Rory McIlroy won his first Players’ Championship on Sunday afternoon after a brilliant back nine took him to a one stroke victory over Jim Furyk, netting him a cool $2.3 million in cash along the way. The Northern Irishman hadn’t begun his final round all that well, but he would fight back as the day progressed to make six birdies in total.
Two of them came on the 17th and 18th holes, helping him leapfrog the long-finished Furyk to the top of the leaderboard. With the Masters just weeks away now, the talk will be shifting toward whether Rory is in the form to win it or not.
And finally in NASCAR, Kyle Busch has achieved something only one other man has ever done before: win 200 races. Unlike Richard Petty, however, he has done so by winning in three series in the sport, causing many fans to debate the relevance of the record. Nonetheless, it’s well worth pointing out and deserves mention.
Busch has won over 50 races in all three series: the Trucks, the Grand National, and the Cup Series, making him one of the most complete, all-around drivers we’ve ever seen. His win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California yesterday, about as dominant as it gets, just summarizes what he brings to the table when he is at his best.
The draw for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals has now taken place. We know the fate of the eight teams left. In perhaps the biggest profile match of the round, it will be Manchester United taking on Barcelona. Tottenham taking on Manchester City comes in a close second, though, while the other two games look a little bit more predictable with Liverpool facing FC Porto and Juventus tangling with Ajax.
It all, though, has to be decided on the field of play, and this is a competition that continues to be unpredictable as all get out. Will Messi or Ronaldo once again win it, or will a new powerhouse emerge? We’ll start finding out before too much longer.
Speaking of famous nights, that’s what happened when Atletico Madrid visited Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus on Tuesday. Atletico had a 2-0 lead from the first leg, meaning they needed to not fall apart to advance. Guess what? They fell apart.
Who did it to them? None other than the aforementioned Ronaldo, who buried three goals, with the last coming late in the game to hand the Italian team a spot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Ronaldo will be looking to give them their first title in that competition in quite some time, but it would be his fourth in a row should it come to fruition.
In England, a massive rivalry was set to play out on Sunday afternoon between Birmingham City and Aston Villa, both hailing from the city of Birmingham. It was blue against red, just like any other ‘derby.’ Except it wasn’t when a fan ran on the field and sucker punched Villa’s best player- Jack Grealish- in the back of the neck. The scenes were shocking to say the least. In America and in England, this sort of behavior has not been seen for a long, long time. It needs to stay that way, of course, but this has begun to be tested more and more. The NBA has had recent problems. How leagues deal with this is going to be essential to keeping not only players but fans safe, too. As for Birmingham City, expect them to miss out on having fans at home games for a while to deter this sort of ugly behavior from ever happening again.
Rivera Headlines Hall of Fame, Grizzlies Shopping Duo, Serena Collapses
Many words can be and will be spoken about the career of Mariano Rivera. But one thing that can never be debated is that he is the first man in history to be welcomed to the Hall of Fame with 100% of the vote. Never before has this been done, and it is a true testament to the man and the game that he is the first to do so. Rivera was not only an exceptional player, but he was and still is an even better man that embodies the spirit of the game itself. The fact that he’s the first to achieve this mark speaks volumes as the voters, at least a very small minority, have never felt anyone was good enough to do that. There was always something wrong. Not this year, not with Rivera. Joining him in the class of 2019 are fellow pitchers Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay. Joining them is former Seattle Mariner DH Edgar Martinez, the first to make the Hall that played that position almost exclusively. It says a lot about where the game has come that a DH and a closer are in, and it says even more than the first unanimous vote belongs to a closer. The Sand Man. #42.
