5-at-10: Weekend winners and losers, plus a loaded field of intriguing storylines at the PGA

Brooks Koepka celebrates with the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club on Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Pittsford, N.Y.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Brooks Koepka celebrates with the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club on Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Pittsford, N.Y.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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Weekend winners

Everyone from the front office to the ball boys involved with the Miami Heat. Wow, what a complete and thorough destruction of the Boston Celtics. The leadership has assembled a complete team — including three key pieces who were undrafted — with a bona fide alpha dog in Jimmy Butler. Erik Spoelstra is the best coach not named Norman Dale or Eric Taylor out there. This is a clinic.

Jared Shuster. Wow, did the Braves need the young left-hander's dazzling, six-innings, seven-Ks, one-hit effort Sunday or what? The Braves are good. Like real good. But the need for reliable — and healthy — starting pitchers is clear. If Shuster can emulate the dude we saw Sunday over the next couple of months, close the book on the NL East, people.

Thad Whitfield. The Signal Mountain teenager won the Signal Mountain Invitational over the weekend, shooting 9 under over the 54-hole event. Whitfield, who just completed his golf career at McCallie School and is headed to MTSU to play at the next level, made four eagles in the Invitational and beat Michael Morrison, the former Signal resident who played his college golf at Georgia, by a shot.

NASCAR. Whether it was a shout out to its roots or a PR stunt, taking their all-star event to the throwback confines of Wilkesboro had me intrigued and watching. At least for a while. Place looked great and it was fun to remember when NASCAR was fun, you know?

"Fast X." The 10th installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise sped its way to the top of the box office, passing "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" in the process.

Weekend losers

Horse racing. Man, I'm not sure Mongo was this hard on our equine friends. Somewhere Mr. Ed is giving Wilbur a tongue lashing. Another leg of the Triple Crown was marred by more horse deaths, including one on the stable of famed trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Preakness with National Treasure. (Side question: Is "National Treasure" the best movie with Nic Cage as its lead? Discuss.)

Joe Mazzula. As good as the Heat have been in taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals is as bad as Boston coach Mazzula and the rest of the green-clad Cs have been. Egad. Hard to fathom a team going from odds-on favorite to win the title this time last week to very real conversations about blowing up the entire roster because the coach is a disaster and its two stars — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — continually come up short.

LeBron. Was this his last best chance to add another ring? I think so, and with Saturday's Game 3 home loss, it looks all but done.

Sports. When we lose transcendental talents like Jim Brown it always gives me pause. And Brown is on that Kareem/Aaron/et al., list of all-time greats who are viewed as all-time greats and still may be underrated calling them all-time greats, you know. Rest, Jim. You were great. Side note: One of the amazing stats I saw as folks paid homage to Brown was that in his NFL career he never had a loss-yardage carry. If that's really true — not sure the analytics and stats accuracy back in the day, you know — holy buckets that's impressive.

Biden's numbers. Polls are political stats part of Twain's all-time quip, "There are lies, damn lies and statistics." But 1 in 3 of Americans surveyed in this AP poll approved of the sitting U.S. president's handling of the economy and 40% approved of Biden's performance overall. Man, I offer this to any and all — and to the Lord above looking for something different — but if we are forced to choose between Biden and Trump in 18 months, well, that would be awful.

A loaded field

So the PGA Championship was this weekend. It is to the major championships in golf what Charlie Liebrandt was to those early 1990s Braves pitching rotations with Glavine, Smoltz and Avery. (Yes, this was pre-Maddux, and if you got Chuck Leibrandt in a series, you best go 3-for-4, because Glavine and Smoltz were coming in the next two games.)

But its status as the Ringo Starr of golf's fab four did not really apply this year. Think of how many — and how juicy — the story lines were.

Brooks Koepka moved into rarified air with his fifth career major. Only 20 players who have ever picked up a club have five or more major titles, and Koepka is one of them.

Koepka is the best big-tournament player drawing breath right now. Consider this: He's one bad Sunday in East Georgia in early April from having won both majors so far this year.

