While you snored loudly all snug in your bed last night (and I hear it really was annoying, I’d look into that if I were you), the British Open got underway in Turnberry, Scotland. And who’s the early leader? Not favorites Tiger Woods or Padaig Harrington … and neither is it Charles Howell III (“Gilligan! Drop that coconut!”). It’s Tom Watson, who will turn 60 in two months. Yes, a man who spends more time in the restroom than on the greens owned a clubhouse lead after a 5-under 65 in the first round (at least he was at 4 a.m. PST when I wrote this).
Watson birdied the first hole and had another birdie on 3 to keep just ahead of Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Westwood, tied for second one stroke back. Watson, of course, won the “Duel in the Sun” over Jack Nicklaus in Turnberry’s first Open in 1977, and to demonstrate how long ago that was, Elvis Presley was still alive. So how great would it be to have Woods and Watson squaring off for the title 32 years later? This is why I like golf; in what other sport can an athlete who turned professional in 1971 still be a major factor? It’s like if Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn made this year’s All-Star team. Here’s the leaderboard, which I check every 15 minutes just so that I can quietly say to myself the words “Briny Baird.” Whether you like golf or you don’t, it’s the only game being played today, my friends; unless you count elephant polo or falconry.
Woods had a later tee time and is currently 1-over after 17 holes, tied for 50th place. And he did just about as well at Wednesday’s ESPY Awards, as Michael Phelps ended Tiger’s five-year dominance as Best Male Athlete, taking that title as well as Best Record-Breaking Performance, Best Championship Performance and Best Male Olympian. Tim Tebow won the 2009 Best College Athlete Award, becoming the only two-time winner in the category. Afterward, ESPN announced that the trophy would be modeled in his image. Charles Barkley won for Stupidest DUI and Shortest Prison Stay, narrowly beating Donte Stallworth in the latter category.
She’s refusing to do any actual interviews, but Amanda Rodrigues, the wife of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti who is accused of his murder, has written a letter from prison proclaiming her innocence. So that should clear that up. Rodrigues, being held in the Brazilian city of Recife, said that she awoke Saturday morning in their rented apartment to find her husband dead. Excerpts:
“This is a pain that has become inexplicable and intolerable, this loss and this malicious accusation,” Rodrigues wrote. “I lost my husband!”
“I’m innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days.”
“The people most important to my life, who know us, know the size of our love. What hurts me is knowing the suffering of my family and friends. What hurts me is to know that my husband will not be in my house waiting for my return.”
“Junior — soon mama will be at home!”
Facing slightly better odds than Rodrigues are my San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are both 10-2 with ERAs below 2.40, Jonathan “Dirty” Sanchez just threw the team’s first no-hitter since 1975, and Kung Fu Panda is destroying pitchers and thrilling the ladies. The Giants were 20-23 on May 24, but have gone 29-16 since to take the wild-card lead, trailing the Dodgers by seven in the NL West. But all is not well. Why? Because the Mohawk craze is sweeping the clubhouse.
Closer Brian Wilson initially sported the look, and pitching coach Dave Righetti briefly joined in with a faux version when he lost a bet to Wilson. Jonathan Sanchez followed Righetti’s lead after throwing a no-hitter Friday, while infielder Juan Uribe and reliever Sergio Romo went with the real thing.
Manager Bruce Bochy has vowed to be next if the upstart Giants — who come out of the All-Star break with the National League’s third-best record — put together 10 wins in a row. He doesn’t cherish the prospect.
“Can you imagine this thing shaved, with the size of my head?” the manager says, pointing to his famously prominent noggin.
Cute when the Tampa Bay Rays went through their Mohawk phase last season, but you’ll notice that none of them are wearing World Series rings — and where are they now in the standings? Please Giants, no adorable gimmicks, OK? If I see a cowbell at AT&T Park, I’m not responsible for what I may do next.
And now, links to ponder after ironing your bulletproof shirts:
- Brett Favre says that he’ll make a final decision about playing for the Vikings by July 30, and Minnesota head coach Brad Childress has no problem with that. And Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Paul Hornung predicts that when Favre finally does join the Vikings, all will go well: “(Favre) ain’t going to win in Minnesota,” Hornung told revelers at a Wisconsin sports banquet on Tuesday. “I’ll bet on it.”
- Hey I almost forgot; the Tour de France is also going on. Your Stage 11 winner on Wednesday was Britain’s Mark Cavendish, whom the French riders congratulated by charging that he taunted them with racial slurs. That’s a switch. How can we not love you, Tour de France? You’re the only sport that requires skin-tight pants and a map of the Alps.
- Letterman: “Sonia Sotomayor is getting more and more confident with each passing day of the confirmation hearings. Today she showed up wearing the yellow jersey.”
- Apparently Steve McNair left no will, causing the wife of the slain ex-NFL quarterback to file an emergency petition in a Nashville court asking that she be allowed to oversee his estate. A judge granted the request. Mechelle McNair listed herself and her two sons, Tyler and Trenton McNair, as the heirs to the estate. McNair also has two other sons from a previous relationship.
- Yes, I’m having a hard time believing that this girl caught this fish. Supposedly, 11-year-old Jessica Wanstall, who weighs 84 pounds, landed this catfish, which weighs 194 pounds, in the Ebro River in Northeast Spain. Not shown: Jessica’s 8-year-old brother Trevor, who was used as bait. And yes, after this picture was taken her dad threw it back: They were holding out for a really big catch.
- Pedro Martinez agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Phillies on Wednesday, and then was promptly placed on the 15-day disabled list (laugh track).
- The ratings are in: The MLB All-Star Game posted a 10.4/18 overnight rating in metered markets, down 5 percent from a 11.0/18 for the first nine innings of last year’s 15-inning game in New York. The pregame show drew an 8.3/15, also down slightly from last year’s 8.4/15. But the big news still seems to be President Obama’s ceremonial pitch, which FOX failed to show win its entirety. And when they finally did show it the following morning, they screwed that up as well.
- But the real gem of that DAILY SHOW clip is above. Jon Stewart: “Actually [President Obama] was there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the ballgame, much in the same way that in England, the Queen will throw the first punch at a soccer riot.”
- Sure we all laughed when the Tampa Bay Rays gave out replica American League Championship rings to their fans. But this beats that by a mile: Saturday is Inaugural Season Fan Ring Day at Yankee Stadium, in which the first 18,000 fans will be given rings commemorating new Yankee Stadium. A treasured heirloom for generations, or, you know, something to throw at Jeter.
- A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced former Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry to three years in prison for running a drug ring in Montana and Colorado.