Redskins

Michael Phelps signs golf deal with Ping

Michael Phelps signs golf deal with Ping

Michael Phelps is getting serious about his golf game.

The winner of a record 18 gold medals in Olympic swimming, Phelps signed on with Ping to provide his clubs starting with an appearance Wednesday in the Phoenix Open pro-am.

Phelps got a tour of Ping's Arizona facilities, where he was fitted for a set of clubs that accommodate his 6-foot-4 height, long arms and large hands. He's already noticed a big improvement in the flight of his ball.

``It's pretty wild,'' he told The Associated Press. ``It's crazy to think this sport is so technical. A lot of sports are very technical, but one of the (Ping) guys said there's 50-something different shafts they can put on the clubs. I'm used to having a pair of goggles, a small, medium or large swim cap, and a jammer to put on, and that's it.''

Ping added a few special touches to Phelps' clubs, including accents in both gold and red, white and blue.

``We've custom-built his clubs to ensure he has every chance to improve, and we believe he'll dedicate himself to golf with the same intensity he gave to swimming,'' said John A. Solheim, the company's chairman and CEO. ``His global presence as a golfer will bring Ping tremendous exposure and just as importantly, shed additional light on the game in general.''

Phelps played with Masters champion Bubba Watson in the pro-am.

``You can see he's an athlete and he's competitive, so he could be good if he practiced and put some time into it,'' Watson said. ``Any athlete of that level has a chance to be good at another sport.''

Phelps' tee shot on the par-3 16th hit the green, but rolled off the front amid boos from the rowdy fans on the stadium hole.

``I just feel like heartbeat firing through my shirt,'' Phelps said. ``I felt my heart was going to jump out of my chest. It was something that was pretty cool, something I've never seen before and something I've never experienced.

``I was very nervous and my club was like shaking as I'm over the ball. I just pretty much had to try to swing the club as fast as I could. But it's wild. I have never heard people boo you, but I'm sure it's happened, my face is just under water. So it was a little different experience. Hopefully, I have a chance to come back and play again.''

Phelps has been working with renowned coach Hank Haney for an eight-episode series on the Golf Channel that begins Feb. 25. While the swimmer-turned-golfer is not sure how far his new sport can take him, he's sure enjoying the ride so far.

``You can't put limits on anything,'' Phelps said. ``There's so much I could do. Maybe I can get good enough where I can make the Olympics in golf.''

The sport is joining the Olympic program at the 2016 Rio Games.

``Hey, you never know,'' Phelps said, chuckling. ``Being a golfer at the Olympics would be kind of fun.''

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AP Sports Writer John Nicholson in Scottsdale, Ariz., contributed to this report.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Hate the Redskins' loss to the Eagles if you want, but it was the ideal outcome

Hate the Redskins' loss to the Eagles if you want, but it was the ideal outcome

The Redskins lost to the Eagles in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, but in the big picture, Washington played a near perfect game.

Certainly, fans should hate the final score, and players and coaches deserve every right to be angry after falling to Philadelphia 37-27. Make no mistake about that. The Redskins gave up a late, back-breaking touchdown to Carson Wentz to lose a game that Washington fought hard to improbably win. Plenty of Redskins fought their guts out on Sunday, and came up short, and that's incredibly hard. 

In a lost season, however, wins and losses become less relevant as storylines shift to player development. And in Sunday's game against Philadelphia, Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played the best game of his NFL career. 

Haskins completed 19 of 28 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with a passer rating north of 120. 

Haskins was great against the Eagles, and it was a performance Redskins fans, players and coaches needed to see. 

The rookie passer was already the future of the franchise. That's just the inherent reality with the 15th overall pick. Until Sunday though, it wasn't exactly earned. Haskins had shown flashes of strong play, but never a full game. That changed against Philadelphia, when Haskins showed control of the offense and command of the team. There were great throws, plenty of good reads and more than a few athletic plays. 

As the Redskins look to the future, and there's nothing else left to do at 3-11, Haskins is the most important piece. It's incredibly hard for an NFL franchise to consistently win without a stud quarterback, and while Haskins has immense potential, Sunday marked the first time he showed it for a full game. 

The Redskins need a star Haskins to win in 2020, or beyond. And they might need a stud Haskins to even recruit a new head coach or football boss. 

This team has warts, plenty of them, and that could scare off the best coaching and personnel candidates for next year. But if those same people believe that there is a QB in place in Washington, the warts get easier to ignore. 

It also doesn't hurt that the Redskins helped their 2020 draft position with Sunday's loss. The team is now tied with Miami and the Giants for the second-worst record in the NFL, and be honest, Ohio State's Chase Young could be a game-changer with the second overall pick. Next Sunday's contest against the Giants will go a long way in determining that final order.

The bottom line?

2019 is all about Haskins' development, and on Sunday, Haskins took his biggest steps yet. That's far more important than another loss, albeit grueling, in a season full of them. 

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Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

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Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mike'L Simms had 11 points as VCU extended its home win streak to eight games, beating Missouri State 61-51 on Sunday night.

De'Riante Jenkins had 10 points for VCU (8-2).

After VCU outscored Missouri State 35-25 in the first half, both teams scored 26 in the second as the home team clinched the victory. The Rams' 26 second-half points marked a season low for the team.

Isiaih Mosley had 15 points for the Bears (6-6). Keandre Cook added 12 points. Gaige Prim had 10 points.

VCU takes on College of Charleston on the road on Wednesday. Missouri State matches up against Oral Roberts on the road on Saturday.

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