Dustin Johnson's US Open win: right penalty, wrong delivery

Jun 21, 2016 96
  • Dustin Johnson, right, talks to a rules official on the fifth green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (The Associated Press)

  • Dustin Johnson looks at his ball on the fifth green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (The Associated Press)

  • Dustin Johnson reacts after making a birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (The Associated Press)

As different as they are, the Masters and U.S. Open had two things in common this year.

First, and most peculiar, is that Lee Westwood played the final round with both champions — Danny Willett at Augusta National, Dustin Johnson at Oakmont. He now is everyone’s favorite pairing for Sunday at Royal Troon unless the tee time is anywhere near the breakfast hour.

Second, both majors are remembered as much for brilliance as blunders.

At the Masters, it was Jordan Spieth hitting two balls in the water on No. 12 and losing a five-shot lead with a 41 on the back nine.

At Oakmont, it was the USGA adding new meaning to the “toughest test in golf.” Johnson, with a history of failure in the majors, had to play the final seven holes on the hardest course in America without knowing if his score was going to be one shot higher when he finished.

Not since Hubert Green played under a death threat in the final round at Southern Hills in 1977 has a U.S. Open champion faced so much uncertainty.

Blame that on the USGA officials — not for giving him the one-shot penalty, but for keeping their noses in a rule book without looking up to realize they were damaging the integrity of the championship by waiting.

If they knew he was going to be penalized, they should have told him immediately and, in the words of Jack Nicklaus, “let him get on with the job.”

The USGA acknowledged as much Monday. It released a statement saying it regretted the distraction it caused by waiting.

“While our focus on getting the ruling correct was appropriate, we created uncertainty about where players stood on the leaderboard after we informed Dustin on the 12th tee that his actions on the fifth green might lead to a penalty,” the statement said. “This created unnecessary ambiguity for Dustin and the other players, as well as spectators on site, and those watching and listening on television and digital channels.”

USGA executive director Mike Davis summed it up more succinctly Monday night on Golf Channel.

“We made a big bogey,” Davis said.

The good news? Johnson made birdie at the end, not that he needed it. Even with the penalty, he won by three shots.

Johnson is the U.S. Open champion. On this there is no debate.

And there should be no debate on the penalty. Any anger should be directed at the rule, not the officials enforcing it. They have a duty to apply the rules evenly to the entire field.

The guideline for Rule 18-2 is that a player must be penalized if the weight of evidence is more likely than not that he caused it to move. The evidence was video that the USGA thought deserved a closer look.

The weight against Johnson was his action around the golf ball and how quickly the ball moved after he lightly grounded his club, took two practice strokes, lightly set his putter down and moved it behind the ball.

Among the questions to consider: Would the ball have moved if Johnson was not on the green?

The facts don’t change just because so many of his peers — Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods among them — took to social media to declare Johnson did not cause the ball to move. McIlroy made one of the more reasonable points when he tweeted, “If it was me I wouldn’t hit another shot until this farce was rectified.”

That was the mistake, and the USGA owned up to it.

It was reminiscent of 1994 at Oakmont when Trey Holland, the USGA president renowned for his knowledge of the rules, allowed Ernie Els in the final round to get relief from a temporary immovable object — a TV crane that was movable. When he faced the media, Holland said, “I made a mistake.”

Mistakes happen to players and officials. Arnold Palmer once played two shots from behind the 12th green at Augusta National because he was certain he should get relief from an embedded ball, even though the official said he could not. Palmer made double bogey with the embedded ball, par with the second ball, and he was told on the 15th fairway he was right and would get a par. He won the 1958 Masters by one shot.

It’s time to move on, and to be thankful that Johnson played so brilliantly down the stretch.

Will the USGA make more mistakes? Probably.

This is what happens as an organization tries to produce the most extreme test in golf. That is the identity of the U.S. Open. Sandy Tatum, a former USGA president, once famously said the U.S. Open was not set up to embarrass the best players, but to identify them.

Every now and then, it’s the USGA that gets embarrassed.

Mark Sanchez, Jake Peavy among athletes defrauded in Ponzi-like scheme

Jun 21, 2016 70

ENGLEWOOD, CO – MAY 02: Denver Broncos QB Mark Sanchez addresses the media during a press conference May 2, 2016 at UCHealth Training Facility as part of the offseason workout program. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Federal investigators say various professional athletes, including San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy and Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez, were cheated out of at least $30 million in a Ponzi-like scheme run by their investment adviser.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that it obtained a court order freezing the assets of the investment adviser, Ash Narayan.

