The Europeans Retain the Ryder Cup Trophy on the Third Day of Singles Play.

The Europeans had a pretty good lead going into the final third day of play – they were 5-3 up after day one, and 10-6 after the second day. A pattern was beginning to emerge.

Unlike the first two days of fourballs and foursomes, the final day is all singles matches, eight in the morning and eight in the afternoon. The winner is the first team to reach an unassailable 14 and a half points.

Down 6-10 is not an impossible position to win from. In fact, we need look no further than two years ago at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois. The Europeans were 6-10 down to the U.S. but came back to win eight and a half points on the final day to win, 14.5 to 13.5.

The Europeans roared out of the gate on day three, with the world’s #1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, finally finding his form and winning 5&4 against Rickie Fowler. His fellow Northern Irishman, Graeme McDowell, was three games down against Jordan Speith – but after a spate of birdies, won the match 2&1.

Next up for the European side was Martin Kaymer who shot a spectacular birdie chip on the 16th hole to beat Bubba Watson 4&2. And finally, although Hunter Mahan was at one point four games up, Justin Rose fought back to tie the match and get a half point for his team.

In the 10th match of the day, Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson made an astonishing approach shot to the 15th hole and beat Keegan Bradley 4&3, and that was enough to get to 14 and a half points and win the trophy.

Although everyone on the European team deserved applause, it was Donaldson who got the most praise for beating Bradley and being the man who made the final putt to win the Ryder Cup.

Speaking to the press after his miraculous shot to the 15th green, Donaldson said, “Obviously I know I’m four up with four to play and hit a really good tee shot down 15 – just a perfect yardage and the wedge shot of my life to close the game out. I can’t really put words to it. It’s unbelievable. I knew it was all getting tight there at the end and everybody building at my group. I was just trying to not spend too much time looking at the scoreboard and just concentrate on my match, and that’s what I did, and was able to do it well enough to close it out.”

Sources: BBC, The Independent UK, O Canada

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Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Try to Break Their Road Loss Streak in Colorado.

When you’ve lost 13 road games in a row, you begin to get the message – but you still have to try. At least that’s what the football team from the University of Hawaii at Manoa were thinking…

Playing the Colorado Buffaloes, the Rainbow Warriors were definitely let down by their quarterbacks. Ikaika Woolsey was QB for the first half, and was then replaced in the second half by Jeremy Higgins – but neither were very effective. Between them they went for 14-for-41 for 130 yards. But no touchdowns… and that’s really what this game is about.

Both Colorado and Hawaii started off slow, each getting turned over on their opening drives. Drives went back and forth throughout the first quarter and it was Hawaii who were first on the scoreboard with three points from a 35-yard field goal from Tyler Hadden with just three minutes left on the clock.

But that’s all it took to rouse the Buffaloes and, within 15 seconds more of play, Colorado QB Sefo Liufau threw out a pass to Nelson Spruce who ran 71 yards for a touchdown, making it 7-3.

In the second quarter, the Warriors made some good, strategic drives, but the best they could do was another field goal from Hadden – this one, 25 yards – to bring the score to 7-6. The Buffaloes struck back with touchdowns by Shane Fields and George Frazier, and that put the score at 21-6 at halftime.

That was it for Colorado but it was all they needed to win. The Warriors added two more field kicks, but that wasn’t enough to change the score and, at the end of the day, the Buffaloes won 21-12.

The Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre spoke to journalists about his team holding the Rainbow Warriors to just four field goals, “I consider that 100 percent stops in today’s football. I really do.”

Sources: Star Advertiser, SF Gate, Yahoo!

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The New Rules for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Are Stressing Everyone Out.

The AAA 400 is raced at the Dover International Speedway on a one-mile track, and Kevin Harvick won the pole – his seventh this season, with Kyle Busch in second place, and Denny Hemlin third.

The way the Chase works this year is that of the 16 drivers in the Challenger Round – and this is the final race in this round – only 12 of them will get through to the Contender Round. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are already through to the next round having won the first two races in the Challenger Round.

Jimmie Johnson, who won at Dover last season, spoke to the press about the stress of trying to keep up with the pack to get into the next round of races, “I’m sure Brad and Joey are sleeping just fine. But the guys down in 12th to 16th, they’re stressing. In some ways, it spreads the championship pressure among everybody. Whereas in the past, it started off with however many dealing with it, and then it just emerged with one or two at the end kind of feeling all the weight of the world. Now, everybody equally gets to share the pain.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed, even though he’s currently in third place, “This has been really intense. You feel it all week long. It’s inescapable as far as trying to get it off your mind or trying to take a break from it.”

