Sports

The Master’s Masterful Finish 2.0

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated –Arnold Palmer

This year’s Master’s golf championship was one for the ages. Much like the 2013 Master’s, the 2017 edition had its share of amazing shots, compelling storylines, and finished with a thrilling sudden death playoff; Arnold Palmer’s recent passing also injected an emotional element into the tournament.

Palmer’s memory took center stage at the opening tee shot ceremony, which he took part in from 2007 to 2016. In what could be described as Golf’s version of the “missing man” formation, an empty chair with Palmer’s green jacket draped over it was prominently placed near the ceremonial tee off site in tribute to his absence.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.14.35 AMHonorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were both visually moved during a moment of silence honoring their long time friend and competitor.

Once the pageantry concluded, the serious side of professional Golf returned to the forefront setting in motion a great Master’s tournament, which would crown a new champion and snap a string of heartbreaks for “El Nino” Sergio Garcia.

Garcia’s victory was an epic breakthrough for a man who has came up short several times on Golf’s biggest stages. Over his career, Garcia’s best performance in a Major was two second place finishes at both the PGA and Open championships, and taking third place at the U.S. Open.

However, Garcia’s stunning victory at the 2017 Master’s not only breaks his streak of disappointments, but also erases the title of “best player to never win a Major.”

Garcia’s road to victory was like a heavy weight fight. He and eventual second place finisher Justin Rose traded blows and leader status several times before a playoff round finally settled the match.

Garcia led for much of the day until back-to-back bogeys on the 10 and 11 holes resulted in a two stoke deficit to Rose. During this stretch, Rose took advantage of Garcia’s play and made some stellar shots to gain the lead. All indications pointed to another disappointment for “El Nino.”

The dynamic shifted when Garcia birdied and eagled the 14 and 15 holes, respectively, to regain the lead from Rose.

With everything all knotted up going into the 18 hole, both men were playing well. It was just a matter of who would falter first. When Rose missed a putt for birdie and settled for par, Garcia was poised to win with a birdie. He pared. The Master’s was going to a sudden death par four round.

The playoff had challenges for both men. Rose’s drive went wide right into some trees, and Garcia had to exorcise his own mental demons after years of disappointment.

Rose would work his way onto the fairway and with his third stroke. He put himself into position to putt for par. If he makes par after a bad start in the playoff, he’d put pressure on Garcia. Rose bogeyed the hole.

On the other hand, Garcia put together an excellent playoff round. His drive from the tee placed the ball perfectly on the fairway; his next stroke landed on the green about 18′ from the pin.

When Garcia went to putt, Rose was already in at five strokes, so par would win.

Garcia’s putt had the makings of a Hollywood movie, the ball looked like it was going to tickle the left rim and roll away from the cup, but it miraculously circled the pin and dropped in for birdie and the win.

The victory for Garcia look very unlikely a few holes earlier. He was trailing Rose by two strokes late in the final round, and Rose was playing great golf.

Then things changed.

Garcia’s turnaround looked to be divine intervention. After all, the final round of the 2017 Master’s happened to fall on what would’ve been the 60 birthday of his childhood hero and idol, Severiano Ballesteros. Could the late Spanish golfing legend be trying to help a fellow countryman?

Ghostly intervention does seem plausible if one looks at some of the developments late in the tournament. Garcia’s shot for eagle at 15 appeared to stop short at the rim, then make one final rotation to fall into the cup, and his final putt in the playoff dramatically circled the rim and dropped in. Both shots looked as if an invisible hand prodded the ball to its final destination.

Whether a person wants to believe it was providence or inspired play, it doesn’t really matter because Garcia won the Master’s outright with a spectacular shot for birdie. He didn’t back into the win by simply putting for par.

The Ballesteros storyline is a heartwarming narrative, but Garcia deserves all the credit for his victory. Neither supernatural forces nor an epic collapse by Rose tipped the Master’s tournament. Garcia persevered, played well and overcame personal setbacks to win his first Major and an Augusta National green jacket.

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The End of Oregon’s Golden Era

“Success comprises in itself the seeds of its own decline and sport is not spared by this law” Pierre de Coubertin

Oregon Football use to be the toast of the college football universe. The program had great facilities, incredible boosters, and an avid fan base. With Nike’s backing, the team had unlimited uniform combinations and tons of media coverage.

