OK, it's Tuesday of The Open Championship Week.
We're pretty excited, because like Wimbledon, the great thing about this major is it's all done before lunch for the most part.
As for the contest, it's on. We have about 10 entries so far. Send us five golfers. We will take the top four performers from each entry. Golfers get points for place of finish. (First is 1 point; tied for 12th is 12 points.) Low total score wins. We may try to grab an ESPN shirt or some other newspaper swag and of course lunch for two at a downtown establishment within reason. (Hey, we work at a newspaper, so no matter what some of the hate mail writers think, we are not made of money.)
Now, if you need help picking your field, well, let's dive a touch deeper, shall we?
First, let's explore the track. Royal Birkdale will host the Open Championship for the 10th time this week. It has been called the fairest of the courses in the rotation because of a relatively flat layout.
The last time it was played here, Padraig Harrington joined a pretty special list of Open Championship victors at Birkdale. That list includes Palmer (1961), Watson (in 1983, when Hale Irwin missed a two-inch putt to lose by a shot), Trevino (1971) and Johnny Miller, who lapped the field with a final-round 66 for a six shot win in 1976.
So, let's look for a bigger name, right?
Well, there have been seven straight majors won by first-time major champions. Call it the after-Tiger effect if you want, but it started with the 2015 PGA and has gone Jason Day, Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka.
In that direct, we could see a guy like Jon Rahm or Rickie Fowler contending. The last two times The Open Championship was played at Birkdale the winners were Mark O'Meara (1998), who had won the Masters earlier that year, and Harrington, who was capping back-to-back Open Championships.
So that would lean toward a Garcia and Stenson contention. As for math, well, from Justin Ray of the Golf Channel, here are the best scoring averages of the last five Open Championships with a minimum of 12 rounds:
Henrik Stenson — 69.9; Adam Scott — 70.1; Phil Mickelson — 70.2; Sergio Garcia— 70.3 — Zach Johnson 70.5
More math here with a look at the most top 10s in the last five Open Championships: Adam Scott — 4; Sergio Garcia — 3 Zach Johnson — 3.
So who do we like? Glad you asked, here's our five (with a brief description, so yes, a 5-in-10 from the 5-at-10):
Jon Rahm. Dude is crushing it.
Justin Rose. Best Open Championship finish ever was here.
Adam Scott. Don't know if he can win; believe he'll contend.
Sergio Garcia. His favorite event, this time with no "BPNTWAM" title.
Matt Kuchar. We think Kuch wins this thing.
When did we get to the point that the NBA offseason is more exciting than the regular season.
Between the summer league and the free agency and the draft the offseason has become a spectacle. Combine that with the realization that unless the Cavs play their best and the Warriors play at a B-minus level there's not much of a chance for a different result than what we saw last year, and the only drama is in assembling a team that can crack the top two or three.
And that's assuming the Spurs are there, at least in perception, but the gap between 1 (Golden State) and the next two (Cleveland and San Antonio) is every bit as big as the gap between 2 and 3 and the rest of the league.
Not to say the league is not in a good spot. Consider this: The Houston Rockets are for sale. Les Alexander bought the Rockets in 1993 for $85 million; the reported worth for the Rockets 24 years later is $1.7 billion (yes, billion with a 'B') and the asking price could exceed $2 billion (yes, again with the 'B').
Yes, some of it is the lack of compelling storylines this time of year — and yes, Mike & Mike did another show in fixing baseball this morning — but there has to be more to it than that right?
Kudos to the NBA for working that narrative to a place where right behind football, it has truly remade itself into almost a year-round talking point.
Yes, some of that has to do with the partnership with ESPN, which directs and redirects that narrative a lot of times. And since ESPN has a big chunk of the recent TV deal, increasing interest in the NBA behooves the ESPN bottom line.
It's just nuts though.
Because regardless of the theory you buy, we know this:
This is the first time I can ever recall knowing who was the NBA Summer League MVP.
Dotting the I and crossing the alma mater
Chris Spielman was a superstar at THE Ohio State as a linebacker.
Dude tackled everything. Now he's tackling the ol' alma mater.
Spielman is reportedly suing the school "over a marketing program" he claims used athletes' images without permission and denied them of compensation, according to the AP.
The linebacker filed the antitrust lawsuit in federal court in Columbus, and apparently is trying to make it a class action deal and file it on behalf of current and former Ohio State football players There is little doubt that the images of the players are used by THE OSU and countless other schools and that those universities marketing programs use tons of images and likenesses for all sorts of measures and promotions.
Spielman cited a Honda-sponsored program that had more than 60 banners hanging around Ohio Stadium featuring photos of former players. The lawsuit names Ohio State and talent management giant IMG as defendants and names Honda and Nike as co-conspirators.
This is more wide-reaching than the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit that was directed at the NCAA and EA Sports, which O'Bannon won and killed the franchise that was EA Sports college football and basketball games. (We're still sad about that.)
This is at each school, and brothers and sisters, you best believe that every schools is watching this with a very close eye and a very clinched sphincter.
If Spielman wins this, every program will need to lawyer up because there will be an avalanche of lawsuits filed.
This and that
— Butch Jones took to Bristol on Monday and got a little cross with Paul Fienbaum, who was pretty harsh in several stops, including on Press Row, during SEC Media Days. Here's what Butch said: "Paul hasn't played one snap of football for the University of Tennessee," he said. "Our expectations are to win championships. That's the next evolution of our football program. He gets paid to make those comments and I respect that." Let that one marinate.
— Braves lost to Cubs last night. Side note: With the return of Sean Rodriguez from injury and the emergence of Johan Camargo, Dansby Swanson may have a lesser role for the foreseeable future. Something to watch.
— Manny Machado, the Orioles star, said baseball is boring. Not exactly what the MLB will be using as its next ad campaign.
— Man, don't mess with GoT fans. That GoT is Game of Thrones for the rest of you — and we'll discuss Sunday's episode Wednesday; deal? Deal. — but man Ed Sheehan, the pop star made an appearance on Sunday's show and he's had to quit Twitter for all the heckling.
It's a Tuesday. Let's do a little T or F.
True or false, a first-time major champion will win The Open Championship this week. True or false, you watched more NBA Summer League this year than in previous years. True or false, Chris Spielman's lawsuit against THE Ohio State has merit.
As for today's date, well, let's take a look.
In 64, the Great Fire of Rome begins on this day under Nero. In 1925, Adolph Hitler published Mein Kampf.
Four years ago, Detroit filed for bankruptcy.
Birthdays: Nelson Mandela would have been 99 today. John Glenn would have been 96. Talk about some heroes.
Nick Faldo is 60 today.
Vin Diesel is 50 today.
Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway is 42 today. (Yes we thought he was older too.)
Let's be creative: Rushmore of people with some form of "money" in their name or nickname.
Go, and remember the Open Championship contest.