Two drivers were very happy at Dover. Jeff Gordon overtook race leader, Keselowski, on the 306th lap and held the lead from then on to win his fourth race of the season. But perhaps Hendricks Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, was happier – although he finished 20th, he managed to get 12th position in the standings and will move on to the next round.

Keselowski came in second, followed by Johnson, Logano, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson.

All points will be reset for the next race at the Kansas Speedway, the first race in the Contender Round.

Sources: Kansas City, Sporting News, Detroit Free Press

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At the End of the First Day, the Europeans Are Leading the Americans, 5-3.

The Ryder Cup began as an every-other-year contest between the U.S. and Great Britain back in 1927, the cup being donated by Englishman Samuel Ryder, a businessman and golfing enthusiast who made his fortune selling ‘penny packets’ of garden seeds.

The tournament was suspended during the second world war but, when it resumed, the Ryder Cup was now fought between the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland. However, due to a dominance by the U.S. teams, it was decided in 1979 to extend the Brit’s team to include Europe.

There are three days of golf, the first two days have eight matches played as foursomes/fourballs, and on the final day, there are 12 singles matches. Winning a match gets one point, and if the match is tied both sides get a half-point. Finally, a ‘fourballs’ match is where each player takes alternate shots on the same ball – in a foursome, everyone gets their own ball, and the best score on each side is what counts.

This is matchplay, so this is about winning holes rather than watching how many strokes you add up.

In the first match at the spectacular Gleneagles course in Scotland, the U.S. were represented by Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, playing the #3 and #1 golfers in the world, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy. It would be good to say the Americans played brilliantly, but they did manage to play better than the Europeans and that’s all that counted.

The Europeans were one game up after the 15th hole, but then Bradley got a birdie on the 16th to even the match, and Mickelson sank his putt for a birdie on the 18th winning outright.

However, whatever lead the Americans had in the morning, it was squandered by day’s end, and the Europeans were winning, 5-3.

Talking after his morning match, Mickelson spoke about Bradley’s performance on the 16th hole when everything got turned around, “That gave us a huge momentum boost coming down the stretch. Even though we fought it for a few holes, we were able to hang in there until it turned, and those shots that Keegan hit on 16 were just stupendous.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Daily Mail UK, Fox Sports

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Caldwell ‘Pops’ Jones Dies of a Heart Attack, Aged 64 – A Great Loss to Basketball.

On September 22, basketball lost one of the greats. At 64 years old, retired from the NBA for 21 years, he spent his last day at church with his family, having brunch, but then died from a heart attack at a driving range playing golf, the game he so loved in retirement.

Drafted from Albany State College by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1973, he played three seasons in the American Basketball Association and 14 seasons for the NBA, most notably with the 76ers.

Over his career, he played professionally in more than 1,200 games racking up more than 10,000 points. But that wasn’t his goal, Jones was all about winning. Talking to USA Today in 1990, Jones declared, “Everybody likes to look at the glorified part of the game, like scoring points. But there is a lot more to the game. I look at myself like an offensive lineman. Someone has to open the holes for the 1,000-yard rushers.”

Former 76ers player and coach, Billy Cunningham agreed, “Caldwell was a special person and was taken from us too early. He epitomized what a ‘team player’ was meant to be and didn’t care if he scored a point as long as we won.”

A statement from the Philadelphia 76ers, Scott O’Neill read, “We are truly saddened to learn of the passing of a special member of the Sixers family, Caldwell Jones. He was a consummate teammate, a friend to many and a player who was beloved and respected throughout the league. Our franchise and fans will always remember the impact and contributions Caldwell made to the city of Philadelphia.”

After leaving Philadelphia, Jones played two seasons with the Houston Rockets, one season with the Chicago Bulls, four seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, and finished his career with one season with the San Antonio Spurs.

A statement from the Portland Blazers’ management said, “It’s a sad day when we lose a contributing member to our Trail Blazers history. Caldwell Jones’ quiet but engaging demeanor off the court made him a favorite with Trail Blazers fans during his time in Portland. As a teammate and defensive presence on the court, he brought a fierce attitude and unselfish style of play that helped make the Trail Blazers one of the NBA’s best defensive teams in the late 1980s.”

Sources: Wikipedia, USA Today, CSN Philly, Oregon Live

 

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Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams Are Both Out of the WTA Wuhan Open.

