Tiger Quits With Bad Neck, Heckled By Little Boy

Saying he “can’t play through it anymore,” Tiger Woods withdrew from The Players Championship in Jacksonville today.

Tiger suffers neck injury. Video of him leaving course

Woods quit his final round after his second shot on the seventh hole, notifying a PGA Tour official. He said later, “I’ve been playing with a bad neck for about a month. “I’ve been playing through it. I can’t play through it anymore.

Tiger looked like he was sleeping as he answered questions about neck injury

(Maybe he was re-enacting car accident scene? Source.)

The neck problem is a new injury for Woods, who will have an MRI on it this week.

Speaking of new, we got our first report of a Tiger heckler yesterday. Read more…

Did Phil Sell Out Golf, USA Over Gambling Debt?

The last 48 hours I’ve been barraged by emailers and media friends gossiping about the personal life of Phil and Amy Mickelson. I’m trying to steer clear of anything involving cancer-stricken Amy, but I did look closer at all the Mickelson gambling rumors that have circulated the past decade or so.

Phil Mickelson Benched At The 2004 Ryder Cup

(Mickelson’s Callaway also paid John Daly’s $1.7M gambling debt)

By studying all that’s been credibly written during that time about Mickelson’s propensity to play the tables and bet NFL, some dot-connecting should give serious pause to many of Phil’s new-found fans. (And those lovable amnesiacs in your life.)

On Sept. 18, 2004, Tom Boswell of the WASHINGTON POST wrote a scathing piece about Mickelson’s bizarre and ill-fated decision to switch from Titleist clubs, which he’d just played to his first major championship win at The Masters, to Callaway clubs only one week before the 2004 Ryder Cup. A Ryder Cup in which Mickelson performed poorly, signaling an embarrassingly lopsided loss to the Europeans.

Phil Mickelson took cash over country. Lefty rolled the dice. It may prove the worst gamble of his risk-taking career.

Of course, with about $80 million of Callaway Golf’s money under his pillow, maybe Phil will sleep like a baby.

When the Ryder Cup resumes Saturday morning, Mickelson, perhaps the best golfer in the world, will be on the bench for the American team, kicked out of the lineup in shame by disgusted captain Hal Sutton.

At sundown, after the worst day in the history of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Sutton was asked if Mickelson’s switch in equipment from Titleist to Callaway just two weeks ago might have contributed to the two stunning defeats that Mickelson and Tiger Woods suffered at the hands of two European pairings. Sutton mulled the idea.

“We’ll all want answers to that. But the most important person that’s going to have to wonder about that is going to be Phil Mickelson.

“It’s not going to cause us any grief in the morning because he’s going to be cheering instead of playing.” 

Just before Mickelson’s club switch and his subsequent, disastrous Ryder Cup, USA TODAY, via GOLFWEEK, reported that Lefty still had 16 months left on his contract with Titleist, worth more than $4 million a year.

The quick decision to dump Titleist for Callaway also came at a time when Mickelson was playing the best golf of his life. He had finally broken through at Augusta National to win his first major, then came within a combined five shots of winning the other three majors. More:

Golfweek cited unidentified sources as saying Mickelson and his agent, Steve Loy of Gaylord Sports Management, asked Titleist to renegotiate the deal after Mickelson won the Masters. But Titleist refused, and discussions followed that enabled Mickelson to get out of the deal.

Two weeks later Mickelson was playing the most prestigious team golf competition in the world, the Ryder Cup, with clubs he’d tried out for a single day at Callaway’s SoCal headquarters in Carlsbad, CA.

That’s almost as strange as Mickelson wanting to suddenly renegotiate a contract with a company that had stuck with him through lean times - with only 16 months left on the deal

So why on earth did Lefty need the $80M from Callaway so quickly that he would end up embarrassing himself (and his country) at the Ryder Cup?

