US Open Whiners, Not Winners: One hundred and fifty-six golfers, mostly so-called professionals will tee off Thursday morning at Erin Hills in Wisconsin for the 117th U.S. Open Golf Championship. They'll be gunning for a $2.1 million winners check, be pampered with courtesy cars, brand new practice golf balls, entourages of coaches and caddies, etc. etc. etc. But many of them have taken time out of their busy schedule to criticize the USGA on everything from the course setup to rules changes to the color of head man Mike Davis' golf hat. Okay, maybe not the hat, but pretty much a wide array of topics. They even question what the USGA is doing with the $320 million the organization has in an investment fund. Don't get me wrong, the entity that rules the game in the United States needs to be held accountable for their actions, but it seems a bit extreme coming from a group that gets paid an insane amount of money for playing a game that most of spend a lot of our income in which to participate. The FedEx points winner takes home $10 million, and that's in addition to the over $1 million for winning the tournament and the $5 million plus that they are bound to have won during the season. I agree that the handling of the Dustin Johnson penalty at last year's tournament at Oakmont was atrocious. I've been critical of their decision to go with Fox as their broadcast partner. But last time I checked, deep rough, punitive sand traps and fast greens are part of the game. If you think you're the best, then shut up and prove it on the golf course. Whining and complaining is weak and unprofessional. The course conditions and setup apply to all 156 players. Unfair is an incorrect and ignorant categorization. Unfair is when something isn't applied consistently to all competitors. I don't see anyone with a weedeater lowering the rough for one player or creating an additional obstacle for another. So what if they can't break par? At the end of the day, it's totally irrelevant. The point is to get it around for four days in the least number of strokes. There aren't any bonuses for lower scores. For me, I'm very intrigued by how the potentially longest course in U.S. Open history will hold up to what is a truly great and compelling field. And I can't wait for the whine fest after Thursday's opening round.
Warriors' Kevin Durant Gets a Ring: We'll never know, but without Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors may very well have been watching Lebron James lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to another NBA championship. But when the former Oklahoma City Thunder star took his talents to the Bay Area, it set the stage for his first and probably not last title. The Warriors won the series in what will look like a dominant 4 - 1 edge, but if the Cavs don't tank in the final three minutes of Game 3, the result could have been very different. Even the outcome of Game 5 was in question until Durant took over in the fourth quarter. The question at this point is how long Golden State can sustain this run. Recent history would indicate that it won't be for very long, if only because it's difficult to keep three or four elite players together for four years or more. The Warriors have Klay Thompson on the block first, and he can be a key player for any franchise. That leaves Steph Curry and Draymond Green, then Durant for them to try to keep. Will Thompson give up max money to stay? Will the others? With the increased salary cap at the expense of ESPN, players can still make an unbelievable amount of money if they're willing to subordinate their egos in order to accumulate titles. I can't answer for the importance of the symbolism of the money versus the actual value for each individual player. But I can give my opinion on what could happen for the better part of a decade if the current Warriors collectively decide to stay where they are, and it doesn't bode well for Lebron James, unless he decides to to what Durant did, and join the party in Oakland.
Is It Football Season Yet? Not quite, but with the NBA and to a lesser extent, the NHL season's behind us, we can at least see it from here. Sure, we have the NBA draft, a couple of golf majors, tennis' Wimbledon and plenty of dog days major league games to fill our time, but most of the sports conversation will be around the upcoming college and professional football seasons. Can Clemson repeat with a new quarterback? Will Alabama be back for another run? Does Bob Stoops' surprising retirement derail Oklahoma's title chances? Is the fourth College Football Playoff committee going to be similar to last season or add more guess work for coaches and administrators? No, of course, probably, absolutely. Now I'll take them one at a time, starting with Clemson. It's hard enough to contend in consecutive seasons with the same team without having to incorporate a new player at a key position. Clemson will be good, but they have a tougher schedule in 2017, having to play at Virginia Tech and contend with Florida State and Louisville in the Atlantic Division. Alabama simply reloads and I'm sure the way Deshaun Watson shredded the Tide defense for the second year in a row won't sit well with head coach Nick Saban. The most stunning news of the college offseason was the retirement of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. He was replaced by 33 year old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, another surprise. The Sooners have a national title contending team, but the change at the top could have an impact, especially with a week two visit to Ohio State looming. I'm wondering if this is an Urban Meyer type move and we'll see Stoops emerge in a new locale in a year or two, but that's a question within an answer. Finally, with Frank Beamer and Jeff Bower, both former coaches, replacing Condoleeza Rice and Barry Alvarez on the committee, there can't help but be a change in how the committee acts. It will be interesting to see how having more of coaching perspective will affect the rankings and eventual makeup of the playoffs themselves.
Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg,
where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and
philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/
listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike
Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes
and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their
glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.