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See why Phil withdrew from The Memorial

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See why Phil withdrew from The Memorial

From Comcast SportsNet
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Phil Mickelson hit the wall and then headed for the exit, withdrawing from the Memorial after a 79 on Thursday because of mental fatigue. Mickelson said it was more important for him to be rested for the U.S. Open in two weeks than to finish Jack Nicklaus' tournament. He attributed the fatigue to playing three straight weeks, and then going to Europe to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday. He returned home to play a corporate outing Tuesday in New York, flew to Ohio for the pro-am and found his head wasn't in the game. "The course here is in such great shape. It's a beautiful way to get ready for the U.S. Open," he said. "But I'm hitting it so poorly that ... I have to look at what's best for me to play in the U.S. Open, and I'm going to take the next few days to kind of rest up." It's not unusual for players to withdraw after a high score -- it was Mickelson's worst in the 13 trips to the Memorial -- and three other players withdrew Thursday. But it's rare when the player is of Mickelson's stature, a four-time major champion inducted this month into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mickelson could not think of another time he withdrew without physical injury. "I feel like it's the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish the tournament and so forth," Mickelson said. "And I'm kind of overruling that just a touch, because I'm trying to think big picture on what's the best way for me to get ready for the Open." The last time Mickelson withdrew was also at the Memorial in 2007, only then he had injured his wrist while practicing out of the rough at Oakmont for the U.S. Open, and he stopped after 11 holes. Mickelson wound up missing the cut at Oakmont. Mickelson played Quail Hollow, The Players Championship and the Byron Nelson Championship, and then headed to France and Italy with his wife, Amy. "We had a great time, but I think I probably just went a little bit overboard last month, and it has nothing to do with playing poorly and so forth," he said. "But I do think I need to get rested to play my best for the Open." Mickelson said he likely would see swing coach Butch Harmon to "get things straightened out," and go up to The Olympic Club in San Francisco to study the course. Mickelson has finished runner-up a record five times in his national open. Whether it was more than fatigue, Mickelson wasn't saying. His group, which included Masters champion Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, had a massive gallery with several fans taking pictures with their cellphones. Watson complained about the cellphones, though Mickelson said it was "more that mentally I wasn't able to focus as well from the last month." But it's not unlike Mickelson to deliver a message, regardless of criticism that comes his way. When he and Tiger Woods first talked about the PGA Tour season being too long in 2005, Mickelson cited personal reasons for skipping the Tour Championship. He also skipped the BMW Championship during the first year of the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was no fan of Cog Hill, though that WD was said to be more about a debate with the tour. Mickelson was even par for the tournament with a birdie on the par-5 11th, and then he played 7-over par the rest of the way, including a tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th for a double bogey. "I knew he was struggling throughout the day," Fowler said. "You could tell he was a little tired. He's been traveling a bit lately. He told us there in the trailer when we were signing the cards. Obviously, it was a little bit of a grind out there today." Fowler said players had to restart their pre-shot routines because of the pictures being taken by fans. "You could see Phil was a little fatigued and was having trouble blocking it out a bit," Fowler said. Watson said the phones have been "pretty bad ever since they made that rule" that allows fans to take phones on the course, although pictures are not allowed and there are designated areas to make calls. "When they make these marquee pairings, more people are going to follow them and more people want to take pictures, so it makes it very difficult," Watson said. "Ever since they made that rule that cellphones are allowed, it's just not fun playing. "It took Phil out of his game," Watson said. "Phil's a great player and a great champion, and it just took him out of his game. It's sad. It's sad that cellphones can make or break a championship."

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Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

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USA Today Sports Images

Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

 In their second victory against the Chicago Sky this season, Elena Delle Donne dominated once again.

In 33 minutes of play, the star forward racked up 22 points, seven rebounds and 9 of 15 field goals against her former team. She led the Mystics in points and rebounds. 

Tianna Hawkins brought a spark off the bench, tallying 15 points, four rebounds, six of ten field goals and a +11 differential in just 18 minutes of play. 

The Mystics won all four games on this road trip, tying their season-high win streak from earlier this season. Washington is now 8-3 as they head home to host the Connecticut Sun, who just snapped a seven-game win streak.

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Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

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NBC Sports Washington

Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

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 semifinal matchup:

Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

2018-19 stats

Joonas Donskoi (27 years old): 80 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 14 goals, 23 assists, 37 points, 13:25 TOI

Playoffs: 12 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 12:26 TOI

Carl Gunnarsson (32 years old): 25 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, 15:15 TOI

Playoffs: 19 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 14:57 TOI, won Stanley Cup

Hockey-Graph contract projections 

Joonas Donskoi: 3 years, $2,847,521 cap hit

Carl Gunnarsson: 1 year, $731,159 cap hit

The case for Joonas Donskoi

Maybe Andre Burakovsky’s qualifying offer of $3.25 million means he’s back with the Capitals for another year. But it doesn’t preclude a trade and in Donskoi you’d have a similar option at a cheaper price, which matters if you only have $9.2 million in cap space left for now.

Donskoi made the offense better in San Jose in whatever role he was asked to play. He can go up and down the lineup and had a consistency to his game that Burakovsky at times lacks. Donskoi’s stats may not always reflect that, but making his teammates around him better is a valuable asset. Either way, depth scoring is important and a priority for the Capitals. 

Donskoi has every bit the Stanley Cup playoff experience as Burakovsky does if that matters to you. Donskoi has nine goals and 12 assists in 50 playoff games and Burakovsky has nine goals and nine assists in 56 playoff games. Not much to chose between the team except Donskoi would be cheaper if Washington decided to trade Burakovsky. 

The case for Carl Gunnarsson

The Caps will need a No. 6/7 defenseman after Brooks Orpik retired on Tuesday. Yes, they gave a qualifying offer to RFA defenseman Christian Djoos and they have Jonas Siegenthaler under contract, too. Both are natural left side defensemen. Going with the kids is an option. But both of them? That becomes problematic when someone gets hurt in your top two pairings and players have to bump up. 

Gunnarsson was the hero of the “Boston Pee Party” when he scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after declaring to head coach Craig Berube at the urinal he just needed one more opportunity. Gunnarsson had just seven points in the regular season so no one should expect a ton of offense, but the point is he delivered when it mattered most.

When he is not playing the overtime hero, he is a third-pairing, stay at home defenseman who can play on the penalty kill which is pretty much exactly what the Caps need in a depth defenseman.

Take a look at Gunnarsson’s contract projection. You can’t beat that price. Sure, those projections came out before he won the Stanley Cup, but even if his price goes up, it will not be significant. You’re tinkering at the margins of the roster here and championship experience matters. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here:

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