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US Open to return to Winged Foot

US Open to return to Winged Foot

The U.S. Open is returning to Winged Foot, the New York club with a history of clutch moments and one unforgettable collapse.

The U.S. Golf Association will announce Monday that the West Course at Winged Foot will host the 2020 U.S. Open. Only two other courses - Oakmont and Baltusrol - will have held the national championship more times.

``Winged Foot offers a spectacular setting in a dynamic market, and has justifiably earned its reputation as one of the premier U.S. Open venues in the nation,'' said Thomas O'Toole Jr., vice president of the USGA and head of its championship committee. ``And it joins an impressive lineup of future U.S. Open Championship locations that players and fans alike can eagerly anticipate.''

Winged Foot was designed by A.W. Tillinghast in 1923 and hosted its first U.S. Open six years later, when amateur Bobby Jones delivered one of the biggest shots in championship history with a 12-foot putt on the final hole to force a 36-hole playoff. He won the next day by 23 shots over Al Espinosa.

The most recent trip to Winged Foot was memorable for all the wrong reasons - not for Geoff Ogilvy winning with a superb up-and-down from below the 18th green, but for Phil Mickelson blowing his best chance ever to win the U.S. Open.

Mickelson had a one-shot lead when his drive bounced off corporate tents to the left of the 18th fairway. He went for the green and his 3-iron struck a tree and dropped straight down, his next shot plugged in a bunker and he make double bogey to lose by one. ``I am such an idiot,'' he famously said that day.

Mickelson referenced that moment just five days ago when discussing his mistake to go public with being unhappy about how much he days in taxes.

Winged Foot also is where former USGA President Sandy Tatum offered the defining comment for the U.S. Open. ``Our intention is not to embarrass the greatest players in the world, but to identify them,'' he said in 1974, when Hale Irwin won at 7-over 287.

Billy Casper won his first U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 1959. Fuzzy Zoeller won in 1984 in a playoff over Greg Norman, who holed a long putt across the 18th green for par. Zoeller, thinking the Shark had made birdie, jokingly waved a white towel. It only got Norman into a Monday playoff, and the next day, Zoeller won so handily that Norman waved a white towel walking up the final fairway.

Winged Foot doesn't have a history of dull moments.

The Westchester course is known for the severe slopes on the greens and deep bunkers and doglegs along the tree-lined fairways. USGA executive director Mike Davis was in charge of setting up the Open for the first time at Winged Foot in 2006. He referred to Winged Foot as a ``quintessential U.S. Open golf course.''

``Winged Foot offers the best players in the world a spectacular test of golf and delivers to spirited New York golf fans one of the most exciting venues in the game,'' he said.

The U.S. Open returns this year to Merion, and then will go to Pinehurst No. 2 (2014), Chambers Bay (2015), Oakmont (2016), Erin Hills (2017), Shinnecock Hills (2018), Pebble Beach (2019) and then Winged Foot.

``I think it's great,'' Ogilvy said about the return to Winged Foot. ``I'm excited for the club. It's one of the best clubs in America for that sort of thing. It's a true golf club in the original sense. They love playing golf. The courses are super busy. You meet Winged Foot members everywhere and they can't say enough about it. And it's got such a great history, really.''

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Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson is starting to make people reconsider what they think of him. 

After the Ravens’ 49-13 win over the Bengals on Sunday, the rest of the NFL is starting to take notice about Lamar Jackson’s status in the NFL. Especially considering his spin move through the Bengals defense.

Hall of Fame NFL general manager Bill Polian recently admitted that he was wrong when he said that Jackson should be an NFL wide receiver during his draft process in 2018.

“I was wrong, because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian told USA TODAY Sports. 

Jackson is currently building an MVP case for himself and is on-pace for over 30 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. 

It’s a nice change of pace for the 22-year-old quarterback in his second year as a pro. Jackson had to face heavy criticism after he left Louisville for a variety of reasons headed into the draft. Even after he took over as the Ravens quarterback, those evaluations persisted. 

“We always knew what he was about,” Ravens center Matt Skura said. “We always knew his ability to make plays and all that stuff. I think it’s just people right now seeing it on a much larger scale and it’s just getting the attention now.”

At this point, however, it’s clear that not only is Jackson a quarterback, he might even be the MVP of the league.

Of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft, only four are starting and just two have led their teams to a winning record. Jackson leads all of his draft counterparts in total yards and total touchdowns. 

But as anyone in the Ravens’ locker room will say, the accolades don’t concern Jackson — only the record does.

“I think he’s more concerned with winning than anything,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “As individuals, we’ve all got people to prove wrong and things that we used to put a chip on our shoulder. At the end of the day, I know he’s more concerned with winning more than anything.”

Still, it’s noteworthy that it only took Jackson a complete season of starts, through two partial seasons, to begin the backtracking across the NFL landscape.

“If you watch ESPN or you watch TV, it’s going to come up no matter what,” Skura said. “Even on your Instagram feed it’s going to come up. I think for a lot of us, just in one ear and out the other as far as people pumping us up. You’ve kind of got to stay level-headed and ride the rollercoaster, so to say.”

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Hayden Hurst set on helping those with depression, anxiety with new documentary titled “Headstrong”

Hayden Hurst set on helping those with depression, anxiety with new documentary titled “Headstrong”

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Hayden Hurst immediately saw the impact of his documentary last week when, just hours after it aired, people reached out to him to tell their stories. 

Hurst was a part of a documentary titled “Headstrong” that aired on NBC Sports Washington last week, which detailed his struggles with depression and anxiety as a baseball player. The documentary will air on NBCSN on Nov. 20.

Now, Hurst is reaching out to tell his story in hopes of impacting those who struggle with mental illness, as he did.

“I think it’s going to reach a lot of people,” Hurst said. “Some people even reached out to tell me stuff that affects them in their lives. It’s very cool, it’s very humbling.”

Hurst was a standout baseball player in high school and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He signed immediately and began his professional baseball career. 

But shortly thereafter, Hurst developed the “Yips,” and he was unable to throw strikes like he once did. On the mound, his hands shook when he attempted to pitch. Off the field, his condition began to deteriorate. 

He said he began to self-medicate and that’s when he started to seek help. 

After he retired from baseball, he decided to play football at the University of South Carolina and began to treat his mental illness. In 2018, he was a first-round pick of the Ravens.

“It’s night and day from where I was,” Hurst said. “Back in the baseball days, my lack of success in baseball kind of led to my off the field issues. I kind of self-medicated a little bit to make everything go away. Where I’m at now, I’m so much more mature, I’m so much more in-tune with the person that I am, I’m close with my family.”

Hurst is now set out on telling his story to help others who might be in the same situation that he was in. With his background as a professional baseball and football player, he’s hopeful that people will see his situation and feel compelled to talk about what they’ve been going through.

“I really want to tell my story so I get it out there and people can relate to it and they can see it and read it and see the silver lining in it,” Hurst said. “I think a lot of people struggle with things and not a lot of people like talking about it.”

It’s difficult for him to make speeches and speak with others during the NFL season, but he’s got plans to travel to Columbia, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida to reach out to people who might be in need of help in the offseason.

He’s already begun work in Baltimore and wants to continue to help through his foundation, the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation. 

For now, though, he wants everyone to know that it’s OK to not be OK. Hurst’s story proves that. 

“I think more people are affected by it than we think,” Hurst said. “It’s a sensitive topic and not many people like talking about it. I’m in a position where — this sounds worse than it is — I really don’t care what people think about me. I am who I am, it’s part of the make up of who I am and I’m going to tell my story.”

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