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A close call for Geoff Ogilvy and the Masters

A close call for Geoff Ogilvy and the Masters

Geoff Ogilvy came within one stroke of not having to spend the next three months thinking about the Masters.

Ogilvy tied for fourth in the Australian PGA Championship in the final week of official golf this year. He will end the year at No. 51 in the world ranking, falling just short of cracking the top 50 to earn an invitation to Augusta National.

Thirteen players were added to the 2013 field by finishing the year inside the top 50 - Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jason Day, Hiroyuki Fujita, Matteo Manassero, Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, George Coetzee and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Only two of those are full PGA Tour members (Haas and Day), though they have far more opportunities to get into the Masters by either qualifying for the Tour Championship, winning a regular PGA Tour event or finishing among the top 30 on the money list.

There's still plenty of time for Ogilvy and Henrik Stenson (No. 53). Invitations will be offered to anyone winning a PGA Tour event before the Masters (except for the Puerto Rico Open, held opposite a World Golf Championship event), and anyone who gets into the top 50 after the Houston Open.

The field now is at 83 players expected to compete, leaving the Masters in good shape to keep the field under 100 players. Still to be determined is whether the Masters will continue to take winners of all PGA Tour events now that five additional events get full FedEx Cup points.

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THE POULTER COLLECTION: The garage in Ian Poulter's expansive new home in Orlando, Fla., might be mistaken for a Ferrari dealership.

Poulter has two of them in the garage at Lake Nona, and he even built a hydraulic lift to stack them on top of each other. Asked how he decides which one to drive, the Ferrari California or the Ferrari FF, he said it depends on how much time he has to bring one down from the lift.

But he's not stopping at two.

``I've got two more coming,'' he said before leaving the World Challenge in California.

After winning the HSBC Champions and its $1.2 million prize, Poulter said he ``already spent the check last week.'' Turns out it was on a third Ferrari, an Enzo. He didn't get into details as much as he did with the FF, which was customized to include his tartan to line the interior.

As for the fourth Ferrari?

``I'm not going to tell you what it is until I have my hands on it,'' Poulter said. ``It was the first of its type to come off the production line. It was a vehicle I can't say no to. It's a really a special piece.''

Poulter doesn't look at the Ferraris as a hobby, the way some people collect fine art or even baseball cards.

``You can say it's a level of investment,'' he said. ``It's one of those cars that's going to stay good forever.''

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NBC IN HAWAII: As if the scenery in Hawaii doesn't already make for good television, Tommy Roy plans to take it up a notch.

Roy, the executive producer for golf at NBC Sports, is bringing his crew to Hawaii for the opening two events on the PGA Tour schedule. The Tournament of Champions and Sony Open will be televised by Golf Channel (NBC and Golf Channel are under the Comcast umbrella).

It's the first time Roy has worked golf in Hawaii in 30 years, though he might not get the same unforgettable moment - Isao Aoki holing out a wedge for eagle on the 18th hole to win the Hawaiian Open at Waialae.

``I was in the truck with Aoki holed out,'' Roy said. ``It's pretty exciting to come back on the 30th anniversary.''

Roy said he plans to add ``quite a few cameras'' to better show the mountainous terrain on the Plantation Course at Kapalua for the season opener. NBC used to broadcast from Kapalua when the tournament was part of the silly season in November.

He also is pleased with the camera locations for the Sony Open, which sits along the ocean down from Waikiki Beach. Roy said there would be an 80-foot tower on the 16th fairway for visuals of the 16th green, with the ocean as a backdrop. Behind the green are four skinny palm trees in the shape of a ``W'' for Waialae, and Roy said he is moving the TV stand that was located at the base of that ``W.''

The formation of the trees is reminiscent of the ``Big W,'' where the cash was buried in the 1963 movie, ``It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.''

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CRUISING INTO ROOKIE SEASON: Patrick Reed is wrapping up an unforgettable year next week when he marries Justine Karain, who was with him each step this year as his caddie. Despite having no status, he played 12 times on the PGA Tour, making through Monday qualifying six times. That didn't get him anywhere, so he had to go through the final two stages of Q-school. And despite a slow start in the final stage, he went 68-67-68-67 the last four rounds to barely get his card.

Next up is his Dec. 21, followed by a cruise from Dec. 28 to Jan. 5.

Reed, however, wants to stay sharp for his rookie debut at the Sony Open in Honolulu, so he's bringing his clubs with him on the honeymoon.

``They're going to let me hit balls off a mat and into the ocean,'' he said.

