• 0

Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions

This week some of the Last Word on Golf’s writing team tackle our 2019 U.S. Open predictions. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf panel make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your U.S. Open picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Graeme McDowell (80 to 1)

The biggest underdog I’ve picked this season comes back to a familiar locale this week at the 2019 U.S. Open. Northern Ireland’s own Graeme Macdowell was the last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2010. Earlier this season the 39-year old found himself back in the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.

McDowell’s recent form has been on the upward trajectory as he finished tied for 29th at the PGA Championship and currently sits 5th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (an essential stat with this week’s tricky poa annua greens). This past week at the RBC Canadian Open McDowell gained a momentous boost of confidence after sinking a clutch putt on the final hole to punch his ticket back home to Royal Portrush and The Open Championship just over a month away.

Josh Mullenix (@TheJMULL_)- Matt Kuchar (50 to 1)

Not entirely sure you can consider Kuch an underdog, but he certainly isn’t a favorite. Pebble Beach isn’t that long of a golf course. What comes at a premium is hitting fairways and accurate approach shots to these small, undulated greens. Kuchar does both of these things beautifully and his lack of power won’t hurt him on a golf course that is only going to play 7,075 yards.

He ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and strokes gained: approach the green. Apart from a missed cut at the Memorial, Kuchar hasn’t finished outside the top-12 since the Players in mid-March.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Jon Rahm

Entering the U.S. Open, Spain’s Jon Rahm sits at a 28-to-1 favorite and in many cases is a top-10 consensus to perform. However, the often emotional (and sometimes volatile) Rahm is coming off two straight missed cuts, including at the PGA Championship.

Going up against a tricky USGA layout at Pebble Beach may prove too much to handle for the immensely talented 24-year old rising star. Thus far this season Rahm sits 110th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 72nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 71st in Scrambling.

The narrowed fairways and troublesome misses could play equalizer to the accuracy and length off the tee. While he is more than capable of making the proper adjustments, Pebble Beach has a way of humbling even the game’s greatest competitors which could mean an early return home for Rahm from one of the most iconic courses in all of golf.

Mullenix- Phil Mickelson

I really want Phil to win this week and complete the grand slam, but I just don’t see it happening. Since Mickelson won the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, his best finish is a tie for 18th at Augusta, he’s missed four cuts in nine events, and only has two rounds in the 60s since the beginning of the Masters.

He is 208th on tour in driving accuracy and is 102nd in greens in regulation percentage. Those stats don’t add up to a player that is going to make the cut at the toughest test in golf. Mickelson has been far too inconsistent this season and he’ll miss the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open despite his successful history at Pebble Beach.
2019 U.S. Open Runner-Up
Walton- Brooks Koepka

It’s incredibly difficult to bet against the Major prowess of Brooks Koepka. Not much can be revealed that hasn’t already been hammered home this past week, and even this past year. Not even 30 yet and he is coming off a tie for second at this year’s Masters as well as a successful title defense at the PGA Championship.

Add in that Koepka is already the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion and the facts and figures make it nearly impossible to not make him the frontrunner on every poll. That being said, chalk this prediction more up to a gut reaction. The three-peat is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplishment in golf especially coming into a course like Pebble Beach.

I still believe Koepka will turn in a solid, contending performance this week but I just don’t see him winning his 5th Major, at least not yet.
Mullenix- Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay is playing the best golf of his career. A pair of T3’s at the RBC Heritage and the PGA Championship were followed by an incredible win at the Memorial including a Sunday 64. Eventually, Cantlay is going to get a major, but it won’t be this week. I just don’t have faith in him at majors after what happened to him on the back nine at Augusta.

He looked very uncomfortable and two bogeys in the final three holes took him out of the running quickly. Don’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, but he needs to be in contention at a major one more time before he actually gets it done.

2019 U.S. Open Champion
Walton- Rory McIlroy

Simply stated, Rory is on a roll. In 13 events played this season McIlroy has finished top-10 in 10 of those tournaments. Six of those were top-5 performances including two victories. Just last week he took home the RBC Canadian Open by a staggering seven strokes following a final round of 61 (which could’ve been a 59) to finish with a tournament total of 22-under par.

