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Thursday, August 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: The PGA Tour’s long absence ends with a surprise or two thanks to Bryson DeChambeau

In this July 18, 2019 photo, Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, looks at his putt on the fourth green during the first round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. DeChambeau wasted no time defending himself against accusations of slow play Saturday, Aug. 10, after harsh criticism on social media stemming from a video showing him taking more than two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt at The Northern Trust. (Peter Morrison / Associated Press)
In this July 18, 2019 photo, Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, looks at his putt on the fourth green during the first round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. DeChambeau wasted no time defending himself against accusations of slow play Saturday, Aug. 10, after harsh criticism on social media stemming from a video showing him taking more than two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt at The Northern Trust. (Peter Morrison / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We thought live golf was back on our TV yesterday. Imagine our surprise when we turned it on and saw football, led by All-American tight end Bryson DeChambeau.

•••••••

• The coronavirus quarantine must have made DeChambeau, the most eccentric golfer on the PGA Tour, angry. He went into it looking like Bill Bixby and returned with a Lou Ferrigno body. Sorry, that’s a little too retro, isn’t it? Eric Bana and prosthetics better? No? How about Mark Ruffalo and some CGI guy behind a computer?

What I’m trying to say is DeChambeau looks like the Hulk. And hits it off the tee like him too.

We all know Dustin Johnson is a long hitter, right? Well, playing with Johnson at the Colonial yesterday – the PGA’s first event, post-quarantine – DeChambeau outdrove his partner by an average of 40 yards. Yep, every time he hit it off the tee, DeChambeau was a medium-range field goal ahead of Johnson.

Of course, being who he is, DeChambeau wasn’t about to let his new physique go unannounced. According to Golf Digest, his social media account released a 15-minute video before he teed off, set to the Rocky IV theme music.

Then he went out and shot a 65. The score was good enough Mr. DeChambeau. No need for the video. Unless, of course, you are looking to be a stand-in in the next Avengers movie, in which the Hulk is forced to beat Thor in a round of golf on Jupiter or someplace.

• With golf back, albeit without fans – making it easy to hear an obscene comment about two minutes in – can other sports be far behind?

Well, yes and no.

Everyone is getting prepared, from the NFL to high schools. Schedules are being released, guidelines drawn up and facilities cleaned. The plan now is to get everything moving between now and mid-July. There’s only one minor problem. The virus doesn’t seem to be cooperating.

Numbers of infected people are rising all over the country. So are hospitalizations, though not as fast. There are many explanations for this floating around, with some saying increased testing is to blame and others offering other reasons like work- or family-based outbreaks.

Whether it is a significant portent of bad news to come can be debated but Thursday’s results on Wall Street – you know, the place that relies on folks spending making money and businesses taking it in – showed people who study these trends for a living are a bit worried.

How does that apply to sports? Higher numbers may lead to the reinstatement of more restrictive guidelines. At the very least, they won’t allow an easing of such simple techniques as wearing a mask in public and some form of social distancing. That may not be a huge deal for professional sports, which have been more of a television show than a in-person experience for the past couple decades, but it doesn’t bode well for colleges and even younger sports.

Washington’s State school Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced yesterday he expects school to start on time with teachers and students wearing masks throughout the day, according to Jim Allen’s Spokesman-Review story. Which brings up a simple question. If you are going to make students wear masks in a classroom, where social distancing will also be in play, what will you do about a gym, where most sports demand close interaction for extended periods?

I don’t have the answer. And I’m not sure anyone really does.

•••

WSU: Speaking of returning to some semblance of normalcy, the Cougars are welcoming back their athletes for voluntary workouts. Pat Chun met with the media yesterday and talked about the process. Theo Lawson listened in and has this story. … Theo also passes along the news Nick Rolovich seems to have found his quarterback of the future. The first-year coach’s first quarterback recruit comes from Southern California. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, the NCAA has set its guidelines for schools as they prepare for the upcoming football season. They will be getting a bit more time. … Arizona’s football players are set to return Monday. … The Walter Camp preseason All-American teams were announced yesterday and, as expected, there were many conference players listed. Washington, Oregon and Oregon State were among those schools with players named. In fact, the Ducks were the only school with three first-team selections. … Players are returning to Colorado, ready to learn a new defense. … The break was a good thing for one Oregon State receiver. … No one in the conference had more players taken in the baseball draft than Arizona State. … There was a surprise or two at Oregon State with the draft.

Idaho: The NCAA is going to examine the state’s transgender athlete policy and make a decision about possibly pulling championships. That examination will come in August.

Preps: Jeremy Wu-Yelland, who graduated Central Valley High in 2017, heard his name called in the fourth round of yesterday’s baseball draft. The University of Hawaii pitcher (he the one on the right in Jesse Tinsley's photo) was taken by the Boston Red Sox. Dave Nichols has all the details in this story.

Shock: Former Shock coach Adam Shackleford joined Larry Weir yesterday for the latest Press Box podcast.

Seahawks: Pete Carroll spoke with the media yesterday. As could be expected, the Hawks not signing Colin Kaepernick in 2017 after having him in for a workout came up. Carroll once again gave the same reasons and this time expressed regret. Maybe there is a chance to rectify the oversight?

Mariners: Every player the M’s selected in the shortened draft played college baseball. It’s almost as if the franchise is getting ready for the day when minor league baseball is nearly non-existent. You know, like next year.

Sounders: The MLS announced the groups for its World Cup-style tournament in Florida. Will Seattle’s group earn a cool nickname like “Group of Death” or the like?

•••       

• It may be time for me to pick up a new mask to wear around the neighborhood. Should it have a baseball theme or maybe basketball? How about a picture of something important? Or maybe just a simple one-color, non-flamboyant one that matches my personality? I’m torn. This much is certain. Wearing a mask is good for other folks. They don't have to see my ugly mug. Until later …

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