KOEPKA, ASTROS WIN STREAKS HIGHLIGHT FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND
I planned on spending Father’s Day weekend like I usually do by playing golf on Saturday and Sunday with whatever relatives come to town, opening gifts and eating a big meal.
But our illustrious local weathermen earlier last week predicted a tropical disturbance would be in our area by the weekend where we could expect anywhere from eight to 12 inches of rain from the disturbance. So, the out of towners decided not to even show up early enough to play golf.
And as usual, the weather geniuses got caught causing an early panic that never happened. In fact, I played golf Saturday and Sunday with my local group as usual. Their rainy day occurred Monday.
On Sunday afternoon all but one daughter was here—Cathy Whitehead and her daughter Shannon were in the air at the time flying to Ireland to begin a tour that included teachers and students from Barbers Hill.
We closely followed the U.S Open which appeared to be a runaway victory for the world’s No. 1 golfer Dustin Johnson, who took a comfortable four-stroke lead into Saturday’s third round, and the Houston Astros, who were gunning for their 11th straight victory with 10 of those being on the road.
But after Johnson shot 77 and sentimental favorite Phil Mickelson ballooned to an 81 which included a two-stroke penalty for a rare temper tantrum, the course at Shinnecock Hills at Southampton, N.Y. was declared an unfair layout by the United States Golf Association which monitors the major event.
As a result, four golfers were tied for the lead at three-over par going into Sunday’s decisive round with the course made much easier thanks to the ground crew working around the clock softening the greens with gallons of water.
The early lead Sunday was enjoyed by several golfers until last year’s 28-year-old U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka first tied for the lead and then grabbed it for good.
Koepka became just the third pro golfer to win consecutive men’s national championships in the post-World War II era, following Ben Hogan in 1950-51 and Curtis Strange in 1988-89.
Koepka’s dad, Mike, told Brooks the same thing he said last year, “This was the best Father’s Day present ever—until next year.”
Besides Mickelson’s unusual behavior Saturday, another sidelight to the major event was England’s Tommy Fleetwood firing a 63 Sunday, tying only Johnny Miller in 1963 as the only golfers to shoot 63 in the final round. However, Miller won the tourney.
The Houston Astros became the ninth team in major league history since 1931 to win every game of a road trip lasting 10-or -more games. Hopefully that streak will continue after the current nine-game homestand in 10 days ends.
During their 11-game win streak through Sunday the Astros scored as many runs (81) as the pitching staff allowed hits. Monday’s win over Tampa Bay matched the franchise record of 12 consecutive victories., achieved twice.
Houston won two games by eight runs apiece and needed a save in four others, new closer Hector Rondon recording three and the man Rondon replaced—Ken Giles—getting the other save.
Going into Monday’s game against Tampa Bay, the Astros were a season-high 23-games over .500 (48-25) and have the best record than any of the other division leaders. Only the Boston Red Sox had more wins—49.
Designated hitter Evan Gattis has 23 RBIs so far this month and needs six to equal the club record for June set by Jimmy Wynn in 1967 and matched by Jose Cruz in 1984.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch told the Houston Chronicle Sunday, “It’s somebody different every night. We’ve had good pitching, we’ve played good defense, we’ve rallied late, we’ve blown guys out early, We’re in a good place right now.”
KWICKIES…A long two hour and 49-minute rain delay could have made the difference in the Texas Longhorns’ opening game in the College World Series Sunday as Arkansas scored eight runs in the sixth inning and went on to win 11-5 and send the Longhorns into the loser’s bracket.
The amazing upswing in the popularity of soccer has more and more sports fans tuning in to watch the current World Cup, despite it being minus the United States. More and more youngsters want to play and the number of organized leagues is astounding. Kids as young as four can be seen booting the soccer ball around. If the federal government wants kids to exercise more, there isn’t a better way to achieve that than to play soccer.
Rice University has finally found someone to replace baseball coaching legend Wayne Graham, naming Joe Bragga Friday. The 45-year-old Bragga led Tennessee Tech to a nation-high 53 wins this season that ended one victory shy of earning a trip to the College World Series and has won at least 40 games in four of the last six seasons. Bragga signed a five-year contract last weekend and beat out former Rice and Houston Astro star Lance Berkman for the position. Let’s hope the new coach gives the college baseball world something “to Bragga bout.”
Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end David Irving has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the second straight year the pass rusher is facing a ban to start the season.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros were one of the first teams to successfully employ defensive shifts. Now almost every team uses variations of the shift which robs many opposing players of base hits. So, in his infinite wisdom, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is considering outlawing defensive shifts and acknowledging the game’s competition committee is in the “discussion-analysis” phase of the proposition. Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch says the idea seems “radical” to him whose team generates discussions on the topic and is responsible for some of the unconventional shifts in the majors. “It’s probably not the problem, I don’t think the problem is the shift, I think the problem is the commitment to trying to beat it.” Hinch said. The Astros have shifted more than any team in baseball over the last two full seasons, according to Baseball Savant, and are leading again so far this season. I think the commissioner wants more offense in the games and the defensive shift eliminates some of that. Or perhaps he is just sore because he didn’t think of it first!!