Cook should resign - Pietersen - Kevin Pietersen says England captain Alastair Cook should resign as he "does not have the tactical brain to lead the side". Fury withdraws from Ustinov fight - Shaw deal too expensive - Mourinho - Puig, Dodgers go triple-crazy, beat Giants 8-1 (Yahoo Sports) - Yasiel Puig tied a franchise record with three triples and added a double and two RBIs as the Los Angeles Dodgers moved within a half-game of NL West-leading San Francisco by beating the Giants 8-1 on Friday night. The Dodgers matched a club record with five triples, including three during a five-run fifth inning that chased Tim Lincecum (9-7). It was the most triples in a game for the franchise since 1921 and most by a Dodgers player since Brooklyn's Jimmy Sheckard had three in 1901. Zack Greinke (12-6) tossed seven innings of four-hit ball, striking out 10 and walking one. Van Gaal tells players to speak English - Abreu hits 30th HR, White Sox beat Twins 9-5 (Yahoo Sports) - Jose Abreu hit his major league-leading 30th homer and drove in three runs, leading the Chicago White Sox past the Minnesota Twins 9-5 on Friday night. The Cuban rookie has 77 RBIs - Detroit's Miguel Cabrera began the day leading the majors with 80. Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers also homered for the White Sox. Dayan Viciedo tied a career high with four of Chicago's 17 hits. Price, Rays beat Red Sox for 8th straight victory (Yahoo Sports) - David Price won his sixth start in a row, Evan Longoria hit a three-run double and the Tampa Bay Rays earned their eighth straight victory, beating the Boston Red Sox 6-4 on Friday night. The Red Sox lost their fourth consecutive game. He tied the team record shared by Matt Moore and Scott Kazmir for victories in consecutive starts. This was Price's first game against Boston since he hit David Ortiz with a fastball on May 30, setting off a verbal skirmish between the stars. Ichiro's home run lifts Yankees over Blue Jays 6-4 (Yahoo Sports) - NEW YORK (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki homered for the first time since last August, prolonging extended slumps against the New York Yankees for Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays. Panthers QB Newton practices, not 100 percent yet (Yahoo Sports) - Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said that while his surgically repaired ankle is getting better, it's not completely healed. Newton looked sharp throwing passes but struggled with his footwork and timing on handoffs. Coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers will take it slow with Newton, making sure to avoid any potential setbacks. Scotland pool party but where's the star guest? -

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Devil Ball Proving Ground: Ping G-30 Driver [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 25, 2014, 1:45 pm]
Welcome to Devil Ball's Proving Ground, where we put the latest golf gear through its paces. Today we look at the Ping G-30 driver. Tester — Shane Bacon — Handicap: +0.5 Target Golf Audience — All golfers Initial thoughts It would be impossible to talk about a first look at the new Ping G-30 driver without talking about the turbulators. Those raised bumps you see on the top of the driver's crown? Those are the turbulators, something Ping invented to reduce the drag of the driver through the air (this wasn't some cockamamie idea either, with plenty of testing going on at ASU's Windtunnel Laboratory). The G-30 has a similar finish to all the drivers from I-20 on, with the matte black continuing to look menacing and beautiful, but the first thing you see is the turbulators. While science isn't our specialty, watching the YouTube video that Ping made showing off the turbulators makes everything a bit clearer. Just look at this screengrab below if you want to see how they perform in the simplest way possible, and then think about your golf club passing through the wind, and the air, and decreasing that amount of drag without having to do anything different with your golf swing. I was just on a golf trip at a golf course where the wind routinely blows 20-30 MPH, and with that much wind out there, any help on drag can produce better tee shots that travel further than a clubhead without the turbulators on top (and it worked, as I didn't lose a single golf ball over 143 holes on my trip, which I can promise you had as much to do with the equipment as it did my golf swing). I also loved the slight bit of color the Ping guys decided to go with on their G-30, with a hint of blue highlighting the bottom of the driver just enough to give it a little extra when you pull the headcover off. On-Course Thoughts I've had a few weeks to mess around with the G-30, and I can tell you that I'm consistently as long with this club as any I've hit before, but it isn't the good ones