The order is part of an SEC lawsuit filed last month in Dallas federal court against Narayan, who hasn’t been criminally charged.

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The SEC says Narayan defrauded Peavy, Sanchez and retired Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt out of $30.4 million by claiming he pursued a low-risk investment strategy for their earnings but instead put their money into a struggling online ticket business.

Narayan’s attorneys didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Fowler trying to get his game back at Quicken Loans National

Jun 21, 2016 81
  • FILE – In this March 20, 2016 file photo, Troy Merritt hits the ball out of a bunker during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla. Merritt is the defending champion at the Quicken Loans National, but that doesn’t mean he gets friendly vibes from the golf course. Merritt shot 14 under par on the weekend last year at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club to break through for his first PGA Tour victory, beating Rickie Fowler by three shots. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen, Jr.) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE – In this June 13, 2016 file photo, Rickie Fowler watches his drive from the 15th tee during a practice round for the 2016 US Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. After missing the cut in three consecutive tournaments, including the U.S. Open, Fowler is trying to get his game back at the Quicken Loans National, which begins Thursday, June 23 at Congressional Country Club. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file) (The Associated Press)

Rickie Fowler made the most of missing the cut at the U.S. Open and hopes it pays dividends for him at the Quicken Loans National.

The sixth-ranked player in the world has missed the cut in three consecutive tournaments, so on Sunday he went back to the drawing board with swing coach Butch Harmon, who helped revitalize his career before.

After putting that work in, Fowler expects to get some “good stuff” going this week at Congressional Country Club.

“All of it is just fundamentals, from setup and getting the ball just to start on the line that we’re actually looking and having the flight that we want,” Fowler said Tuesday.

“One of the main things was my body wasn’t rotating or continuing to rotate through the ball. But also some of that was caused by not being in the proper position at the top. Cleaned a few things up.”

Fowler might have to start in his own head after saying Saturday at Oakmont that confidence was one of his issues.

The 27-year-old said he wasn’t trusting his drives as much as he usually does, and the result was an 11 over couple of days at the U.S. Open.

Despite his recent struggles, Fowler said he’s “definitely not concerned” about his play. He cited driving and putting as his two biggest problems.

“Not driving it well and then not able to scramble and make the par putts and then not able to really get into a good rhythm or build momentum through the round, that’s just made it tough to really get off to a good start in tournaments and hence the missed cuts,” he said.

“It’s a fine line, as everyone knows, out here between making a cut and having a chance to be in contention on Sunday to packing your bags and going home early.”

Fowler packed his bags and went home early when he played the U.S. Open at Congressional in 2011. He finished second at this tournament, Tiger Woods’ event, last year, though it took place at nearby Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

His past struggles didn’t dampen his enthusiasm about trying to get his game back at Congressional.

“I’ve always loved the look of the golf course,” Fowler said. “Unfortunately I just haven’t been able to play well here yet. It’s time to change that.”

On Thursday and Friday, Fowler gets to play with two good friends, Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman. Those three and Jordan Spieth vacationed together recently at Baker’s Bay in the Bahamas.

Fowler expects some commentary from Spieth watching at home and hopes the camaraderie sparks some better play for himself, Thomas and Kaufman.

“It’s going to be fun playing with some of our best buds,” he said. “I definitely think pairings where you’re paired with buddies and you get to go out and feed off each other, it can definitely make a difference.

“So we’re all excited about it and we just hope we’re feeding off each other with birdies and get everyone going.”

Oklahoma State and Arizona State to play in 2022 and 2023

Jun 21, 2016 25

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Oklahoma State and Arizona State have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2022 and 2023.

The Cowboys will host the Sun Devils at Boone Pickens Stadium on Sept. 10, 2002. Arizona State will host Oklahoma State on Sept. 9, 2023.

The Cowboys and Sun Devils have met three times, most recently in 1993.

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Arizona State originally had LSU scheduled for those dates, but LSU asked to move those games to future dates. The teams will play in 2026 and 2029.

Thirty years ago today, Bo Jackson chose baseball over the NFL

Jun 21, 2016 40

UNDATED: Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals walks off the field during a season game. Bo Jackson played for the Kansas City Royals from 1986-1990. (Photo by: Ron Vesely/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bo Jackson

Few athletes can change the course of two professional sports with one decision, but Bo Jackson did just that 30 years ago today.

Jackson, the the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft, was also a star baseball player at Auburn and a fourth-round pick of the Kansas City Royals only weeks after the NFL’s Buccaneers pinned the future of their franchise on him.