Koepka also is a LIV Tour member and all of the ripples that come with that, including the very real fact that if Zach Johnson wants to honor the importance of and our country's commitment to winning the Ryder Cup, how could he keep Koepka off the U.S. team? (Side note: Brad Faxon made this point on Golf Channel last night and it got Brandel Chamblee's knickers in a knot, which is not that surprising since Chamblee's knickers are normally knotted to begin with. Here's the clip, and someone on social media called Chamblee "the Bud Light of golf," which made me laugh.)

The LIV fact can't be ignored though, especially since Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau were booed on the first tee to start Saturday's third round.

Still Koepka won the trophy and the cash — $3.15 million to be exact — but PGA pro Michael Block won the weekend. The California club pro who was giving lessons this time 10 days ago, finished tied for 15th and made almost $300K. He played the final round with Rory — who continues to disappoint me and the rest of his fans with blah-tastic finishes — and stole the show Sunday as Brooks cruised. Beyond the Brooks and LIV talk, Block was the funnest part of a fun weekend.

There also was the course, which looked painfully difficult. Oak Hill brought several players to their breaking point — including Jon Rahm, who lost his cool over the weekend and crushed a microphone. I stand by my best guess that I don't think I could have cracked 120 over 18 holes this weekend, especially in the water-logged version of Saturday's round.

There was Phil Mickelson, who really just needs to sit the next few interviews out Champ. You're holding the PGA Tour accountable, that's what LIV is to you Phil? Well, if that was the actual goal — and not the nine-figure buy offs the Saudis gave you — then your decision on how to attack that plan is as puzzling as the choice to hit driver on 18 at Winged Foot back in the day.

Phil was on track to be the most successful and most respected golf announcing voice on the planet whenever he put his wedges up. He would have had his choice of seats, be it on The Golf Channel, CBS or NBC and would have had a platform, a credibility and a public approval rate no announcer could ever imagine. And that would have allowed him to find a voice on any and all golf matters and offer opinions that the PGA Tour would assuredly have to listen to.

LIV has forced a lot of changes to the PGA Tour and a lot of them have benefited the star players, so Mickelson's accountable statement is not untrue.

But it's only half true, too, because these changes were not made out of concessions of accountability, they were made because of recognition of competition.

And Mickelson not acknowledging the money the LIV backers poured into his and his cohorts' pockets is disingenuous at best.


This and that

— Man, went to the Chattanooga Market on Sunday for the first time in a long while. Good time and great people watching.

— Because we have some folks who keep a close eye on such matters, did you know that Hugh Freeze and Auburn have welcomed 20 players to the Plains through the transfer portal? And even more surreal, that's fewer than half the 48 players Deion Sanders and Co. have portaled to Colorado.

— The SEC baseball tournament starts Tuesday in Birmingham. Tennessee is the 7 seed and played Texas A&M in round 1.

— Of the Baylor School alums at the PGA, Stephan Jaeger finished tied for 50th (with Rahm and others) and made $37,625 and Keith Mitchell finished for 58th (with Mickelson among others) and made $33,250. Harris English missed the cut and made $4,000.

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for Multiple Choice Monday, we'll offer two today, you can either choose to answer one or both.

What is the best assessment of your "Fast and Furious" viewing career?

— Dude, seen them all.

— Dude, my next one will be my first one.

— Seen a few; they're OK.

Next, what was the biggest story line at the PGA this weekend?

— Brooks becoming a legend with his fifth major.

— A LIV player winning a major.

— The Michael Block party.

— Other (please specify).

As for today, May 22, let's review.

Novak Djokovic is 36 today. He seems sad most of the time with that long face, you know?

Tommy John is 80 today.

On this day 31 years ago Johnny Carson made his last appearance as the host of the "Tonight Show." Dude was the best; even better than peak Letterman, and I loved 1980s Letterman.

Man, TV and entertainment is so much better in so many ways, but not late-night talk shows. Wow, what a drop off since the glory days of those giants.

All-time Rushmore of talk-show hosts. Go.

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