Johnny Miller thinks 1994 Tiger Woods would outdrive Bubba Watson by 30 yards in 2014 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 24, 2014, 10:52 pm]
If there is a man in golf that isn't scared to say what he's thinking, it's Johnny Miller. The NBC commentator and two-time major champion wrote a piece for about Tiger Woods current golf swing, but took a look back at the way Woods swung the golf club when he was winning his first of three straight U.S. Amateur titles. That was 20 years ago, as Miller points out, and he says that the swing and the power that Woods produced back in his amateur days would lead the tour in driving distance. "If today’s balls and clubs had been available when Tiger was in college, the 18-year-old Woods would have been 30 yards longer than Bubba is now," Miller said. "Tiger had a mega-wide, mega-long swing built more for a long-drive contest than a U.S. Open, but he tweaked it under Butch Harmon to create arguably the most effective motion in golf history." It's an interesting theory, and one that you could pin on more than just Tiger Woods. Would Jack Nicklaus have hit the ball 310 yards per pop with today's equipment? What about Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson in their primes? I do think that Woods produced an incredible amount of power when he was a teenager, and even into his early professional days. When he won the 1997 Masters, it had a lot to do with Woods simply overpowering Augusta National, so much that the course revamped the design to cut down on Tiger hitting 9-irons and wedges into the back nine par-5s. But, I must say, 30 yards past Bubba is a bit of a stretch. The 2014 Masters champion leads the PGA Tour in driving distance at 313 yards per drive (Woods was 49th a season ago in driving distance, averaging 293 yards per drive), and while I'm sure Woods would be able to get the ball out there with today's equipment and his 1994 golf swing, I'm not sure we would be seeing a man averaging 340 yards per poke. But Johnny is going to be Johnny, and his point on the power and the length of that early Tiger golf swing had everything to do with clubhead speed and pounding t

Watch all but one of Rory McIlroy's golf shots from Sunday at the British Open [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 24, 2014, 4:26 pm]
One of my favorite trends after major championships is the work of Michael David Murphy. After majors end, Murphy puts together a short video of all the golf shots hit by the champion on Sunday. We've seen it with Adam Scott after his Masters win, Phil Mickelson after his astonishing win at the Open a year ago, and now we have Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool. You can check out the video below, that takes just 90 seconds to see all but one of the shots Rory hit on his way to a third major championship win. Very cool, and a fun way to relive the drama of this past Sunday at Hoylake. h/t Shackelford

This Bohemian Rhapsody golf parody video is six minutes of ridiculous fun [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 23, 2014, 5:42 pm]
You've obviously here because you read the headline and thought, "Wait, someone made a parody of a famous Queen song to golf?!" Yes. The answer is yes, and it's amazing. According to the description on YouTube, this was a video that, "is the culmination of 10 years parody song writing for our annual golf trip to the Murray river courses in Australia," and kudos to the guys that made this because it's well done, pretty wacky and a ton of fun. Watch it, enjoy it, and maybe headbang on your way to lunch. Might I suggest a donut spot?! h/t Back9Network

