The Stack is back from vacation andd what a nice vacation it was. Unfortunately, the resort didn't have the strongest of internet capabilities so posts were not going to happen. Apologies to those who checked back for frequent posts. While I was gone, Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics won MLB's Home Run Derby, the AL shutout the NL 3-0 in the All-Star game meaning homefield advantage in the world series belongs with the American League, the ESPYS happened, the NHL schedule came out for next year and the NHL players will be playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the British Open concluded. We'll get to Lefty and his amazing final round plus training camp thoughts for the Dolphins and Cowboys so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, July 22:
Phil Mickelson wins first British Open
There was plenty of grumbling and tweeting from players at the British Open at Muirfield this week and when the dust settled, one golfer rose to the occasion and tamed the course, shooting a final round best score five under (-5) 66 to win the 2013 British Open. Phil Mickelson is the one who did it. It's Mickelson's first career British Open championship and his fifth major victory overall. Mickelson certainly earned this one. He hit some unbelievable shots. He birdied four of the final six holes to take full command of the tournament. Sure the rest of the field around him fell apart a bit. Lee Westwood had the lead but started to choke, failing to strike the ball cleanly. Adam Scott had the lead for a bit, but he faltered down the stretch for the second straight year though this time it wasn't quite as catastrophic as last year. Tiger Woods once again wasn't a real factor in the final round of a major championship. He just doesn't look like himself. No, Mickelson won this tournament. He made clutch shot after clutch shot, big putt after big putt. On sixteen, after his tee shot didn't reach the top of the ridge and rolled back down off the green, he came back with a big chip and putt to get par. And on eighteen, he capped off the tournament with a sensational birdie putt to effectively put the tournament away though there were still a few groups left.
The British Open has always been a challenge for Lefty. He's struggled just to make the cut some years, but playing and winning at the Scottish Open last weekend provided a major boost of confidence for Mickelson headed into this week. Thought that maybe the four putt he had on the sixteenth hole a couple of days ago would end up costing him the championship. It didn't though. Mickelson fought through adversity and went the distance in what is one of the best final round performances we've seen in recent memory. Not bad for someone over the age of 40 and coming off of a heartbreaking second place finish in the US Open a month ago. Congrats Phil Mickelson. Well deserved. Well earned.
Dallas Cowboys training camp preview
Two teams opened up training camp on Saturday. The Dallas Cowboys were one of them. This is a big year for the Dallas Cowboys, essentially a make or break year for head coach Jason Garrett. He now longer is calling the plays. That task belongs to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan gets that responsibility. Some see that as an ominious sign for Garrett and his future as Cowboys head coach. Owner Jerry Jones seems to be running out of patience. He just gave a lot of money to quarterback Tony Romo, a deicision that not all Cowboys fans are entirely on board with. The Cowboys appear to be the most talented team in the NFC East, but we have a little bit of time before the NFL season preview blog. The team is training in Oxnard, California. Here are some of the battles to watch in training camp.
- One is who will back up DeMarco Murray at running back. With Felix Jones gone, the Cowboys need to have someone step up and show that they are capable of carrying the load and being reliable in case Murray goes down with an injury. Murray got injured last year and the Cowboys rushing attack suffered as a result of it. Phillip Tanner saw relatively little action last year with just 22 rushes. Likewise with rookie Lance Dunbar who had just 21 rushes. There are two other rookie running backs on the Cowboys roster headed into training camp. Who will rise up above the rest and prove to the coaching staff that they are a suitable back up to Murray and capable of getting the job done when called upon? If the Cowboys don't have a decent rushing attack, they'll become one dimensional and that could be bad news for the Cowboys offense. Definitely one of the most intriguing training camp storylines.
- Another battle I'm watching is along the offensive line to see how that shapes up. First round pick Travis Frederick has been rumored to perhaps move to guard instead of center. So does that mean Phil Costa keeps his starting center job? Does center Ryan Cook have a spot on the team? He is a versatile offensive lineman who has played all positions. Tyron Smith is locked in at one offensive tackle spot. Is this the end of Doug Free? Doubtful. But definitely seeing the starting offensive line is something that Cowboys fans should keep their eyes on. Fluctuation along the offensive line could lead to troubles for the Cowboys offense and Tony Romo to be running for his life, something no one wants to see.
- The defensive line will also be intriguing to watch. Really, the front seven will be interesting to see who fills in along all of the spots.
The Cowboys full schedule can be found here. A few interesting notes on the Cowboy's schedule includes...
- Five national games highlight the Cowboys schedule (Week 1 vs NYG 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 6 vs WAS 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 10 @ New Orleans 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 13 vs Oakland 4:30 PM ET CBS (Thanksgiving) and Week 14 @ Chicago 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
- The Cowboys take on the NFC North this year and play each team in back to back weeks at a time (Detroit and Minnesota weeks 8 & 9 and Chicago and Green Bay weeks 14 & 15).
- Four of the Cowboys first six games are at home.
As always, there will be plenty of news regarding the Dallas Cowboys this season. They are "America's team" though you really should have to earn that notion after a decade plus of mediocrity. There will be plenty more to talk about that in the upcoming days.
Miami Dolphins training camp preview
Perhaps no team did more this offseason in terms of making a free agency splash than the Miami Dolphins. They landed wide receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Darnell Ellerbe, cornerback Brent Grimes and others. They sense perhaps that this is the time when they can get the New England Patriots as things up in the northeast seem a tad unsettling lately. Plus the Dolphins are looking to get more fans in the stands and trying to drum up support for a new stadium. Here are some of the storylines to watch for in Dolphins training camp which began Saturday, July 20:
- When will we see Dion Jordan? The Dolphins traded up to the number three overall spot to draft the flashy defensive end out of Oregon. He is starting training camp on the non-football injury list and while expectations are that he will be ready for the start of the regular season, Dolphins fans and I'm sure the coaching staff want to see him on the field sooner than later to show what he's got.
- Can Ryan Tannehill take that next step? He showed signs last year that the Dolphins made the right move by taking him in the draft and the Dolphins have surrounded him with weapons. Though it is just his second year, there is a lot of pressure resting on this young man's shoulders.
- Will the Dolphins find a suitable running back? Daniel Thomas should be the starting running back barring something unforseen, but the Dolphins need more depth and their other backs to step up following the departure of Reggie Bush. The better the rushing attack, the more pressure is taken off of Tannehill to do it all.
The Dolphins full 2013 schedule can be found here. Here are a few intriguing nuggets of information on their schedule...
- The Dolphins have three primetime games this year after having just one last year (Week 4 @ New Orleans 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 9 vs Cincinnati 8:25 PM ET NFL Network and Week 10 @ Tampa Bay 8:40 PM ET ESPN)
- The Dolphins open up the year with their first two games on the road, something the team more than likely requested given the heat that is in South Florida in early September.
- Four of the Dolphins final five games are divisional games.
Before I go, congrats to Chris Froome of Great Britain for winning the Tour de France. Didn't know it concluded either. Looks like very few people care about a sport tainted with PEDs and filled with nobody notable.
Coming up Tuesday: More training camp previews plus other top stories in sports