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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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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are the only two hockey teams left standing and will meet to decide the 2017-18 NHL Stanley Cup champion.

The Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998, thanks to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Golden Knights, in their inaugural season, shocked the NHL world, defeating the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets to become the first team in major American professional sports history to reach the championship game in the franchise's first season.

The Capitals and Golden Knights met twice during the regular season, with Vegas coming out on top in both games. The Golden Knights blanked the Caps 3-0 in the Caps' first trip to Sin City, and bested the Caps 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Feb. 4.

Game 1 of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC and is available to be streamed online by using the NBC Sports App.

NBC Sports Washington will broadcast pre and postgame coverage of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights,  with Caps FaceOff and Caps GameTime preceding Capitals vs. Golden Knights puck drop and Caps Extra and Caps OverTime following the end of each game. 

2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL HOW TO WATCH

Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, May 30
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Saturday, June 2
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Monday, June 4
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Thursday, June 7
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Sunday, June 10
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, June 13
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)
 

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