Previous to Mickelson’s abrupt equipment change, there’d been plenty of rumors about his enthusiasm for gambling in Vegas and betting NFL. Read more…

Tabs: Stay In Remission Til Amy Is Cancer-Free

Let’s take a look at what was really on the mind of all you golf fans after Phil Mickelson’s dramatic Masters win yesterday:

Amy Mickelson Michael Jordan Google Searches

First time I’ve ever cheered a Chechnyan hacker’s trap for an unsuspecting Googler.

In case you’re wondering, Amy Mickelson is way ahead of you on this one.

CBSSports.com golf writer Steve Elling broached the subject with Amy in May, 2009:  Read more…

Mickelson Roar Recorded: “A Win For The Family”

Jim Nantz of CBS with the call of his career as Phil Mickelson holed out to win The Masters - with the golfer’s cancer-stricken wife Amy looking on with their children from the gallery.

Phil and Amy Mickelson as he wins 2010 Masters

Funny how things work out sometimes.

Phil Mickelson Breaks Silence About Tiger Woods

Calling himself “good friends with both Tiger and Elin,” Phil Mickelson made his first public remarks today about the Tiger Woods situation. Steve Elling of CBSSports.com has Mickelson from a presser in San Diego:

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods

“We’ve had limited communication with the Woodses, and I just feel like discussing any of that is just not appropriate. With the family, [I’m] not necessarily saying with who in the family.”

Read more…

1.21 Gigowatts! Mickelson Believes In Time Travel

The dream is always the same: Phil Mickelson and Darren Daulton are both rushing to appointments in another dimension/decade. Attempting to pass Daulton’s Astral Time Buggy, Mickelson hits his left front fender, causing them to both spin out and crash into a ditch. Cursing ensues (involving real curses), then an exchange of license information as curious dinosaurs look on from the treeline. I awake in a cold sweat.

Phil Mickelson

If you though Daulton was out there, well, he is. But if this blog account can be believed, golfer Mickelson has his own, um, out-of-the-mainstream beliefs on the nature of linear time. Apparently Mickelson told fellow PGA professional Brandt Snedeker that he believes in time travel.

Read more…

Phil Mickelson Really, Really Likes Waffle House

We’ve always had a theory about why so many pro athletes slap their names on restaurants. Some people might think it’s because athletes have a genetic predisposition towards bad investments, or that they’re narcissistic enough to find the idea of their name on the front of an overpriced steakhouse too alluring to pass up. We disagree. Let us explain.

Phil Mickelson

(If you eat at Phil’s, you really CAN look just like him!)

Athletes spend most of the year on the road, right? They eat in fancy steakhouses and drink at overpriced bars. That’s what they know best (apart from their sports and, um, groupies), so it makes sense to invest in the places that seem familar to them. It’s a perfect theory as far as we’re concerned, and it got a lot more plausible today when an investment group led by nutrition guru Phil “FIGJAM” Mickelson entered a bid to purchase a whopping 105 Waffle House locations.

Read more…

Speed Read: Phillies Destroy Reds Like It’s 1892

The Cincinnati Reds have been playing baseball for nearly 120 years, but never had they been beaten as badly as they were last night by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Back on July 26th, 1892, the Phillies blasted the Reds 26-6 at the Baker Bowl. That would stand for nearly 107 years as the franchise’s worst loss, until Dusty Baker’s Reds were bowled over by the Phillies again last night, this time by a 22-1 margin.

Johnny Cueto

The Phils dropped 10 runs in the first inning and just kept piling on. Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto came into the game with a 2.69 ERA, but after allowing nine runs while recording only two outs, that mark soared to 3.45. Even more shocking, Baker actually took him out of the game. By the time the eighth inning rolled around, backup shortstop Paul Janish was serving up a grand slam to Jayson Werth.

Phillies starter Cole Hamels probably said it best: “When you put that many runs up, it makes it uncomfortable for the other team.” Kind of like the back of a Volkswagen.

Reds shortstop gives up grand slam

(”I’m not even supposed to be here today”)

The Cubs beat the Braves, as Aramis Ramirez returned from the DL, but their fans are still probably beating their heads against a wall after watching Jason Marquis throw yet another shutout for the Rockies. Colorado’s 1-0 win over the Nats was just the eighth 1-0 game in the history of Coors Field.