However, success is fueled by wins, and when losses mount…well…college football can be a fickle lover.

Following a disastrous Alamo Bowl loss, in which Oregon once lead by more than 30-points, and a 2016 campaign that finished with an abysmal four wins. The once proud program finished at the bottom of its conference and division.

Something needed to be done, so the University of Oregon’s Athletic Department made a drastic move. A maneuver that hadn’t been done since the 1970s. Fire its head coach.

The last firing of an Oregon Football Head Coach occurred in 1976, when Don Reid was dismissed. During the last 40-years, the program has hired head coaches from within its system. A strategy that’s created a continuity unrivaled in college football; however, that streak ended in 2016 with the termination of Mark Helfrich.

Why? Coach Helfrich took over a program that was souring. His tenure as head coach saw a decline in recruiting, a breakdown in discipline, and slippage in fan enthusiasm.

The decline in Oregon’s play prompted an interesting piece by AlmostDailyBrett, which attempts to explain ” The End of Oregon’s Golden Era.”

Oregon alumni and fans can only hope that Oregon’s decline is short lived. Perhaps, the UO’s Athletic Department has taken a step in the right direction by hiring its new head coach: Willie Taggart.

Duck Nation will soon see if Coach Taggart and his new coaching staff corrects Oregon’s woes. Just maybe, he is the shot in the arm that is needed to right the ship and return the Ducks to their Golden Era.

 

 

Bob Sinclair, A True Pioneer

If the Wright brothers hadn’t put their lives on the line, we would not be flying around the world these days. So we need pioneers~Felix Baumgartner

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.20.46 PMIt’s been a year since a true skydiving pioneer passed away. He was a man who pushed the boundaries of the sport, yet remained obscure to the general public.

His innovation of the “buddy system” skydiving method, creation of the 35mm helmet-mounted camera and skydiving videography helped to revolutionize the sport. He probably single-handedly introduced skydiving to millions of people.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Sinclair’s worked on scores of television shows, commercials, and motion pictures, along with taking the reigning king of late-night TV, Johnny Carson, on a skydive in 1968.

It would be remiss not to mark his passing without sharing a few blogs and articles about this remarkable man.

Below are links to some of the best written memories of Mr. Sinclair.

Blue Skies,

USPA Blog

Skydiving Museum Article

 

 

GoPro Fun-3 

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce. Karl Lagerfeld

During the July 4 Holiday, I went skydiving at a dropzone outside of Portland, Oregon.

An accidental tilt of my GoPro during exit yielded some great shots of me and my shadow coming in to land.

  

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

Mariota Wins The Heisman!

A new day dawned for fans of the Oregon Ducks. A decade and a half of building a winning program culminated in the schools first Heisman trophy winner.

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Marcus Mariota’s talent has been no secret at Oregon, and now the world knows just how talented the Hawaiian native is. This year’s Heisman winner received the second highest vote totals (90.9%) in the trophy’s 80-year history.

Another first for Mariota is that he is the first man from Hawaii, and the first Polynesian, to win the Heisman trophy.

The next step in Oregon’s history will be to bring home a national championship, but for now. Duck fans should all be celebrating this historic moment because years of hard work and sacrifice have paid off.

Congratulations to Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks.

More information on the vote and the trophy’s history can be found at the official Heisman website:

http://heisman.com/index.aspx

http://www.heismancentral.com/#!the-vote/c2b1

Super Bowl XLVIII: The Super Bust

I believe that a bad Super Bowl halftime show is still better than a soccer game–Ron White

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 10.51.34 AMAs an average red-blooded American, I love to watch the Super Bowl. The event is highly anticipated and hyped. And when Super Sunday arrives, the entire viewing experience usually makes for a great afternoon. All aspects of the Super Bowl’s programming are worth watching. The pre-game show, the commercials, halftime show, and the game are all entertaining. However, this year’s Super Bowl event fell flat on all fronts.

Unless you’re a diehard Seahawks fan, the game was boring. The teams seemed deflated and unable to compete at a high level. Seattle’s defense is the lone exception. The two offensives were incompetent and lacking clarity. The Seahawks failed to put the game away early by settling for field goals inside the red zone. If their offense was firing on all cylinders, they would have scored 60-points.

