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A dinosaur leaves its imprint on Australian PGA

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A dinosaur leaves its imprint on Australian PGA

COOLUM, Australia (AP) Golfers at the Australian PGA Championship might feel as if they are going back in time.

Way back in time.

The new owner of the Palmer Coolum Resort has erected a 26-foot mechanical T-Rex between the ninth green and 10th tee, which flips its tail and opens its mouth for a menacing roar when anyone approaches. The owner, billionaire Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer, has at least agreed to turn it off during the tournament.

But it's one reason the Australian PGA will be leaving Coolum after 11 years.

``I've heard it sounds like we are going to Jurassic Park, so this will be interesting,'' Robert Allenby said.

Palmer wants to import more molded dinosaurs and turn the ocean resort into a theme park, or maybe a casino. But his plans have clashed with a tournament that dates to 1905. The owner already has put up more than 60 signs around the golf course to promote his interests, which includes his plan to build a replica of the Titanic.

Some of those signs, however, are in the landing areas on the fairways. That forced organizers to mark those areas ``ground under repair,'' where golfers will be able to move the ball if the shot is affected by the signs.

On Sunday, the issue came to a head with Australasian PGA Tour officials, and the tournament appeared in jeopardy. The show will go on, at least this year. PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn said Tuesday this will be the last year at Coolum. It will be played in Queensland next year, and the tour is looking at other options beyond that in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Thorburn said he wouldn't get into the ``cut and thrust'' of the negotiations Sunday, or how close the tournament was to being canceled.

``We have had a great run on the Sunshine Coast, it has been fantastic, but nothing stays forever,'' Thorburn said. ``Emotionally, it will be sad.''

Palmer tweeted on Sunday: ``We had some issues with pgaofaustralia but all now resolved amicably and we are looking forward to the tournament at Palmer Coolum Resort.''

The tournament moved to Coolum in 2002 after two years at Royal Queensland in Brisbane. But it's also been played at Royal Melbourne, where Hale Irwin (1978) and Seve Ballesteros (1981) were among the winners, and other top Australian courses. This year's field includes Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Australian Open champion Peter Senior.

The T-Rex is nicknamed ``Jeff'' and it is activated by movement. Golfers playing social rounds recently have taken ``dinosaur mulligans'' when the roar occurs during a backswing on the 10th tee.

Palmer has agreed to turn off the robotic features of the dinosaur during the tournament, although it might be featured during Wednesday's pro-am.

When asked if he ever imagined the century-old Australian PGA would be played on a course with a 26-foot T-Rex, Thourburn smiled and said ``no.''

``But having said that, let's put it into perspective,'' he added. ``It has generated some tremendous publicity for this tournament and we don't have a big marketing budget so in that regard everybody knows that the PGA is on at Coolum at the moment.''

Defending champion Greg Chalmers was taken aback by the prehistoric beast.

``I'm glad it's not roaring, that's a good start,'' Chalmers said. ``It is just a little strange. It is not what I expected to see.''

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Max Scherzer's return from hamstring injury was a battle, but one he won against the Mets

Max Scherzer's return from hamstring injury was a battle, but one he won against the Mets

Better. Though the bar was low.

Max Scherzer worked for six innings Tuesday night in New York. He made it through one roughshod inning during his last outing against the Mets because his hamstring “tweak” was enough of an alarm that he decided to stop pitching.

That was seven days prior to his start against the Mets, which the Nationals won, 2-1. Ostensibly, Scherzer had not pitched for 13 days. He lasted the one inning, needed to work his hamstring problem out, then find a way back to the mound.

Davey Martinez wanted him to stop sprinting -- the initial cause of the hamstring problem -- in between starts. Scherzer did not want to stop sprinting, so he continued to do so once he felt better. He also pitched twice from a mound in the days before the bottom of the first on Tuesday. Both times, he felt 100 percent when pushing and landing. The hamstring was fine. So much so, that he expected to throw the 105 pitches he did to hold off the Mets across the grinding innings they imposed on him.

“Took some shots there early, but didn’t break and found a way to execute pitches there later in the game,” Scherzer said.

RELATED: TREA TURNER'S SWING HAS TAKEN TIME TO ADJUST WITHOUT REPLAY ACCESS

He finished with seven strikeouts across the six innings. Just a run scored. But, there were eight baserunners and Scherzer was in severe trouble in both the first and second innings. Those were the issues as he hunted a path to better out-pitches and location.