Pablo “Panda” Sandoval hit the game-winning grand slam as the Giants held off the Marlins 5-4 last night, and I’m happy to report that the big guy is currently leading in the voting for the last All-Star slot.

Pablo Sandoval

Apparently, you no longer need to be tagged out to be called out in baseball. Well, we’ve long suspected that, but umpire Marty Foster actually told Derek Jeter that it didn’t matter that he avoided Scott Rolen’s tag at third base — he was out because the throw beat him there. This is the same guy who called a Yankee out at home plate yesterday even though the catcher tagged him with an empty glove. Joe Girardi didn’t like the explanation and got tossed, and crew chief John Hirschbeck actually kinda threw Foster under the bus after the game. Hirschbeck has even said he will sit his crewmates down for a talk about other erroneous calls in the Yanks-Jays game yesterday.

Marty Foster

(Nearly every photo of Foster on the Internet looks something like this.)

Thankfully, there is some good news for future patrons of Yankee Stadium. Those of you who have to pee during the seventh-inning stretch can now do so without the risk of being thrown out of the yard. The Red Sox fan who was ejected for trying to go the bathroom during “God Bless America” also is getting a settlement of more than $10,000 from the City of New York. What I find funny about the whole thing is that when I worked in the press box at the old Stadium, media members often used the long break to take care of business. Heck, Bob Sheppard’s whole spiel before they played Kate Smith’s rendition of the song was taped, and he was usually on the way to the men’s room at the time.

Yankee Stadium urinals

• As if Phil Mickelson needed any more bad news, word comes that his mother has also been diagnosed with breast cancer. We probably shouldn’t expect to see much of Phil on the golf course anytime soon.

• WASTING AWAY IN WRIGLEYVILLE says that Erik Estrada has seen a lot of child pornography. How could they make such an absurd claim? Maybe it’s because when Estrada appeared on the Cubs-Braves telecast last night, he said “I’ve seen a lot of child pornography.” You know it’s a strange interview when a mention of Ron Jeremy’s wang isn’t the highlight. Video is up for now (see it while you can!)

• When a photo like this is out there, there’s just no excuse NOT to run it. Yes, this is the mug shot of “Three’s Company” star Joyce DeWitt, who was booked for DUI on Saturday:

Joyce DeWitt

The sports angle? Uhhhh, remember that one episode where Mr. Furley thinks Jack’s gay and Jack gets hit in the face with a door and there’s some really crazy misunderstanding that could’ve easily been averted? And it was at…the Super Bowl? Remember? I got nothing.

• The World Series of Poker’s main event is under way, and while nearly 6,500 players entered, there were hundreds that were shut out yesterday because the Rio reached its capacity.

Darren Rovell is a little surprised that Lacoste ran a full-page ad on the back of the NEW YORK TIMES sports section…congratulating Andy Roddick.

• I don’t even really know what to say about this, other than there’s a new world’s strongest vagina. If that isn’t solid late-night programming on The Ocho, I don’t know what is.

• Remember how the Nets were supposed to supposed to be moving into a brand-new fancy arena in downtown Brooklyn this year? Yeah, they haven’t even broken ground yet. The NY DAILY NEWS says the earliest an arena could be finished is 2012, and it might take much longer than that — if it happens at all.

• The Royals have taken a bit of a beating lately about the relative quality of their medical/training staff. So I suppose it’s only fitting that they took Ryan Freel’s word that he’s “100% healthy” when they acquired him from the Cubs.

• THE GOOD POINT went out and recruited a bunch of basketball bloggers to recount their favorite memories of the 2008-09 season.

• Now that the Cubs have been sold, is Wrigley Field going to undergo some sort of makeover?

