Wizards

...as Adam Scott collpases down the stretch

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...as Adam Scott collpases down the stretch

From Comcast SportsNet
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- Adam Scott, meet Jean Van de Velde. And Ed Sneed. And Phil Mickelson. With a stunning meltdown, Scott gave away the claret jug Sunday and joined an infamous list of the greatest collapses in golf history. The Aussie bogeyed the final four holes of the British Open to finish one stroke behind Ernie Els, who was almost apologetic about the way he won. "I'm still numb," Els said. "Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. It's a crazy game." Scott missed a 7-footer at the final hole that would have forced a playoff, his knees buckling as the ball slid by the left edge of the cup. Then, after somehow composing himself and signing his scorecard, he had to return to the same green where his hopes were crushed to accept the runner-up prize. "I know I let a really great chance slip through my fingers," Scott said. Indeed, this was a blow to gut that will certainly take a while to get over, and it's unlikely that Scott will ever be able to put it totally out of his mind. He played brilliantly for three straight days, building a four-shot advantage heading to the final round, and he was still up by four after what seemed a clinching birdie at the 14TH. Then he knocked one in a bunker on 15. Bogey. Then he missed a 3-footer at the next hole. Another bogey. Then he hit his worst shot of the whole tournament, an iron from the middle of the fairway that missed left and rolled into some tall grass, leading to a third straight bogey. Up ahead, Els was already done, having birdied the 18th with a clutch 15-footer. As Scott stepped to the final tee, his lead was gone. Not surprisingly, he drove it in a bunker, leaving himself no other option except to punch out into the fairway. A brilliant shot from 150 yards gave him a chance, but the tall putter that served him so well all week petered out at the end. Els celebrated on the practice green but wasn't real sure how to rect. "I've got to figure it out still," he said. "Obviously, I'm happy to have won. But I've been on the other end more than the winning end. It's not a good feeling." There's plenty of guys who know how that feels: -- In a historical context, Scott's flop ranks alongside Sneed's loss at the 1979 Masters. Sneed began the final round with a five-stroke lead and, despite a few wobbles along the way, was still in good position to win coming down the stretch. Three shots ahead. Three holes to play. But, suddenly, his game fell apart. Or, more specifically his putter. Sneed bogeyed the last three holes and lost to Fuzzy Zoeller in a sudden-death playoff. Sneed never came so close again to capturing a major title. -- Jason Dufner also knows how Scott feels. In the final round of last year's PGA Championship, Dufner stepped to the 15th tee with a four-stroke lead on the field and a five-shot edge on Keegan Bradley. But three straight bogeys by Dufner -- hmmm, that sounds familiar -- and two straight birdies by Bradley forced a three-hole playoff. Bradley won by a stroke. "Maybe looking back in 10 or 15 years, I'll be disappointed if I never get another chance," Dufner said, in words that are fitting for the 32-year-old Scott. "But I have a feeling I'll have more chances in a major to close one out." -- Of course, Van de Velde's collapse on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open is one all others are measured by. The Frenchman had the claret jug in the bag, going to the 72nd hole with a three-shot lead. Instead of playing it safe, he pulled out the driver and knocked his tee shot into the thick rough at Carnoustie. Then he hit it off a grandstand. Then a burn. After briefly considering a whack out of the creek, he took a drop. His now-fifth shot went in a bunker, and he needed a testy up-and-down for triple-bogey just to get in a playoff. Alas, he was defeated by Paul Lawrie. Like Sneed, Van de Velde never came close again. -- For pure shock value, it's hard to beat Arnold Palmer throwing away the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. The game's most popular player started the final round with a three-shot lead, and had stretched it to seven at the turn. Billy Casper played brilliantly on the back nine, but Palmer was still up ahead by five going to the 15th. That's when it all fell apart. Casper birdied the next two holes. Palmer bogeyed them. Palmer made his third straight bogey at the 17th, and the lead was gone. Even though he made par at 18 to force a playoff, Casper prevailed the following day. Palmer would never get his eighth major title. -- Then there's the Mickelson stunner at the 2006 U.S. Open. Lefty threw away a chance to win his third straight major with a staggering display of errant swings and ditzy decisions. He struggled all day to control his driver, but kept pulling it out of the bag. He did it again at the 18th, needing a par to win or just a bogey to force a playoff. His drive struck a hospitality tent. He attempted to slice the next one under some trees, but caught a branch. Then he plugged one in a back bunker, leading to a double-bogey that gave the championship to Geoff Ogilvy. Lefty's assessment afterward was priceless: "I am such an idiot." -- Greg Norman was feeling the same way after his performance on the final day of the 1996 Masters, and there's certainly a kinship between the Shark and Scott, who grew up idolizing his countryman. But Norman's dismal showing in the final round at Augusta was an 18-hole effort in futility, not just a late choke job. Starting with a six-shot lead on Nick Faldo, he had thrown it away the time he made a third straight bogey at the 11th. When his tee shot at the 12th caught the bank and rolled back into Rae's Creek, it was effectively over. The remaining holes were a coronation for Faldo, a death march for Norman. He finished with a 78, losing to Faldo by five strokes. "I let it slip away," Norman moaned. Words that Scott essentially repeated on Sunday. -- Finally, let's give a nod to Sam Snead, one of the game's all-time greats but also remembered for squandering his two best chances to win the U.S, Open. In 1939, he could've won with a par on the 72nd hole but thought he needed a birdie (hey, give him a break, the scoreboard technology wasn't what it is today). Playing aggressively, Snead made a mess of things for a triple-bogey. But 1947 might have been even worse: Snead built a two-stroke lead on Lew Worsham with three holes left in a playoff. Worsham birdied the 16th and Snead bogeyed the 17th to even things up. Then, after Worsham suddenly called for a ruling on who was away at the 18th, Snead missed a 2 1-2-foot putt. Worsham rolled in a slightly shorter one to take the victory. And, now, Scott joins the list.

