Drama, drivers, and divisions

Shots in the Darke

High drama was the order of the day over the final few holes of the US Open golf championship at Pinehurst No. 2 Sunday afternoon. Bryson DeChambeau outlasted Rory  McIlroy to take home his second Open trophy while denying the Northern Irishman his third title by a single shot. Both men missed putts of four feet or less in the last three holes as they battled back and forth, but it was McIlroy missing two that opened the door for DeChambeau to finally make a four-footer on the 18th hole after executing a tremendous 55-yard sand shot to set up the winning putt. 

DeChambeau only hit 5 of 14 fairways Sunday but was able to scramble out of the sandy waste areas of Pinehurst often enough to hold on to his third-round lead. For those of you who think any putts inside of four feet should be “gimmes”, all you had to do was watch two of the world’s best rim them out!  

The Donald Ross course was tough on the pros with a combination of length, punishing rough, and the famous domed greens (fast enough that it was like putting on linoleum) that frustrated the field. How many shots hit the greens over the four days but rolled off into trouble both with traps and collection areas? About as close as you can come locally to something similar would be the second green at Turtle Creek—if you don’t hit your approach shot into an area about 5-7 yards wide, you risk rolling off the green in several directions. 

How about a quick check on the latest NASCAR standings going into the weekend? Denny  Hamlin holds onto first place, followed by Kyle Larson (who made an impressive first start in  Indy Racing at the 500 last month) and Chase Elliott. Watch for those standings to change often over the next four months of fender-bending action! 

Speaking of racing, four big days are on tap at Eldora Speedway next month beginning  Wednesday July 17th with the Double Down Duels, the 18th with the Jokers Jackpot, and The  Knight Before on the 19th leading up to the annual King’s Royal on the 20th. Don’t expect to find any hotel room vacancies anywhere within an hour of Rossburg! 

Want to know why both professional and big-time college programs have sports psychologists on their staffs? If the players aren’t mentally focused and motivated bad things happen as evidenced by the Celtics (with a 3-0 advantage in the NBA Finals) getting blown out  by the Mavericks in game 4 by 38 points and the Panthers (likewise with a 3-0 lead in the NHL  Stanley Cup series) getting hammered by the Oilers 8-1 in game 4. Look for both the Celts and  Panthers to win titles but it’s a fine line between winning and losing at that level. Sometimes you have it, and other times you don’t!! 

Baseball is closing in on the halfway mark of the season in the next week or two, so let’s see who’s setting the pace in the different divisions. In the AL East the Yankees and Orioles are heads and heels better than the rest of the division while Cleveland, the surprising Royals, and  Twins compete for the AL Central. In the AL West the Mariners hold a commanding advantage over the defending champion Rangers and Astros.

In the NL East, the Phillies are dominant, with an eight-game lead over the injury-riddled Braves; the Brewers have command of the Central, with the Cards, Reds, Pirates, and Cubs all bunched up within a game of each other in a display of mediocrity; and the wealthy Dodgers hold sway in the West by eight games.  

The Reds just can’t quite get to .500 thus far. Which Reds will be picked for the annual All-Star game next month? I don’t think closer Alexis Diaz will be—he scares me every time he’s called on to hold a late lead; he reminds me of too many Cincy relievers of the past!! 

 A few quick thoughts to end the column – be sure to stay hydrated the next few days, looks like mid-to-upper 90s is headed our way! 

Construction continues on the new building at the Darke County Fairgrounds. I’m not sure  exactly what’s going to be held there other than use by the Dog Club and as a community center but I’m sure the Fair Board has things under control. 

Finally, once again, it appears that the state flower of Indiana is the “orange barrel” this summer. Driving back from our daughter’s in northern Indiana there were stretches of construction about every 10 miles or so—at least we weren’t delayed to any extent! 

Have a great week—stay active and healthy, but more importantly, drink plenty of water!!“