A GRIP ON SPORTS • There are times when the final few holes of a major golf tournament are as tense and dramatic as anything in sports. Sunday was not one of those times.
• Max Homa had it right. When Scottie Scheffler stepped on Augusta National’s 18th green in Sunday’s Georgia twilight, all he had to do was six putt to win his first green jacket. That’s not very dramatic. But as Homa, a PGA peer in age if not yet major wins, said on Twitter, if you are going to four putt, which the 25-year-old proceeded to do from 40 feet, you might as well six putt and make it a little exciting.
Nerves? Maybe. But the world’s top-ranked player didn’t have any, seemingly, when it mattered most.
Like at 12, the diabolical par-3 that claimed Cameron Smith hopes – the Australian hit the ball in the water and made six – yesterday and many, many others over the past 75 years.
Like at 14 where his birdie on the tough par-4 got him to 11-under.
Or 15, where another birdie allowed for a stress-free walk the rest of the way.
And assured the Texas graduate his fourth win of the year.
More importantly, he won the Masters. There may be four major golf tournaments but for youth golfers, most dream of the day when they don a green jacket. Winning at Augusta is the pinnacle. The culmination. It’s where Jack Nicklaus won six times and Tiger Woods five – though this one, when he finished well back, might be the one Woods is most proud of when his collecting his pension checks.
But it was Scheffler, not Woods or Rory McIlroy or anyone else, smiling wide when Hideki Matsuyama helped him put on the most famous piece of clothing in sports.
If Woods is the epitome of fiery, Scheffler is his opposite. Yet both are ultra-competitive. Driven. Focused. That’s what matters. And what allowed each a leisurely stroll up 18 en route to their first Masters win.
• Everyone was wearing jackets at Avista Stadium on Sunday. They may not have been green, but the Indians’ bullpen certainly is. Then again, at the High-A level, pretty much everyone is a little green and in need of seasoning.
When Spokane’s relievers took off their jackets and headed to the mound this weekend, there was little in the way of success. The bullpens wobbles ensured Vancouver an 8-7 win Sunday and a season-opening series victory.
Where have we seen this before? Oh, right. Last season, when the Indians started slowly before catching fire in the second half en route a championship series appearance.
There is even more time this year, sans-COVID-19 issues, so there is no reason to make judgments, good or bad, after one weekend.
Making plans to bring a warm jacket to home games? That’s not only encouraged but necessary. At least through May.
WSU: The baseball team lost Sunday at Arizona but still took the series. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, Oregon’s offensive line is building on a strong foundation. … There’s a new offensive line coach at Colorado. … There are special teams issues that need to be ironed out at Utah. … As Arizona State puts the finishing touches on spring practice, there are still questions. … In basketball news, Jeff Metcalfe takes a look at the season for the women and what’s ahead. Tonight is a big night for many, as the WNBA holds its draft. Where will Lexie Hull be taken? … On the men’s side, an Oregon State guard is headed to Mississippi State. … Finally, we don’t link a bunch of Pac-12 baseball stories but when Oregon State, winners of two national titles, sweeps the USC series in Los Angeles for the first time, it is worth a mention.
Gonzaga: The baseball team’s fun season continued with a high-scoring win that clinched the series with USF.
EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Montana has mined the transfer portal for some help. … Idaho State’s women, winners of back-to-back Big Sky regular season basketball titles, now have nine players in the portal.
Mariners: Marco Gonzales didn’t have it Sunday, though a two-out, first-inning error certainly didn’t help either. The Twins handed Seattle its first loss, 10-4. … Pitcher Matt Festa made his major league return after two years of injuries.
• We’re going to share some personal news. Today Kim headed off to work for the last week of her illustrious 40-year nursing career. The dogs and I, as we have done for years, waved goodbye from the front window. I got a little verklempt – though the dogs weren’t, as they barked their usual goodbye. It was weird for us to think it was her last work-week Monday. We’ll have more to say later this week about the greatest person I have ever met. Until later …