He seemed destined for a Hall of Fame football career, but he had no interest in playing for the moribund Bucs, who were coming off a 2-14 season and had a hand in ending his baseball eligibility at Auburn when they sent a team jet to pick him up for a physical and a visit. So on June 21, 1986, Jackson turned speculation into reality when he donned a Royals cap at a press conference and explained the decision that would relegate the Buccaneers to 11 more losing seasons to come.

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“I did it because it’s what I wanted to do,” Jackson told reporters. “I’ve had my share of football. Not to brag, but I’ve got my trophy.

“It’s great to be a member of a great team,” he said. “I hope I can contribute to the Royals as much as I can.”

And he took less money to do so, turning down a reported $7 million over four years as the Bucs’ marquee player to begin a minor-league baseball career for significantly less money.

“Every one of you said I was using baseball to raise money from Tampa Bay,” Jackson said. “I proved all of you wrong. I didn’t become an instant millionaire. I went with what is in my heart. My first love is baseball, and it has always been a dream of mine to be a major league player. My goal now is to be the best baseball player Bo Jackson can be.”

And, of course, he did just that — getting a late-season call-up later that season and belting 107 home runs with 78 stolen bases from 1987 to 1990. He even made the 1989 All-Star team and did things like this:

And this:

But Jackson loved football, too, and the Los Angeles Raiders lured him back to the game after making him a seventh-round pick in the 1987 draft. He called the NFL his “hobby” and he did things like this and like this when he put on a helmet at midseason each year from 1987-90. His combination of power and speed allowed him to average a prodigious 5.4 yards per carry over those four seasons.

Eventually, Jackson’s NFL career ended when he suffered a hip injury in a January 1991 playoff game against the Bengals. The injury touched off a degenerative condition and subsequent surgery that limited him to 23 baseball games in 1991 and zero in 1992. At the end of the 1994 season — after brief stints with the White Sox and Angels — his professional sports life was over at age 31.

By the time Jackson had no more greatness to offer in either sport, the Buccaneers were still terrible, the Royals were still mediocre and the Raiders never made it over the hump and into a Super Bowl before moving back to Oakland in 1995.

In some ways, Jackson’s decision 30 years ago today changed two sports by not changing either one nearly as much as it could have.

Reds activate pitcher Iglesias, put Wood on paternity list

Jun 21, 2016 63

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Cincinnati Reds have activated right-hander Raisel Iglesias and placed righty reliever Blake Wood on the paternity list.

The Cuban-born Iglesias went on the 15-day disabled list May 1 with a right shoulder impingement. He just completed a rehab assignment, pitching one inning in his most recent appearance Saturday with Double-A Pensacola.

Iglesias, who will be available for the opener of a two-game interleague series at Texas on Tuesday night, is 1-1 with a 3.49 ERA in five starts for the Reds.

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Wood is 5-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 relief appearances.

Brewers' heart of the order among best in NL

Jun 21, 2016 37

Tuesday, Aug. 25: The Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun (right) is congratulated by Jonathan Lucroy after Braun hit a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin in the sixth inning in Cleveland.

When it comes to the heart of a batting order, few teams are getting better production than the Milwaukee Brewers.

The No. 3 and 4 hitters in Milwaukee’s lineup top any other combination in the National League in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS and are near the top in several other categories.

BREWERS COMBINED STATS FOR 3 & 4 HITTERS

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Stat Brewers NL Rank
BA .308 1st
OBP .372 2nd
SLG .540 1st
OPS .912 1st
HR 30 T3rd
RBI 84 7th

The Brewers can mainly thank Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy. Braun has started 56 games and each time he has batted third in the lineup. Lucroy has started 60 games. Of those, 13 times he has batted third ad 47 times he hit fourth.

The only other player to bat third for Milwaukee this year was Scooter Gennett, who did it once back on May 19 (he went 2 for 4, by the way). In the cleanup spot, Chris Carter has appeared there 21 times while Domingo Santana and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both batter there once.

Braun has done a lot of his damage in Milwaukee victories. In the Brewers’ 27 wins, Braun is hitting .379 with a .451 on-base percentage and .705 slugging percentage. That includes 10 home runs, not to mention 24 RBI and 25 runs.

Carter has hit 18 home runs this season, which is the third-most by any player in the majors playing in his first season with a team. Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo tops the list with 20. Oakland’s Khris Davis, traded to the A’s by Milwaukee in the offseason, is fifth with 16.

Other notes:

— Since moving to the National League, Milwaukee is 3-5 against Oakland.