Caroline Garcia of France took on Venus Williams in the first round of the WTA Wuhan Open to play the #6 ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round. Ranked #49 in the world, Garcia knew this was not going to be a walk in the park.

The first set predictably went to Radwanska, 6-3, although Garcia played some brilliant ground strokes and, despite mounting up unforced errors, continued to keep Radwanska on her toes. The second and third sets were long, each going to a tiebreak and Garcia managing to find the energy to win both, 7-6, 7-6. The match lasted two hours 40 minutes.

After her match, Garcia spoke to the press, “It’s pretty different game between Venus and Radwanska, but I did the same game for myself. Against these kind of girls like Radwanska you have to do [this kind] of game. Sometime you can miss, but I knew it was the only way I can win this today. I knew I was still close even when I lost the first set, and that I could maybe win the second and third.”

In other news, Serena Williams was playing her first match since winning the U.S. Open, playing Alize Cornet in the second round. It was a tough match for her, but in the thirteenth game in the first set, she managed to break Cornet’s serve after a long deuce game, 6-5. All she had to do was hold her serve and she’d be one set up.

However, it was obvious to all there that she was not happy. In the break, Williams called her doctor and trainer over and, as she held her head in her hands, things did not look good. After a short while, Williams decided to retire from the match – a huge break for Cornet who goes through to the third round.

Williams later spoke to the media, “I’m sorry to all the fans in Wuhan that I had to retire from my match against Alize today. I felt dizzy and nauseous in the first set and unfortunately couldn’t continue. The tournament organizers have done an amazing job preparing the facilities for this year’s event and I really hope to come back to the Wuhan Open in 2015.”

Sources: SF Gate, China Topix, Sports Illustrated

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NFL Placekicker Rob Bironas Dies In a Fatal Car Crash in Nashville, Tennessee.

Former Tennessee Titans Rob Bironas died in a fatal car crash when he lost control of his SUV less than a mile from his home. He was just 36 years old.

Bironas was a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in marketing, playing for the Auburn Tigers team. He also played for the Georgia Southern Eagles team.

Signing up for the Charleston Swamp Foxes in the Arena Football League’s minors in 2003, Bironas quickly moved to the Carolina Cobras in 2004 and then to the New York Dragons in 2005.

His first season in the NFL, Bironas played for the Tennessee Titans, converting 23 of 29 field goals, 30 of 32 extra points and 11 touchbacks – and that was enough to tie him fourth in the AFC and seventh in the NFL.

During his nine seasons with the Titans, Bironas was selected for the NFL’s All-Pro Team and the Pro Bowl. In 2006 when the Titans took on the Indianapolis Colts, Bironas kicked four field goals, including one that was 60 yards which made the record books, tied as the eighth longest field goal in NFL history.

In his career, Bironas is heralded as the fourth most accurate kicker in the NFL, converting 85.7% of his kicks, 239 out of 279. For kicks over 40 yards, Bironas is ranked third, making 75.2% of his kicks, 94 out of 125. Bironas is the second-leading scorer for the Titans with 1,032 points to his name.

The Titans released Bironas from his contract in March this year, and he had been working out in the off-season with the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A statement from the Tennessee Titans said, “We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news from last night about Rob Bironas. Rob made a significant impact as a player in his nine years with the team and more importantly touched many lives in the Nashville community off the field.”

Bironas leaves behind him the legacy of the foundation he set up in 2008, The Rob Bironas Fund, a non-profit organization that works to help young people in Nashville be educated by local musicians.

Sources: Wikipedia, Daily News, MStarz

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Wes Short Jr. Makes a Stunning Comeback to Win the Quebec City Championship.

It’s been a long while since we’ve seen Wes Short in the headlines, his last official win on the PGA Tour was back in 2005 for the Michelin Championship in Las Vegas.

On the final day of the Quebec City Championship, there were two leaders – Brad Faxon and defending champion Esteban Toledo – but neither of them managed to stay the course and both posted 71s to share third place.

Coming from behind, two players dominated the day, Scott Dunlap and Short, both shooting 64s. And even up until the last hole, you couldn’t have predicted which golfer was going to be victorious.

For the first eight holes, Short played good solid golf but was taking no chances and parred each hole. Even though he was sitting in the bunker on the ninth hole, his approach shot to the pin was good enough to putt for a birdie and he was on his way. He birdied the 10th hole and then holed a 25-foot putt on the 12th hole to get to 10 under par.

