Blackhawks

Donald tops money list on both sides of ocean

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Donald tops money list on both sides of ocean

From Comcast SportsNet

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)In what Luke Donald considers his biggest win of the year, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck presented him the trophy.

Disney featured the weakest field of any event Donald has played this year. Its the final tournament of the PGA Tour season, filled with dozens players well down the money list who were desperate to keep their cards for next year. It hardly compares with his wins at the Match Play Championship in Arizona or Europes flagship event at Wentworth.

Perhaps it was only fitting that after Donald ran off six birdies on the back nine Sunday and closed with an 8-under 64 to win the Childrens Miracle Network Classic, he struggled to hoist the bronze trophy over his head.

Its about a 60-pound trophy, Donald said. I nearly dropped it on the green.

It felt about as heavy as the burden of expectations he placed on himself all week.

Donald knew that his best chance to win the PGA Tour money title, and state a convincing case that he should be voted player of the year, was to win Disney. He had not played at Disney in eight years, and because his caddie was on his honeymoon, Donald had to borrow Gareth Lord from Thomas Bjorn.

He was five shots behind going into the final round, and four shots back at the turn.

And then he left no doubt who was No. 1 in the worldor on the PGA Tour.

Starting with a simple up-and-down from just short of the par-5 10th green, Donald unleashed the kind of golf expected out of the worlds No. 1 player. He dropped a wedge into 8 feet on the 11th, and an 8-iron to 6 feet on the 12th. Then came a lob wedge to 5 feet on the 13thSimpson missed from just outside of himand an 18-foot birdie on the 14th to take his first lead.

Then came one of the most moments when everyone should have knownor at least heardthat there was no stopping him. Donald rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt for his sixth straight birdie, crouching when it fell, slamming his fist in a rare display of emotion, that sent him on his way.

Im thrilled, Donald said. Im over the moon.

Three pars was enough to seal his win, which was memorable for so many reasons.

Simpson, who decided to play at Sea Island last week, took over the lead on the money list by 363,029 when he finished second. Simpson was one shot out of the leadand two ahead of Donaldwhen they made the turn.

By winning, Donald captured the money title with just over 6.68 million 335,861 clear of Simpson, who tied for sixthand kept alive his bid to become the first player to win the money list on the PGA and European tours in the same season. Donald lead in Europe by about 1.8 million with just over a month to go.

Donald wrapped up the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.

It was his second win of the year, as many as anyone else. The last player who won the money title, Vardon Trophy and at least tied for most wins on tour without winning the player of the year award was David Duval in 1998. He was beaten that year by Mark OMeara, who won two majors. PGA champion Keegan Bradley is the only player with multiple wins and a major this year.

Donald, who finished at 17-under 271 and earned 846,000, was asked to make a case for someone other than him.

Not sure I could at the moment, he said. I think Ive answered everyones questions. Coming into this week, I felt like Webb was probably the favorite, based on he was ahead of me on the money list and he was ahead of me in wins this year. Obviously, Ive drawn level on wins and Ive gotten ahead on money.

Feels like Ive answered all the questions thrown at me.

Simpson wasnt quite sure.

I dont know yet, said Simpson, who won twice and was No. 2 on the money list and the FedEx Cup. I think Ive played great. Luke has played great. Couple other guys have played well. Still probably up in the air a little bit. But Im sure Ill vote for myself.

Other than Disney, the biggest win for Donald would have been the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he beat Lee Westwood in a playoff to replace him atop the world ranking. Donald has been No. 1 ever since.

Wentworth is far more significant than Disney.

He had to go head-to-head against Westwood, compared with a collection of players in the hunt at Disney, from Justin Leonard to Kevin Chappell to Nick OHern to Billy Mayfair.

But it was the all-or-nothing aspect of the tournament that Donald later summed up on Twitter after he won. Wow! What a day, its nice to come up with the goods when I needed them most. Thats why I play this game.

In a way, there was a little bit more on the line this week, Donald said in his press conference. I felt like if I hadnt won at Wentworth, I felt I was playing well enough that I would have got to No. 1 in the world at some point. Obviously, winning Wentworth was a huge event and it meant a great deal to me.

But I think having this amount on the line this week, and coming up and shooting 30 on the back nine on Sunday, finding the shots when I needed to, really will mean a lot to me and to all the people that I work with.

Leonard finished with eight pars for a 71. He already is exempt for next year, but kept alive his streak of never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list since joining the tour in 1994.

Tom Pernice Jr., a 52-year-old who refuses to give up on playing with guys half his age, closed with a 69 for a three-way tie for third, earning enough money to finish at No. 121 and earn back his PGA Tour card.

Pernice only moved into the top 125 when Nick OHern bogeyed his last hole and fell out of the logjam at third place. On the other side of the Magnolia Course, D.J. Trahan knocked in a 22-foot birdie putt on his last hole at No. 9 the second-toughest hole.

That ultimately enabled Trahan to finish at No. 125 on the money list by 1,431 over Bobby Gates.

I dont know what par would have done, Trahan said. I really, honestly dont know what difference that would have made, but birdie certainly didnt hurt me. So Im thrilled that I made that putt.

Donald, however, stole the show.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Cubs have reportedly found new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have reportedly found new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.