— Oakland has the highest winning percentage at home in interleague play since 2010 at .702 (40-12).

— The A’s are 4-12 in June, the worst record in the American League during the month.

— Better to play the A’s away from Oakland. Their pitching staff has a 5.51 ERA on the road but 3.97 at home.

Statistics courtesy STATS Inc.

Newspaper overwhelmed by demand for Cavs' victory reprints

Jun 21, 2016 51

CLEVELAND (AP) Overwhelming demand for a piece of history has prompted The Plain Dealer newspaper to print nearly 500,000 copies of its Monday edition proclaiming the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA champions.

Newspaper officials said Tuesday that the normal press run for a Monday is around 36,000 copies, but the newspaper printed 180,000 copies to mark one of the biggest sporting events in city history.

Fans began flocking to the Plain Dealer’s suburban printing plant early Monday to buy copies after the Cavs clinched the title. Demand prompted the newspaper to print an additional 300,000 copies later Monday.

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Stores were restocked numerous times Monday after the newspaper printed extras.

Interstate 480 exits next to the printing plant were jammed with cars Tuesday as more people headed there to pick up newspapers.

Dwyane Wade to be featured in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body Issue'

Jun 21, 2016 103

Dec 28, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) takes a breather during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade has been in the public eye for most of his life.

Never like this, though.

Wade was announced Tuesday as one of the cover models for this year’s ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue,” which will be released online on July 6 and hit newsstands on July 8. The Miami Heat star spent several hours at a shoot for the magazine last month, posing without clothes after turning down invitations to be part of the issue multiple times in recent years.

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Stepped out of my comfort zone for the #BodyIssue on stands July 6th. Sharing #myNAKEDtruth https://t.co/jFBlVEBcW3 pic.twitter.com/2Qn1ykwNhL

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) June 21, 2016

“I was very nervous. Very nervous,” Wade said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was not natural for me. There’s some people who can get in front of the camera without anything on, but it was not natural for me at all. Not one moment of it. But deep down inside, deep down, it felt good to overcome something — my fear, my insecurity.”

Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will also be featured in the eighth annual issue.

Other athletes photographed include NFL stars Antonio Brown and Vince Wilfork, UFC champion Conor McGregor, WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, swimmer Nathan Adrian, beach volleyball Olympian April Ross, soccer player Christen Press, wrestler Adeline Grey, boxer Claressa Shields, and retired diver Greg Louganis. Duathlete Chris Mosier is the first transgender athlete to appear in the issue.

In past years, Wade declined the magazine’s request without hesitation.

“Absolutely not. No way. No. No. No,” Wade said. “That was always my reaction.”

But now, the 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion says he’s evolving and feels more freedom than ever before. He’s also touting his underwear line, Naked — and figured that alone helped make the timing right to take the plunge and pose.

“I’m at the point in my life where I’m 34 years old and understand where I am in life,” Wade said. “I know how I’m going. I’m at this point where I’m doing things I never thought I would, trying things that I never thought I would, that I always said no to. I’m trying not to be that guy. I’m trying to be more open to living life and enjoying it and everything that comes with it. So they caught me at the right moment.”

So Wade and his team of advisers started looking into the process, then found what worked for them from a comfort standpoint.

“I wanted a male photographer, the room to be empty, a lot of things like that,” Wade said. “A lot of things had to be in the agreement for me to do it, but it worked out.”

Wade also knows he’s opening himself up to some teasing from his friends — as he’s faced at times in the past, like when he was featured in People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful issue in 2005. (His wife, Gabrielle Union, has also been among People’s most beautiful in recent years.)

“Oh, man, the memes that I’m going to get, the group texts that I’m going to get, they’re going to be hilarious to say the least,” Wade said. “But you know how I am. I do things because I want to, and I’m not afraid what others say to me.”

SEC says Peavy, Sanchez among athletes defrauded in scheme

Jun 21, 2016 81

HOUSTON (AP) Federal investigators say various professional athletes, including San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy and Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez, were cheated out of at least $30 million in a Ponzi-like scheme run by their investment adviser.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that it obtained a court order freezing the assets of the investment adviser, Ash Narayan.

The order is part of an SEC lawsuit filed last month in Dallas federal court against Narayan, who hasn’t been criminally charged.

More from FoxSports

The SEC says Narayan defrauded Peavy, Sanchez and retired Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt out of $30.4 million by claiming he pursued a low-risk investment strategy for their earnings but instead put their money into a struggling online ticket business.

Narayan’s attorneys didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.