“It honestly kind of reminded me of Game 7 of the World Series when he went out there and he couldn’t zone in on the strike zone,” Martinez said. “His stuff was good. His pitch count got high. Once he settled in, we started noticing he started getting through the ball a little better. Balls started coming down. Started throwing a lot more strikes.”

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“Even though my pitch count got out of control, I was just able to just stay with [Kurt Suzuki] and continue to pound the zone and find a way to get through six [Tuesday],” Scherzer said.

The good is clear: He is back on the mound, healthy, throwing 98 mph and 100-plus pitches. Stephen Strasburg returned two days prior, though he is not 100 percent. Scherzer is physically right, if slightly rusty. That combination was sufficient in his first start after the hamstring problem.

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With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

Heading into the Nationals’ four-game series with the New York Mets this week, Trea Turner was hitting just .196 on the young season with one home run. The vaunted base stealer had been thrown out on the basepaths three times while having yet to swipe a bag successfully. In the field, he’d racked up three errors.

It was a frustrating start for the 27-year-old shortstop, who’s coming off a season in which he played with only nine fingers and still found a way to serve as a catalyst atop the Nationals’ lineup. Now fully healthy, Turner was expected to play a role in helping Washington absorb the loss of Anthony Rendon in the middle of its lineup.

Normally, poor at-bats would prompt Turner to head down to the replay room for a quick look at his mechanics. He goes into the clubhouse in between innings and examines his previous swings to see if he needs to make any adjustments. It’s a practice Turner has grown to rely on over the course of his major-league career.

But this season, Turner hasn’t had access to the replay room after MLB banned in-game video as part of its health protocols for playing in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, he’s had to wait until after each game before being able to break down his swing. It’s made for slower progress, but after going 5-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs over the first two games of the series in New York, he feels that his adjustments have started to pay off.

“I felt good in the box and I feel like my approach was good but not having video is a little different and I feel like in years past I was pretty good at going back and just checking out the swing real quick and making the little adjustment I need to make in game,” Turner said in a Zoom press conference after Tuesday’s 2-1 win.

“Finally made the right adjustment a few games ago and started putting the barrel on the ball and feeling a little better. The last four or five games or so my contact has been a little bit stronger and it was just a matter of time for the hits to start to fall.”

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Turner hasn’t been the only member of the baseball community to express how the lack of video access has changed their approach. On Saturday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash told MLB Network Radio that he wasn’t pleased with MLB’s decision to ban something that had become an integral tool for coaches and players during games.

“Without being too controversial, I think it's absolutely ridiculous,” Cash said. “It's probably one of the worst things that I've seen Major League Baseball do in take video away from players. Video is what makes us good. It helps us learn, it helps us coach, it helps us attack. And it's been taken away from us because of one team, or a couple teams' stupid choices.”

“We can't even watch a game; we cannot watch our own game. Our players cannot come in and watch a game in the clubhouse. It is asinine. The entire protocol system, how they came up with that, it is wrong. They're doing an injustice to players.”

While it’s unknown whether the real reasoning behind MLB’s decision is related to health protocols or the sign-stealing scandals that surrounded the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox over the offseason, Turner isn’t making any excuses. In fact, the results are beginning to turn his way.

Entering play Tuesday, Turner had a hard-hit percentage of 40.9 percent, well above his career rate of 32.5. His batting average on balls in play was just .238 (league average is .300), indicating he had been getting unlucky on some well struck balls. In fact, his groundball rate is down five percentage points from his career average while his flyball rate is up 10 percent.

Then came his home run off Mets starter Rick Porcello in the first inning. Turner took a breaking ball high and away and hit it off his back foot on a line straight into the seats in right field.

It was only Turner’s second opposite-field homer of his career after he hit none all of last season. Yet even with the adjustments he’d been making to his swing, he said that he didn’t go into the at-bat looking to hit anything to right field against Porcello.

“I think it’s just swing path and pitch,” Turner said. “I’ve hit a few balls to right-center out in certain stadiums, mostly probably at home, and I don’t know if those are opposite field per se. They might be more center field but I just think when you’re facing righties, to hit an opposite-field home run is fairly tough. He tried going toward that backdoor sinker and I just felt like it was the right swing on the right pitch and just keeping it fair and not slicing the ball.”

Turner will continue tweaking away at his swing, hoping to produce results like he has so far in the New York. But with or without the video replay room, he doesn’t expect the opposite-field homer to be the start of a new trend.

“I don’t have necessarily that oppo power some of these big guys get,” Turner said. “I usually have to pull them but every once in a while, if you get the right pitch on the right swing, it sneaks out. So I’ll take it.”

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