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Mahan builds two-shot lead at Congressional

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Mahan builds two-shot lead at Congressional

By Len Shapiro
CSNwashington.com

Ridiculous was how Australian Rod Pampling described the blast furnace conditions during the stifling second round at the AT&T National at Congressional Friday. And he actually tied for the days second lowest score, a four-under 67 that left him only three shots out of the lead.

Under searing sun, in temperatures that reached 100 degrees at 4 p.m., on a fast and firm course set up as challenging as any U.S. Open, it was late-finishing Hunter Mahan who cooly carved out an afternoon round of six-under 65 and 36-hole total of seven-under 135. He took a two-shot lead over three playersRobert Garrigus, also with a 67, Brenden De Jong (69) and Jimmy Walker (69), all at five-under 137.

Mahan, a two-time winner this season ranked No. 10 in the world, is no stranger to going low at Congressional. In the final round of the 2009 AT&T, he posted a 62 but eventually lost by a shot that year to champion Tiger Woods.

I hit a lot of good shots out there, made it easy on myself, Mahan said after his Friday round. Its a pretty punishing golf coursebut I put myself in great spots to make putts. I was able to bear down and stay focusedThis is a tough place to play.

On this suffocating afternoon, Mahan had five birdies and a bogey on his front nine, then took the outright lead when he drained an eight-foot putt at the 579-yard 16th hole. At the courses signature 500-yard 18th, he finished with a flourish, bombing out a 350-yard drive, dropping his second shot sand wedge to within 12 feet of the cup and making the birdie putt.

It can be dangerous out there, Mahan said of the heat. If you dont take care of yourself its going to catch up to you and hit you hard. When the conditions and the weather come into play, its a whole other factor. Once the mind goes, the body goes next. Its important to be mentally strong. It was tough out there. It beats up your body and your mind.

Woods also may be playing on his mind over the weekend. Woods is now lurking only five shots behind after three-under 68 on Friday. That left him at two-under 140 for the tournament and in prime position to challenge for his second AT&T title and 74th career victory overall.

Woods, now ranked No. 4 in the world and also a two-time winner this season, ignited a round that began with six straight pars when he hit a 340-yard drive at the 579-yard 16th hole, then followed it with a 240-yard blast to within 48 feet of the flag. He drained that putt, accompanied by a huge roar from his sweat-soaked gallery to get to one-under for the tournament and begin his ascent up the leader board into a tie for tenth place.

Im right there, Woods said of his position. Its playing like a U.S. Open, it really is. Its quick, its dry. At least the Tour moved up a couple of the tees if the pins were in the corners or they were out in front. They did a good job of getting it so we could be aggressive. It was score-able, but definitely not easy.

The eagle putt he described as tricky because it was a double breaking putt up the hill. Its hard left and then you just want to feed back a couple of balls to the right. I was waiting for it to feed back because it was hanging, hanging, hanging and it just fell right in.

The key to Woods round may well have occurred on the previous two holes when he saved precious pars after driving his ball on both holes into deep rough. At the 467-yard 14th he hit a lovely chip to within four feet and made that putt, and at the 490-yard 15th, another chip landed six feet from the hole, and he sank that pressure putt as well.

Woods, who started his round on the tenth hole, gave back a shot at the first hole (his tenth of the day), when he missed a six-foot par putt that left him at even par for the tournament. But at the 413-yard No. 5, he sank a seven-foot birdie putt after a wedge approach, then added one more at the 354-yard No. 8 when his 136-yard wedge left him a three-footer he converted for another.

Woods said his game plan was to stay patient all the way around, particularly with the heat becoming a factor the longer he was out there.

Thats why I train, thats why I run all those miles, he said. This is when fitness does help, and I figured thats one of the reasons why Ive had the success Ive had. You have to hit the golf ball well, but then also theres the mental test. Youre going to be out there for probably six, seven hours, and its going to be tough.

Garrigus birdied two of his final four holes to push up the board and get into a tie for the lead. Hes recently dropped 25 pounds and said that was definitely a factor in allowing him to thrive despite the heat and humidity.

Im a lot more physically fit than I used to be, he said. If you can just mentally put it out of your head. You play well in the heat because you just dont think about it. If you can just get past the fact that youre dripping sweat all over your golf ball, you can block it out. It makes a big, big difference.

Pampling, on the other hand, wasnt at all happy in the heat.

I dont know how much worse it can get out there, he said. Its ridiculous. Its so hot youre looking for wind anywhere, shade. Its just a hot, hot, hot day. Ill be heading back to air-conditioned comfort the rest of the afternoon.

He definitely was not alone.

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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

NBA Summer League is right around the corner. While the Washington Wizards continue a search for a new president, they do have one thing pinned down: the Summer League training camp roster.

The Wizards open Summer League play in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 6, when they take on No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mini camp begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Players will participate in a two-hour practice each day.

Here is the training camp roster:

Noah Allen, G/F, Hawaii (Capital City Go-Go)
Armoni Brooke, G, Houston
Elijah Brown, G/F, Oregon (Grand Rapids Drive)
Troy Brown Jr., F, Oregon (Washington Wizards)
Dontay Caruthers, G, Buffalo
Troy Caupain Jr., G, Cincinnati (Orlando Magic)
Corey Davis, G, Houston
Dikembe Dixson, F, UIC (Capital City Go-Go)
Kellen Dunham, G, Butler (Capital City Go-Go)
John Egbunu, C, Florida
Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Vince Hunter, F, UTEP (AEK Athens Greece)
Garrison Mathews, G, Lipscomb
Tarik Phillip, G, Ukraine (Petrol Limpija Ukraine)
Admiral Schofield, F, Tennessee
James Thompson IV, F/C, Eastern Michigan
Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Lavrio B.C. Greece)
Tony Wroten, G, Washington (BC Kalev-Cramo Estonia)

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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