All-Star lessons: Events should entertain, not bore

By Jason CrookJuly 11, 2012, 9:38 pm

It’s official. The slowest time of the sports year is upon us, ushered in by the most boring event of them all, MLB All-Star week. I get that baseball, much like golf, is a game enjoyed by purists and people who grew up with the game. But aside from Josh Hamilton’s insane 2008 (an event which he didn’t even win), I can’t remember one Home Run Derby off the top of my head that was remotely interesting. Can we not spruce it up a little for the people who are craving some sort of sports this time of year? The most riveting part of this year’s Home Run Derby was Chris Berman not knowing his directions, and John Kruk thinking he was at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

It got me thinking about the skills challenge that the PGA Tour puts on. Golf could learn a thing or two from the mistakes baseball has made. Things like, don't bore your fans. I don't want a competition to see who can hit balls the farthest or the closest to the pin. Just as I could tune into any baseball game and see a home run, if I wanted to see guys hit normal golf shots, I could watch any weekend. They’re really good at golf, I know that. What I don’t know is who would fare the best in the following skills competitions, but I would certainly tune in to find out.

Event 1 – Minigolf

Two rules:

1. You must use the equipment provided for you by the minigolf course (yes, fighting over the ball color is expected).

2. Defense is encouraged. Anything short of tackling the other players while they are putting is permissible.

These guys are rich, famous and have endless resources. Get creative. Hire a mariachi band to play only while the other guy is putting. Maybe a supermodel in a bikini could walk by as your opponent has a crucial putt over a ramp on the ninth hole.

Who wouldn't tune in to watch Tiger try and close out the competition with a putt on 18 through the windmill and into the clown’s mouth as Kate Upton walks by in a bathing suit and Mickelson blows a vuvuzela in his ear?

Event 2 – Accuracy

Do we already have accuracy events, sure. But how do we make it better, more relatable to the hackers that watch the PGA Tour every week? Move it to a driving range, and make the targets the range pickers in golf carts. You know your ears just perked up a little. Does anyone not aim for that cart at the driving range?

Event 3 – Freestyle trick shots

This could be a game of H-O-R-S-E, or the shots could just be judged individually, I don’t care, I just miss these days. Can anyone top this? I'd love to find out.

Now I’m not foolish enough to think any of these ideas will actually come to fruition, but hey, a guy can dream, can’t he? That’s what this time in the sports calendar does to people ... it makes them dream. And I dream the biggest on the couch, with my eyes shut, a little drool on my pillow and potato chip crumbs on my shirt.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.