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Archive for May, 2010

A major hat tip to ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel who alerted me to two stories I missed this week:

1) As I mentioned last week, Tiger is not only playing in this week’s Memorial, but he’s also playing in Jack Nicklaus’ Skins Game which takes place on Wednesday (Live at 1pm ET on Golf Channel). Phil Mickelson is also in the field, and Jack chose to play with Phil this year, and not Tiger. Mr. Sobel wonders if this is a mini-swipe by Jack at Tiger’s recent transgressions.

(My take: I think there definitely may be something to it…maybe it’s Jack saying I’m going to “punish” you by not playing with you for this year, and then next year I’ll play with you again…something like that.)

2) Jason mentioned this Golfweek story about how, in an effort to get the PGA Tour’s big names to play more events, the Tour may start “forcing” them to play one of a select “designated” events.

My take: I’m all for this plan…I’d love to see Tiger, Phil, AK and others play events they normally don’t play and help more of the local communities. My fear, however, is that someone like Tiger will REPLACE an event he normally plays with one of these “designated events.” That would do nobody any good because Tiger’s tournament # would stay at around 18 or 19.

So while I like the plan, you need the top players to be completely on board or else this won’t work.

This is all coming to fruition, by the way, according to Golfweek, because the next Players Advisory Council meeting is Tuesday at The Memorial. Hopefully the TV initiatives that they talked about at Hilton Head will finally get approved (as the GW article kind of hints at), because that would help TV broadcasts immensely.

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GOLF: Why I Love Golf

There’s a beauty to golf: a great tale can come out of nowhere. And while this PGA Tour season has been dominated by Tiger’s issues, Groovegate and more Tiger issues, some great storylines have been developing for the 2010 season. As we head towards the U.S. Open and golf’s 2nd major, let’s take a look:

1) Phil Mickelson’s Masters victory — not much needs to be said here, but the win did propel him to be as close as he’s ever been to #1 in the world…and he’s bound to become that in the coming weeks if Tiger’s struggles continue.

2) Tiger’s 0 wins — not much more needs to be said

3) The 20somethings: Bill Haas, Ben Crane, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Derek Lamely, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day have all won this year…which means the future of the game is bright. Especially Dustin, Hunter, Camilo, AK and Rory…those 5 may be the next wave that carries golf as Tiger and Phil age and guys like Vijay, Ernie, and Furyk move on to the Champions Tour in the years to come.

4) Jim Fuyrk and Ernie Els getting in the winners circle again and then winning twice: two of the nicest guys out on Tour, each with a unqiue story get back in the golfing god’s good graces

and finally an out-of-the-box storyline:

5) Brian Davis…he calls the penalty on himself at Hilton Head, gets praised by everyone in the media for it, then finishes 2nd this week at Colonial…he’s due for a W and will get one soon.

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Here’s NBC’s press release for their French Open coverage, including announcers:

FEDERER, NADAL, AND THE WILLIAMS SISTERS HEADLINE NBC SPORTS’ FRENCH OPEN COVERAGE BEGINNING THIS SATURDAY

“I am giving Rafa the edge to win this one.” – NBC Sports’ Mary Carillo
“The best clay court player of her generation.” – Carillo on Justine Henin

NEW YORK – May 27, 2010 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams, and Justine Henin headline an impressive lineup at the 2010 French Open from Roland Garros in Paris beginning Saturday at Noon ET on NBC Sports. Coverage concludes next Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6 with the Women and Men’s Finals live at 9 a.m. ET both days.

Host Ted Robinson anchors NBC Sports’ broadcast, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. McEnroe and Carillo teamed to win the mixed doubles title at the 1977 French Open. This is NBC Sports’ 28th consecutive year televising the event.

Roger Federer is the world’s No. 1 ranked player. Federer held that position for a record 237 consecutive weeks from February 2004 – August 2008 before being passed by Nadal and has since reclaimed it. Last year, he won the French Open for the first time and has now won 16 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other male player.

His chief rival Rafael Nadal, a four-time champion at Roland Garros, will compete this year in hopes of reclaiming his title as the “King of Clay,” after his early exit in last year’s tournament. Nadal is currently the world’s No. 2 ranked men’s tennis player.

Serena and Venus Williams, who are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world respectively, will compete and could potentially face one of the biggest threats in this year’s tournament, Justine Henin, a four-time French Open winner. Henin returns to her first French Open tournament since retiring in 2008.

CARILLO ON FEDERER AND NADAL: “The hardest thing to do in tennis is to win the French Open and then a few weeks later, Wimbledon. Both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal can do that. In fact, they both have done it already. Roger did it for the first time last year when he won his French Open title, and Rafa has done it. They are both playing very, very well.”

ON THE AMERICAN COMPETITORS: “Andy Roddick, John Isner and Sam Querrey are playing really well. The Williams sisters are seeded No. 1 and No. 2 here. Serena can win this title. If the weather continues to hold, it is very good for American clay court tennis.”

ON FEDERER AND NADAL IN THE MEN’S FINAL: “A classic final right there between those two. I am giving Rafa the edge to win this one.”

