Redskins

Harrington wins PGA Grand Slam on 3rd try

Harrington wins PGA Grand Slam on 3rd try

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda (AP) Padraig Harrington is a winner for the first time in two years, even if the PGA Grand Slam of Golf was only an exhibition.

Four days after Harrington agreed to fill in for British Open champion Ernie Els, he ran off three straight birdies early on the back nine and closed with a 4-under 67 Wednesday for a one-shot win over U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson at Port Royal.

Harrington, a three-time major champion, lost in playoffs at the PGA Grand Slam in 2007 and 2008. He wound up winning on his third try as an alternate in the 36-hole event for the season's major champions.

His last official win was the Johor Open on the Asian Tour in late 2010.

``I think we haven't had a win in a long time and I've got to tell you, they don't come around anywhere near as often as you believe they come around,'' said Harrington, who finished on 9-under 133 and earned $600,000. ``And when you win, you make sure you enjoy it. And it was unfinished business for me, having lost in two playoffs. It was nice to come back and win it now. Yeah, it feels good. I haven't won in a while, so you know, it's nice. Winning is a habit and it's nice to do it.''

Harrington agreed last Saturday to replace Els, who has a minor ankle injury. The Irishman had been scheduled to play the BMW Masters in Shanghai this week. He became only the second European to win this event, joining Ian Woosnam in 1991.

Simpson lost ground after the turn and never caught up, despite a bogey-free 65 that left him one shot behind.

Masters champion Bubba Watson, whose four birdies were offset by two bogey and a double bogey, had a 71. He tied for third - or tied for last, considering it was only a four-man field - with Keegan Bradley, who had a 67. Bradley replaced PGA champion Rory McIlroy, who is playing in Shanghai.

Simpson said the turning point was after the turn, when Harrington ran off three straight birdies starting at the 11th.

``I had some good looks and played them even, and he played them 3 under,'' Simpson said. ``I had two putts I hit in a row that were a foot out. The ball is in the middle and you think it's going to stay straight. Kind of gut-wrenching those two holes, to have those looks and thinking I'm making birdie.''

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

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

 

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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.