Redskins

Bo Van Pelt misses chance at a rare 59 at CIMB

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Bo Van Pelt misses chance at a rare 59 at CIMB

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) While Bo Van Pelt was flirting with a rare 59 in a third round that was close to impeccable until the last hole, Tiger Woods was getting increasingly frustrated with his mistakes at the CIMB Classic.

Van Pelt had four birdies in the first six holes, then five in a row from the eighth. He had two more birdies on the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club course on Saturday, and only needed another one to join an elite club to go under 60. Only five players have ever done it a PGA Tour sanctioned event.

But he hit his approach into the greenside bunker and needed three putts, finishing with a double bogey for a 9-under 62 and a share of the third-round lead with Robert Garrigus at 16 under.

``Obviously disappointed to finish with a double bogey,'' Van Pelt said, ``but I'm really proud of the 17 1/2 holes I played and hopefully that'll carry over into tomorrow, and not the last half.''

Van Pelt was seven strokes behind overnight leader Garrigus coming into the third round but got his CIMB title defense back on track with a superb round.

``I don't think I missed a fairway on the front nine,'' he said. ``My irons were pretty sharp, and the putter, I had been close all week, and today they were going in. They weren't burning the edge.''

Garrigus, who had a two-stroke lead after the second round, opened with a pair of bogeys but finished with three birdies for 69 and a 54-hole total of 197. Fellow American Chris Kirk had a 63 to move to 15 under, one clear of Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge (66) and South Africa's Jbe Kruger (69) at.

``I must have been tired or something,'' Garrigus said of his first two holes. ``Didn't really have my golf swing that much today. I hit some bad shots, hit some bad putts, but sucked it up coming down there in the last.''

Woods' round was the opposite.

He started with five birdies in the first eight holes but had three bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine and finished at 69 to be in a group of five players tied at 11 under.

Thousands of people followed Woods and 2010 champion Ben Crane around the course, with the whir of camera shutters forcing Woods to stop his backswing on the fourth hole and noise or movement in the crowd causing him to pause at other times.

He'd promised to attack the course on the weekend, and he started with a birdie at the par-4 first hole. He got down to 14-under with four more birdies on the front nine to turn in 30, but then had a bogey at the 12th, a double bogey at the 14th where he had to drop a shot after hitting his tee shot in a water hazard beside the green and another bogey at 17 after missing a birdie putt. He got progressively more frustrated on the back nine and was clearly unimpressed with his round.

``I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, something similar to what Bo did today,'' he said. ``The problem with being this far back is I'm going to need help. A great round tomorrow might not win it, that's the only problem, but I'm going to put up a great round anyways.''

After turning in 30 on the front side, equaling his low for nine holes this season, Woods said he just made too many mistakes on the back nine.

``I was right there. I had plenty of easy holes to go, but I didn't capitalize on that at all,'' he said. ``I made a couple of bad decisions, bad swings on top of that.

``On a golf course that's playing this benign, you just can't afford to do that. It can be had out there - I had it after eight holes, just didn't keep it going.''

The 37-year-old Van Pelt didn't seem to have that trouble until the very end, when he watched his chance for a 59 vanish in the bunker.

``From there, I pretty much had nothing,'' he said, claiming that it wasn't nerves that got to him. ``Surprisingly, I wasn't really nervous at all. I've never had that good a chance to shoot a 59 before and, to be honest, I'll probably look back on it and think about the third hole.

``I had a 5-iron from the middle of the fairway and didn't make birdie. I'll look back at 15, I'm 30 yards from the green with an easy pitch and don't make it. Those are the holes that cost me more than 18.''

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa has the lowest round on a major tour, shooting a 12-under 58 to win the 2010 Crowns in the Japan Tour.

Only five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events - the latest being Australian Stuart Appleby at the 2010 Greenbrier Classic. Tommy Gainey missed a putt for a 59 at the McGladrey Classic and finished with a 60 in the last round to win the title last weekend, when Van Pelt was in Australia winning the Perth International.

Getting a 59 here wouldn't have counted on Van Pelt's official statistics anyway because the CIMB Classic, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, doesn't become a full-fledged PGA Tour event until next year.

