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Wow!  What a stunning end to the 2012 Brittish Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.  The Stack has plenty on that today as well as a couple of the other big stories from the weekend so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, July 23:

Ernie Els shocks the golf world, wins British Open

The storyline headed into Saturday was whether or not Brandt Snedeker could keep his composure and not let the pressure get to him.  He was the clubhouse leader after 36 holes.  He struggled and Adam Scott took hold of the lead and entered Sunday with a comfortable four stroke lead.  He was striking the ball perfectly.  There was really no reason to think that Scott would lose The Open.  Someone would have to take it from him.  

And there were a few players that had a chance to make Scott sweat a little.  Snedeker was four back at seven under (-7).  Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell were each six under (-6).  Zach Johnson even had a chance too.  So there were plenty of people that oculd have made a run.  For Tiger, his chance ended when he got stuck in the bunker on the par 4 6th, where he got stuck in a bunker by the green and took two shots to get out of and then another three putts.  He tried to make a bit of a run on the back, but three straight bogeys on holes 13-15 doomed him.  This is yet another disappointing weekend at a major for Woods.  You'll remember he was tied for first after 36 holes at the U.S. Open only to disappear on the weekend.  He has got to figure out a way to play consistently to win another major.  His putting didn't help him much either.  Johnson never got anything going and both Snedeker and McDowell wrecked their chances with a couple of errant drives (Snedeker on 7 & 8, McDowell had a few on the back nine) that forced them out of the running.  This was Scott's tournament to lose.

But then someone on the back started to gain some momentum, a former British Open champion, ten years and a day to the day he won that championship.  His name: Ernie Els.  Els has struggled on tour the last year and his dealt with some adversity in his personal life with his nine-year old son having autism.  But slowly Els kept cutting into Scott's lead.  Scott shot two over on the front nine.  And on the back nine, Els went for it.  He was getting on the green in regulation.  In fact he was the best over the weekend at hitting the green in regulation.  Unfortunately for Els, some of his putts weren't falling, either coming up just short or lipping out.  But Els kept plugging away and capped off a four under (-4) 32 on the back nine with a great birdie putt that he buried on 18 to finish the tournament at seven under (-7).

Scott's putting eventually began to be the death of him.  Not that he was dropping a ton of shots, but he could not get any birdie putts to fall.  They would die just inches shy of the cup.  Finally when one dropped on the 14th hole, you had to think that Scott was going to have this in the bag.  Start engraving his name on the Claret Jug.  Plus with Stevie Williams on the bags, Tiger's former caddy, you had to like Scott's odds.  Williams had been in that position with Tiger many times.  But Scott then imploded, bogeying the final four holes.  He missed a short five foot putt on the 16th that should not have lipped out.  And then on 18, tied with Els, Scott's drive went into a fairway bunker and the only way to get it out was to hit it sideways, not being able to advance the ball very far at all.  That's the price you pay playing links golf.  The bunkers are tough.  Yet Scott's third shot was a beauty, getting him 10-15 feet within the cup.  With everything hanging on this one putt, to force a playoff with Els, Scott's putt just went to the outside of the cup and it was over.  Scott's collapse gave Els his second career British Open Championship.

How agonizing for Scott.  He is not going to get very good sleep for a long time.  In fact, this could be the defining moment of his career.  He had the Claret Jug.  And he gave it away.  He was striking the ball beautifully, hitting shot after shot.  How could everything go so wrong so fast?  It is something that Scott is going to have to think about.  And Els felt for his friend.  I'm sure he's going to enjoy the win, but at the expense of his pal's demise, perhaps it takes a little bit of the sweetness from his victory for now.  But Els played great when it counted and after going through so much the last year, is back at the winners circle.

It was an amazing tournament and an unbelievable finish.  The Open Championship is my favorite major and I can't wait to watch it again next year.

 

Penn State takes down Joe Paterno's statue

The decision has been made.  Penn State President Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday morning, saying in part that the statue was "an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond."  Some, like students on campus and the Paterno family themselves disagree with the decision, but this is the correct thing to do.  Most people who will see that statue, either live or on TV or wherever, I beleive would be reminded of the Sandusky scandal and not Paterno's on the field achievements.  At least not for the near future.  This scandal has greatly tarnished Paterno's image and it is not going to be forgotten and might not get better anytime soon.  The sooner people stop seeing Paterno's name on stuff like the statue or anything to do with the football program, the easier it will be to move on.  Paterno's name is staying on the library and that is just fine.  For academic purposes, Paterno and his family did so much for the university that they should leave his name on the building.  But for the football program, they need to get away from the Paterno name for a while.  I applaud the president's decision.  Do you?

Also, Penn State will learn their fate on today as to what penalties they will receive regarding the Sandusky scandal.  Sources say the death penalty is not going to be an option.  While I think the death penalty should happen in this case, I am fine with them not taking this measure so long as the penalties that the program and university does receive is so severe that it is next worst thing to the death penalty.  Perhaps the NCAA and the university took a look at what would happen to the other sports and clubs should they lose all that revenue from giving the football program the death penalty.  And that is just fine.  You have to think of how the death penalty would affect the other student athletes.  But the penalties that Penn State receives should be bad enough where it will have an impact on the football program.  Such as:

  • a significant reduction in scholarships, a bowl ban for a minimum of five years and I'd even push for ten. 
  • Perhaps a slighlty less share of television money or no television money at all.
  • No national television appearances for two or three years.  The Big Ten Network can broadcast a certain number of Penn State games, but not every game.  I'd set the cap at six games.

If the NCAA wants to penalize the program more, that is fine.  But these are the minimum amount of penalties and the least sever penalties that I want to see.  What do you think?  We find out today at 9:00 AM ET.

 

Dodgers turning attention to Garza

With the Los Angeles Dodgers' attempt to get Chicago Cubs ace Ryan Dempster seemingly done for, the Dodgers have since turned their attention to his teammate Matt Garza.  Garza was pulled out of Saturday's game with the St. Louis Cardinals after three innings with an apparent injury, but my guess is that the Cubs likely don't want Garza doing anything that will jeopardize a trade with the Dodgers.  The Cubs expect to get at least one of the Dodgers top recruits.  The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching.  With the additional wild card, expect a few more teams to be wheeling and dealing and expect more deals to get done here soon.

And New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana is heading to the 15-DL with an ankle injury.  Since throwing the first Mets no-hitter June 1, Santana has a 6.54 ERA.  He may be more tired than anything having thrown 134 pitches in that game, but his long-term health is more important to the Mets.

 

Arizona Cardinals first team to report to training camp

Ah, it is that time of the year again.  Training camps for almost every team begin this week and the Cardinals are the first team that will see the field.  We'll try to take a look at every team heading into their respective training camp.  Some interesting storylines and a position battle.  Cardinals will be first along with the New Orleans Saints and we'll go from there.

Over the next couple of weeks, with training camps starting and the Olympics happening in London, "the stack" is going to be very heavy on football and the Olympics.  Hope you all enjoy that.  Should be an exciting couple of weeks.  Before we go, congrats to Bradley Wiggins, the first person from Great Britain ever to win the Tour de France.  And yes, I just like most of you out there was unaware that the Tour de France ended.  I'm guessing some of you didn't even know it began.

 

Coming up tomorrow: Penn State penalty thoughts, NFL training camps and more.

Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.

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