The Bacon Mailbag: Who gets the Grand Slam first, Rory or Phil? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 23, 2014, 4:22 pm]
Each week for the remainder of the golf season we will be rolling out a mailbag, with any and all questions invited from readers and fans around the world. Have a good question you want answered? Hit me up on Twitter at @shanebacon or e-mail me at and we will try to get to it in the coming weeks. Here we go ... @shanebacon Who gets the slam sooner, Phil or Rory?— Taylor (@DesiderataHeart) July 21, 2014 Bacon: A great start to the post-Rory McIlroy win questions, and a great one considering both players. For those that don't know, Rory, 25, has won three of the four legs of the Grand Slam, needing only the Masters to complete something only five modern players have ever done (Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus, and Tiger). Mickelson, who recently turned 44, has won five majors including three of the legs of the Grand Slam, needing the U.S. Open, a tournament he has finished in second place a record six times, to join that same list above. Instead of comparing them at first, why don't we look at the stats. Rory has only finished in the top-10 once at Augusta National, a self-proclaimed "back-door top-10" this year at the Masters. While that is surprising, he did take a four-shot lead into the final day at the 2011 Masters, only to fall flat on his face with a final round 80 to finish T-15. A lot of people say they think the Masters is Rory's best major chance for years to come, because he can hit the ball a country kilometer and loves to work the ball right to left (something that is a common theme amongst Masters winners ... see Watson, Bubba). So, if Rory can curb the distractions off the golf course for the next decade, I think he will win the Masters at least once before he turns 35. As for Phil, this is a man that won the British Open in dramatic fashion a year ago to snag the third leg of his Grand Slam chances, but hasn't been in form since basically that Sunday. No top-10s on the PGA Tour, no top-25s in a major this season, and the o

Teeing Off: Dissecting Rory McIlroy's Open Championship victory [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 23, 2014, 1:08 pm]
Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at @shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we look at Rory McIlroy's win on Sunday at the British Open. Bacon: Considering we've had a couple of days to take in what Rory McIlroy did at Royal Liverpool, winning his third major championship and third leg of the career Grand Slam at the age of 25, it seems like a good time to talk about how impressive he was. Rory got off to a big lead after 36 holes, let the field back in on Saturday only to finish eagle-bogey-eagle to grab a six-shot lead and basically shut the door on his competitors. While it got tight on Sunday, the win was never really in question, so I ask, how impressive was this win by Rory and was it his best performance ever at a major? Busbee: I'm going to play devil's advocate and start way sky-high--the "blue suburban skies" (Beatles reference, if you didn't get enough of those last week) that allowed McIlroy to play in Pebble Beach-like conditions. Yes, his win was relentless, and I'll get to that in a second. But first: do you believe there's any asterisk attached to the win because of the weather? Side question: should they have played Saturday? Bacon: I've seen that idea a couple of places, that Rory's wins have all been in easy conditions, but I don't get that at all. Bad weather, good weather, wind or no wind, all the guys have to play the game golf course, and Rory has won three of the four majors doing that. If the point is that McIlroy isn't a mudder, that's fine, but he can't control what conditions are and he's dominated at three of the four major championships and deserves all the credit in the world for those wins (Weather wasn't much of a factor at plenty of Tiger wins, and I don't hear people questioning those).  As for Saturday, yes, I absolutely think they should have played, and I actually thought t

British Open ratings down despite a lot of young names being involved [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 8:31 pm]
While the new generation in golf might be great at pumping their own brands and wearing flashy outfits, it isn't translating in viewership, at least not this past weekend at Royal Liverpool. The final round of the 2014 British Open was the lowest since ESPN took over broadcasting the championship in 2009 and was down 26 percent from last year's incredible finish by Phil Mickelson to claim his only Claret Jug. Despite Rory McIlroy making history at Royal Liverpool and both Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia making charges in that final round, the numbers showed what has continued to be a trend this year in the major championships. The Masters struggled because of a fireworks-free back nine, while the U.S. Open was an 18-hole coronation for Martin Kaymer, who was never really pushed as he entered Sunday at Pinehurst with a five-shot lead. If the U.S. Open had the excuse of a blowout combined with other options including the World Cup, the British Open was practically alone on Sunday in terms of big sporting events yet couldn't even beat out Louis Oosthuizen blowing out the field at St. Andrews or Darren Clarke shocking the world with his win in 2011. So what is the issue? The Saturday finish by Rory McIlroy didn't help, making two eagles over his final three holes to extend his lead to six shots heading into the final round. It also didn't help that the return of Tiger Woods produced very little over the final 54 holes. Woods might have started off hot with that opening round 69, but he played his final three rounds 9-over, beating just three players who made the cut at Hoylake. The surprising dip in ratings compared to some of the other Opens is the names heading into the final round. McIlroy, Garcia, and Fowler finished at the top, but stars like Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott had chances to make a run before the last 18 holes kicked off. If nothing else, all this tells us is that we really, really need a great PGA Championship to end this major championship season, bec