The Denver Broncos were offensively inept, which made the Seahawks’ performance look even more dominate than it was. I will admit that much of the incompetence on Denver’s side was due to Seattle’s play, but the Broncos made no adjustments. Their team seemed out sync from the opening snap. Ultimately, a tip-of-the-hat goes to Seattle for showing up and taking advantage of the situation. It was nice to see a team that has never won a Super Bowl come out victorious.

Since the game was a bust, I figured the halftime show and the commercials would take up the slack. The problem was the halftime show and the commercials were lackluster as well. The Entertainment was just a rehash of past shows. All it did was cart out a big name performer or two, and then sing a medley of hits. This show wasn’t any different than the last ten-halftime performances. It was a huge waste of time. I would rather watch game highlights, interviews, or anything other than the entertainment the NFL has dredged up for the Super Bowl in recent years.

My last gasp for enjoying this year’s game rested with the commercials. That is usually a safe bet. In many cases, people who don’t care about the NFL will tune into the game just for the Super Bowl ads. Unfortunately, this year they missed the mark too. I can only recall one or two that were decent. In years past, I bet, those commercials would have been below average by Super Bowl standards.

It’s hard to believe a Super Bowl match up that had the makings to be a truly great championship game fell flat. I can’t blame the blowout because that happens regularly in sports, so does poor halftime performances and bad commercial programming. But rarely does all three happen during one Super Bowl. Each phase of this year’s Super Bowl event was ensnared in mediocrity. The NFL needs to address its formula for success because if this occurs again. Soccer may take a huge step towards overtaking the NFL’s limelight.

BCS: Out In Style

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.– Heywood Broun

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 1.44.11 PMDuring its much-aligned existence, the BCS always had its critics. In its 16-year run there were countless tweaks to how it operated. Despite the fixes the system was far from perfect, but in its final year the BCS era ends with a bang.

This year’s bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) were by far the best series of games the BCS has presented. The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio (#5 Stanford vs. #4 Michigan State) was a back and forth game that ended with a brutal defensive stand, which handed the victory to the Michigan State Spartans. Until that last play the game was in doubt.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (#15 UCF vs. #6 Baylor) didn’t have the dramatic alternating lead changes like the Stanford/Michigan State game did, but it featured a huge upset when the BCS buster UCF Knights beat the high-octane offense the Baylor Bears.

Following the New Year’s Day BCS games, the Allstate Sugar Bowl featured the #3, two-time national champion, Alabama Crimson Tide battling the #11 Oklahoma Sooners. This skirmish had four lead changes. Alabama had a chance to tie the game with a touchdown drive during the final 47-seconds; their hopes were dashed when A.J. McCarron coughed up the ball and Geneo Grissom returned the fumble for an eight-yard touchdown. If that wasn’t enough, a botched kickoff recovered by Oklahoma ended any chance for a miracle for the Crimson Tide.

On January 3rd the Discover Orange Bowl hosted the #7 Ohio State Buckeyes verses the #12 Clemson Tigers. This game featured more than a 1000-yards of offense and four lead changes. The game was sealed when Stephone Anthony intercepted Braxton Miller’s pass at Clemson’s 39-yard line with 87-seconds remaining in the game.

The BCS Championship Game couldn’t have been scripted any better. #1 Florida State Seminoles and #2 Auburn Tigers colliding for the ultimate prize: The NCAA Coaches Trophy. This game had it all. One team takes a commanding 21-3 lead early in the game, a valiant come from behind challenge (featuring a 100-yard kickoff return to take the lead), and a championship drive to win the game with only 13-seconds remaining. The heroics of the athletes on both sides were stellar examples of what makes college football special.

These final BCS era games are examples of what college football post-season should be. In many respects, this year’s bowl games raised the bar for what the new playoff system should strive to deliver every year. I believe it’s possible if the new playoff system doesn’t implode under the weight of bias and conference tie-ins that plagued the BCS during its run.

The BCS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowl_Championship_Series

BCS Championship

Orange Bowl

Fiesta Bowl

Rose Bowl

Sugar Bowl