Speaking to his stats he currently sits first in Strokes Gained: Total, Off the Tee and Tee to Green as well as the best on tour average for eagles made. Additionally, since 2014 McIlroy currently sits in the top three performers on poa annua greens at 2.93 strokes gained total. (behind Dustin Johnson and Jason Day)

The Northern Ireland native knows what it takes to battle against heavy hitters like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. This week, with momentum on his side and his confidence at an all-time high, McIlroy is undoubtedly a front runner to win his second U.S. Open and his 5th major championship.
Mullenix- Dustin Johnson

Nine years is a long time for demons to hang around and DJ’s win at Oakmont in 2016 effectively exorcised the demons from his collapse at the 2010 U.S. Open. DJ has a great track record at Pebble including back-to-back wins at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009-10.

While it isn’t the same course presented for a U.S. Open that players find in February, history has shown that four of the five U.S. Open winners at Pebble Beach also won the Pro-Am at some point. Over his last 12 rounds, Johnson has 10 rounds in the 60s including four rounds of 69 or better at the PGA Championship where he finished in solo second. DJ gets it done at Pebble and wins his second major championship.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’AvUUT1RBQ4hJWAvtKJ20AQ’,sig:’QFztz82illQlhQL8AJr5sRY2d8ejxTHv3HoQHjMONhU=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1141279606′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Brooks Koepka Fueled By History and Motivation for U.S. Open

Tags :

Category : Brooks Koepka , Golf , PGA , U.S. Open

It’s easy for Brooks Koepka to find motivation on weeks like this. For starters, it’s the U.S. Open, a tournament where Koepka has won in back-to-back years. The four-time major champion is trying to become the first since Willie Anderson to win three straight U.S. Open titles.

But in addition to maintaining the mental fortitude required to compete at a major championship, Koepka has another chip on his shoulder. This year, it is with Fox Sports, the official television provider broadcasting the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. In their annual promo for the tournament, there was a notable golfer missing. Brooks Koepka. In fact, out of the four promos Fox Sports created, three of which included the World No. 1, the one selected highlighted his absence.

And Koepka was quick to jump on this fact, which will serve as his primary motivation at the third major championship of the year.

“I was just kind of shocked,” said Koepka. “Somebody got fired over it, or should.”
Brooks Koepka’s Self-Perception, Mental Toughness Enables Success
A lot has changed since the days of Brooks Koepka travelling every week to play in tournaments throughout Europe. Or at the 2017 U.S. Open, when Dustin Johnson was more noticeable in the workout room than Koepka. There are still instances where the six time winner on the PGA Tour pinches himself at the attention he generates.

“I still think it’s weird when I walk into a place and I can see eyes are on me just for dinner,” reveals Koepka. “I just view myself as a regular guy, just like everybody else. And I just happen to be really good at golf, and that’s it. I don’t view myself any different than anybody else does.”

There is a plethora of individuals who can play golf really well. But very few can play at the highest level like Brooks Koepka. What makes him abnormal compared to the average golfer is his inherent aptitude for blocking out distractions. The mental capacity to hit timely shots in the biggest moments of a golf tournament has been the impetus to move Koepka into golfing stardom, winning four of the last eight majors he has competed in.

Koepka has been able to dominate to major victories, like he did at Erin Hills for his first U.S. Open. He has conquered unequivocally challenging golf course setups at Shinnecock Hills and the galleries rooting for Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship. Most impressive was Koepka’s most recent major championship victory, battling the windy conditions at Bethpage Black, to survive the bogeys and the near-comeback from Dustin Johnson. It was his most emotionally draining victory yet, but once again demonstrated Koepka’s clutch ability under the immensity of major championship pressure.

“I watched a six-shot lead disappear very quickly,” affirmed Koepka. “I was actually really proud of myself the way I spun that mentally, being able to block things out and turn a negative into a positive by hitting great shots.”
Doubt Koepka At Your Own Risk at Majors
Pebble Beach will be a unique test for Brooks Koepka. Compared to the other courses he has won U.S. Opens at, the classic setup at Pebble is much shorter. Requiring a golfer to hit creative shots, particularly on the sloping greens.

No golfing body will be under the microscope more than the USGA this week. After two years of questionable course setups, coming back to a classic course like Pebble Beach will provide an opportunity for redemption. But to Brooks Koepka, a golf course is the same test for anyone. Hence why he shrugs off the criticism towards the USGA when it comes to course structure.

“If they put it in the fairway, you shouldn’t have to complain about the rough. You hit the greens and you hit it close, you shouldn’t have to complain about the greens,” states Koepka. “I’ve just been never one to complain and make excuses.”

