Sports Outside the Beltway

The U.S. Women’s Golf Open is underway

It is being played at the Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania today through Sunday. The defending Champion is Eun Hee Ji.

The third Women’s golf major of 2010 is being played on one of the toughest golf courses in the world. Oakmont doesn’t just feature small greens and tight fairways, the norm of any USGA professional championship, but treacherously fast greens. I first watched a major played on this golf course in 1978. In 32 years of golf viewing, I’ve never seen a tougher course for pros to putt on.

Ji is the defending champion, but she isn’t playing very well coming into the tournament. Cristie Kerr has won the last two LPGA events she competed in, including a romp at the LPGA Championship. Which was the last major championship played. Many are naming Kerr the favorite this week and I won’t say that’s a bad choice. Still blogger The Constructivist has some valid points about Kerr coming into this week.

Um, dude, Kerr had chances to win 2 majors last year and let them slip through her fingers. Nobody stepped up to challenge her in the LPGA Championship for any serious length of time. Kerr still has to prove she’s a closer in majors. That and the fact that she won at Locust Hill with a leaky driver–something that Oakmont will penalize much more severely–are the doubts that any knowledgeable writer should be emphasizing about Kerr’s chances to get her 2nd Open, 3rd major, and 15th career victory on the LPGA.

Hound Dog, Mike, and Sal Johnson also have done previews for this week. Sal has put together an excellent guide on all the players in the tournament. Why can’t the USGA or LPGA do this kind of work? Sal is about the only person besides this person(and his not perfect golf memory) who tries to uphold the LPGA’s stats and history prior to the Annika Sorenstam era.

The Women’s Golf Open isn’t getting a tenth of the attention the recently passed Men’s Open at Pebble Beach got. This is normal, and has nothing to do with the lack of American winners or the Asians overrunning the tour complaints so often heard till you become nauseous. Four South Koreans won golf tournaments in 2007, and I was one of the few to notice. Golf World’s Ron Sirak is in attendance this after his golf publication in a gross act of golf reporting dereliction of duty, didn’t cover the LPGA Championship in its magazine or even preview this week’s major. Would you believe Golf World didn’t put out a magazine at all last week? Check it out yourself.

Golf World isn’t alone. Ryan Ballangee at Waggleroom is too busy writing a post wondering if Arnold Palmer is looking at someone’s boobs. The state of reporting on the LPGA is just horrendous.

My picks this week. Inbee Park, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champ, has been quietly playing some of the best golf in 2010. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if she won again on Sunday. Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, and Hee Kyung Seo would be other top five choices.


Arizona Diamondbacks fire Manager A.J. Hinch

He is the fourth manager to get the axe this MLB season. From AP-

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes on Thursday night in a shakeup at the top of a team cemented in last place in the NL West for the second year in a row.

Diamondbacks bench coach and ex-major league slugger Kirk Gibson will take over as interim manager for a ballclub that was 31-48, 15 games back of San Diego.

Team president Derrick Hall called the dismissals “a first and major step in the re-evaluation of our team.”

This franchise has enjoyed tremendous success over the years and we want to get back to our winning ways. The loyal staff of this organization, as well as all of our fans, hopes for and deserves better results on the field.
” — Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick

The 35-year-old Hinch was promoted May 7, 2009. Despite having no managerial experience at any level, he was moved from the front office to manager following the firing of Bob Melvin. Hinch has two years remaining on his contract after this season.

Hinch is the fourth manager to lose his job this season. Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez, Baltimore’s Dave Trembley and Kansas City’s Trey Hillman have also been fired.

Byrnes, once considered a rising star among young baseball executives, has a whopping 5� years left on a deal that runs through 2015.

Former major league pitcher Jerry DiPoto, vice president for player development, will take over the GM duties on an interim basis.

Arizona has stumbled badly since having the best record record in the NL for the 2007 season. The hiring of Hinch, who reminded me of former Florida Marlins manager, was a mistake but his replacement Kirk Gibson isn’t going to change the Diamondbacks fortunes for at least a year if not longer.


Former NFL head coach Don Corryel dead at 85

The father of the modern NFL passing game, had a lifetime record of 111-83-1 as a head coach. From AP-

Don Coryell, the innovative coach whose Air Coryell offense produced some of the most dynamic passing attacks in NFL history, has died. He was 85.Don Corryel

The San Diego Chargers confirmed Coryell died Thursday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in suburban La Mesa. The team did not release the cause of death, but Coryell had been in poor health for some time.

“We’ve lost a man who has contributed to the game of pro football in a very lasting way with his innovations and with his style,” Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, the quarterback who made Air Coryell fly, said from Oregon. “They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery — look around, it’s there.”

[+] EnlargeDon Coryell
George Rose/Getty ImagesThe innovations of Don Coryell, left, gave birth to Air Coryell, the inspiration for the modern-day offenses that dominate the NFL.

Coryell was one of the founding fathers of the modern passing game. He coached at San Diego State from 1961-72 and went 104-19-2. He left the Aztecs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973. With Jim Hart at quarterback, the Cardinals won division titles in 1974 and ’75 behind Coryell.

Fouts said he became friends with Coryell after the two were finished with football.

“It’s not just me,” Fouts said. “All his players, Aztecs, Cardinals, Chargers, to a man, would tell you that he was their friend.”

Coryell returned to San Diego when he was hired by the Chargers on Sept. 25, 1978, the same day a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet crashed into a North Park neighborhood after colliding with a small plane, killing all 137 people on the two planes and seven people on the ground.

“It’s crazy that when you look back at the history of this city, he got hired on the same day as that PSA crash,” said Hank Bauer, who was a running back and special teams star with the Chargers then. “That really was one of the darkest days in this city’s history and it became one of the brightest days in the history of sports.

“He walked in and met our team for the time and he was just this little bundle of energy, flying around the meeting. He said, ‘You know what? We’re going to have fun, and we’re going to cry and laugh and battle our [behinds] off, but we’re going to have fun.’ We had fun for a lot of years.”

From 1978-86, Air Coryell — led by Fouts — set records and led the NFL in passing almost every season. Coryell guided the Chargers to the AFC championship game after the 1980 and ’81 seasons, but he never reached the Super Bowl.

The lack of a Super Bowl on his resume may have hurt Coryell last winter in voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for the first time, but was not selected for induction.

Corryel was the first coach to win 100 games at both the pro and NFL level. He deserves to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. RIP Coach.


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