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The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

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The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

The NBA is building momentum towards a significant change in their draft entry rules. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken about his preference to change the so-called one-and-done rule and on Thursday he met with the newly created Commission on College Basketball in Washington, D.C. to discuss the subject.

The meeting was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who says the league could once again let high school players be drafted. The compromise could be a rule requiring those who go to college to stay for at least two years. That would be similar to Major League Baseball, which stipulates three years of college.

Would a similar rule be a good idea for the NBA? While the players' union would like the option to go straight from high school, there was a reason the one-and-done rule was implemented in the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The perception back then was that players left for the NBA too early and many flamed out because of it. The thought was that some players would have had better careers if they were older and more experienced when they became professionals.

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Darius Miles, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry and Sebastian Telfair are notorious cases of draft busts who came out of high school. Many wondered if those guys would have been better off with a year in college to adjust to life on their own and with an intermediary step up in competition.

But there are important differences in the NBA's structure nowadays. Now there is a robust minor league system with G-League affiliates all over the country. There are also two-way contracts, allowing teams to pay more money to a prospect and have more flexibility in bringing them up to the NBA. Players don't have to adjust as quickly as they used to.

The G-League is going to continue to expand and the perception keeps changing. Now, it is more common to see players have a stint in the G-League either for development purposes or injury rehabilitation. Player development of baseball players is different, but the MLB's well-established minor league system is the reason why their rule allowing high school players to go pro really works.

The one year in college under the one-and-done rule, however, does have some positives. Most notably, it allows NBA teams to get a better read on draft prospects. Instead of evaluating guys exclusively in high school and AAU, they get to see them play in the ACC, SEC and other big college conferences.

NBA front offices may be hurt by it, but the time is right to go back to high school players entering the pros. Things are much different than they were in 2006 and the league can handle it. Ending the one-and-done rule would be better for the players and it should also make a lot of college basketball fans happy.

That is the good of what the NBA is considering, however, the rule requiring two years of college should not be part of the equation. If the NBA wants to grant some freedom, then actually do it. Some players may need just one year of college and nothing more. Don't punish them for it.

The two-year requirement seems like a very bad idea, but it could be part of the deal. Either way, it seems like the one-and-done rule could come to an end sooner than later and it's for the best.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL GOES 1-ON-1]

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Vrana returns and other morning notes ahead of Saturday's game against the Wild

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USA TODAY Sports

Vrana returns and other morning notes ahead of Saturday's game against the Wild

Coming off a poor two-game road trip, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz elected to keep his lineup mostly familiar with Bruce Boudreau and a hot Wild team coming to town.

Here’s how they’re expected to line up tonight on F Street:

Forwards
Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Extra: Walker

Defense
Orpik – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Chorney – Bowey
Extra: Ness

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Now for some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:

  • Braden Holtby (10-4-0/2.68 gaa/.918 Sv%) is scheduled to return to the net for Washington. It’s likely Devan Dubnyk will get the nod for Minnesota, which has won four games in row. Dubnyk (8-6-1/2.28 gaa/.922 Sv%) earned shutouts in three of those games.
  • After getting smoked 6-3 and 6-2 in Nashville and Colorado, respectively, the Caps are looking to get things back on track at home, where they’ll play the next four games in a row and nine of the next 10. The good news? T.J. Oshie and Co. have won their last four games on home ice after a 1-3 start there.
  • The only lineup change for the Caps is Jakub Vrana returning after sitting out Thursday as a healthy scratch. Vrana has two points—both goals—in his last 13 games...and one was scored into an empty net.
  • Trotz was pretty direct when asked where his team needs to improve after a couple of ugly losses on the road. “We were executing, playing pretty solid and in a groove, if you will,” Trotz said of the Caps winning five of six games to start the month. “But it’s gone off the rails a little bit here in the last two games. We’re the only ones that can get it back. …We’ve had too many passengers. Everything starts with our best players. Tonight, we’re going to need our best players to be the best players because everyone else will follow.”
  • Christian Djoos, who suffered an upper-body injury in Nashville and missed the Colorado game, did not skate Saturday. “I don’t know exactly when he’s going to skate yet,” Trotz said. “He’s still day-to-day with the trainers. Once they tell me he can skate, he’ll be out there.”
  • Tyler Graovac, in Hershey on a long-term conditioning stint, figures to be back soon. He’s got a goal and an assist in two games with the Bears. Although the stint is set to end this weekend, Trotz said he plans to talk to Graovac and that his stay in Hershey could be extended to a fourth or fifth game with the player’s permission. “I’ve set it up with him and I have good communication with him,” Trotz said. “[So] if he needs a fourth or a fifth game, we’ll talk and we’ll decide. …There’s a possibility that he could return as soon as Monday or as late as next Friday.” 

 

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS' FIRST QUARTER REPORT CARD