The blueprint at major championships is one that has worked for Koepka. Four of his six PGA Tour wins have come at majors. Throughout this dominant stretch, Brooks has stressed his mental ability to lock in at these tournaments. When he isn’t at the golf course, Koepka is with his close friends and family. The close bubble away from the buzz of a major championship enables Koepka to relax and adapt that laser, tunnel-vision focus on the golf course. He has won four major championships with this approach, why stop now?

“I just keep it very, very strict on major weeks. It’s something I’ve done ever since I’ve gotten to major championships,” says Koepka. I keep the golf at the golf course; and when I go home, I put my feet up and relax. These are super stressful weeks. And to find some place of relaxation is important.”

With the golfing world wondering if Tiger can win his 16th major, or if Phil Mickelson can finally claim his U.S. Open, don’t gaze too far away from Brooks Koepka. Golf is in need of a dominant successor. Koepka is the name everyone is chasing now.The post Brooks Koepka Fueled By History and Motivation for U.S. Open appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Each CFL West Division Team’s Biggest Obstacle

We are oh-so-close to the kick-off of the 2019 regular season. Prediction articles are well underway, overreactions to pre-season games have Twitter flooded with hot takes from every fanbase but the general mood is that of excitement. The entire league received a facelift (not just the New Era uniforms) as many players found new homes during free agency in February.

The West Division appears to be an even more difficult gauntlet than it was in years past if that was even possible. With the addition of Trevor Harris to the Edmonton Eskimos, one could make the argument that the three best quarterbacks reside in the West (depending on how you feel about Jeremiah Masoli). Below are each West Division team’s biggest obstacle from finishing first in the CFL West Division
BC Lions
Expectations
Call it an obscure answer if you must but this Lions team is entering the season with likely the highest of expectations. More than the defending Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders, that’s saying something. Hiring the most sought after head coach in DeVone Claybrooks and signing the most sought after quarterback in Mike Reilly would’ve been enough to raise expectations on the west coast. However, it didn’t stop there.

Duron Carter, John White, Chris Edwards, Aaron Grymes, Lemar Durant, Sukh Chungh all made their way to British Columbia. At the same time, the Lions were able to retain Bryan Burnham, TJ Lee and Hunter Steward. What does this all mean? The Lions have a long way to fall if this doesn’t translate to immediate success. Could one make reference to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles “dream team”? They could, but I’m not sure if someone would want to take it that far.

Nevertheless, hosting a home playoff game should be the lowest the bar goes, with a new coach, culture and quarterback time will tell how quickly this team is able to pull it together and make a run for their first Grey Cup since 2011.
Saskatchewan Roughriders
Quarterback/Offence
For the sake of not rehashing the same storyline that has dominated Saskatchewan over the past season, we’ll put it out there that the offence needs to be better. That starts with the quarterback, Zach Collaros. After striking out on Bo Levi Mitchell, Trevor Harris and Mike Reilly, the Riders brought back the veteran pivot and invested the remaining cap they had into the interior defence with Micah Johnson and Solomon Elimimian.

Make no mistake, despite the loss of Chris Jones, the defence on paper could be just as dominant as last season. But what will it mean if the offence struggles to put up points again? And that is precisely why you’re seeing a majority of predictions having the Riders finish last in the West. Saskatchewan did invest into its offence as well, bringing in star running back, William Powell. As well as offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley and going heavy on receivers early in the 2019 Draft.

For the Riders to prove their detractors wrong, it will start with Zach Collaros staying healthy, then producing. Nine touchdowns and a negative TD:INT ratio won’t get them 12 wins this year, not with Trevor Harris, Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly in the division.
Calgary Stampeders
Chemistry
While it’s often in professional sports that the championship team is raided of its talent. The Stampeders endured loses at the coaching and player level this past off-season. Calgary’s first and likely greatest loss was their defensive coordinator of the past three seasons, DeVone Claybrooks. However, the hits didn’t stop there with the defensive losses. Linebackers Alex Singleton and Jameer Thurman moved on to the NFL and Ja’Gared Davis signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Ciante Evans made a run at the AAF but quickly signed back in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes,

Of course, the biggest loss may have been to the division rival Saskatchewan Roughriders. Micah Johnson, arguably the best defensive player in the CFL moved one province over to team up with another former Stampeder Charleston Hughes. On the offensive side of the ball, losses at receiver were the biggest talking point with Marken Michel, Chris Matthews, DaVaris Daniels and Lemar Durant all no longer with the squad.