Rick Reilly tells Conan just how bad of a tipper Tiger Woods really is [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 22, 2014, 3:12 pm]
Say what you want about Rick Reilly, but the man transcends the regular sports journalist. How do I know this? Because he sat with Conan O'Brien this week to talk about his new book, the world of sports and the tipping habits of Tiger Woods. Reilly made the trip to Conan to promote his new book, "Tiger, Meet My Sister ... And Other Things I Probably Shouldn't Have Said," and was asked if Michael Jordan is the cheapest athlete out there. The 56-year-old journalist didn't take long to point that title towards Tiger, saying this about the 14-time major champion and someone who has said to have made over $1 billion in his career. “I’ve covered (Michael Jordan) his whole career, but I don’t think he can hold a candle to Tiger Woods. You need a court order to get Tiger’s wallet open. It’s unbelievable. He’s always like, ‘I don’t carry cash.’ I know a valet here in town that stands between Tiger and his car just to get his $2. He’s really terrible. I’ve seen Phil Mickelson buy a 50-cent cup of a lemonade from a little girl and give her $100. When he leaves the Masters each year, he gives the guys $2,500. Tiger gives them nothing. I was with Phil once, and it was raining. He sees a homeless guy, and he gets out, parks his car and gets out his umbrella to give to the guy. Tiger would charge the guy!” The whole interview is entertaining if you like sports, and the bit about Barack Obama's golf game had me laughing, but the Tiger part was the most revealing. The part on Woods starts right around the 3:50 mark.

Charles Barkley is now just whacking golf balls with one hand [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 7:09 pm]
Every few months, a video surfaces of one of the most recognizable athletes in the world and his golf swing. Charles Barkley, a Hall of Fame basketball player turned entertaining analyst, loves the game of golf, but the two have never been able to work things out. That was clear once again this weekend at the Lake Tahoe American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, where Barkley finished dead last and this video popped up of his "new" move. Barkley stops his hitched golf swing in the middle of it to start over, a pretty admirable move considering he obviously wasn't ready to hit it, but then just whacked the ball with one hand and went about his round. We've had some fun with his golf swing before, and we will continue to marvel at what happens between the ears of one of the greatest basketball players ever when he stands over a golf ball. If nothing else, Barkley's dedication to the game of golf should be something we should all strive to achieve, but I know if I had those demons on the course like he does, I would have locked my clubs in the back of a closet long ago, never to be seen again. h/t Deadspin

Here are your 2014 PGA Championship odds [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 3:09 pm]
We are a day removed from a thrilling British Open, with Rory McIlroy claiming his third major title of his career and moves just one step away from the career Grand Slam. McIlory already has a PGA Championship under his belt, and next month he will be looking to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy again at Valhalla. Rory is the favorite at 7-to-1, according to Golf Odds, with Adam Scott coming in right behind him at 12-to-1 and Tiger Woods at 15-to-1. Check out the rest of the odds below, and let us know which value you see as we prepare for the final major of the season, and the last chance for a lot of guys to not only make their years, but completely change their careers. PGA CHAMPIONSHIP VALHALLA GOLF CLUB - LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY AUGUST 7-10, 2014   ODDS TO WIN: RORY McILROY                    7/1 ADAM SCOTT                     12/1 TIGER WOODS                    15/1 PHIL MICKELSON                 20/1 JUSTIN ROSE                    25/1 HENRIK STENSON                 25/1 MARTIN KAYMER                  25/1 SERGIO GARCIA                  25/1 RICKIE FOWLER                  25/1 JORDAN SPIETH                  25/1 DUSTIN JOHNSON                 25/1 MATT KUCHAR                    25/1 JASON DAY                      25/1 BUBBA WATSON                   30/1 JASON DUFNER                   30/1 JIM FURYK                      30/1 GRAEME McDOWELL                40/1 KEEGAN BRADLEY                 40/1 ZACH JOHNSON                   40/1 CHARL SCHWARTZEL               40/1 BRANDT SNEDEKER                40/1 LEE WESTWOOD                   50/1 JIMMY WALKER                