According to sources around the NBA, it looks like the Memphis Grizzlies will be considering trades for star players Mike Conley and Marc Gasol ahead of the February 7th trade deadline. The point guard and the center have long been the focal point of the team, playing far more games together than any other active pair in the NBA, and the pairing has worked to mild success. To be a mid-market team, they have reached the playoffs quite a few times. They’ve never really gotten over the first hump, though, on the way to being a contender, so this shouldn’t be the biggest surprise we’ve ever heard. Especially when you factor in that they are 19-28 on the season after losing nine of their last ten ball games. That total just isn’t good enough, and it makes them next-to-bottom in the Western Conference, which is already the tougher of the two. Both players could be key pieces for someone looking to make a run, so it will be very interesting to see where they land.
Serena Williams’ run in the Australian Open ended on Tuesday in the quarterfinals after a very rare personal collapse. Williams was up 5-1 in the third and final set, and she looked poised to ease into the semi-finals. However, Karolina Pliskova had other ideas in mind. She would battle back, breaking Williams each time on the way to a nearly miraculous 7-5 win in the set that saw her advance. Williams said that Pliskova played the best possible match that she could and that the Czech deserved the win. She also stated that she didn’t ‘choke’ away the match, further showing her class to put the spotlight upon a fellow player.
Europe Crushes Team USA in the Ryder Cup, Ohio State Gets Massive Win
Team USA didn’t have much going for them all weekend long in Paris. But Team Europe sure did. The Europeans, always overlooked when the Ryder Cup begins for whatever reason, once again put the Americans to the sword in what was a dominant display for virtually the entire weekend. Friday’s early session began well for the Americans, but from then on they never even looked like a danger for the European squad, who simply gelled much better when playing together and then used that advantage to pull away on the final day of play when it turned to singles competition.
The most disappointing thing to the Americans is that both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who had just won his first tournament in five years, didn’t even take a single victory all weekend long. Mickelson was especially bad, and for whatever reason was put in the alternate shot format despite having a poor record in that for some time. But, Europe won it 17.5-10.5 for a very good reason. They had the better players, played better together, and that is why they will be taking the Cup home after holding firm with home course advantage.
Two very big college football results came down the pipeline on Saturday. The first and most notable one was the one between Penn State and Ohio State. Penn State, playing at home in front of a rowdy crowd, had a 12 point lead as the fourth quarter started, but saw it all disappear before their eyes as the Buckeyes came back to win 27-26. The Nittany Lions had a chance late to get something, but a strange decision to run on fourth down backfired and saw head coach James Franklin left red-faced. In the other big game of the day, Notre Dame dominated Stanford to win and remain on course for a place in the playoff come the end of December. The Fighting Irish, ranked no. 8 coming into the weekend, got the job done 38-17. It was close until late, when they poured on 14 points in the fourth to give them a win and get them closer to a possible place in the final four.
Tiger Wins Tour Championship, Two Upsets Highlight NFL
That’s it. It’s over. Anyone looking to become the comeback player of the sports year, or maybe even decade for that matter, can just give up now. Tiger Woods has taken that mantle after he won his first time in over five years on Sunday at the Tour Championship to close out to the PGA Tour season with a bang. Woods had been impressive all year long, given his relative lack of anything resembling good play for oh so long. And he was just as impressive throughout the week, never failing to have less than a share for the lead at the end of any round. He came into Sunday ahead by three strokes. Wearing red, like the Tiger of old, he never gave the chasers a chance to catch him. He had never lost a PGA Tour event with a lead that large after 54 holes, and he extended that. But the biggest thing to take from this is that it is one of the greatest feats ever. This was a broken man. In body and spirit. He could barely walk not too long ago, and he had one of the most public falling outs with family we had ever seen. Yet, he has fought through all of that adversity to win again on the tour. Not many thought it would ever happen again, and no matter what the detractors may say, this was one of the biggest and best day’s in golf history.
The NFL is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. No matter how good, or bad, a team is, there is always a chance that they could lose. It is professional football, after all. But there were two very notable upsets on Sunday in the NFL. The first of which was the Buffalo Bills defeating the Minnesota Vikings in convincing fashion by a score of 27-6. The Bills, now 1-2, defeated the previously unbeaten Vikings thanks in large part to a 17-point first quarter outburst. Young QB Josh Allen was very solid, and the defense was very good all day. Vegas had the Vikings, a big-time Super Bowl contender as nearly 17 point favorites.