Almost getting an eagle three on the par five 14th hole, tapping the ball in for a birdie took him to 11 under par. With a spectacular 35-foot putt on the 16th, Short managed to close the gap with Dunlap and they shared the lead.

Although he roared into the lead with a birdie on the 17th, Dunlap got an eagle on the final hole and that put him back in the lead by one stroke. Short had two options – a birdie to force a playoff or an eagle to win the tournament outright. Short took the latter option, with an eight-foot putt that gave him the win.

Speaking to the press after the match, Short said, “It was slow in coming, that’s for sure. The first eight holes I parred, and I get to [the ninth hole] and I hit a hybrid in the sand trap and then hit it out to about six feet and I felt like that was a very important putt to make. I made it. Then it seemed to open the floodgates because then I birdied 10, I hit a really good drive and 6-iron in there. The hole started looking like a five-gallon bucket.”

Sources: Vancouver Sun, Super Sport, PGA Tour

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The San Francisco 49ers Lose Another Game in the Second Half, But Was It Their Fault?

Another week, and another loss for the San Francisco 49ers. They lost their opening game to the Chicago Bears, even though they had a healthy lead in the first three quarters. And now, against the Arizona Cardinals, they blew a lead again to lose 23-14.

The reason for their loss? Well, if you listen to the 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, it’s not the other team so much as the guys wearing the black and white shirts who are the problem.

Talking to the press after the game on Sunday, Boldin was happy to tell everyone what he thought the issue was, “For me, it’s been obvious the last two weeks the amount of calls that have gone against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten. It hasn’t been close. And every week it’s the same thing. You send the tape in, and the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake.’ But at the same time, the crap is costing us games. At some point, they need to be held accountable.”

In the match against Arizona, referee Gene Steratore’s refereeing team penalized the San Francisco team nine times, and that cost them 107 yards they could not afford. Two hits on Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton cost the 49ers 30 yards in all, and that resulted in a third-quarter touchdown that got the Arizona team back in the game.

Another time, Boldin himself was penalized for unnecessary roughness when they were on the six-yard line, and they were moved back to the 21-yard line. But Boldin said he was provoked and that he spoke to the referee about it, “My penalty was my penalty. I shouldn’t have did it. The guy’s been taking shots at me the whole game. I told the coach that. I told the ref that three times. ‘I didn’t see it, I didn’t see it, I’ll look for it.’ But as soon as we do something, wow, they see it. But when guys are doing crap to us, ‘We didn’t catch it.’”

In the end though, Boldin was pragmatic about the whole situation, “They’ll say we had a lot to do with it, and we did. We could’ve played better here and there, but it’s crazy.”

Sources: CSN Bay Area, CBS Sports, Golden Gate Sports

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Billy Horschel Plays the Best Golf of His Career and Wins the Playoffs in Atlanta.

So, let’s back-track, about a month. Billy Horschel didn’t even make the cut for the first FedEx Cup playoff, falling from #69 in the standings to #82. He’d only been in the top 10 in a tournament twice all season and, aside from being weeks away from becoming a father, had really nothing much to look forward to on the golf course.

Horschel told the press, “I remember flying home and talking with my wife [after the first playoff] and she said, ‘You’re probably just waiting for the season to be over and start a new season.’ I sort of was. But at the same time, I knew my game was in the right shape and I just needed to get out of my own way. I needed to allow my golf game to show.”

He certainly did that by being runner-up in Boston, Massachusetts  and winning the tournament in Denver, Colorado. For his first three days in Atlanta, he carded in the 60s  and shared the lead the world’s #1 golfer, Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was the favorite, but his play has been on and off since he won two majors and the World Golf Championship. He’s allowed. McIlroy was doing OK for the first few holes but his ball found the water on the fifth hole and he got himself a double-bogey. Around the turn, he made three bogeys and, although he salvaged those with three consecutive birdies, managed to finish up with a 71, and that got him shared second place with Jim Furyk.

Meanwhile, Horschel was playing a safe game of golf, staying ahead of Furyk the whole way. There were a couple of great saves along the way – the best being on the 16th hole where he drove into the trees and putted a magnificent 30-footer to save his par – and for his 12th round in a row, Horschel carded in the 60s, a two-under-par 68.

Horschel bags the $10 million prize but, sadly, missed the cut for the Ryder Cup as Tom Watson had to complete his team before Horschel caught fire.

Sources: Boston Globe, Arizona Daily Star, Aljazeera

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