• Everyone’s favorite fake cheerleader, Hayden Panettiere, visited David Letterman last night to talk about swimming with dolphins (that’s more of a sport than poker, right?) and to promote her new movie where she plays (shockingly) a hot cheerleader. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that Heroes has finally given up and is just fishing for ratings by having her go girl-on-girl in the upcoming season. Here she is before her Letterman appearance:

Hayden Panettiere

Lucas Glover Chokes The Least, Wins U.S. Open

For a while, it looked like there was going to be a storybook finish of some kind at the U.S. Open today. Both Phil Mickelson and David Duval had stories that, for different reasons, got the raucous crowd at Bethpage Black behind them, and each had at least a share of the lead late into the final round.

Lucas Glover

Of course, they were helped by the fact that the final group of Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover were imploding on the front nine, combining to go eight-over par over the first nine holes to bring a whole slew of golfers back into the tournament. But while Ricky Barnes kept crashing and burning like Ricky Bobby on the back nine (finishing with a 76 and his stupid painter’s hat), Glover was able to pull himself together and shoot even par on the back nine to win his first major championship by two shots.

Read more…

Speed Read: Can Unknowns Hold Off Tiger & Phil?

On US Open Monday last year, Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate treated us to one of the classic golf duels of all time. And as we speak, Tiger and Rocco are back on the course trying to make history again. Unfortunately, they’ve been joined by 58 other people and Mediate’s tied for 54th place, so it might not exactly be as magical this time around. In fact, soggy Bethpage Black has been kind enough this week to let a one-time PGA winner and another guy who’s never even finished in the top 10 duke it out for the right to lose to Woods in a playoff later today.

Bethpage warning sign

(Warning: This Course Is So Tough It Can Only Be Described With Capitalized Words)

By the time you read this, my prediction may already be rendered silly, but I’m calling it now: Tiger makes it to 4-under and the two leaders, Lucas Glover and Ricky Barnes (who I thought was a pro bowler until Saturday), will fall back to finish in a tie, with Phil Mickelson one shot behind (due to something like accidentally hitting a putt backward). Other rock-solid predictions:

1) Fat David Duval will finally remember he’s not Skinny David Duval and shoot 94.

2) Someone in the crowd will yell “get in the hole!” on a 400-yard shot from the fescue that will actually go eight feet.

3) Johnny Miller will utter the phrase “trap draw” 391 times and complain about the swing of any prominently featured Scandinavian guy.

4) Instead of tossing his ball to the gallery at the 3rd hole after putting out like everyone else, Barnes will save himself the trouble by hitting his tee shot there.

Johnny Miller

(”Trap draw. Tiger’s lurking. Fescue. What’s the lie like, Roger? Wasn’t I good in the ’70s? Trap draw.”)

As for Tiger, play was suspended for the night just after he had pulled back to even par for the tournament. And while he’s still well within striking distance, some have suggested that he might be better off if someone clubbed him in the knee last night to help him regain his 2008 form.

Tiger Woods knee

Barnes, meanwhile, duck-hooked yet another drive just before the horn sounded. While some players elected to play out the hole they were on, Ricky decided to stew over that one all night and deal with it this morning. Perhaps it was just so he could still call himself a co-leader of the US Open at the pub last night. Barnes has not only never won on the PGA Tour, he’s also never won on the Nationwide Tour despite playing regularly there. So to say this is a tall order for him would be a massive understatement.

Also giving hope to the crowd lurking a few shots back is Lucas Glover, who has ranked 87th or worse in final-round scoring for three years running. As Jason Sobel notes in his ESPN blog, Glover’s only PGA Tour win came when he holed a 50-foot putt on 17 and a bunker shot on 18. Again, not exactly a reliable bet to hold it together down the stretch.

NEWSDAY says that the odd sight of the fourth round pairings teeing off until 7:30 p.m. last night made for some problems at the first tee as play was winding down for the night. While beer sales were cut off at 6, a number of fans who had been hitting the sauce pretty hard all day starting heckling anyone and everyone who started their round — including Phil and Tiger. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising considering the Long Island crowd has purchased 150,000 beers since Thursday, compared to 115,000 sodas and water bottles combined.

drunk Bethpage fans

While these guys battle to be America’s golf champion, America’s soccer team is currently battling to be the champion…of the eight teams that were chosen to come to a warm-up tournament for next year’s World Cup. Things weren’t looking so good, honestly, when the Americans were outscored 6-1 in lopsided losses to Brazil and Italy in the Confederations Cup. The U.S. began its match with Egypt yesterday needing a very specific and wildly improbably set of circumstances to occur to advance from the group stage to the semifinals. Which, of course, happened.