The other upset of the day came in the night cap as Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots lost to Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football. The former Pats assistant was doubted all week long over his ability to defeat his former master, but the apprentice put on a masterpiece in a dominant 26-10 victory. The Lions won all four quarters, only tying 7-7 in the third, and held Brady to just 133 yards in the air. If you can do that, you’re almost guaranteed to win, and that’s what the Lions got. Both teams are now 1-2. And judging off their attitudes now, who do you think is most likely to make the playoffs?
Tiger Still Tied For the Lead, Astros Clinch Playoff Slot, Braves One Win Away
Tiger Woods’ chances to win his first tournament in five years continue to look very good as he keeps up his outstanding year at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. And for the first time since 2015, he will share the lead in a tournament with someone after 36 holes. Of course, that’s despite struggling during Friday’s second round with his ball striking. Yet the former world’s no.1 shot a -2 under 68 to get to -7 under overall. He is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Justin Rose. Both men will play together on Saturday and hold a two shot advantage over Rickie Fowler, who shot even par after joining Woods at -5 under after the first round. Woods could have been in a much better position, but a rare mental error saw him get greedy and end up with a double bogey on the 16th hole when he went for the green from the rough and ended up lodged in a bunker. If Woods is playing poorly and at the top of the leaderboard, it can only be a good sign. Can it continue or will it come apart at the weekend?
Major League Baseball’s stretch run is truly on now. And there is no lack of drama. September is a very important time. Teams can make it to the playoffs, and they can also build momentum toward them with good performances. One such team that has made the playoffs is the Houston Astros. The defending World Series champions clinched a place last night with an emphatic 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. But, matters are not totally at rest for them just yet. While they still have at least a place in the Wild Card play-in game, they still have the Oakland Athletics to contend with. The A’s won in dramatic fashion against the Minnesota Twins thanks to Khris Davis. The slugger led the game off with a solo home run and he helped them walk off with one as well in the tenth inning. They are four games off the pace of the Astros, but they are still not going away as of yet.
And finally, the Atlanta Braves are closing in on the NL East crown after a stirring Suntrust Park crowd willed them back from 4-1 down to win 6-5 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night. The Braves hit the previously unhittable Pat Neshek very hard in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the highlight being Ozzie Albies’ two run homer. The magic number is now at 2 for the Braves, meaning one win either Saturday or Sunday will seal their first division crown since 2013.
Mayweather Says Pacquiao Rematch Will Happen This Year, Rodgers Still Questionable
One of the biggest and most financially rewarding fights of all time looks like it could be set for a second occurrence. Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, according to the former, will meet sometime this year. The first meeting between the two boxers came in 2015, and it was considered a few years too late by many experts. Nonetheless, it happened, and Mayweather won it in the end, as he always does. Mayweather took him $100 million from the fight, so it’s no wonder he would be open to a rematch. We’ve seen him coming out of retirement before, so you’d have to say he’s a big favorite to win if and when this rematch takes place.
Aaron Rodgers practiced for the first time since injuring his knee last Sunday on Saturday, but the Green Bay Packers remain coy on his status. The Packers are still calling him questionable, but if all of us can be honest for a second, he’s going to play. They were saying earlier in the week that he didn’t need to practice to play. If that is the case, then if he is practicing he will almost certainly play. It’d be a big surprise to see him not out there. Now, he may have to change his game up a little by being less mobile, but we should see him give it a go tomorrow.
And last but not least, we arrive at Noah Syndegaard again. The New York Mets pitcher might just be the best in the league, and his performance on Friday night at Fenway Park will have done little to prove otherwise. He was simply impervious, pitching seven shutout innings in a 8-0 win over MLB’s best Boston Red Sox. Syndegaard very much enjoyed his first start at the hallowed old ground, all with the exception of a rat that disappointed him. He joked after the game about how the rats in New York were bigger. Let’s just take his word on that.