The saving grace in all of this is that the Stampeders were able to retain prized quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell on a four-year deal. That and the Stampeders ability to produce homegrown talent may be enough to stay competitive in the CFL’s West Division.

🔊 “Talent is definitely one of the first words,”
Bo Levi Mitchell on what comes to mind when he thinks of the 🇨🇦 receiving group! pic.twitter.com/gWW4tYpj3W

— Calgary Stampeders (@calstampeders) June 9, 2019

Edmonton Eskimos
Coaching
No matter how high you are on Trevor Harris, the Edmonton Eskimos got worse at quarterback in 2019. As hard as that is to say, with their last quarterback being Mike Reilly, that’s just the fact of the matter. However, that’s not the biggest roadblock for a successful 2019 season in the CFL West Division for Edmonton. It’s coaching. As some may remember Jason Maas found himself on the hot seat towards the end of 2018 after a disappointing 9-9 campaign ended without a playoff appearance.

Fellow Last Word on Canadian Football writer, Jeff Burns broke down the Eskimos discipline issues mid-season last year. The results were quite telling. From 2016 up-to-the halfway mark of the season in 2018, Edmonton has led the league in average penalties per game. If the Eskimos are going to overcome their downgrade at quarterback and injury at left tackle, they’ll have to play much more disciplined football to stay in the race.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quarterback Play
This isn’t so much a shot at Matt Nichols as it is an observation. Nichols is a fine quarterback who has proven he can make big plays when called upon and typically limits his mistakes. However, the Bombers can ill-afford for Nichols to have a stretch of games as bad as last season that saw Winnipeg lose four straight. In those games, Nichols threw for just four touchdowns to eight interceptions and averaged just 220 passing yards per game with a 58.85% completion rate.

While Chris Streveler provides some insurance, one has to assume that Winnipeg would likely want to avoid any quarterback controversy in 2019, especially with the CFL West Division as stacked as it is. If Nichols can stay consistent as he has throughout the majority of his career, the Bombers have a great shot at securing first place in the CFL West Division.
The Last Word
I’m sure this will go over like a lead balloon but the 2019 off-season has set up what could be the most competitive West Division we’ve ever seen. Whether that means the first and second place teams finishing with 13-5 records or a three-way tie for first at 11-7. Either way, it’s almost unpredictable. Every team listed has the potential to finish first but not every team will clear these obstacles and that means there will be West Division teams falling well short of their pre-season expectations.

Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’tnWSKWQHSUtKr71lEwUldw’,sig:’xRQioDrQxOaBnVJbipoHVToN4Un5-1olMPZuEKfE8tc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1026242470′,caption: true ,tld:’ca’,is360: false })});The post Each CFL West Division Team’s Biggest Obstacle appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

As father time ticks away, this week’s U.S. Open from Pebble Beach could be the last real opportunity for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson to complete the coveted grand slam of golf. The four-time All-American tees it up, alongside 155 other top players in the world, in his home state of California this Thursday.

Three times in his 27-year professional career the legend known as ‘Lefty’ has donned the green jacket as Masters Champion (2004, 2006, 2010). Add a PGA Championship in 2005 and The Open Championship in 2013 and just one more piece of the puzzle remains. Placing that last piece of the puzzle is easier said than done with a hard-hitting group of top contenders including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy surrounding you.
Mickelson’s U.S. Open History
In 27 starts at the U.S. Open, Mickelson has yet to take home the trophy despite making the cut a remarkable 89-percent of the time (24 of 27 made cuts). Almost inconceivably, he has finished in the top-10 on 10 separate occasions. Six of those top-10 finishes saw Mickelson fall just short of the title in the runner-up position.

Throughout his career, Mickelson has played a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach three different years. Starting in 1992 with a missed cut, he has improved every outing since. In 2000 he found himself in a tie for 16th while 2010 ‘Lefty’ took charge with a tie for 4th.

With six-second place finishes including Pinehurst (1999), Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), Shinnecock (2004), Winged Foot (2006) and Merion (2013), Mickelson has been on the cusp but has never been able to make that final leap into the winner’s circle.

Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course, the site of Mickelson’s 2006 runner-up finish, will be the host site next year for the 2020 U.S. Open. Despite his past success, the 14-year difference on Mickelson’s abilities may put the 7,264-yard length of Winged Foot out of reach for what will be a 50-year old Phil Mickelson.

