Cubs

PGA crowns youngest ever FedEx Cup champ

543200.jpg

PGA crowns youngest ever FedEx Cup champ

From Comcast SportsNet

ATLANTA (AP)For much of the day, it all seemed so confusing.

This guy is going to win. No, no, that one can still pull it out. And lets not forget the player whos not even in contention.

In the end, the point scenarios didnt matter a bit. This one was decided on the course, not by a computer.

And what a finish it was.

After staying alive with an astounding shot from the water, Bill Haas defeated Hunter Mahan on the third extra hole of a winner-take-all playoff to capture the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and golfs richest prize early Sunday evening in the dwindling light of East Lake.

My hands were shaking, Haas said. This is pretty cool.

He looked out of it on the second playoff hole when his shot from a fairway bunker trickled down the hill alongside the 17th green and wound up half-submerged in the water.

Haas figured his ball was fine until he heard the groans from the grandstands behind the 18th hole.

I thought it was a nice shot, he said. I thought, That cant be in the water. I never would have thought that when it was in the air.

His brother, who was on the bag, delivered the bad news.

Yeah, caddie Jay Haas Jr. said, I think it is.

Bill Haas didnt throw in the towel. Instead, he put his right foot in the pond and delivered a shot worthy of a massive payoff, water flying upward and the ball spinning toward the cup, settling just 3 feet away.

It was an all or nothing shot, Haas said. If I dont pull it off, Im shaking Hunters hand.

He saved par and headed back to the par-3 18th for the third time in less than an hour. This time, he played it safe, driving left of the green, chipping to 3 feet and rolling in the biggest putt of his young career. Mahan failed to salvage par after driving into a bunker, the difference between winning and losing nearly 10 million.

Im sure my money people, whoever I have helping me out with money, they would suggest that I maybe invest a little, Haas said. I need to think about it long and hard, but I do need to give myself some sort of reward, some sort of toy or whatever it may be.

He certainly earned itif nothing else, for the way he persevered. He squandered a three-stroke lead down the stretch and his first shot of the playoff banged off a grandstand right of the 18th green. He chipped to 10 feet and made a downhill putt to keep himself alive. In hindsight, that was just as amazing as the shot out of the water at 17.

I hit horrendous shots, Haas said. I just fortunately hit really good recovery shots.

Coming down the stretch, more than a half-dozen players had a shot at the FedEx Cup. Even Webb Simpson, who began the week leading the points but finished 10 shots back in 22nd place.

Then, it all came into focus. When Haas and Mahan claimed spots in the playoff, everyone could put away their calculators and their criticism of the convoluted system that determines a champion.

The winner of the playoff would win it alleven though Haas still wasnt sure he had captured both the tournament AND the FedEx Cup until he did a television interview alongside the 18th green.

Both trophies were there and there was no other player, he said. I looked at my wife and she nodded her head, so that was when I realized.

Haas earned a combined 11.44 million, including 10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup. Mahan had to settle for 864,000 as the runner-up and 700,000 for finishing seventh in the FedEx Cup.

A long, tough day. A lot on the line, Mahan said. I couldnt have been happier about how I played. I just couldnt make a putt.

Haas won for the first time this year, and the payoff could be more than just a massive bank deposit. Fred Couples makes his final captains pick on Tuesday for the Presidents Cup, and Haas put on quite a show.

It definitely put me in the talk, Haas said. I did what I could do.

Even if Couples wasnt watching, his assistant captain had a great view: Jay Haas, Bills dad, was in the gallery and raised his arms as his 29-year-old son delivered the riveting conclusion.

Im proud of him the way he came back, the father said.

Only a week ago, Bill Haas was poised to make the Presidents Cup on his own until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill. He was atop the leaderboard Saturday at East Lake until a bogey-double bogey finish.

We were eating dinner, Jay Haas said, and you wouldve thought he was the worst golfer in all of Atlanta and maybe Georgia. He was way down on himself.