Winners and losers from the British Open [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 2:52 pm]
This past weekend saw a lot of great storylines and we are here to give you the good and the bad of it. Here are our winners and losers from the past week in golf. Winners Rory McIlroy — What can you say about this kid? He’s incredible, he’s living up to the hype, and he played a golf tournament from start to finish just like You Know Who used to. Rory is the standard bearer in professional golf right now, and it isn’t even close. Three major wins at 25? That’s more than the No. 1, 3 and 4 ranked players in the world have in their careers ... combined. Rickie Fowler — It has been an impressive major championship season for Rickie Fowler, who was once again in a final group on Sunday at a major. Fowler is the real deal, and as McIlroy said in his presentation speech at Royal Liverpool, he will be winning a major very, very soon. We can swoon all we want on the brilliance of Jordan Spieth, but Fowler’s swing changes have made him the best young American in the game right now. Tom Watson — He shot 68 on Sunday at the age of 64. Will this guy be competing at the British Open at 70? I wouldn’t bet against him. Sergio Garcia — We have all had a good chuckle at the expense of Sergio Garcia, but his resurgence in the golf world feels a little bit like what Steve Stricker has done. Garcia played a brilliant round of golf on Sunday, and even with the chunked bunker shot on 15, held it together and pushed Rory as much as anyone. Garcia might win a major after all, especially if that putter stays as steady as it did at Hoylake. Tiger Woods — You can call him a loser all you want for his play this week, but Tiger had a must-make birdie putt on Friday to make the cut and nailed it. The guy didn’t play competitive golf for four months and made the cut in a major championship. That’s a step in the right direction and an improvement from what happened at Congressional. I’m calling it a

Open Championship, Day 4: Rory McIlroy wins at Hoylake [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 2:04 am]
While most thought Sunday would be a walk in the park for Rory McIlroy, a man leading by six shots with just 18 to play, it was anything but at Royal Liverpool. McIlroy's birdie on the opening hole extended his lead to seven, but Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia wouldn't let down. Garcia made three birdies over his first five holes to put some pressure on McIlroy, while Fowler started off slow but fired a back nine 33 to make the conclusion a bit dramatic. McIlroy made a big par putt on the 17th hole, gave a subtle fist pump as he knew it was all but wrapped up, and two-putted for a safe par on the final hole to win by two shots and claim his third major championship. With all due respect to Jim Furyk, Marc Leishman and Shane Lowry, who all posted 7-under 65s to jump in the top-10, the round of the day belonged to Sergio Garcia. Garcia shot a 66 that included a big eagle on the 10th hole, and despite a bad bunker shot on the 15th that killed his momentum, was solid all afternoon as he chased a man that wasn't going to be beat, and despite coming up two short, showed a lot of guts and a top-10 in a major championship that was his first since 2008. Rory McIlroy joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three of the four majors at the age of 25. McIlroy went for the green on the 18th, and despite a comfortable lead on a par-5, found a pot bunker near the green that could have been disastrous if it went another foot. Rory hit an incredible bunker shot out of it, landing pin high and rolling just a few feet past, giving him three putts for the tournament and a near hole-out for an eagle and a part of the Open scoring record. Of the 409 players in the three majors this year, Rickie Fowler has been beaten by SIX of them. He's beaten 98.53% of the fields.— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) July 20, 2014