US soccer fans

The U.S. beat Egypt 3-0, while Brazil blasted the Italians by the same score, setting off a three-way tie for 2nd place in the group. And the U.S. was deemed to be not quite as bad as the other two teams by virtue of scoring one more goal overall than Italy, and in very soccer-like fashion advances based on a technicality. The reward for the Americans is a semifinal match with Spain, the reigning European champions and arguably the best team in the world right now. Basically, we have about as much of a chance at beating Spain at soccer as we’d have at beating Spain in paella-making and afternoon-nap-taking.

Spain fans

Those lovely ladies are rooting for you to scour today’s links:

•  Just days before filming was set to begin, Columbia has pulled funding from Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of Michael Lewis‘ classic book “Moneyball.” VARIETY says the movie was set to star Brad Pitt (as we reported back in October) and ex-players like David Justice and Scott Hatteberg, who were both featured in the original book. Either Joe Morgan is now running Columbia or the studio finally realized that a $50 million film about baseball stats, even with Pitt attached, might not be the wisest investment out there.

• A mislabeled bus carrying a Canadian semi-pro football team in Indiana got into a major accident with an SUV yesterday. The SUV driver died, but everyone on the bus survived, though some had to be hospitalized. The players, who don’t get paid, are members of the London Silverbacks but were rolling in a bus that said their team was the “Mustangs.” ONLINE SPORTS GUYS has the story (and video of the wrecked bus). UPDATE: The AP is now reporting that the driver of the SUV who was killed was Beth Smith, the wife of PGA golfer Chris Smith. Chris was not in the car, but his kids were and they are seriously injured. Chris Smith has spent most of the last three years on the Nationwide Tour, and won his only PGA title in 2002.

• Protests in baseball almost never work, but Joe Girardi thinks he’s got a chance to win one he filed with MLB last night during the Yankees’ game with Florida that involved a botched double-switch by Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

• We know that the U.S. is moving on to the semis in the Confederations Cup, but one American in the tournament isn’t.

• BITTEN AND BOUND says that Sergio Garcia’s recent inability to win big golf tournaments might have something to do with his heart being broken in March by Greg Norman’s lovely daughter, Morgan Leigh Norman. They offer no theories about Sergio’s inability to win big golf tournaments for the other 28 years of his life.

Morgan Norman and Sergio Garcia

Daisuke Matsuzaka’s trip to the DL might be just about the final nail in the coffin of the WBC, which is just going to crush those people in the Netherlands who couldn’t get enough of it.

• On the list of sports you won’t be seeing at this summer’s X Games: Car surfing.

The fake umpires took their show on the road this weekend, as they traveled from their hometown of Toronto to sit in on the Blue Jays-Nationals series in D.C. They claim to be the first people to ever travel to a different city to fake umpire a game from the front row, which is quite a feather in their cap. I still prefer Sheff’s Chefs.

fake umpires

• Buried at the bottom of this Grizzlies notebook is a statement from owner Michael Heisley that his team is one of the most profitable in the NBA despite a horrible team and worse attendance. It’s mostly attributed to keeping a low payroll. In other words, congratulations Memphis, you’re blessed with the second coming of Donald Sterling!

• Former Wimbledon champ Michael Stich has a not-at-all-offensive idea for how to deal with the women who grunt too loud during major tennis events: shoot them!

• Speaking of Wimbledon, let’s celebrate the start of the great championship with a couple of gratuitous shots of Russian pro Maria Kirilenko (Andrei Kirilenko would normally consider her for this year’s “allowance,” but there’s too much of a chance that they’re related):

Maria Kirilenko

 

Maria Kirilenko

Who’s going to win the US Open?

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