He almost let it get away from him again. Haas had a three-shot lead when he walked off the 15th green, only to make bogey from the trees on the 16th and bogey from the gallery on the 18th for a 2-under 68.

Mahan had to make par on the 232-yard closing hole. He hit a clutch chip the biggest weakness in his gameand holed a 5-foot par putt for a 71 to join Haas in the high-stakes playoff.

Simpson, the top seed, closed with a 73 that made it possible for anyone who won the Tour Championshipexcept for Aaron Baddeleyto pass him.

Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, made birdie on the 18th hole for a 69. He needed a three-way tie for second to capture the FedEx Cup, and could have done it had Mahan and Baddeley both made bogey on No. 18 in regulation. Instead, both made par.

Donald wound up in a tie for third with K.J. Choi, who needed birdie on the 18th to get into the playoff. Choi shot 70.

Charles Howell III also needed a birdie to get into the playoff, but came up well left of the green on No. 18 and settled for bogey. Jason Day had a 30-foot birdie putt to join the playoff and gave it a strong run. He missed a meaningless 4-footer coming back and settled for bogey.

Haas was at No. 25 in the FedEx Cup standings, making him the lowest seed to capture golfs biggest prize. He joins a distinguished list of FedEx Cup winners that includes Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk.

No need to beat himself up anymore.

Anything can happen, Haas said. Anything did happen.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

ryne-sandberg-1013.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Five takeaways from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout

pic_hsl_stevenson_65_lake_forest_46_02-05.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Five takeaways from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout

The Riverside-Brookfield Shootout is annually one of the summer's must-see events for Illinois high school basketball, but this season was elevated to another level.

Division I college coaches were able to evaluate at the tournament thanks to the NCAA's new June live evaluation period as over 60 of the state's best teams played for three days in front of hundreds of college coaches.

In the end, there was a lot to be learned about some of the area's stronger teams this season while the junior class looks like they'll be one of the strongest in terms of depth that we've seen in recent years.

Here's a look at five major takeaways to watch for this season after Riverside-Brookfield.

1. Stevenson remains a major threat after last season's strong finish

One of the most pleasant surprises of last season was Stevenson as the Patriots went from an unranked preseason team to nearly making it to state in Class 4A. We were reminded of just how good Stevenson might be this year at R-B as the Patriots took home the title with an impressive three days of play.

While head coach Pat Ambrose's roster isn't littered with Division I prospects and household names, Stevenson has the luxury of returning most of last season's successful core. Senior guard Luke Chieng will be tough to replace but Ambrose returns his two sons, senior shooter Matt and junior floor general Evan, along with athletic forward Robert Holmes and experienced senior John Ittounas.

The bench also appears to be far from bare for the Patriots as Stevenson deserves credit for picking up wins over powerhouse programs like Simeon, Collinsville, Curie and Whitney Young over the course of the weekend. Matt Ambrose was named MVP of the event, but Evan Ambrose is a heady point guard who makes plays for others while Holmes has improved enough to now be on Division II radars with his electric above-the-rim play.

It's hard to say where Stevenson will be ranked this preseason, but they'll undoubtedly be the team to beat in the North Suburban after sharing the league title with Waukegan last season. And although Ambrose is perhaps most known for his Peoria trips with Jalen Brunson, Connor Cashaw and Justin Smith, he also made a prior Peoria trip with Stevenson (2007) and a deep playoff run last season without high-major star power.

Stevenson will be a major threat in the area this season as they're one of the most cohesive and selfless teams in Illinois.

2. Despite title-game loss, Whitney Young might be the area's top preseason team

Whitney Young lost in the title game at R-B to Stevenson but the Dolphins still have the look of a team who will be in the mix for the No. 1 spot once preseason rankings come out.

Although Morgan Park, and a handful of others, remain firmly in the preseason No. 1 conversation, it's hard not to like what the Dolphins bring to the table in terms of star power, senior leadership and overall depth.

