Nationals

LPGA creates global competition with new event

LPGA creates global competition with new event

SAN DIEGO (AP) Two years before golf returns to the Olympics, the LPGA Tour is creating a tournament to determine the best in the world.

The International Crown will start in 2014 and be played every other year. It will feature four days of team matches among eight countries that can field the strongest four-player teams based on the world rankings. The inaugural event will be in late July at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore.

``We have a tour designed to identify the best player in the world. The Olympics will award the best female golfer and country,'' LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said Thursday. ``But we have nothing that addresses which country is building the best stable of women's golfers.''

He announced the new event at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

As much as the International Crown has an Olympic flavor, it might be more closely related to the Solheim Cup, which for years did not include the best players in women's golf because it was only for Americans and Europeans. Among those who never played were Karrie Webb of Australia, Se Ri Pak of South Korea, Lorena Ochoa of Mexico and Yani Tseng of Taiwan.

Whan said the players would be in uniforms of their country, free of corporate sponsorships. The purse will be $1.6 million, with $400,000 going to the winning team. It also will be played in the middle of the LPGA Tour season, when players are in form for the majors and media interest is higher than it would be at the end of the year.

The tournament also brings a new format to golf, breaking away from the routine of 72-hole events.

The eight teams will be divided into two brackets, and every team in each bracket will face each other over three days of fourball matches. Five teams will advance to the final round of singles matches, with the points carrying over.

The fifth team will be determined by a playoff between each of the countries that finish third in their brackets. Each country will be required to submit a name in an envelope of the player who would compete in the playoff - to determine the fifth finalist, and if a playoff is needed to determine the overall winner.

``At the LPGA, we celebrate great players from all over the world on a weekly basis, but this is the first time we'll pit country versus country for global bragging rights,'' Whan said.

Still, the International Crown inevitable will shut out some of the best players.

Suzann Pettersen is No. 6 in the world, but Norway only has two players among the top 500 in the world, and thus would not be eligible if it were held this year. Sheshan Feng, the first Chinese player to win a major last year, also would not have enough teammates to be one of the eight countries.

Based on this week's world ranking, three players from the top 15 would not be eligible - Pettersen, Feng and Catriona Matthew of Scotland.

``I was talking about this last year with Suzann Pettersen and she said, `I like the idea, but aren't you building something I'm not going to be in?''' Whan said. ``It's an interesting situation. But we don't need another event to identify the best in the world. Our tour does that.''

The LPGA Tour years ago had the Lexus Cup, which was designed for the players who couldn't compete in the Solheim Cup. It never gained much traction, however, with Asia competing against the rest of the world. Whan found it to be far more compelling to have players competing for their own country.

``I've been asked many times whether we should add other countries or regions to the Solheim Cup,'' he said. ``One thing you learn quickly as commissioner when you go to the Solheim Cup is you're not going to mess with that. ... Korea wants to play Japan, not be teammates. This gives the fans what they want.''

While it will be a global competition, it likely will be staged in the United States.

After the inaugural event Caves Valley, it will move to Rich Harvest Farms west of Chicago - site of the 2009 Solheim Cup - for 2016. Whan said it would be played in July, which is the heart of the LPGA Tour's domestic schedule.

``Our tour is so global and we need this type of event,'' said Stacy Lewis, the LPGA Tour's player of the year. ``People always want to know why golfers from Asia are so good. Well, now we can see how all the countries stack up.''

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Brewers’ unlikely run continues to shrink wild-card gap with Nationals

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Brewers’ unlikely run continues to shrink wild-card gap with Nationals

The Brewers. They are surging instead of sliding, partying in St. Louis over the weekend after winning two of three against the division-leading Cardinals thanks to a ninth-inning grand slam by Ryan Braun on Sunday.

They have won nine of 10 and six of seven since MVP candidate Christian Yelich broke his kneecap, ending his season. Things are tight because of their run. Just two weeks remain in the regular season.

So, here’s where things stand overall: 

  • Chicago is 1 ½ games behind the Nationals for the top wild-card spot.
  • Milwaukee is 2 ½ games behind the Nationals and just a game behind the Cubs. Those three teams mark a breaking point in the standings.
  • The Mets are four games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot and 5 ½ behind the Nationals.
  • Philadelphia is six games behind the Nationals and 4 ½ games behind Chicago after back-to-back losses to end the weekend.

