bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods light up the Masters

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This past weekend was one of the few times out of the year that I actually put golf on the television. There were a number of reasons for this. First, it was the Masters, which is always a fascinating event. Second, Tiger Woods was returning from a break of a couple of months during which he tried to piece his suffering game back together. Finally, young Jordan Spieth taught everyone else how it should be done.

Golf on television is an acquired taste. My dad loved to watch any and all golf, and if they televised a tournament between elderly camels on the links, I am sure he would have had it on. Actually, I might watch that too…sounds compelling. Most golf, though, does not hold my attention in that way. People complain about the pace of baseball, but that game looks like it’s filled with non-stop action compared to a typical golf tournament. The majors, though, are far more interesting. The best players in the world all show up for those tournaments, which adds to my interest level. Tiger Woods is really the difference-maker, though. He is fascinating, regardless of how he is playing. He was once the best player on the planet, and looked like he might be the best of all time. Since 2009, though, he has been very up and down. He looked to be on the way back up in 2013, winning a bunch of tournaments and regaining his number one ranking. 2014 was a lost year, though, as he missed most of it due to a variety of injuries. His first couple of appearances this year were disastrous, as he seemed to not only battle injuries but also confidence, showing a bit of what some were calling the “yips.” It was far from a sure thing that he would play at Augusta at all. Yet here he was, showing up to play in the tour’s biggest tournament after playing a few practice rounds there during the week leading up to it.

Things were set up to be all about Woods, but 21-year-old Jordan Spieth had other ideas. He had won twice before on the PGA Tour, the most recent of which happened last month at the Valspar Championship in Florida. He had never won a major, but he did not exactly come out of nowhere, having finished last year’s Masters in a tie for second place with Jonas Blixt. How he did it this year was surely a surprise, though. He was 8-under after the first day and 14-under after the second day. That broke the 36-hole record at the Masters by one stroke. He finished the tournament at 18-under, tying the all-time record held by none other than Tiger Woods. He also became the second-youngest player to ever win the Masters, after Woods, as you probably guessed.

So Spieth was the story of the tournament, but Woods did his best to make himself relevant again. After a pedestrian (+1) first round, he played the second and third rounds in 3-under and 4-under, respectively, moving himself into a tie for fifth going into the final round on Sunday. He was still ten-strokes back of leader Spieth, but he was in a very critical position in the tournament, which most people would not have predicted early in the week when he first said he would be playing. His Sunday round didn’t go as well, and he hurt his wrist midway through it, so he did not contend for the win. Still, it was an impressive showing for someone who many had written off, and he showed that there is still plenty of good golf ahead for the one-time wunderkind.

It is decidedly possible that I won’t actually watch golf until the U.S. Open in June. I am likely not alone in that boat. The sport could use more stories like Spieth so that Tiger is not the only reason some of us watch.

Bad sports:

1) Chris Copeland, a forward for the Indiana Pacers, was stabbed outside of a club in New York on Wednesday in an incident that saw two other people hurt and two other Pacers players arrested for obstructing justice.

2) The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, are being investigated for an alleged assault on another man outside of a youth basketball game in Phoenix. The twins, who both play for the Phoenix Suns, have not yet been formally charged.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has been suspended for the first three games of the next NFL season for his DUI and drug possession arrest that happened back in August. He is appealing the decision, of course.

4) Lauren Hill, the cancer-stricken Mount St. Joseph’s basketball player about whom I wrote back in November, died of the disease on Friday. She was 19.

5) An argument broke out at home plate on Thursday night in San Diego after Angel Pagan of the San Francisco Giants, who was batting, picked up a piece of gum from the ground between pitches and tossed it back at Padres catcher Derek Norris. Weak move.

6) Victor Butler, a defensive back who is currently on the roster of the New York Giants, has been suspended for the first four games of the next NFL season after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

7) A former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers was found dead in his Philadelphia home on Tuesday. Jose Capellan was 34 and last played in MLB in 2008. He died of a heart attack which may have been related to a prescription drug dependency.

8) Jenrry Mejia, the closer for the New York Mets, was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for PEDs.

9) The New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic played a horrific second quarter in Orlando on Saturday, combining for just 15 points in the period. That was the fewest points scored in a quarter in 60 years, since the creation of the shot clock.

10) Former Nebraska Cornhuskers and St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips , who has been in prison for years after being convicted of several crimes, is believed to have killed his cellmate at his prison in California.

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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