The backcourt of seniors D.J. Steward and Tyler Beard remains perhaps the best one-two punch of any tandem in the state, and they're joined by the deepest backcourt to give Whitney Young supreme depth. Aurora Christian transfer Jaeshon Thomas already appears to be a starting-caliber player (although the Public League is a major step up from the Class 1A program he came from) while the bench of senior Elliot Sieger and poised freshman Dalen Davis would earn starting roles at many other places.

And the frontcourt keeps getting better for the Dolphins as well. Junior Grant Newell is starting to turn potential into production with his intriguing inside-outside play while senior Sangolay Njie is a solid defender who can control the glass.

However, head coach Tyrone Slaughter still needs to figure out why the Dolphins take their foot off the gas sometimes. There were also frightening stretches of play from Whitney Young where the Dolphins looked like they were playing at another level compared the event's other teams. As long as Steward and Beard stay healthy, the Dolphins will be a huge contender in the city and Class 4A.

3. Curie and Bogan are strong despite significant senior losses

Two of the area's best teams last season, Bogan and Curie, both lost first-team All-Area players from last season after making trips to Peoria. It'll be impossible for the Bengals to replace big man Rashaun Agee and guard DaJuan Gordon.

Thankfully for both programs, their depth at all levels continues to shine through as both teams remain active in the city and state title conversations.

Curie has a blossoming star in senior Ramean Hinton as the scoring wing can get buckets at all three levels while still maintaining improved efficiency as an overall offensive threat. Hinton has the potential to breakout and be a first-team All-Area player next season as his confidence is soaring this summer.

The Condors also return steady ball handler and menacing defender Elijah Pickens in the backcourt while junior Phillip Berryhill continues to look like an intriguing future player despite missing some shots this weekend.

Bogan has depth and athletics all over the floor as they fly to the ball defensively with some emerging talents at multiple spots. Senior guard Kyndall Davis drew rave reviews from college coaches for his upside and above-the-rim play as he's one of the area's better two-way wings. Big man Tremear Fraley finished some vicious lobs as his motor and bounciness stood out to help make him one of the event's better frontcourt players.

Both teams have plenty more assets to choose from as the Bengals and Condors can both press, attack on offense and also knock down perimeter shots. It's hard to envision a top ten that doesn't include both of these teams come preseason.

4. The addition of Louis Lesmond makes Notre Dame a team to watch

Notre Dame was already going to be fun to watch this season. The junior tandem of guard Anthony Sayles and forward Troy D'Amico was one of the state's blossoming tandems when it comes to overall play and college looks.

Now that the Dons have added transfer Louis Lesmond to the mix however, Notre Dame is going to be one of the must-see teams to catch this season. Now featuring three bonafide studs, the Dons have multiple scoring options, adept handlers and length and size at most positions.

With that junior trio joined by 6-foot-4 senior Jason Bergstrom, a talented scorer and prospect in his own right, Notre Dame is a no-brainer top-25 team next season with huge aspirations to reach higher levels following a promising 19-win season.

5. The junior class has far more star power than just Rolling Meadows guard Max Christie

A monster spring and summer has vaulted Rolling Meadows junior guard Max Christie into the five-star spectrum in national recruiting rankings. Christie didn't play this weekend at R-B in order to rest after a long summer, but the national recruit and recent Olympic Gold Medalist is the benchmark in what is looking like a deep junior class.

The Class of 2021 should have many stars leading teams this season. Fenwick forward Bryce Hopkins, OPRF wing Isaiah Barnes, Simeon guard Ahamed Bynum, Neuqua Valley wing John Poulakidas, Mundelein point guard Conor Enright, big man Scottie Ebube and Hillcrest wing Julius Rollins were among a small group of juniors who earned a lot of praise from Division I coaches with their play at Riverside-Brookfield.

When you also factor in the Notre Dame trio of juniors, Evanston's junior talent of Jaylin Gibson, Blake Peters and Isaiah Holden, Lincoln Park's returning backcourt of Julio Montes and Ismail Habib and Schaumburg big man Chris Hodges, who sat out, the Class of 2021 has the potential to be the best class the area has seen the past few seasons.