Archive for July, 2009

Cink stands tall and finds major success

At the time, it seemed a rather reasonable point of view, that some of us felt Stewart Cink hadn’t really bulldozed his way to classic heights in golf the way he should have. Could have.

Not that he should have been shaking Tiger Woods’ foundation, but at least Cink should have been right there knocking on his door.

There were grounds for that, if you feasted on events that took place here in Georgia, pre-Masters. In 1995, the Stanford University golf team came through on its way to a championship played at The Farm, near Dalton. In a team match played at Druid Hills, sort of a warm-up session, Georgia Tech competed against the Stanford team. Cink took out Woods, 3 and 2.

And he did it again the next week in the tournament at The Farm. Pretty darned impressive stuff, if you ask me. So I guess I let that influence my expectations beyond reality.

He wiped out the Nationwide Tour his first year as a pro. At Oakland Hills, I followed him most of two rounds and he finished 16th …

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Hometown hero’s story twists into unhappy end

Sad to say, that in this fairy tale, nobody lives happily ever after.

“The Natural” has been cast off by the team that brought him in from the suburbs, gloated over him through those first two seasons when he was a steady producer, and then, suddenly, when he lost his game, there was no one to help him.

So Jeff Francoeur went searching on his own. I don’t understand how it came to that. Neither do I understand just why a hitting slump can’t be cured like the common cold.

At any rate, as the season ended last year, Francoeur had made arrangements to go to Texas and spend some curative time with Rudy Jaramillo, the Rangers hitting coach. No guarantee came with it, but Jaramillo had worked wonders with some of Francoeur’s friends and Jeff was in a listening mood.

Mark DeRosa was one, rejected by the Braves, signed by the Rangers and under Jaramillo, as the story goes, found a swing that eventually led to a $13-million contract with the Cubs. Then Mark Teixeira passed …

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It’s nice having Turnberry back in the rotation

In wartime, Turnberry was a training field for the Royal Air Force, and traces of the runways may still be found there. It was years, though, before this scenic bluff on the Irish Sea, in the county of Ayrshire, became a golfing resort. It was years later that the Royal & Ancient finally included Turnberry in its British Open rotation. And it has been 15 years since the Open last visited, which is somewhat out of the ordinary.

Mainly, this is because Turnberry is kind of a “wildcard” in the established rotation that includes St. Andrews, Troon, Muirfield, St. George’s, Lytham and St. Annes and Carnoustie. The Championship is played on the Ailsa course, named for a domed rock that sits about 10 miles offshore.

And it might be said that it was the scene of the most memorable Open played in many a memory. Books have been written on it.

The year was 1977, my first Open, memorable at first by the pairing of Arnold Palmer and Sir Henry Cotton, who may have been a few years shy …

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From 22nd round to top prospect, Hanson learned art of pitching

If I’m wrong about Tommy Hanson, I’ve got a feeling I’m gonna have a lot of company. And leading the parade will be Frank Wren, now feeling the heat easing off from his clearing the Braves roster of the other Tommy (Glavine) to make room for this Tommy.

Get in line to join in the apologia. Not to say that just because this tree of a kid has beaten the Yankees and the Red Sox in a row that they’re dusting off a corner of Cooperstown to make room for him.

There is a lot of pitcher in that body of his. In the first place, he’s constructed like a pitcher, but even more than that, he manages his game like a pitcher who has been doing it since Cy Young. Six-feet-six, lean and lithe, expressionless, never giving vent to distress and equipped with an above-standard collection of pitches in his arsenal. But, let’s get back to the beginning.

He came out of a community college in Riverside, Calif., and could have had a scholarship to Arizona State. Here the Braves intervened. …

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