With Open Championship win, Rory McIlroy now joins golf's immortals [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 5:19 pm]
Rory McIlroy is now one of golf's giants. We can't believe it either, but here we are. This 25-year-old kid, who arrived in this world right about the same time as the third Indiana Jones movie, is officially, certifiably, indisputably a legend. McIlroy won the Open Championship on Sunday with only the briefest of hiccups. He was paired with Rickie Fowler, playing one pairing behind Sergio Garcia, and both of them veered within two strokes of McIlroy at two points in the afternoon. But McIlroy responded to the challenge with smooth drives straight enough to fire through a keyhole. When he's playing well, as he did on Saturday afternoon, McIlroy struts. It's more king-of-the-playground than king-of-the-world, really, because of everything that Rory can do on a golf course, scaring you isn't one of them. He's not a Tiger Woods circa 2000, chasing you down, running you over, and then reversing gears a couple times to make sure those tire tracks are embedded. No, McIlroy's game has only two settings: inconsistency and perfection. When McIlroy is on, as he has been in each of his three major wins, he's as good as anyone who's ever played the game. That's not hyperbole, that's fact. Consider where the kid stands now in golf history. He's won three of the four jewels of the Grand Slam faster than anyone in the Masters era save Woods and Jack Nicklaus. You don't luck your way into three very different majors. That's skill, grace, and once-in-a-generation talent. He's now got the rest of his career to do something that only five players — Nicklaus, Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen — have done: complete the career grand slam. Arnold Palmer never completed the career Slam. Neither did Sam Snead, or Tom Watson, or Phil Mickelson (yet). But here's McIlroy with a good quarter-century to win just once at Augusta ... a place, don't forget, where he very nearly won in 2011 were it not for one excruciatingly bad hole. When we look back and write Rory's history —

Sergio Garcia gets a lucky bounce from the grandstand [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 4:27 pm]
You'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who's had more of a good news-bad news career in the last quarter-century than Sergio Garcia. Still without a major win, he's been the "Best Never To Win A Major" for so long nobody really feels all that bad for him any more. Garcia always plays well at the Open Championship, but this year might just be the best, and thus the cruelest, of all. He's got the bad fortune to be playing some of his best golf of his life on a weekend where Rory McIlroy is otherworldly. Still, the golf gods gave Garcia a gift ... maybe only to torture him more, but still. He flew his approach shot at 12 into the grandstand, where it rebounded with an audible bang and ended up right on the fringe of the green. Garcia would go on to par the hole and remain, at that point, just two strokes behind McIlroy. As he was leaving the hole, Garcia blew the grandstand a kiss in gratitude. Seems about right. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

From grandstand to sand: the highs and lows of Sergio Garcia [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 4:27 pm]
You'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who's had more of a good news-bad news career in the last quarter-century than Sergio Garcia. Still without a major win, he's been the "Best Never To Win A Major" for so long nobody really feels all that bad for him any more. Garcia always plays well at the Open Championship, but this year might just be the best, and thus the cruelest, of all. He's got the bad fortune to be playing some of his best golf of his life on a weekend where Rory McIlroy is otherworldly. Still, the golf gods gave Garcia a gift ... maybe only to torture him more, but still. He flew his approach shot at 12 into the grandstand, where it rebounded with an audible bang and ended up right on the fringe of the green. Garcia would go on to par the hole and remain, at that point, just two strokes behind McIlroy. It wouldn't last. On 15, Garcia found himself in a greenside bunker. Not a terrible problem, but he had no margin for error. Certainly, no margin to do this: Garcia would go on to bogey the hole and drop three behind McIlroy. So, so close. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