Despite being 17th in driving distance this season, Mickelson still comes in 78th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 100th in strokes gained off-the-tee. While this year’s U.S. Open may not be a bomber’s paradise, keeping steady off the tee is an essential aspect for any victor to have in his bag. Luckily for Phil, he more than knows his way around the sprawling California oasis known as Pebble Beach.
Familiarity factor at Pebble Beach
An illustrious career has yielded Mickelson 44 PGA Tour victories. Five of which have come at none other than Pebble Beach Golf Links. While certainly a tale of two courses from the time-honored Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the USGA’s treacherous U.S. Open set up, the familiarity factor cannot be underestimated.

Four of his five Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories have come by a margin of two strokes or greater. Just this past February, Mickelson recorded his latest PGA Tour victory at this very course. With a 7-under final round of 65, the 12-time Ryder Cup participant bested England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Suffice to say Mickelson has plenty of fans cheering him on come Sunday, which ironically enough will be his 49th birthday. One such fan is the widely known, and respected, Jim Nantz who predicted Mickelson to win this year’s U.S. Open.

Back in January when he spoke with Golf Channel, Nantz stated “I think [Phil]’s gonna win at Pebble… I want to put that on the record right now. I think Phil is going to win the U.S. Open.”  With the storyline seemingly writing itself, fast forward nearly six months and Mickelson is hitting a hole-in-one at Nantz’s backyard replica of Pebble Beach’s par-3 7th hole.

Course history, celebrity endorsements, and backyard aces aside, while Mickelson may not be the best off the tee his short game precision is well documented. The shorter the club the better for ‘Lefty’ and with the reports of thick rough, small greens, and pinpoint placement with your wedges a near unanimous necessity, Mickelson already has a leg up on the competition.
The Last Word
At 49-years young by weeks end, Mickelson will rely on his precision, short game success, and valuable history at Pebble Beach to become the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam in what may be Lefty’s best opportunity remaining to check off one more legendary feat in an already storied career.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’totrcHoIQH9-1aYwBG61lQ’,sig:’jvIrFDfVZYIrEQQDaWGAq92PTTGSlarfX7YzlOCQfno=’,w:’594px’,h:’408px’,items:’1128947348′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});The post Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

IFL announces 2019 Hall of Fame Class

The Indoor Football League (IFL) announced its 2019 Hall of Fame class on Monday afternoon, inducting Javicz Jones, Bryan Pray, and Myniya Smith into the exclusive group that has now reached 18 players.

The Hall of Fame has inducted three players in each year since 2014 when it inducted its first trio of former players and executives.
IFL announces 2019 Hall of Fame Class
Jones spent most of his career in Des Moines with the Iowa Barnstormers – where he climbed the league’s tackle chart.

In three and a half seasons of play, Jones managed to finish third all-time in tackles.
 “First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for keeping me able to play this game,” Jones said on a release. “I’d also like to thank my family and friends, specifically my mom, dad and grandma for always being in my corner! They made some huge sacrifices to watch me over the years.”
Jones added, “The Hall of Fame means the world to me because it shows that all the hard work and sacrifice has really paid off! I wanted to make an impact where I was and most definitely be remembered as one of the greats.”
Pray on the other hand spent time with six different IFL teams during his eight-year career in the league.

When there was a veteran receiver needed, Pray was the one who got the call.
 “It’s a gift and a blessing and I am very thankful and honored for this Hall of Fame selection. To know people see me as one of the best to ever play this game is a great feeling,” Pray said in the release. “I want to thank all of the coaches I played for, teammates I played with, fans who came and supported my teams, and the communities who welcomed me over the years. I also want to thank my wife for allowing me to chase this dream, without her support none of this is even possible.
“I also want to thank the IFL for providing me the platform and giving me the opportunity to play a game I came to love,” Pray said.
The pair each become the Iowa Barnstormers first inductions to the Hall of Fame, and Pray becomes the first inductee to play for West Michigan and Spokane as well.

Smith was inducted as the lone Sioux Falls Storm inductee this year – a streak unmatched by any other team in the league.

The Storm have had at least one player inducted in every year the Hall of Fame has been active since it started in 2014.

The ceremony for this year’s Hall of Fame class will take place at half time of the 2019 United Bowl which will be played on the weekend of July 6.

