Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Bryson DeChambeau wins thrilling U.S. Open; Caitlin Clark wins latest clash with Angel Reese as Fever beat Sky

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We’ve got a lot to get to today, but before we dive into all that, today is the 30th anniversary of June 17, 1994, one of the wildest and most surreal days the sports world has ever seen. If the mere mention of the date means something to you, you’ll probably recall where you were when O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco was rolling on the streets and highways of Los Angeles. If the day doesn’t mean anything to you, talk to an older relative or friend — or you can just check out our look back at what made that day THAT DAY.

Good morning to everyone, but especially to …

U.S. OPEN CHAMPION BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU

Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open had a little bit of everything. The day’s early leader stumbled. The challenger emerged. A gut-wrenching collapse. And a bunker shot of the lump-in-the-throat variety on the final hole that would ultimately help deliver Bryson DeChambeau the win on Pinehurst No. 2 while simultaneously continuing the major championship anguish of Rory McIlroy.

The final round of the tournament — the 1,000th event hosted by the USGA — almost felt scripted at times as DeChambeau opened the day with a three-shot lead, only to see it disappear and then re-emerge as the Dallas resident got his short putt to fall. DeChambeau celebrated as only as can, in all of his double-barreled, fist-pumping glory. Golf writer Chip Patterson explains what DeChambeau’s second major win (2020 U.S. Open) could mean for the sport:

  • Patterson: “Too often the idea of DeChambeau the YouTube star is met with confusion by an older generation of golf fan that is neither consuming his content nor the intended audience for it. What you saw among the more than 100,000 fans in attendance at Pinehurst No. 2 this week, though, was that intended audience — a younger, more online, social media-savvy fan base that powered their favorite golfer across 72 difficult holes … DeChambeau fed off hearing catch phrases from his YouTube channel yelled out by fans, and they, too, adored the opportunity to watch their favorite influencer in person.”

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for …

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U.S. OPEN RUNNER-UP RORY McILROY

In the grand scheme of things, in a sport like golf, a second-place finish at a major is not a cause to get down on oneself. (You did, after all, just pocket a $2.3 million prize for a weekend’s work.) But…if you’re Rory McIlroy and you’ve been looking to get back to the top spot at a major championship for literally 10 years, had a two-stroke lead with five holes to play, missed two putts inside of four feet and bogeyed three of the last four holes to go on to lose by a single stroke, today might be one of those Mondays where you’d rather not get out of bed.

Of holes 15 through 18 played over the event, McIlroy had only bogeyed three of them through the first three days, and he hadn’t thrown up the square on the scorecard on back-to-back holes during the event until 16 and 17 Sunday afternoon. In fact, he even birdied 15 and 18 in Round 1, so this one is likely going to sting for a while. For a great read on the McIlroy meltdowns, check out Kyle Porter’s encompassing look at how the 35-year-old got here — and how he left Pinehurst No. 2.

  • Porter: “McIlroy walked down the steps and into the scoring room looking as despondent as he has ever looked … Before DeChambeau finished signing his card as the 124th U.S. Open champion, McIlroy found his rental car, fleeing a crime scene he created … Without speaking with anyone outside of his inner circle, McIlroy turned on his Lexus, kicked up a bit of gravel on his exit was in the air before DeChambeau got done speaking with the media. It was, all things considered, his worst and weakest drive of the week.”

Not so honorable mentions

🏀 Fever tops Sky in another physical Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese meeting

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The next chapter of the ongoing Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese show continued Sunday with the Fever defeating the Sky 91-83 at home. Both rookies had noteworthy stat lines, as Clark easily had her best game of the season, with 23 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting, eight rebounds and nine assists. Meanwhile, Reese collected another double-double (11 points, 13 rebounds), but spent much of the afternoon in foul trouble.

However, the most talked about moment of the game was when Reese caught Clark in the head with her forearm as she attempted to block Clark’s layup. It was correctly viewed as a basketball play and correctly assessed as a Flagrant 1 foul as any contact with a player’s head that was that obvious is going to draw the officials to review it.

Chicago’s Kamilla Cardoso had a strong performance in netting her first double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), and Indiana’s Aliyah Boston was also extremely effective with 19 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. WNBA writer Jack Maloney notes that Boston and Clark have started to look more comfortable as the Fever won back-to-back games for the first time.

  • Maloney: “It was notable that six of her nine makes on Sunday came off feeds from Clark, and on a wide variety of plays. They had the pick-and-roll working, but they also connected on some timely cuts and some transition opportunities. The chemistry between the two No. 1 overall picks continues to grow, and that’s great news for the Fever.”

⚾ Mariners making moves in MLB Power Rankings

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The Yankees (50-24) might not have moved in our rankings, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to look over their shoulder. Believe it or not, the Mariners (43-31) are playing like they could wreck someone’s party come October. They were sitting in the 10-spot two weeks ago, at No. 8 last week and now they’re up to No. 7 in Matt Synder’s latest MLB Power Rankings.

  • Snyder: “I’m sure there’s someone somewhere screaming “unsustainable!!” about their 17-7 record in one-run games, but they’ve built a sizable cushion in the AL West and those games played are already banked. Even if the Mariners only played .500 ball the rest of the way, they’d finish 87-75 and that likely takes the division at this rate. It most certainly would make the playoffs. As we’ve seen a number of times in recent years, just making the playoffs is good enough to consider a team a threat to win the World Series. The playoff rotation would certainly be stout enough.”

Matt said Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert are “a three-headed monster,” which could certainly make the playoffs interesting in Seattle. In the meantime, here is Matt’s top five:

  1. Yankees (previous: 1)
  2. Orioles (previous: 3)
  3. Phillies (previous: 2)
  4. Dodgers (previous: 4)
  5. Guardians (previous: 5)

Wonder where the Mariners will wind up next week.

📺 What we’re watching Monday

🏊 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials (qualifying), 11 a.m. on Peacock
Euro 2024 — Belgium vs. Slovakia, 12 p.m. on FS1
College World Series — Florida vs. NC State, 2 p.m. on ESPN
Euro 2024 — Austria vs. France, 3 p.m. on Fox
⚾ College World Series — Texas A&M vs. Kentucky, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Wings at Lynx, 8 p.m. on WNBA League Pass
🏊 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials (finals), 8 p.m. on NBC, Peacock
🏀 NBA Finals — Game 5: Mavericks at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. on ABC
Brewers at Angels, 9:38 p.m. on MLB Network

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