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PHIL-thy Good

July 25, 2013

Phil Mickelson came out of nowhere last weekend to capture the British Open.  In what will clearly go down as one of the best final rounds ever at a Major, Mickelson shot a final round 66 to win his first British Open championship.

Mickelson came into the final day down five and came out of it the winner by three. Some quick math tells us this was an improbable eight shot swing.

How unlikely was Lefty’s final round score you ask? Well, the scoring average for the entire tournament was 75. There were only 32 total rounds under 70 on the tough Muirfield layout.

Phil Mickelson wins British Open

Mickelson, now 43 years old, has repeated over and over this month that he is playing better now then he ever has. I am sure there are more wins in his future. What he really wants though is the one Major that has alluded him thus far. He still does not have a US Open victory. If he could finally win the Open (he has finished second six times at the event), it would make him the sixth player to win all four majors, along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Woods. It is truly the measure of the all-time greats.

One last thought on his British Open victory. Though he would likely not admit it publicly, Mickelson had to enjoy the fact that one of the nine guys he caught and passed on Sunday was his long-time rival Tiger Woods. Yes, Tiger faded again, late in another major. The major scoreboard since 2008 - Phil 2, Tiger 0.

ACC Football

It is time to start thinking and talking college football. The ACC finally has some talent at the quarterback position. There are at least four ACC signalcallers that have serious NFL draft potential.

All four will be looked at closely by NFL scouts early on in the 2013 season when they square off against SEC foes. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has Georgia in Week 1 at home. Miami’s Stephen Morris has Florida at home in Week 2, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas has Alabama in Week 1 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, and North Carolina’s Bryn Renner hosts South Carolina in Week 1.

All four will be underdogs in the matchups. But if one of the ACC schools can pull off the upset, the conference will gain some stature.

Baseball Suspensions Are Starting

I have been writing all summer about the rumored upcoming player suspensions in major league baseball. They are officially underway.

Baseball suspended Ryan Braun for the rest of the 2013 season. The announcement will likely serve notice to other players implicated in the ongoing Biogenesis case that their suspensions are likely coming soon.

Braun’s 65-game suspension closes the deal on a pursuit that took nearly two years for MLB to complete. Braun underwent a drug test in the fall of 2011 and tested positive for elevated testosterone levels. Facing a 50-game suspension for that offense, Braun appealed the case and won. Arbitrator Shyam Das overturned the suspension, after Braun and his attorneys argued the collection of his urine samples didn’t follow protocol.

Braun repeatedly denied any usage and his statement this week still lacked a full confession. It should be noted that the suspension will be 62 games and that the length was a settlement. All Braun would say to the public that he obviously has lied to over the past two years is that he has made mistakes that he is sorry for.

I wonder if he is sorry that he won the NL MVP in 2011 while breaking the game’s rules? Or is he sorry that he got caught?

The next step for the rest of the league could be more suspensions. ESPN is reporting that the league has far more damning evidence against Alex Rodriguez than it did against Braun. Now just shy of his 38th birthday, A-Rod may find himself out of baseball permanently if a lifetime ban is utilized again the past user. The New York Yankees may already know this as rumor has it that they are about to make a trade for Alfonso Soriano to replace Rodriguez.

As I spoke of earlier, stronger contenders like the Rangers and Tigers could suffer cruel blows if Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta, two other players being investigated by MLB, were to be suspended.

The timing of future suspensions is still up in the air. Still, baseball has to be thrilled to have finally nailed Braun. But it is obvious that this entire mess is far from over.

Old Celts Moving To Brooklyn

With all the free agent movement within the NBA this summer, I almost forgot to spend any time discussing the trade between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets.

The trade sent two aging Celtics, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to the Nets. The move confirms that Boston is starting to rebuild while Brooklyn wants to make a run at a title.

Adding Pierce and Garnett could end up giving the Nets too much talent, at least on the offensive end of the court. They already possessed one of the top-scoring big men in the league in Brook Lopez, one of the best shooting guards in Joe Johnson and one of the top point guards in Deron Williams. The addition of Pierce and Garnett  to that lineup could leave the Nets with a shortage of needed basketballs on the court.

Pierce, at least for now anyway, is talking about being a “role player”. He spoke of the Nets having many other options on offense while noting that the entire starting five are all-stars.

If Garnett can adopt similar thinking and the team finds enough defense out of the team as a unit, the Nets could possibly challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.


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