The Indoor Football League regular season concludes after the final slate of games this Saturday.The post IFL announces 2019 Hall of Fame Class appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Rory McIlroy Cruises to Dominant RBC Canadian Open Win

HAMILTON– Rory McIlroy is a fan of national opens. He’s won Australia’s back in 2013. In 2016, he claimed his own national open in Ireland. And now, McIlroy can add the illustrious Canadian Open to his trophy case. With a dominant final round 61, it was a throwback to how McIlroy won his first two major championships.

Overpowering drives. Short iron shots. Efficient putting.

“I played with freedom,” said McIlroy after his round. “I was really proud of the way I kept being aggressive, even with the 54-hole lead.”
Aggression and Freedom Pays Off for Rory
After propelling himself to the top of the leaderboard in the third round, Rory McIlroy preached the importance of playing with aggression and freedom. With the wind not as bad as on Saturday, Hamilton Golf & Country Club yielded tons of birdie opportunities in the final round, if fairways are hit.

McIlroy asserted his stranglehold on the golf tournament right from the start. Birdieing five of the first seven holes propelled Rory to the top of the leaderboard. The rest of the field, including co-54 hole leaders, Matt Kuchar, and Webb Simpson, could not keep up. The formula was simple and repetitive for McIlroy: he would drive over 300 yards in the fairway. He would use small irons and wedges to land the ball close to the hole. And he converted birdies.

It is unsurprising that McIlroy led the field in strokes gained: off the tee (6.91), strokes gained: tee to green (15.3) and second in greens in regulation (76 percent). When he’s on his game, no one could overtake him.

“It’s a huge confidence builder, not just for next week, but for the rest of the season,” said McIlroy. “It’s been awhile since I played like this and put my foot down, which was nice to do in the final round.”
Rory McIlroy Embraced, Adored by Canadian Fans
There was one time where playing the RBC Canadian Open would not have been possible for McIlroy. The lone PGA Tour tournament in Canada used to take place the week after the Open Championship in July. But a PGA Tour scheduling change brought the RBC Canadian Open the week before golf’s third major, the U.S. Open. A new opportunity for the tournament to position and brand itself as an event the best golfers in the world come to prepare for a major championship.

But McIlroy could not have imagined the reception he received in Canada. It was electrifying. Every hole he went as he progressed through the final round, the cheers grew louder and were more boisterous. On Saturday, Rory labeled the Canadian Open as “one of the best atmospheres on the PGA Tour.” Sunday paved the way for McIlroy to back that claim up with a stellar performance. Now, he will forever be a fan favourite amongst the enthusiastic Canadian crowd.

“The reception from the Canadian crowds have been incredible this week,” said McIlroy. “They’ve been so welcoming all week. I can’t wait to come back next year.”

With the victory, McIlroy becomes the sixth golfer to have won the U.S. Open, Open Championship and the Canadian Open, known as golf’s Triple Crown. Heading to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next week with a win is the impetus that McIlroy needed to once again contend at a major championship. With an all-around high-quality tournament, with the facets of his game firing at all cylinders, McIlroy is once again entering the conversation as one of golf’s best players.

 The post Rory McIlroy Cruises to Dominant RBC Canadian Open Win appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Green Bay Blizzard clinch home playoff game

The Green Bay Blizzard defeated the Cedar Rapids River Kings 56-15 on Saturday night to improve to 8-5 on the season and clinch a playoff game at the Resch Center for the first time since 2012.

Running back Anthony Philyaw led the way with four touchdowns in the first half and the Blizzard never looked back.
Green Bay Blizzard clinch home playoff game
Green Bay announced following the game that the first round date has already been scheduled for Friday, June 21.

The Blizzard have not yet announced a time for their playoff game, but we can now confirm that it will be them as the No. 4 seed taking on the No. 5 seed in the IFL playoffs.

Now, the No. 5 seed in the playoffs can be any of Tucson, Quad City, or Nebraska, whom are all 6-7 heading into the last week of action.

The good news for Green Bay is that the Blizzard are a 4-1 combined against the three teams.

The most likely scenario would be Nebraska losing to 12-1 Iowa (the Barnstormers have won 14 home games in a row and can still earn the first seed with a win and an Arizona loss). That would put the winner of Tucson-Quad City into the Resch Center in two weeks for the playoff game.

We’ll learn more next week after the IFL finishes out its regular season.