Looking for positives in Tiger Woods' disastrous Open Championship play [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 11:54 am]
It's a major Sunday and Tiger Woods is wearing red and black, and if you squint a bit — and don't look at the clock or the scoreboard — you could almost think it's 2000 or 2002 or 2006 again. But, no, it's 2014, and here's Woods, spending more time looking for balls in the gorse than driving them onto the fairway. He staggered home on Sunday at the Open Championship with a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here 75 to conclude a six-over tournament. Yes, he finished five strokes behind 64-year-old Tom Watson; yes, he concluded his round almost two hours before the leaders even teed off. Yes, at the moment his comeback is looking as misguided as a new Van Halen album, good memories obscuring the painful reality of today. But you know what? Let's not pile on any more. Let's see if we can take some actual positives from Woods' week. Really, it won't be hard. First off, let's appreciate the fact that there was even an Open Championship at all for Woods. He beat all predictions for his return from back surgery, coming back only about 10 weeks after surgery that generally takes at least three months for recovery. Granted, perhaps Woods came back too early, but the fact he's here at all is impressive indeed. Next, he's actually playing on the weekend. Friday's fumble and stumble to the finish, making the cut on the number thanks to a Hail-Mary birdie, obscured the fact that simply making the cut in his first major back from surgery deserves praise. Making the cut was a best-case scenario coming into the tournament; thanks to his opening 69, the best-case scenario got vaulted into unreachable territory, and what should have been a positive outcome became a borderline failure. Here's the thing, though. When Woods finished his Sunday round, another miserable slog through the Liverpool flora, only three names sat below his on the leaderboard. But you know who one of those names was? Martin Kaymer, the guy who absolutely decimated Pinehurst just one month ago at the U.S. Open. You know

Rory McIlroy stands on the edge of history; can anyone catch him? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 5:14 pm]
Stagger to a sofa. Let the kids make their own breakfast. Sneak a cell phone into church. Whatever you're doing Sunday morning, make sure you watch the Open Championship. You're about to see sports history. Rory McIlroy is just 25 years old, but he's about to carve his name alongside golf's immortals. For a sport as history-obsessed and backwards-facing as golf, this is no small thing. McIlroy holds a six-shot lead at the Open Championship, and he's playing with the kind of assurance that's already earned him a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship. If he's able to win on Sunday, he'll join two familiar names, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, as the only golfers since 1934 with three major wins by the age of 25. McIlroy is -16 for the Open Championship, six strokes ahead of his nearest competition. He's at a total of 200 strokes, which sets a record for the Royal Liverpool club. And he's within range of a -20 for a major, which has never been done in golf history, anywhere. Here's what stands between McIlroy and that third major: 18 holes. A cast of characters already pretty far back in the rear-view mirror. And McIlroy himself. Admittedly, McIlroy has had his own problems. Most weeks, he's as erratic as they come, making both brilliant and misguided decisions in every round. He's far closer to Phil Mickelson than Tiger Woods, his greatness rearing up out of nowhere rather than being a constant threat. But when he's on, when he's driving and approaching and putting with a confidence that gives him a well-earned strut. And that is enough to keep everyone behind him anxious, nervous and pressing. Rickie Fowler, who will be playing in his second straight final pairing at a major, is six strokes back. Sergio Garcia, who might just be playing the best he's ever done in a major, is seven back. And on and on. It'll require both a pinwheel from McIlroy and a champion effort from anyone else to change this major's expected outcome. Because, of course, that's the other way McIlroy

