Golf, wrestling in Olympic cage match

By Jason SobelFebruary 13, 2013, 11:17 pm

It was announced by the International Olympic Committee this week that wrestling has been recommended to be dropped from the Olympic Games following 2016. The decision has a lot of people in tight unitards threatening to leap off the top turnbuckle and throw a flying elbow at the sport of golf.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it, Hulkamaniacs. Wrestling doesn’t always involve guys slamming steel chairs into each other’s backs while 13-year-olds with a distorted view of reality shriek in delight. It’s a real sport which has been included in the Olympics since the days Zeus was still chucking thunderbolts at his competition.

I’m not here to argue that point. Mostly because I don’t want you to put me in a figure-four leglock.

My problem is that much like the muscle-bound gym rat who loses his girlfriend to the classy gentleman with a sublime short game, you’re taking your anger out on the wrong party.

Dudes, it’s not our fault the IOC likes us better than you.

A few years ago, some of the biggest names in golf made their pitch as to why the sport should be added to the current lineup and the proposal was accepted, beginning with the 2016 Games. That proposal included video presentations, written documentation and first-person anecdotes. At no point did it ever include the words: “We’re cooler than wrestling, so just get rid of those guys.”

And yet, in the aftermath of the IOC’s announcement this week, the debate has somehow become You against Us. Just like The Rock (one of your guys) growled in the 2010 film “Faster,” golf’s attitude toward wrestling is, “Brother, I ain’t got no beef with you.”

The feeling isn’t mutual. Ronda Rousey, who in 2008 became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo, said of the decision, “If you don't break a sweat, it's not a sport; it’s a skill. There's certainly skill in golf, but wrestling is one of the most basic sports. It's one of the root sports in the Olympics and I think they're destroying part of their history by getting rid of it.'

Help me, Ronda. I don’t want to get into the whole, “Is golf a ‘real’ sport?” argument, but I’ve been known to break a sweat putting together an Ikea bookcase – and that sure as hell shouldn’t be an Olympic event (on second thought …).

Instead of golf, why don’t you go after rhythmic gymnastics or equestrian dressage? I mean, even walking is in the Olympics. How is that more of a sport than golf? At least we’re doing something useful while we walk.

The biggest complaint from the pro-wrestling crowd – which is completely different from the pro wrestling crowd – is that anyone can grapple with another human, but only a select few have the means to play golf. While I can’t argue with the first part of that point, I’ve always contended that golf is one of the world’s most diverse sports, with world-class players coming from all corners of the globe and various backgrounds.

Lee Trevino worked in cotton fields at age 5 and later shined shoes to earn money to play the game. Chi Chi Rodriguez’s first golf club was actually a branch from a guava tree. Vijay Singh couldn’t afford golf balls, so he used coconuts instead. All three are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Still, golf carries the stigma of being an elitist sport, one of the main reasons why wrestlers believe they’re more entitled to a place in the Olympics.

But it’s not just folks in singlets who are going for the takedown. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports is one of the best in the sportswriting biz, and this week he took offense to golf being next on the tee.

“Golf is an old, simple pursuit itself, invented by bored Scottish sheepherders,” Wetzel wrote. “It's done fine, however, without the Olympics. And while the Games should aim to stay current with the times, golf isn't half-pipe snowboarding, a sport the next generation of kids is suddenly into. Golf is actually losing players in many countries.”

So let me get this straight: Because our game is losing players in many countries, it shouldn’t be considered for inclusion in the Olympics? Um, isn’t that the very reason why it should? Correctly or incorrectly, those who argued for the sport to be added contend that this will lead to a global boon that it desperately needs.

And unless I’m missing something here, wrestling isn’t exactly flourishing at the youth levels. If popularity with kids was the main reason for inclusion, then the IOC should add sleeping, texting and Angry Birds to the next Olympics, too.

Look, as a sport that hasn’t been included in the Summer Games since 1904, we feel for the wrestling community that’s gotten pinned on a surprising reversal. But don’t blame us for your misfortune. This is a fight that you need to take up with the IOC, not golf.

Besides, you don’t want a piece of us. You guys may not get to use steel chairs, but we come armed with plenty of clubs.

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.