly marking Mickelson's final U.S. Open

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson badly missed the cut Friday at Winged Foot and for Mickelson, there is a legitimate question whether this will be his last U.S. Open.

Mickelson, played out the string with a 74 to finish at 13-over while Woods lost any chance of playing the weekend when he ballooned to a 77, 10-over for the week.

Next year, the Open is at Torrey Pines in Mickelson’s hometown. But Mickelson might not qualify and if he gets an exemption, he may turn it down. He’s not exactly wild about the South Course there.

When asked if this might be his last appearance in the tournament that has frustrated him the most, he said only, “I don’t know.”

Woods, who began the day 3-over, had an outside chance of making the cut but never mounted a challenge.

“It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend and be able to compete for this great championship,” he said. “It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship. I didn’t get myself that opportunity.”

Woods will take some time off before he starts to prepare to defend his 2019 Masters title in November.

“Probably I’m not going to be swinging a club for a little bit, well, until Tuesday,” he said. “And then after that, take a little break. And then refocus and get back after it. There’s still one more major to go, and my title defense at Sherwood. We have a couple big, big things ahead of us.”

Mickelson, meanwhile, was just as gracious missing the cut here as he was when he kissed away the 2006 championship.

“I enjoyed the week and I enjoyed the challenge that this golf course provides,” he said after a much improved round of 73 that left him at 13-over. “I think it’s always one of the hardest tests that we play but one of the most fun challenges because of the character of the course all throughout, from shot-making to putting and short game.

“I think it’s a terrific place to play golf and I’m appreciative of the opportunity to have been able compete here and I’m disappointed I didn’t play better.”

Mickelson said he needs to “figure things out” at home, where he plans to spend the next couple of weeks.

“I get out here where the penalty for a mis-hit is severe, and I find myself getting a little tight and a little steer-y, and playing some of my worst golf,” he said. “When I go back home, I don’t have the stress and I seem to play just fine, but I’ve got to be able to bring it out here under these conditions.”

———

©2020 New York Daily News

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Lakers get Game 1 boost from Rajon Rondo’s playoff swagger

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Lakers get Game 1 boost from Rajon Rondo's playoff swagger

Lakers coach Frank Vogel fell back on a favorite phrase to explain how difficult it is to quantify the contributions of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo and why it would be wrong to judge Rondo’s efforts based solely on the numbers that appear in a box score.  

“His impact’s always measured in swag with our team,” Vogel said, smiling. “He elevates the group’s confidence every time he’s on the floor.”  

Rondo brought a dose of smarts, a splash of finesse and a dash of swagger to the Lakers on Friday in the opener of their Western Conference final series against the Denver Nuggets. He collected seven points and nine assists and made two steals in nearly 22 minutes in their 126-114 victory, numbers that only hint at his success and the harmony he created while working in concert with his teammates.  

It was a noteworthy night for the Lakers, who had lost the first game in each of their two previous playoff series in the NBA bubble, and equally noteworthy for Rondo, who helped ensure they wouldn’t start out with a deficit again.  

His feed to a marauding Anthony Davis for a dunk that put the Lakers ahead 98-76 in the third quarter was the 1,023rd playoff assist of Rondo’s career, moving him past Michael Jordan and into the top 10 in NBA history. In the fourth quarter, with the Lakers far enough ahead to dampen the spirits of even the famously never-say-die Nuggets, Rondo eluded Mason Plumlee along the baseline and scored on a gorgeous floater that went above the backboard and took a high, arcing path into the net, an instant highlight in a game that was crammed with eye-popping examples of the Lakers’ domination from the second quarter onward.  

“Just another stellar Rondo performance for us,” Vogel said during a postgame videoconference. “His ability to compete on the defensive end and bark out coverages and quarterback that end, energizes our group. And then offensively, his ability to orchestrate and quarterback the offense just settles everybody down, and he’s able to create good looks for those around him and the group usually succeeds when he’s out there.”  

Rondo appeared genuinely touched when asked during a TV interview about his ascent of the playoff assists list. Ahead of him, in ninth place, is Kobe Bryant, at 1,040.   “Mention my name with Isiah [Thomas] and Mike, it’s definitely a humbling experience and feeling,” Rondo said. “I’m going to soak it all in tonight and get back and watch film.  

“Obviously that’s a teammate award, so I can’t thank my teammates enough. Those guys make the shots and they’re allowing me to push the ball and trust them with the ball and they’re making the shots. It’s a team effort.”  

Speaking to reporters later, Rondo added of his new top-10 status, “It just means that I played with a lot of great players. I can’t take a lot of the credit, even though my job is to pass the ball, but at the end of the day you don’t get an assist if someone doesn’t put it in the basket. I’ve been in the game a long time and played with a lot of great players and those guys have made me look pretty good.”  

He looked like poetry in motion on that floater, a shot he said he hadn’t practiced in five years. “I got lucky tonight,” he said. “My main objective was to get the ball above the backboard and give it an arc and give it a chance to go in.  

“I was just trying to get around outside of Plumlee. I knew with the angle I would have, I would have to use a high arc on the ball, a little bit of touch. I think it might be my first floater all playoffs, so it felt good to go in.”  

Rondo, 34, averaged 7.1 points and 5.0 assists per game in 48 regular-season games. He fractured his right thumb during a practice in early July in Orlando, Fla., and had to leave the bubble to undergo surgery. He missed the Lakers’ first-round playoff series against Portland, sitting out the first two games because of the surgery and three more games because of back spasms. He played all five games against Houston, breaking out for 21 points in just over 30 minutes during their 112-110 win over the Rockets in Game 3 on Sept. 8.  

He was listed as questionable for Friday’s game because of those back spasms but he showed no signs of any problems. He’s diligent about taking care of himself, to the point where he said he has skipped the golf outings and fishing trips that other players have turned to as diversions from bubble life. Rondo was impressed by Kevin Garnett’s exertions in the weight room when they were teammates with the Boston Celtics, and that example stuck with him. LeBron James’ discipline about conditioning also hit home with Rondo. “I try to take notes from everybody I played with in the past,” Rondo said.  

Others can take notes from him, and not just about his swagger. His focused approach to these playoffs is worth copying, too. “We didn’t come here just to put on a show,” he said. “We want to execute and follow through with the game plan as far as winning a championship, and tonight we just got one step closer, that’s all.”

Elliott reported from Los Angeles.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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