Rory McIlroy's dad could cash in huge on a 10-year-old bet [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 5:09 pm]
A decade ago, Rory McIlroy was a 15-year-old kid with some skill at golf and a dad who believed in him wholeheartedly. So much so, in fact, that Gerry McIlroy and three friends put together £400, just less than $700 in today's dollars, on an audacious bet: young Rory would win the Open Championship before he turned 26. The odds? 500-1. McIlroy is now 25. And he stands six shots ahead of the field with 18 holes to play. That crazy little bet doesn't seem so crazy now, does it? The bet would pay £200,000, or more than $340,000, if McIlroy is able to win. Assuming each of the four partners threw in equally, that's $85,000 apiece. (You know there were a few guys who thought it was a throwing-money-away bet.) Not a bad return on investment, yes? Here's the BBC's Andrew Cotter confirming the bet: So just to confirm - 10 yrs ago Gerry McIlroy & three friends put £400 at 500-1 on 15 year-old Rory to win The Open before he turned 26.— Andrew Cotter (@MrAndrewCotter) July 19, 2014 And in case you're still not convinced: Ok - apparently I have to say it again - the bet still stands for this year. Checked with the man leading the Open.— Andrew Cotter (@MrAndrewCotter) July 19, 2014 How safe is the bet? Consider this: McIlroy leads by six strokes, and no one has ever lost the Open Championship leading by that many heading into the final round. It's no sure thing; McIlroy lost the Masters by choking spectacularly in 2011, but he's since won two majors in dominating fashion. The lesson, then: parents, bet big on your kids. Sure, their love and gratitude is nice, but so's a six-figure cash payout. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

Rory McIlroy eagles two of his final three holes to take a six-shot lead at the British Open [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 4:24 pm]
On Saturday at the British Open, Rory McIlroy's four-shot lead was dwindling. Rickie Fowler was making a push on a scoring-friendly day at Royal Liverpool and was within a shot of the lead when Rory got to the par-5 16th. Royal Liverpool is unique in the way it ends, with two par-5s over the final three holes, giving players a great shot at improving their card with some birdies and eagles. McIlroy was just 1-under on his round and in desperate need of something good to happen when he found the green on the 16th. Rory rolled in the lengthy eagle putt to extend his lead, but he wasn't done. Despite a dropped shot on the 17th, Rory pounded a drive 331-yards on No. 18 and had a 4-iron into the final green. He hit a beautiful shot right at the flag, landing it just on the green and saw it release to the hole to give him a great shot at second eagle in his closing three holes. McIlroy knocked that putt in the heart of the hole to close with an eagle and a third round 68, extending his lead to six shots and putting himself in a great position to win a third major championship at the age of 25.

The Open Championship, Day 3: Rory outruns rain, everyone else [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 3:47 pm]
The Open Championship is underway! Here's your complete roundup of the third day. When Rory McIlroy is on, there's nobody who can touch him. Not Tiger Woods, not Phil Mickelson, nobody. When he's dialed in, and granted, it's not often, McIlroy is as good as anyone in golf, ever. Overstatement? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Consider that after his exceptional 4-under 68 on Saturday, which put him at 12-under for the Open Championship and six strokes ahead of the field, McIlroy is in position to shoot a -20 for a major championship. That's never been done by anyone in history. (And remember, this is the same player who won his two majors by eight strokes each.) For the first 12 or so holes on Saturday, a day hastened by the threat of rain, McIlroy looked anything but immortal. And a host of challengers, most notably Rickie Fowler, were trimming into his pre-round 4-stroke lead fast. Very, very fast. It looked, for a time, like McIlroy would surrender, or at least fight for, the lead he'd built over two days. Consider the following scorecards. Here's Fowler: And here's McIlroy: When Fowler was standing on the 14th tee, he was tied with McIlroy, who had just bogeyed the 12th. But from there, McIlroy floored it. He went 5-under over the final five holes while Fowler was going plus-2 over the same span, opening up the six-shot lead. Boom. Done. Call the engraver. Other players turned in decent efforts, of course. Sergio Garcia may have the misfortune of playing a round capable of winning a major when he's against an otherwordly competitor. Jim Furyk, too, has carded some exceptionally strong golf. But on Saturday, it was all Rory, and that means Sunday's going to be a significant day indeed. Whatever happens, he'll make some sort of history. If he wins, he'll have three legs of the career Grand Slam in his pocket by age 25, something only two others have accomplished – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. If he loses, well, he'll become the first player ever to gag a 6-stroke

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