Poulter hopeful of shaking off 'turkey' rust


Poulter hopeful of shaking off 'turkey' rust

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Ian Poulter was still in the holiday spirit with the Tournament of Champions looming, and he didn't decide until Tuesday whether to open his season in Hawaii. He reluctantly packed his bags and didn't have high hopes for the first tournament of the year.

He playfully told one follower on Twitter to ``save your money'' when he saw odds of Poulter winning at 12-to-1. And when he arrived on the Plantation Course - right about the time the rain returned, of course - he conceded to not be as ready to play as he normally is.

``I figured I might as well knock some of the turkey rust off me and come and play for a few days,'' Poulter said Thursday before his pro-am round. ``I might be a little rusty, but I'm going to play and see how we go.''

With only a 30-man field, he only has 29 guys to beat.

And while it was a big flight over from Florida, what's another 5,000 miles after all the places Poulter has gone the last few months?

After a short break following the Ryder Cup, Poulter's travels took him from Shanghai to Hong Kong to Melbourne to Dubai to Los Angeles to Florida, and then a brief trip to London for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards.

But don't think it wasn't tempting to sit this one out. Poulter has a six-week break that starts after Maui and ends with the Match Play Championship.

``It would have been nice to have taken 10 weeks off,'' he said. ``I think that's exactly what Luke (Donald) has done, and there's a couple of others doing the same.''


HYUNDAI FUTURE: Hyundai is in the final year of its contract as title sponsor of the Tournament of Champions, and its vice president of marketing sounded optimistic that the South Korean automaker would be sticking around.

``We are very bullish,'' Steve Shannon said. ``We don't have anything to announce this week, partially because we are so focused in executive another great event. But we've had discussions with the PGA Tour. They have been great partners of ours. Certainly, our bias is to continue, but we just need to get this tournament behind us and then have some more discussions with them.

``We have done a lot of things each year to improve our involvement, and we would look to do that in the future again.''

The PGA Tour season opens with as many questions about who's not at Kapalua as who is. The top four in the world ranking are taking the week off - Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Justin Rose. Ernie Els is playing next week in South Africa., while Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson also opted not to come.

Shannon didn't seem overly bothered by that, saying the ``dynamic is what it is.'' Golf has changed over the last several years with more international players trying to juggle the PGA Tour and their home tours. Europeans and Australians, for example, play deep into November.


FOWLER'S SECRET: Asked to assess his year, Rickie Fowler described a slow start, his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship and then his secret.

He felt a twinge in his lower back at the U.S. Open. He kept playing through the summer, trying to reach his goals of qualifying for the Tour Championship (which he did) and making the Ryder Cup team (which he did not).

Turns out he had inflamed joints in his lower back, the product of slightly bad posture in his swing. Thanks to 3-D video archives at the Titleist Performance Institute, Fowler realized that the angle of his back was leaning away from the ball, a difference of only 5 degrees. But over time, it began causing pain.

He wound up taking plenty of time off to let it heal, missing his title defense in the Korea Open. Even now, Fowler said he's not quite at 100 percent, but he's good enough. And that time off left him excited about playing.

``After the two-month break I had, it kind of fueled the fire a little bit to come back out, and it makes you want to play and compete more,'' he said.


MASTER CRAFTSMAN MEMORY: Titleist's staff players at Kapalua are wearing gold ribbons on their hats in memory of Jaime Ramos, the master golf club builder at Titleist who died of a heart attack during the holiday at age 58.

Ramos made clubs for 35 years, starting at Cobra Golf when he built clubs for the likes of Greg Norman, Hale Irwin and Seve Ballesteros. He jointed Titleist in 1996 and built the clubs for all of Titleist's' players around the world, a list that over the years included Tiger Woods, David Duval, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Rory McIlroy.

``He took pride in his job and enjoyed watching the players he built clubs for have success,'' said Chris Tuten, director of tour promotions for Titleist. ``He was a legend among club builders and will be sorely missed by the Titleist family and all those who knew him.''


NO PANIC IN PARADISE: The last time Charlie Beljan played in a tournament, he suffered a severe panic attack at Disney that caused shortness of breath, spiked his blood pressure and sent him to the hospital - and yet he still managed to win.

It was a remarkable story to end the year, and it made Beljan eligible for the Tournament of Champions. Two months certainly feels like a lifetime ago.