 

Fivethirtyeight.com puts the Nationals chances of making the postseason at 93 percent.

 

Coming up Monday:

San Diego at Milwaukee, 7:40 p.m., Richards (5-4, 3.66 ERA) vs. Davies (9-7, 3.77)

Washington at St. Louis, 7:45 p.m., Strasburg (17-6, 3.49) vs. D. Hudson (15-7, 3.38)

Cincinnati at Chicago, 8:05 p.m., Gausman (3-8, 5.83) vs. Hamels (7-7, 3.89)

New York Mets at Colorado, Matz (10-8, 3,84) vs. Senzatela (9-10, 6.87)

 

Philadelphia is off.

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Case Keenum isn't the Redskins problem, and Dwayne Haskins won't fix it either

Case Keenum isn't the Redskins problem, and Dwayne Haskins won't fix it either

The Redskins have lots of problems, but Case Keenum isn't one of them. Through two games this season, Keenum has thrown for 600 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. 

He hasn't been great, and he's missed some big opportunities, but Keenum isn't even close to the main reason why the Redskins are 0-2. Not even close. 

"I think he handled it really well. He might’ve miss a few throws here or there," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said of Keenum after the Cowboys loss. "He’s not taking many sacks, he’s getting out of the pocket, he’s making plays, and I love his competitiveness. I think that will rub off on the entire football team if it hasn’t already. Guys like to play for him and play with him.”

The Washington defense surrendered at least 30 points in consecutive losses to the Eagles and the Cowboys to start the 2019 campaign. The defense has given up at least 400 yards in both losses. The defensive front, the presumed strength of the Redskins team, has piled up a whopping two sacks through two games. Two. 

Offensively, the Redskins haven't been great, or even very good. Keep in mind, however, the expectations for Washington's offense weren't particularly high. Gruden has frequently talked how his team is built to "win ugly" and that the head coach is fine with low-scoring victories. 

Well, Keenum has delivered enough for those type of wins. The defense just isn't holding up their end of the bargain. In two games the Redskins have averaged 24 points with zero turnovers. That's more than enough to win ugly. 

And the truth is Keenum deserves almost all of the credit for the Redskins offensive production. The run game has been abysmal thus far. Through the first two losses, no running back has gained even 30 yards, and the Redskins collectively have less than 100 yards rushing. 

Whatever offense there has been has come from Keenum. He's missed a few big plays - a potential TD throw to Terry McLaurin in the second half of the Eagles loss and a blatant miss of a wide-open Paul Richardson against the Cowboys really stand out. But he's also made plenty of good throws and engineered some good drives. 

Keenum has also proved quite level-headed. He came to Washington knowing he had to compete for the starting job. His whole career he's been overlooked, and that has molded him into a veteran presence with a clear head. 

"Sometimes you must grind it out. It’s not always going to look pretty either, but I trust all those guys in that locker room and know that they’re going to fight no matter what," Keenum said.

Since this is Washington, there are always fans calling for the backup quarterback. In this case there is genuine excitement for Dwayne Haskins, the rookie 15th overall pick and Keenum's backup. Haskins has All Pro potential but hasn't hit the field yet. And frankly he shouldn't. Keenum has done plenty to keep a stranglehold on the starting job.

That said, late in both games this season the Redskins have been playing in situations where the result was mostly out of hand. Could Gruden give Haskins a drive to get him some real game action? Sure, but that would create a laundry list of postgame questions that Gruden probably wants to avoid. Plus, there are senior Redskins officials that are truly committed to Haskins spending the year on the bench to really learn the game. A random fourth quarter drive won't change that tremendously, in either direction. 

For now, it's Keenum, and it's the right call. He's been pretty good, and he's done enough for Washington to be in games.

"None of us expect to be average. We all want to score 100 points," Keenum said after the loss to Dallas. 

Of course the quarterback doesn't want to be average, but before the season started, the Redskins would have taken average from their QB. The plan was for low-scoring football that Washington wins with defense. 

Keenum has been better than average, the defense just hasn't shown up.

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