The Blizzard will finish out their year taking on Cedar Rapids once again next Saturday, though this time at home. The game will kick off at 7:05 p.m. CT on YouTube.

For more Indoor Football news and updates, consider following Last Word On Sports’ Indoor Football department on Twitter and Instagram at @LWOS_IndoorFB.

IFL Standings

Position
Team
Record
Games behind

1
Arizona
13-0

2
Iowa
12-1
1

3
Sioux Falls
10-3
3

4
Green Bay
8-5
5

5
Tucson
6-7
7

6
Quad City
6-7
7

Playoff Cutoff

7
Nebraska
6-7
7

8
Bismarck
2-11
11

9
San Diego
1-12
12

10
Cedar Rapids
1-12
12

Week 16 Results
Green Bay 56, Cedar Rapids 15
Iowa 55, Sioux Falls 43
OT: Arizona 50, Tucson 49
Week 17 Schedule
Saturday, June 15
7:00pm: San Diego (1-12) @ Arizona (13-0)
7:05pm: Cedar Rapids (1-12) @ Green Bay (8-5)
7:05pm: Bismarck (2-11) @ Sioux Falls (10-3)
7:05pm: Nebraska (6-7) @ Iowa (12-1)
8:00pm: Quad City (6-7) @ Tucson (6-7)The post Green Bay Blizzard clinch home playoff game appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Barnstomers beat Sioux Falls, clinch No. 2 seed

The Iowa Barnstormers beat Sioux Falls on Saturday evening and might have looked as sharp as they have all season while doing it.

Thanks to big nights from Ryan Balentine and Daquan Neal, the Barnstormers offense thrived against the Storm and helped the Barnstormers to a big 55-43 win at Wells Fargo Arena.
Barnstomers beat Sioux Falls, clinch No. 2 seed
The victory means a couple of things for Iowa.

The Barnstormers now cannot finish worse than second place in the league, even if they lose to Nebraska next Saturday in the regular season finale.

Though, Iowa could still capture first place if Arizona (13-0) loses to San Diego (1-12) next week and they take down Nebraska – even if it’s unlikely.

The Rattlers escaped Tucson on Saturday with an overtime win – showing that anything can happen.

Iowa’s victory also gives the team some reassurance on some extra rest coming up for them.

A top-two seed means a first-round bye for the Barnstormers that will give the players an extra week of rest and potentially help in the aid of defensive back Jourdan Wickliffe, who has been off the field with an injury.

Though if the offense plays like it did Saturday, Iowa may not need a defense.

Neal was money throughout the night, completing 17 of his 23 passes good for six touchdowns on the night.

Jazeric Peterson, Connor Hollenbeck, and Balentine each scored two a piece while Balentine led the way with 123 yards through receptions.

It helped the Barnstormers win their 14th straight game at home, and they don’t have to wait long to try for 15.

The team will return to the field for their regular season finale on Saturday June 15 to take on the Nebraska Danger once again at Wells Fargo Arena. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen live on YouTube, Mediacom, and also heard on live radio 1040AM WHO.

IFL Standings

Position
Team
Record
Games behind

1
Arizona
13-0

2
Iowa
12-1
1

3
Sioux Falls
10-3
3

4
Green Bay
8-5
5

5
Tucson
6-7
7

6
Quad City
6-7
7

Playoff Cutoff

7
Nebraska
6-7
7

8
Bismarck
2-11
11

9
San Diego
1-12
12

10
Cedar Rapids
1-12
12

The post Barnstomers beat Sioux Falls, clinch No. 2 seed appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open

HAMILTON– Rory McIlroy is once again in a familiar spot. In contention at a PGA Tour event. After shooting a bogey-free six-under 64, McIlroy has a share of the lead heading into the final round of the RBC Canadian Open.

But despite being in the mix at multiple events, McIlroy has only managed to win once this year. Granted, it was the PLAYERS Championship. But Rory has secured nine top-10 finishes, where before his win at TPC Sawgrass, he struggled to perform in the final round.
Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open
The antidote to quell those underperforming final rounds? Patience and Perspective. Two qualities that go hand in hand for a golfer. And that McIlroy must rely on if he is to capture his 16th victory on the PGA Tour.

“I just have to concentrate on what I can do,” stated McIlroy after his third round. “Perspective has been a word I’ve used a lot this year, along with patience and persistence. They’re things I have to keep reminding myself of, to ease the tension and make things simpler.”
Playing Free and Aggressive Key for Rory McIlroy’s Success
On Moving Day, Hamilton Golf & Country Club showed that it can be unforgiving when the wind picks up. It required a golfer like Rory McIlroy to not be tentative and play with freedom. And pick the appropriate holes to showcase his aggressive style of play.