It wouldn't have counted on the Asian Tour, either, because preferred lies were allowed for the second consecutive round, where players could pick up, clean and place their balls due to the soggy conditions caused by heavy overnight rain.

Van Pelt has four career victories, including one on the PGA Tour. He has led entering the final round four previous times on the PGA Tour, but has never converted those leads into a victory.

Johnson Wagner matched Van Pelt on the front nine when he went out in a career-best 29. He had seven birdies in the first 11 holes but then had bogeys at the 12th, 16th and 18th holes to finish with a 67.

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 24, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The heat is on Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden knows that his Redskins need to win in 2018.

“This isn’t a two- or three-year process,” he said last week. “This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away.” 

Jay Gruden gave this answer to a question about Alex Smith, but his words should resonate with the whole team. He’s right. This is no longer a rebuilding team. It’s time for this team to get it together and make a playoff run. 

That puts the pressure on Gruden. 

This is his fifth year as coach of the Redskins. He is well beyond the point where he can credibly point a finger of blame at his predecessor for any problems that are lingering. Only five players who were around in 2013, Mike Shanahan’s last year in Washington. It’s Gruden’s show now. 

His tenure is now the longest for a Redskins head coach since Norv Turner made it nearly seven years, from 1994 through 13 games into the 2000 season. His 49-59-1 run with the Redskins spanned three owners in Jack Kent Cooke, John Kent Cooke, and Dan Snyder. 

It should be noted that Turner’s third and fourth years at the helm closely resembled Gruden’s past two years. Turner’s team went 9-7 in 1996 and 8-7-1 the next year, narrowly missing the playoffs both years. That looks a lot like Gruden’s 8-7-1 and 7-9 records over the past two years. 

Gruden does not want this year’s team to resemble the 1998 Redskins. Turner’s fifth team started out 0-7 before winning four of their last five to finish 6-10. 

Turner kept his job in part because of the team’s uncertain ownership situation after the elder Cooke passed away in 1997. Gruden will not have a similar set of circumstances to help him out if he needs a lifeline in January. 

Gruden wants his fifth year to turn out more like Turner’s sixth season. That team went 10-6, topped the NFC East standings and won a playoff game. 

To get there, he needs a lot of his decisions to go right. While the trade for Smith was not his call, every indication is that he was on board with it. 

Last year, it was his decision to say no, thanks to Wade Phillips, who wanted to be his defensive coordinator and promote Greg Manusky into the job. The results were mixed as the Redskins were sixth in pass defense DVOA but 29thagainst the run. It was viewed as a marginal improvement on defense but the unit still seeme to be more of a liability than an asset. 

This year, the Redskins re-signed inside linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster and added defensive lineman Daron Payne with their first-round pick after spending their first-round pick on DE Jonathan Allen in 2017. There will be no excuses for Manusky and, by extension, Gruden if the defense does not improve. 

Joe Barry, Manusky’s predecessor who also was hired by Gruden when Phillips was an option, was out after two years of failing to significantly improve the defense. Any reasonable analysis would have to conclude that Barry did not get an infusion of talent anywhere approaching what Manusky has received in his two seasons. Manusky is getting a second year but he probably won’t get a third if the defense is still considered to be an impediment to the team’s progress. 

And if Manusky has to go, you have to wonder if Gruden will get a chance to hire a third defensive coordinator. 

I’m not sure if there is a certain number of games that the Redskins have to win for Gruden to return in 2019. It feels like he would not survive a 6-10 season or maybe not even another 7-9 finish. On the other end of the spectrum, making the playoffs and winning a game when they get there would certainly punch his ticket for a sixth season. 

Anything in between would leave Gruden in some jeopardy and the call would come down to the vague “moving in the right direction” criteria. 

There are some holes on this team, to be sure. But every team has some and the ones that are well coached figure out how to overcome them. The pressure will be on Gruden to best utilize their strengths and minimize any damage brought about by the weaker points. 

From his statement, it’s apparent that he is well aware of that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 32
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 60

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 77 days. 

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

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