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Gainey gets his 1st PGA Tour win at Sea island

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Gainey gets his 1st PGA Tour win at Sea island

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Moments after Tommy Gainey narrowly missed his putt for a 59, he walked off the 18th green at Sea Island with a two-shot lead over Jim Furyk and Davis Love III, who still had 10 holes to play in the McGladrey Classic.

``Got a long way to go,'' Gainey said.

More than two hours later, after Furyk needed a birdie to force a playoff and instead made bogey, he walked over to Gainey in the scoring area and gave him a hug. It was a reminder to the 37-year-old Gainey just how far he had come.

Gainey twice worked on the assembly line for A.O. Smith, wrapping insulation around hot water tanks until a downturn in the economy cost him his job. He played mini-tours that no longer exist, and made a name for himself on a Golf Channel reality series for wearing two gloves. He fashioned his own swing from his days playing baseball.

It was Furyk, of all people, who pulled Gainey aside last year and told him he was good enough to win.

``I played nine holes with him and he just told me, `Tommy, when you were on the mini-tours, you were kicking their tail, and now you get out here and you struggle a little bit.' He said, `Man, don't change your game. Just keep going at it. You got the game to be out here and to win. Just keep your head up and just keep trying, and sooner or later it's going to happen.'

``Who knows what would have happened if we didn't play nine holes together, or even had a talk?''

Tommy ``Two Gloves'' Gainey couldn't have imagined winning like this.

Seven shots behind going into the final round, Gainey came within one putt of a 59, and then had to wait more than two hours as David Toms, Furyk and Love - who have combined for 49 wins, three majors and 17 Ryder Cup teams - tried to catch him.

None of them could.

Gainey broke the course record at Sea Island with a 10-under 60, which carried him to a one-shot win over Toms. He became the fourth player this year to rally from at least seven shots in the final round to win, helped by seven straight 3s on his card on the back nine.

``Oh, man,'' Gainey said. ``I tell you, you're out here on the PGA Tour. You're playing with the best players in the world. Ninety-nine percent of these guys have already won, and won majors, big tournaments. The only show I can say I've won is the `Big Break.' Now I can sit here and say I've won the McGladrey Classic here at Sea Island, and I'm very proud to be in this tournament and very proud to win. And wow, it's been a whirlwind day.

``I didn't know having 24 putts and shooting 60 would be like this,'' he said. ``So I'm pretty stoked about it.''

Furyk was pretty bummed.

He went 55 holes without a bogey, a streak that ended on the 18th hole when he needed a birdie to force a playoff. From the fairway, Furyk pushed an 8-iron right of the green and had to settle for a 69, a sour end to a season filled with bitter moments.

It was his fourth time with at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He lost in a playoff, made bogey on the 16th hole at Olympic Club that cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, and made double bogey on the 18th hole at Firestone to lose the Bridgestone Invitational. Furyk had said going into the week that even a win wouldn't erase memories of those losses, along with losing a 1-up lead to Sergio Garcia in the Ryder Cup.

This time, someone went out and beat him with a record score, and Furyk couldn't catch him.

``I think what I'm most disappointed about is when it came down the stretch, hitting the ball pretty much as good as I can, I made really, really poor swings at 17 and 18 with a 7-iron and 8-iron,'' Furyk said. ``So to play those two holes and not get one good look at it for birdie was disappointing.''

Love's hopes of winning before the home crowd - he has lived at Sea Island since he was 14 - ended with a tee shot into the water for double bogey on the 16th. He was trying to become the first Ryder Cup captain since Tom Watson in 1996 to win on the PGA Tour.

A gracious host even in defeat, Love recalled his last win at Disney in 2008, when he didn't look at a leaderboard until the 18th hole and saw Gainey making a run. Love held on with pars. This time, he saw Gainey's name appear out of nowhere again, and couldn't do anything about it. He closed with a 71 and tied for fourth.

Toms, who closed with a 63, also needed a birdie on the 18th hole, but he pushed his drive well right into the bunker and had little chance of reaching the green.

``I was thinking about what kind of putt I was going to have before I ever hit the fairway,'' Toms said. ``You get ahead of yourself and that's what happens.''

Gainey's round was about 9.4 shots better than the average score in the final round. He had a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to become the sixth player in PGA Tour history with a 59 and narrowly missed it.

He started his round with a 31 on the front nine, despite missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the second hole and failing to make birdie on the reachable par-5 seventh. Starting with his 10-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, he put together seven straight 3s on his scorecard. His 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th tied him for the lead. He holed out a bunker shot from about 40 feet on the par-5 15th to take a two-shot lead, and then holed a 20-footer on the 16th to bring golf's magic number into view.

