Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Followed Rory McIlroy's group for the first seven holes, and he is crushing his driver, long and straight. hE's out-driving Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. He pulled his approach to No. 2 into the bunker, but if his driver allows him to attack Par 5s this week, he will be dangerous.
Jason Niebrugge, the Wiscnosin 20-year-old I profiled the other day, is 9-over. Augusta National can do that to a kid.
The leader at the moment is Miguel Angel Jiminez, ``The Mechanic,'' whose wild, weird stretching routine is difficult to watch, unless you like that sort of thing.
There always seems to be a veteran at or near the top of the leaderboard early on Thursday. I think the course is too long for Jiminez to last, but he's a great character to watch.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 or so to talk the Masters and everything else with Mackey & Judd.
It's a beautiful morning at The Masters, and the forecasts are for highs in the 70s and 80s with no precipitation all week.
The tourney has begun, and Stewart Cink, Jonas Blixt and Martin Kaymer lead at one-under.
Wrote three pieces for today's paper. Please check them out in print or at Startribune.com.
For me, the tee times to watch are at 9:41 and 9:52 a.m., Minnesota time.
at 9:41, it's defending champion Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick. Scott and Dufner have won the last two majors.
At 9:52, it's Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy. All three have the game to win this week. McIlroy has a chance to become the best player in the game, Spieth might be the best young player in the game, and Reed thinks he's the best player in the game.
It is strange not having Tiger Woods to focus on, but I think a host of good young golfers will show off this week.
I'll be on @1500ESPN at 12:15ish from Augusta.
Golf is a beautiful sport to watch and a fascinating game to analyze. It also produces a certain class of jerk - privileged, entitled, independent contractors to play mostly for the money.
In this sport, the gracious and the good stand out.
Steve Stricker stands out. Always.
I wrote about Wisonsinite Jordan Niebrugge for the Wednesday paper. Because I followed him around Augusta National, I wound up following his playing partner, Stricker.
Stricker wanted to help a 20-year-old from Wisconsin, so he showed the kid the ropes - or, more accurately, the angles of a deceptive course.
Golf Channel's Jason Sobel tweeted that the average Masters winner has played in 6.1 Masters. So course knowledge matters. Especailly when you factor in that so many Masters winners had caddies who knew the course well.
Stricker spent the day with Niebrugger, and on the back nine, Russell Henley joined them.
After everyone hit shots to the tricky 17th green, Stricker and Henley walked back about 50 paces from the green and hit a bunch of wedge shots.
Were they betting? No. Stricker was showing Henley how to hit a wedge shot with the hand action of a bunker shot, holding the clubface open to make the ball skip to a stop. Henley's last shot using that technique skipped to within inches of the hole.
Stricker has given Tiger Woods putting lessons. In other words, in a sport where your finishing place determines your income, Stricker happily helps people finish ahead of him.
``He was just super helpful to Jordan and then even with Russell Henley,'' said Alan Bratton, the Oklahoma State coach who is caddying for Niebrugger this week. ``That’s a real credit to Russell, and it’s no wonder he’s doing so well on the tour if he’s smart enough to seek out a guy as smart as Steve Stricker. We really appreciate what Steve did today.''
Stricker is known as one of the nicest guys on tour. He has cut back his tour schedule so he can spend more time with his family. And he currently stars in the best golf commercial running - the Avis ad in which he discusses unleashing the beast within...while octagenarians speed past him on the highway.
You want to cheer for a good guy this week? Can't beat Stricker.
Phil Mickelson said that Rickie Fowler shot a 30 on the back nine on Tuesday in their practice round.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN at about 12:15 all week. I'll co-host Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon on Sunday from Augusta.
Just walked the front nine at Augusta National during practice rounds in preparation for The Masters.
I'm always struck by how pristine this place is. It is startling even when you expect it. Practice rounds were cancelled on Monday after a severe thunderstorm. It's still overcast, but dry, today.
First thought during the practice rounds: ``Huh. Mike Weir actually won this tournament once.''
I've already picked out my favorite grouping for Thursday: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy will tee off at 9:52 Central time. Spieth is one of the best players in the game. McIlroy could this year become the best player in the game, and if he wins this week, he will have three-quarters of the career slam at the age of 24. Reed thinks he's one of the best players in the game.
You know what? He might be right. He's won three times on tour since joining the tour in 2011. He beat a great field at the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this year. I like that he's brash enough to call himself a top-5 player. Confidence is a great tool in golf.
I'll be filing posts and columns and tweeting from The Masters all week for the Star Tribune and startribune.com.
The Wolves blew it with their handlnig of the Dante Cunningham stuation.
Cunningham is alleged to have committed one of the most heinous crimes in our society. Yet the Wolves rushed him to Orlando, played him extensively, and then coach Rick Adelman acted like it was no big deal.
It's a big deal. While the NBA collective bargaining agreement states that a player shouldn't be suspended until he is given due process in our legal system, that doesn't mean the Wolves had to rush him to Orlando or play him like nothing had happened. Domestic assault isn't just a serious charge; it is a disgusting charge.
If I were the Wolves, I'd rather bench or suspend Cunningham than play him. I'd rather fight a grievance than let one mediocre player taint my organization's image.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 or so. I'll be calling in all week at the time, and will co-host Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon on Sunday from Augusta.
Phil Mickelson has been called a phony. He was the subject of an infamous anecdote, in which a golf writer overheard a player in a clubhouse, watching Mickelson prepare for a key shot in a tournament, yell at the TV for him to hit the ball in the water, not in such kind terms.
Some people see his salesman's smile and hide their wallets.
Here's the counterpoint to all of that: Mickelson has had one caddy his entire career, and not only has not never blamed his caddy for a loss, his caddy has become part of his family.
Mickelson has been so driven to win majors late in his career that he has enlisted short-game guru Dave Pelz and swing coach Butch Harmon, the man who helped launch Tiger Woods' career.
He has played on despite a particularly painful form of arthritis.
Of the game's great players, he spends more time signing autographs and slapping hands than anyone.
He's candid and entertaining in interviews.
He's the kind of guy who could cheer the great shots of Ian Poulter when the two played on Sunday at the Ryder Cup last year.
He has the guts to bounce back from what he called the most devastating loss of his life, at the U.S. Open at Merion, to win the British Open on the kind of course that used to flummox him. He committed to traveling to Scotland to play in the Scottish Open the week before the British, so he would be prepared to win.
If he's a phony, we need more of them in professional sports.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon today.
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