``Feeling much better,'' Beljan said. ``Changed some eating habits. Changed some fitness routines and been working hard on my short game and looking forward to a great week here.''

Beljan figures he will be known as the rookie who suffered a panic attack, but he doesn't mind considering the number of people who might be helped because of the attention he brought to anxiety attacks.

``I'd like to be known as a golfer and a free spirit and a fun loving guy, but at the same time, what I experienced out there and what everybody saw brought a lot of attention to panic attacks and anxiety attacks and what a big deal it is and how many people do face it on a daily basis,'' Beljan said. ``So I've gotten a lot of letters and a lot of emails and stuff like that saying that I've been an inspiration to all.

``It's been pretty neat because I've touched people other than just playing golf.''

Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

They said it could not be done, no No. 16 seed would ever beat a No. 1 seed. The odds would be too great and the obstacle too steep.

As we all know, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), just proved that all wrong.


All season the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers dominated their opponents. They dictated pace, held opponents to less than 55 points, and smothered teams by forcing turnovers.

The roles filled on Friday evening and with an up-tempo 74-54 victory, UMBC proved the impossible.

The hardwood is not the only place that UMBC owned last night, they grabbed headlines, attention, and thousands of fans (literally) on Twitter.

Someone grabbed a hold of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account and took the upset by storm.

It all started when Seth Davis poked the bear:

and they were relentless.

Oh yeah, I forgot Seth Davis:

Then they started get snarky and owning everyone:

As someone the graduated from a commuter school, I can relate:

More Seth Davis:

Back to Twitter:

I guess that application wave actually was a thing or people wanted to know what ‘UMBC’ stood for:

Game. Set. History.

Now here come the shots against other schools:

Yeah, don’t jump on this bandwagon Terps fans. Stay in College Park:

I did not take long for other social media icons to start reaching out:

Oh and Seth Davis eventually did apologize:

Started the night at 5,588 and jumped up to 51.7 K. No one cares what you think Steven:

If you liked what you saw thank Zach Seidel, not an intern, not a student athlete who provided those tweets last night.

Zach, you just earned yourself a raise and we’ll see you in the Second Round.

NCAA Tournament 2018: UMBC vs. Kansas State Second Round, time, TV channel, how to watch

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NCAA Tournament 2018: UMBC vs. Kansas State Second Round, time, TV channel, how to watch

After shocking the world and doing what no other team has done before, the UMBC Retrievers are not done yet.

Yes, UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed. And against a Virginia team that was the only dominant squad in all of college basketball, no one expected it (except Troy Machir).

Remember the Retrievers barely made it to the NCAA tournament with a buzzer-beater from Jairus Lyles.  

Lyles scored a game-high 28 points in their historic upset as the team went 50 percent from behind the arc with 12 three-pointers.

Up next they play No. 9 Kansas State who looked shaky in their First Round win over Creighton. Can the Cinderella run for the Retrievers continue? Either way anything they do would be a first for a No. 16 seed going forward.

Virginia and UNC UMBC will match up on Sunday in Charlotte, NC. 

Here is the NCAA Tournament information:


UMBC vs. Kansas State How to Watch

What: 2018 NCAA Tournament Second Round, South Region

Who: No. 16 UMBC (25-10, 12-4 America East) vs. No. 9 Kansas State (23-11, 10-8 Big 12)

When: 7:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 18.

Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

TV Channel: TruTV

Online Stream:  March Madness Live on

TV Announcers: TBA Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Grant Hill (analyst), Bill Raftery (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (reporter)

Twitter: @UVAMensHoops, @KStateMBB


UMBC vs. Kansas State Bracket Analysis

How They Got Here: UMBC (Auto-bid, America East Champions), Kansas State (at-large)

Previous Meeting: First Meeting

Next Round: Winner of No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Buffalo

South Region Bracket:

No. 16 UMBC vs. No. 9 Kansas State
No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Buffalo

No. 11 Loyola Chicago vs. No. 3 Tennessee
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 2 Cincinnati

UMBC vs. Kansas State Betting Spread, Lines & Odds

Favorites: N/A
Over/Under: N/A
Money Line: N/A
Against The Spread: UMBC is 4-1 ATS this season, Kansas State is 15-16 ATS.

Enter the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge presented by ChasenBoscolo and compete against Tony Massenburg and Walt Williams for a chance to win big.