“I think you got to pick and choose your spots,” stated McIlroy. “I stayed aggressive on the first tee this afternoon and was able to make birdie. If the hole location’s in a good spot for driver tomorrow I’ll use that club.”

All facets of McIlroy’s game have been firing on all cylinders. In the third round, McIlroy was second in driving distance (322.4 yards), hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation. For the tournament, Rory has demonstrated his affinity to gain on the field tee to green. He is currently first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (4.91), third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (8.26) and ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting (4.15). Given the difficult, windy conditions that the golfers had to endure today, it highlights that McIlroy’s game is on an accelerated trajectory compared to last week, when he missed the cut at the Memorial.

“A week can make a big difference,” says McIlroy. “I got the driver going a bit better, and my wedge play is much improved. I was grateful for the opportunity to work on my game a bit over the weekend.”
McIlroy Will Have to Conquer a Cluttered Leaderboard to Win Canadian Open
Winning the RBC Canadian Open would be a sizeable accomplishment for McIlroy. Not only is it the first time he has competed in this tournament but he would dethrone a plethora of golfers looking to steal his place at the top of the leaderboard. Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, currently tied with McIlroy, have demonstrated their ability to have success on this golf course. Simpson currently leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting while Kuchar is fourth. The low Canadian Adam Hadwin, who shot a third round 67, will have the home country behind him as he tries to become the first Canadian-born golfer to win the RBC Canadian Open since Karl Keffer in 1914. Hadwin’s game has been trending in the right direction and he hopes he can put the pieces together to produce a stellar final round for the Canadian fans.

“I’ve done a lot of really good things,” said Hadwin. “I’m missing a couple putts out there but even if I didn’t drive it that well, I had some really good iron shots on the back.”

But what Rory McIlroy has on the field is a large dose of perspective. It enabled the four-time major champion to conquer the adversity of answering question after question about his disappointing final round performances.

And now, it gives him a chance to seal the deal at a venue that McIlroy has embraced and thoroughly enjoyed.

“The Canadian fans really come out and support this event,” said McIlroy. “It’s probably the best atmosphere I’ve played in a long time. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and excited to get to play in front of them again tomorrow.”The post Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


  • 0

Barnstormers set to play for First Round Bye against Sioux Falls

The second biggest game in franchise history, at least for right now.

Dixie Wooten is never one to circle games on the calendar. Week after week, no matter the opponent, Wooten and co. treat every game the same.

The philosophy is that if his team has a mindset that they are playing a championship game every Saturday night, then they won’t be playing down to any of their opponents’ levels.
Barnstormers set to play for First Round Bye
But, when the Sioux Falls Storm come to Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night, it’s got the ramifications to be a major one.

“This is the second most important game in [franchise] history,” Wooten said. “We want to beat Sioux Falls this week so we can get that first round bye. At the end of the day, that bye is huge.”

The Iowa Barnstormers (11-1) will welcome Sioux Falls (10-2) this weekend in a game that will decide who has the rights to the No. 2 seed and final first round bye in the 2019 IFL Playoffs.

Because Sioux Falls took down Iowa in the teams’ first meeting, if the Storm beat Iowa and win next week against Bismarck, they will have the No. 2 seed no matter what.

It’s created a unique situation.

Saturday’s game is winner take all. The team that doesn’t win this one will have to play a play-in game before traveling to the home of who they lose to Saturday, in the second round.

“We’ve practiced hard,” Wooten said. “My guys have put in the work to be successful.”

This is the first game between the two teams at “The Well” since they faced off in the 2018 United Bowl.

Since then, Wooten has brought a young team to Des Moines and turned them into winners. Iowa’s 11-1 record would be the best in the league if Arizona hadn’t rattled off what looks to be a perfect season.

That’s part of why Wooten was nominated for the IFL Hall of Fame for the third straight year, earlier this week.

“We’re young,” Wooten said. “We can’t look down on teams a lot. We can only focus on what’s in front of us, and this week that’s Sioux Falls.”

The game will kick off at 7:00 p.m. from Wells Fargo Arena live on YouTube.The post Barnstormers set to play for First Round Bye against Sioux Falls appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


Categories

w88