ON THE WOMEN’S FINAL: “It’s either Serena’s or Justine’s to win. Serena looks very good. She is in form, and she has only won this once. She has won every other major in tennis at least three times. She wants to win this again.”

ON HENIN RETURNING FROM RETIREMENT: “She is a four-time winner here; she clearly is the best clay court player of her generation. But, she is in Serena’s quarters. It’s a very front loaded draw. A lot of the best players are on top including Serena, Sharapova and Justine. That’s nasty.”

ON THE DARK HORSE ARAVANE REZAI OF FRANCE: “She won a big title in Madrid beating Venus along the way among others, and she played a first round match that was very snappy. She seems to like the pressure. She likes being the woman of the moment.”

COVERAGE ON NBC SPORTS: Following is the schedule for NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2010 French Open, which culminates with live HD coverage of the Women’s (June 5) and Men’s (June 6) Finals next weekend:

Saturday, May 29, Noon-3 p.m. ET – Third Round

Sunday, May 30, Noon-3 p.m. ET –Fourth Round

Friday, June 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (all time zones) – Men’s Semifinals

Saturday, June 5, 9 a.m.-Noon ET – Women’s Final (Live)

Sunday, June 6, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. ET – Men’s Final (Live)

FRENCH OPEN ON NBCSPORTS.COM: Tennis fans can go online to view daily video highlights; “Star Cam” streaming during the Men’s and Women’s Finals, which features live online coverage of the players throughout the broadcast; and “Ask the Expert” segments where users can submit questions to the NBC on-air talent with the chance of them answering them live on television.

FRENCH OPEN GOES MOBILE: Tennis fans that are on the go can once again watch the French Open live on their mobile phones through NBC 2Go and NBC Sports Mobile. Fans can also get live news, scores, videos and photos on their mobile devices through the NBC Sports Mobile site (http://m.NBCSports.com) or by texting “TENNIS” to 51515 to sign-up for NBC Sports Mobile tennis alerts.

NBC AND THE FRENCH OPEN: In 1975, NBC became the first American television network to provide coverage of the French Open when the network signed a three-year deal with the French Tennis Federation. The tournament was covered by CBS from 1980-82 and returned to NBC in 1983, where it has remained since.

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Two assistant UCONN men’s basketball coaches have been asked to resign in light of recruiting violations involving Nate Miles. Quinnipiac fans, if this story sounds familiar, that’s because then UCONN assistant-Tom Moore was involved in possibly breaking the texting rules.

Well, according to his attorney, he’s been exonerated:

Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore, who was a UConn assistant during the recruitment of Miles, distanced himself from the case Thursday night. Moore was mentioned in the original report as introducing Nochimson and Miles. But Moore was exonerated in UConn’s notice of allegations, according to his Kansas City-based attorney Scott Tompsett. Moore referred all questions to Tompsett Thursday night.

“He has not been named in any allegation,” said Tompsett, who added he has represented more coaches than any other attorney in NCAA investigations the past 20 years. Tompsett also represented former Indiana assistant Rob Senderoff in a phone violation case when Senderoff was an assistant under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. Senderoff is an assistant at Kent State.

“[Moore] cooperated fully and not named,” Tompsett said. “I can’t go into the details of the investigation but he cooperated fully and did everything asked of him.”

Tompsett said the matter is closed for Moore.

That certainly is good news for a man that is probably going to have a team in the NCAA tournament next year and is also believed to be Jim Calhoun’s chosen successor.

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Here we go:

A: Phil Mickelson (Backup: Kenny Perry)
B: Geoff Ogilvy (Backup: Hunter Mahan)
B: Sean O’Hair (Backup: Y.E. Yang)
C: Ben Crane (Backup: Ricky Barnes)

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This week is one of the most popular events on the PGA Tour, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, featuring defending champion Steve Stricker and 2008 champion Phil Mickelson. Mickelson’s scenario for becoming #1 in the world this week is fairly simple: win, and you’re #1. Now if it was only that easy.

TV Coverage is Golf Channel tomorrow-Friday from 2-6pm ET, and Saturday and Sunday on CBS from 3-6pm ET, Live.

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As expected, Tiger Woods committed to next week’s Memorial on the PGA Tour. But the quote he gave to his website was very telling:

“The doctors advised me to take a week off and rest, which I did,” Woods said. “They prescribed physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and soft-tissue messages, which I’m continuing with. Although I’m not 100 percent, I feel much better and look forward to competing next week.”

I completely and utterly disagree with this decision. Tiger needs to look long-term, and get himself completely healthy before he heads back into the rigors of the PGA Tour. He requires daylong practice sessions to make himself feel as if he can win, and I have a feeling he hasn’t been able to do that, which is going to make next week that much more interesting.

Will I be watching? Sure thing. Am I for this decision? Not at all.

On a completely different note, Tiger committed today to play in the Open Championship Champions Challenge event, to be played the Wednesday of British Open week on holes 1, 2, 17 and 18 at St. Andrews. Every living Open champion will be playing in that event except for Kel Nagle, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Nick Price. It’ll be televised on ESPN and should be a lot of fun to watch.

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