Sunday, April 29, 2012
www.12sportsonline.comBoth heavyweight college graduates received valuable lessons from their 3 round barnburner on HBO Saturday night...and each lived up to their adopted monikers. "Gentleman" Chazz Witherspoon could not close the show in the opening stanza when he had Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell on Queer Street, paying for the failure 2 rounds later. Rather than attack Mitchell's wobbly body, Witherspoon allowed the former linebacker at Michigan State to tie him up and survive. Between rounds, Seth regained his senses, and "Mayhem" went on the attack, continually landed heavy body shots the rest of the way until the fight was halted with Chazz unable to protect himself in round three. The knockout for Mitchell, following a left hook that dropped Witherspoon, (stoppage by ref Randy Newmann at 2:31 round 3) was his 9th straight and 19th of his undefeated heavyweight career now totaling 25 victories. Mitchell earned the NABO title with the win, but his sights are set for a showdown with one of the recognized Heavyweight Champion Klitschko brothers which is probably 4 fights away. In order to take that huge leap forward, Mitchell must learn from his numerous opening round blunders, with trainer Andre Hunter identifying the flaws for correction. That near fatal first, could have long lasting benefits, since Mitchell didn't begin boxing until his football career ended, learning the pro game on the fly without the benefit of an amateur pedigree. For Witherspoon (30-3 w/22 KO's) it's back to the drawing board with hopes of following instructions for trainer Virgil Hunter better next time.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Matt Harmon of Grand Rapids Michigan flirted with history in the final round his Nationwide Tour 2nd place finish Sunday at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Ca. A 30 foot birdie putt at 17 moved Harmon to minus 9 for his round, meaning birdie on 18 would not only set a course record, but also force a playoff with eventual winner Alex Aragon. His 61 tied the low round ever at TPC Stonebrae which was set by last year's champion Daniel Chopra. Harmon tied for second with longtime PGA tour player Duffy Waldorf and Paul Haley II at minus 9, each earning $44,800. Harmon had 10 birdies and a bogey in the final round. This was year four for this Nationwide Tour stop, but could very well be the last. The event was staged without a Title Sponsor and crowds were dismal, as the first two days were staggered by fog and rain delays. Losing 2 hours Thursday and 4 Friday, golfers tee times were juggled. Several, like the winner Aragon took but a single shot Friday after waiting all day to play. (Aragon: http://youtu.be/mhI1T74MV-o ) Weekend weather was spectacular but too few fans were on hand to enjoy the closing drama, which was not part of The Golf Channel's TV coverage this year.
Had there not been a delay in play Thursday morning, Alex Aragon would have been disqualified. At 6am he discovered his keys were in his golf bag locked in the truck of his car. AAA came to the rescue and he made his tee time. Friday started in dismal fashion, when he lost his wallet, waiting around all day to play and hit one shot before the horn sounded. But the Stanford grad rolled with the punches, putting together weekend rounds of 67 and today's 4 under 66 to prevail by one stroke over Paul Haley II, Duffy Waldorf, and Matt Harmon. Aragon's 10 underpar total earned his first Nationwide Tour victory and $108,000. Despite the weather and personal challenges, Aragon always kept his eye on the prize. Winning was his only focus, calling Friday "the worst day ever". Alex played 33 holes Saturday to complete rounds 2 & 3, and prevailed on Sunday. Waldorf, Haley and Harmon all missed birdie putts on 18 to force a playoff.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Steve Elkington sounds bites having got bitten by the elements at Nationwide Tour Stop in California
He's one of the most popular players on any tour, and next year the 10 time PGA Tour winner Steve Elkington joins the Champions Circuit. "Elk" won the 1995 PGA Championship, but he teed it up on the Nationwide Tour this week and missed the cut badly. The Aussie took the disappointment in stride, and headed back home to Houston, Texas, which has it's share of weather worries as well. Lightning, wicked wind, and rain took Elkington out of his game, admitting he was unprepared. He's yet to cash a check this season, but the avid gardener and accomplished caricaturist is not concerned about his recent struggles on the golf course. Still recovering from a rib injury that forced him to withdraw from the AT&T at Pebble Beach, Steve Elkington played 17 events last season including the Frys.com Open at nearly CordeValle in San Martin. Jerry Rice, the NFL's greatest all-time receiver serves as Tournament Host, and refers to "Elk" as the official Tour Ambassador. Rice bowed out after a first round 86, while Elkington missed the cut by plenty
TCP Stonebrae in Hayward, Ca. was battered by lightning, heavy rain, wicked wind and even fog for the tournament's first two days. But weekend weather is ideal, so despite the loss of 6 hours in delays, the event will end Sunday as scheduled...but much later in the day than expected. About half the players who made the cut at plus 3 finished their third round. After 36 holes unknown Tyrone Van Aswegan was 2 shots off the pace...but went 6 under through 14 holes in round 3 when darkness halted his round. Van Awsegan was 10 underpar and owned a 2 shot lead over Brian Stuard who completed 12 holes.
An incredible lighting display was followed by wicked rain and wind, forcing adjusted tee times to make up for 6 hours of delay. Round 2 was completed mid-afternoon on Saturday, and after the cut was determined at plus 3, survivors teed off at 1 and 10 in threesomes. Overall leader Tyrone Van Aswegan of South Africa stood at 6 under thru 14 holes, and 10 under. Next best is Brian Sturard, completing 12 holes before darkness 2 off the pace. Round 3 will be complete Sunday morning, and after the revised pairings are determined, the final round should begin early afternoon.
The redesigned Lake Course at the Olympic Club will have new grasses and challenges from Tee to Green, when the National Championship comes to the San Francisco for the 6th time. In 1955 Jack Fleck upset Ben Hogan in a playoff, at the Olympic Club's layout when the U.S. Open was staged there for the first time. The site remains the same, but many holes have been redesigned. Some of the changes include new Tee boxes on all holes, bent grass greens, with many designed short grass slopes around greens that may prove to be THE difference maker. Most greens are small with severe sloping, so if a shot trickles to the fringe, it might very well end up 50 feet below the putting surface. Mike Davis, the United States Golf Association Executive Director is responsible for setting up the U.S. Open Course. Deep rough will not be a huge concern off the tree lined fairways, but approach shot positioning will be key. Davis maintains the first 6 holes will be "The hardest of any U.S. Open start". The 16th hole will be the longest in U.S. Open history at 670 yards...canting fairways in opposite direction of doglegs will put a premium on shaping shots, and of course the closely mown areas around 7 of the 18 greens will play havoc with approach shots that are not precisely landed on the correct portions of the putting surface. Back to back par 5's at 16 & 17, plus the drivable (288 yard) par 4 7th hole offer the greatest risk-reward options. The 6th hole tee has been moved back 50 yards, bringing a fairway bunker into play, several holes have narrow shutes so tee shots need to navigate through tight cascading tree limbs, and other features such as adding 70 yards on the par 3 8th hole will prove to be an ultimate test without super slick-fast greens and punitive rough.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Longtime PGA Tour star Steve Elkington had a terrible time dealing with fog, rain, and cold damp air missing the cut at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward for a Nationwide Tour stop.