Big Ten

A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

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A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

From Comcast SportsNet
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- For the second straight week, a PGA Tour event ended with Kyle Stanley in tears. This time, they were tears of joy. Taking advantage of Spencer Levin's final-round meltdown, Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss at Torrey Pines to win the Phoenix Open on Sunday, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse a week ago. "You go from a very low point to a high point," Stanley said. "I'm not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly. ... I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did." Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 15-under 269 -- a stroke ahead of playing partner Ben Crane and two ahead of Levin. Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75. "It just wasn't my day, obviously," Levin said. "But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away. My hat's off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you've got a six-shot lead and don't win, then I think it's on the player with the lead, for sure." When asked about Levin, Stanley echoed what Torrey Pines winner Brandt Snedeker said about Stanley a week ago. "I really feel for him, experiencing that," Stanley said. "You don't want to wish that upon anybody. He's a very good player, way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover." At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn't get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup. "I'm never going to forget that," Stanley said. "But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm very grateful for the support I've gotten. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround." The 24-year-old former Clemson player from Gig Harbor, Wash., earned 1,098,000 for his first PGA Tour title. One of the tour's longest hitters at only 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Stanley birdied the par-5 13th and par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead at 15 under. On No. 13, he powered a 376-yard drive through the desert area to set up the tying two-putt birdie. "Got a really good break there. Not quite sure how that ball ended up where it did," Stanley said. "We only hit 9-iron in there." On 14, he hit a 325-yard drive down the middle and holed a 12-footer to take lead. "Kind of a chip wedge in there," he said. Levin, winless on the PGA Tour, birdied the 14th to regain a share of the lead, but followed with a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th. "I wasn't doing trying to do anything different," Levin said "It had to be my mind. You get weird thoughts creeping in here and there. At least, I do. I think it was more my mind than my swing. Just kind of just wanting it a little too much." On 15, Levin's drive bounced off the cart path on the right and ended up against a cactus in the desert area. He took an awkward stance near the cactus and got the ball back into the second cut just off the fairway with a hockey-style slap with his driver. He emerged with jumping cholla stuck in his shirt and pants, then hit his third shot in the water short and right of the green. "I pushed it a little bit, but I guess I didn't hit enough club," Levin said. "I thought 4-iron would go over the green and 5-iron didn't carry." Stanley parred the final three holes, hitting a difficult recovery shot to 20 feet from an awkward angle under cactus to the right of the green on the short par-4 17th. "It's not a shot you really ever practice," Stanley said. "I had pitching wedge out, Brett (Waldman, his caddie) gave me the sand wedge. Just shut the face and tried to play a little bit of a hook, and it came off perfect." Playing two groups ahead of Levin, Stanley birdied five of the first 11 holes to get to 13 under, and within three strokes of the faltering leader. Levin birdied No. 3 to reach 18 under, but bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 and dropped two more strokes on 11 and 12 to let Stanley into the mix. Stanley, though, wasn't fully aware where he stood. "I didn't pay much attention to the leaderboards until maybe four or five holes left," Stanley said. "Once I made a couple birdies there on the back nine, I figured I was maybe getting close. But I didn't really think about it too much today. "I made the mistake of thinking about it probably all of the final round last week. So, this week, I just kind of tried to just let it happen." DIVOTS: Crane shot a 66. ... Phil Mickelson tied for 26th at 6 under after a 73. "I just couldn't quite get it going," the former Arizona State star said. ... The crowd was announced at 58,447, bringing the seven-day total to 518,262. A tournament-record 173,210 watched play Saturday.

Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

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USA TODAY

Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

While Saturday's trip to the Twin Cities featured some more of the same for the Fighting Illini, it marked important step in Lovie Smith's rebuilding project.

Freshman quarterback Cam Thomas, a Marian Catholic product, saw action for the first time in his collegiate career, Smith busting out a new option at the game's most important position. Thomas threw a nasty pick six, but he did lead Illinois in rushing in a 24-17 loss at Minnesota.

Thomas only made four throws, completing two of them and landing a third in the hands of a Minnesota defender, but his play injected a bit of excitement into what's looking like another dreadful season of Illinois football, with Smith's team falling to 2-5 through the first seven games of his second season at the helm of the program. Thomas mostly starred with his feet Saturday, rushing for a team-high 79 yards in the defeat.

His first appearance came following the first of the Illinois' defense's three takeaways. Thomas ran for a nine-yard gain on his first carry, and the Illini tied the game with a touchdown on the next play. Thomas was interchanged with starting quarterback Jeff George Jr. from there on out.

While the Illini defense kept the Gophers at bay for much of the day thanks to those three takeaways, P.J. Fleck's team had no trouble racking up rushing yardage, finishing with a whopping 292 rushing yards. Minnesota engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter exclusively running the ball to break a 10-all tie and go up 17-10.

Thomas threw a pick six on the very next play from scrimmage, sending the Gophers up 24-10 to effectively seal the deal. George led an Illinois touchdown drive on the next possession, but the Illini couldn't make up the suddenly big gap in the limited amount of time.

Illinois finished with only 282 yards of offense. George was 18-for-23 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Ra'Von Bonner carried the ball 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The defeat dropped the Illini to 2-5 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. One of just two teams without a Big Ten win (Indiana is the other), Illinois faces off against a top-10 Wisconsin team next weekend.

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bobby Portis publicly issued an apology to Nikola Mirotic for the punch that broke two bones in Mirotic’s face and caused a concussion earlier this week.

Portis was suspended eight games by the NBA while Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks after he goes through concussion protocol, following an incident in Tuesday’s practice where the tensions boiled over between the two power forwards.

“I'm wrong for what I did. I want to publicly apologize to Niko,” said Portis outside the Bulls locker room at the United Center, hours before the home opener against the San Antonio Spurs. “I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization, and most importantly my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

Sticking to clear talking points, repeatedly saying “we were competing” as a way to describe the incident, it was a more toned down version of Portis. Portis is usually colorful and engaging when talking to the media.

Saturday, he was muted, almost robotic in a sense. And he didn’t want to go into the incident in detail, one that many sources have said was instigated by Mirotic as the two were going back and forth physically during several possessions.

The play before, things intensified, causing assistant coach Randy Brown to step in and break things up. The next time downcourt, Mirotic apparently charged at Portis and Portis responded with one punch that sent Mirotic to the floor.

Gently choosing his words, Portis said, “We were competing and kinda went back and forth and things happened.”

When asked if he was shoved, Portis reiterated the two were competing although numerous accounts say Mirotic did push him leading up to the direct incident.

“Yes I was surprised by my own action,” Portis said. “That's not who I was, as I first stated. I'm a competitor at the end of the day but I never meant to hurt my teammate.”

Portis and Mirotic have not yet spoken, although Portis said he’s called and texted Mirotic with no response. It hasn’t been determined whether Mirotic will take legal action on Portis.

“Not concerned with that at this point,” Portis said. “At this point I’m just trying to publicly apologize to Niko and my teammates, and that I’m real sincere about the situation.”

Portis will be allowed to practice during his suspension, having returned Friday and Portis believes things can be mended with he and his teammate.

“Going forward I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I'm pretty sure we can. We just have to repair this relationship.”

Justin Holiday said the issue will have to be addressed head on as opposed to being swept under the rug or letting the element of time naturally heal things. Whether that conversation is initiated by teammates or the coaching staff or front office, as long as both are wearing a Bulls uniform, it will be necessary.

“It hasn’t been arranged, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have to talk it out,” Portis said. “And I’m pretty sure it will be a gentle conversation. I’m pretty sure we can get past this.”