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DIVOTS: Fred Funk is not done with the kids. The 56-year-old Funk received a sponsor's exemption to play in the Sony Open next month. John Daly also received an exemption into the first full-field event of the 2013 season. ... Two weeks after Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand was co-medalist at Q-school on the LPGA Tour, her 17-year-old sister, Ariya, won the Ladies European Tour qualifying tournament by five shots. ... Arnold Palmer will be writing a regular column for Golf Channel.com. In his first column, the King applauded the USGA and R&A for its ban on anchoring clubs, such as the belly putter. ... The European Tour has launched a Japanese version of its website. It's the first non-European language of the website. ... The Safeway Classic on the LPGA Tour raised $1 million for charity this year, pushing its total to $17 million since 1972, with $14 million of that coming in the last 17 years.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Zach Johnson is the only American among the top 50 in the world who didn't play anywhere overseas the last two years except the British Open.

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FINAL WORD: ``I have never in my life been a schmoozer. That's just not my style. You earn it or you don't. They will or they won't. I just can't go that way.'' - Larry Nelson, on his chances of ever being a Ryder Cup captain.

NCAA president Mark Emmert says fall champions can't happen at this time

NCAA president Mark Emmert says fall champions can't happen at this time

While conferences and schools across the nation are withdrawing from the 2020 fall sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic, others remain adamant that games and seasons can be played.

However, for those who are planning on having a fall campaign, their hopes of competing for a championship could still be derailed. According to NCAA president Mark Emmert, all Division I sports besides football --- which operates on the bowl schedule -- are in jeopardy of losing a title season due to the lack of teams involved.

“We cannot, now at this point, have fall NCAA Championships because there’s not enough schools participating," Emmert said during the NCAA Social Series on Thursday. "The Board of Governors also said, ‘look if you don’t have half the schools playing the sport you can’t have a legitimate championship.’”

Emmert noted that the fall can still be beneficial to universities as programs can put all their focus into safety protocols and maintaining the health of players. Additionally, players can still remain on campus and prepare for the spring season.

As for actual competition in the coming months, Emmert has begun to look ahead to 2021 with the hope that teams have the opportunity to compete when the spring comes around. Specifically, he wants to make sure that winter and spring sports -- who already lost a season in 2020 -- are not forced to suffer through the same fate again.

In order to do that, he's considering numerous altercations to sports such as modified bubbles and smaller brackets for postseason play. The procedures will become clearer in the coming months as more questions about the virus and its impact are answered.

For now, Emmert is optimistic that the NCAA has the capability to bring sports back in a safe way. But to do so, a lot of work still needs to be done.

“There’s a way to do it. Will it be normal? Of course not, you’ll be playing fall sports in the spring. Will it create other challenges? Of course. But is it doable? Yeah, it is doable and we want to do that," Emmert said. "We want to, again, make it work for these students.”

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Will there be high school sports in the DMV this fall amid coronavirus concerns?

Will there be high school sports in the DMV this fall amid coronavirus concerns?

No area of society has gone untouched by the novel coronavirus pandemic, including sports. After every level of athletics was rocked by the virus and forced to shut down in the spring, professional leagues have figured out ways to return to their fields of play in as safe a manner as possible. Meanwhile, decisions are still being made on the collegiate, high school and youth levels about when and how sports will return.

In our Playing Through COVID series, NBC Sports Washington will tell the story of those decisions and how they impact the people involved, including athletes, coaches, parents and more. The series launched with an interview of Dr. Sunil Budhrani, ER Physician, CEO and Chief Medical Officer at Innovation Health. Watch the full interview here.

As the 2020-21 school year approaches in the DMV, answers of whether sports will accompany it in the fall have slowly trickled in.

And thus far, the answer is overwhelmingly no. 

Washington, D.C. and Virginia have both announced plans to adopt a Condensed Interscholastic Plan, which would push the start of winter sports back to a tentative Dec. 14 start date and have what are traditionally fall sports follow in February. Maryland announced plans to postpone fall and winter sports during the first semester, which ends Jan. 27.

Current calendar plans announced for the resumption of sports are listed below:

DC

Winter season (basketball, indoor track and field, cheerleading)

First practice date: December 14 -- Game dates: January 4 to February 28 

Fall season (cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball)

First practice date: February 1 -- Game dates: February 22 to April 16 

Spring season (baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, ultimate disc, chess)

First practice date: March 29 -- Game dates: April 19 to June 13

Virginia

Winter season (basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swim/dive, wrestling)

First practice date: December 14 -- Game dates: December 28 to February 20

Fall season (cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, volleyball)

First practice date: February 15 -- Game dates: March 1 to May 1

Spring season (baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field)

First practice date: April 12 -- Game dates: April 26 to June 26

Maryland

TBD

Present in each region's announcement of a postponement was mention of a collaboration with local health officials in determining those plans. District of Columbia State Athletic Association executive director Clark Ray reiterated that point on a town hall hosted by NBC Sports Washington’s Chad Ricardo on July 17.