Gainey hit wedge into about 20 feet on the 18th hole, leaving him a birdie putt for a shot at a 59. He ran off to a portable bathroom before the big putt and gave it a nice roll. The pace was just a bit off and it turned weakly away to the right.

``I wasn't thinking about 59,'' Gainey said. ``See, all I did all day was just try to make birdies - and a lot of birdies - because when you're seven shots back, your chances of winning a PGA tournament with the leaders, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk ... it don't bide in your favor, man. I'm in this position, and man, it feels like I'm in a dream. I'm just waiting for somebody to slap me upside the head or pinch me or something to wake me up.''

Instead, he went over to the volunteer tent for a champagne toast. Gainey raised a bottle of beer.

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Scott Brooks enters Kobe Bryant alongside LeBron James into NBA's 'GOAT' debate

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USA Today Sports

Scott Brooks enters Kobe Bryant alongside LeBron James into NBA's 'GOAT' debate

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- NBA fans and internet inhabitants debate the league’s All-time greatest player relentlessly. The primary side-by-side comparison these days for “GOAT” status centers on Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James. Other legends have supporters. Jordan and James, who made his first appearance in Washington as a member of the Lakers Sunday night, dominate such discussions.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks inferred another former Laker is worthy of such greatest ever talk when answering a question about the expected pro-Los Angeles crowd inside Washington’s arena.

“There are organizations and rightfully so that their crowds are global. You can argue [the Lakers] had the greatest player ever to play the game for 20 years before LeBron got there,” Brooks said.

Do the math. He’s not talking about Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West or Wilt Chamberlain. That’s Kobe Bryant’s music.

“Everybody is a fan of Kobe and now they have LeBron. Now they have another guy who could arguably be the greatest player ever,” Brooks said.

Back it up. Again, many thrust James, a four-time league MVP and three-time NBA champion, into the debate with Jordan, whose cultural reverence exceeds his six titles, 32,292 points scored and countless honors.

Bryant’s résumé is all kinds of impressive. The 20-year veteran and 18-time All-Star passed Jordan as the league’s third-time scorer, and won five championships. Top 5-10 player, perhaps. The GOAT? That’s not an argument often heard beyond loyal Laker fans that grew up during Bryant’s reign. It’s not even clear he’s the best Laker of all-time considering the competition.

Bryant’s career deserves praise. Brooks didn’t go out on the flimsiest of limbs. Still, that’s quite a statement from a longtime coach and former player.

Perhaps the presence of James back in Washington, a place he’s thrived over the years, sparked Brooks’ comment.

“So, [Los Angeles is] going to have fans. Those guys are fun to watch. I love watching LeBron play even when he (scored) 57 (points) last year against us and made 11 of 14 mid-range shots.”

Don’t forget the game-tying banked 3–pointer at the buzzer in regulation during the 2016 regular season. Los Angeles won in overtime, snapping Washington’s 17-game home court winning streak. Brooks hadn’t.

“Even the 3 that [LeBron] sent to overtime with whatever on the clock that he traveled on,” the coach joked.

Clearly, Brooks isn’t over those moments. That alone didn’t lead him to nominate Bryant as perhaps the best ever, although at this moment, maybe. 

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

Most NFL team's would fear putting their season in the hands of two rookies, but quarterback Lamar Jackson and undrafted free agent Gus Edwards have taken the Baltimore Ravens' confidence to a new level.

You can feel the effects on both sides of the ball as the offense and defense have been working cohesively since their Week 10 bye. Jackson and the offense have dominated time of possession over those four weeks, which in hand allows the defense to have fresh legs each time they take the field as they remain the No.1 total defense in the league.

With two games to go and the postseason in sight, the respect among teammates is apparent.

"We appreciate it so much, the way our offense is playing," linebacker C.J. Mosley said following the team's 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It's keeping their offense off the field. It allows us to take care of our business, get us rest when we need it, and that is huge."

Heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, Jackson had already hit 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and kept his offense on the field for 37:10 compared to the Buccaneers' 22:50. Plus with the help of Edwards' 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five-consecutive games. The last team to do this was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Then there is the defense. In eight of their 14 games in 2018, the Ravens have held their opponent to under 300 yards, and on Sunday held the Bucs to a season low 241 total yards and 156 net passing yards. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had his first interception of the year and a career-high four passes defended while dealing with a groin injury in a standout performance.

"We're playing great team football right now to a T," safety Eric Weddle added. "We're playing well off each other— running the ball, controlling the clock, third-down conversions. We just know, as a defense, we just need to continue playing at a high level to give our offense more opportunities. Who knows what's going to happen."

Total team effort has put the Ravens in control of the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Steelers for the AFC North. As they head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 16 and then back to Baltimore to face the dynamic Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it appears the offense and defense have together found what works for them in a style of play that pundits deemed unattainable just weeks ago. 

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