“Based on the information that we had, based on our conversations with our department of health, and based on input from the public schools, the public charter schools, the private schools and all of those who represent the multiple conferences of our private schools, this was an easy decision to make but an agonizing decision to send out,” Ray said. “It’s the right decision at this time based on the current science and data that we have.”

Virginia High School League executive director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun echoed how difficult the decision was during a virtual press conference on July 27, though Virginia’s plan left open the possibility for sports to return sooner than outlined if the state moves beyond Phase III in its recovery plan. Or if guidelines for Phase III are revised to allow high-risk activities.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Haun said. “All of you know how important high school activities are to our student athletes, to our coaches, to our parents, just our school communities. This was not a decision that was made lightly. Everybody took this very seriously. I think it’s safe to say in our office and probably with the executive committee, there have been very few of us that have had a full nights’ sleep in a long time just thinking about all the implications here that are involved.”

RELATED: A DOCTOR'S EXPLANATION OF WHY EFFECTS OF MYOCARDITIS ARE DANGEROUS FOR ATHLETES

Those same implications are part of the reason why decisions on fall sports were delayed until recently across the state of Maryland.

Rather than enforce a statewide decision on athletics, Maryland initially left the decision on how to proceed this fall to each individual school system, of which there are 24. The state set a minimum set of guidelines, but each local system had the authority to be more restrictive based on local circumstances in regards to the virus. It’s a path that left many in limbo but that Maryland governor Larry Hogan said was consistent with how the state made other decisions.

“The state sets some parameters, but people were not wanting us to interfere with those local decisions,” Hogan said at his press conference on Maryland’s COVID-19 recovery July 22. “County governments have always had their individual authorities to make decisions that are more restrictive than what we’ve done, not less restrictive. They can’t ignore state law. But our plans always incorporated the flexibility of local governments.”

That autonomy resulted in varying decisions across Maryland’s local school systems. While most never announced a decision before Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Assoication finally made an overarching decision last Monday, others had postponed fall sports, and Montgomery County canceled fall and winter sports altogether. The variation in decisons wasn't much different than the current NCAA football scene where some conferences have already postponed sports, while others are holding out hope for a season.

Montgomery County superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith said the decision to cancel was devastating.

“It’s not just sports programs. It’s all of our extracurricular and cocurricular programs that are so important to our students,” Smith said on a virtual recovery plan media briefing July 22. “And we understand that this is devastating, and we’re gonna continue to look at how we can support students through the digital world or whatever other strategies that people may be able to come up with. I’ve seen some examples of this that are really tremendous, and we’re going to continue to push hard to make sure that we can do whatever we can do in this very important part of a student’s educational experience.”

Montgomery's decision at the time likely spoke to a larger concern in coronavirus trends cited by Hogan. While Montgomery’s positivity rate was down 90% from a high of 32.64% on April 20 to 3.27%, Hogan said there was concern that the positivity rate for Marylanders under 35 years (6.57%) old was higher than it was for those 35 or older (3.50%). And while it has dropped significantly since peaking, it has recently seen a slight uptick. Additionally, there had been a slight uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state and, according to Hogan, some of those were younger patients.

These were the types of numbers being considered across D.C., Maryland and Virginia when deciding whether schools should move to a virtual-only format this fall. Most have decided they will, but some will open at full capacity, while others are going with a hybrid approach. Those decisions had a direct influence on what local jurisdictions decided in regards to how to proceed with sports. MPSSAA cited as much in its announcement to postpone sports.

"This decision comes in light of the recent announcements of local school systems to begin education virtually and provides each school system with options for the gradual increase of student engagement for the physical and social-emotional health of students," the statement read.

MPSSAA said it's finalizing plans for modified competition seasons for all sports in the second semester and will make those plans available at some point prior to the start of the school year, which is Aug. 31.

Private schools in the region aren’t beholden to the same rules enforced by the public governing bodies, but many of them are going in the same direction.

The Interstate Athletic Conference, Independent School League and Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference all announced the postponement of sports until January. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference said it is canceling fall athletics but exploring scheduling options for a January start.

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