Monday, May 21, 2007

Johnson wins "Battle of the Bulldogs"

There must be something in the air of Georgia that appeals to 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson. The former Drake bulldog and Iowa native came from three strokes down to defeat former Georgia Bulldog Ryudi Imada in the first hole of a playoff for his third career PGA Tour victory - all of his wins coming in the state of Georgia. Johnson was in the clubhouse at 15 under par, with Imada sitting at 14 under and needing a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to force a playoff. Imada hit his tee shot into the fairway. His second shot hit the green and then rolled off the back edge and into a drainage area from which he was allowed a drop. Imada hit a brilliant pitch on his third shot to within a foot and a half for a tap in birdie and the playoff was on.

The playoff ended just as quickly as it started though as Imada's second shot to the first playoff hole (the same par-5 18th) found the water fronting the green. Johnson would go on to birdie the hole, while Imada closed with a bogey. Johnson has now won twice in two months, and with his "bulldog mentality" is quickly becoming a household name on the PGA Tour. Johnson has very much impressed me with his mental approach to the game - he has a plan and sticks to it and he doesn't seem to let things rattle him. If he hits a bad shot, it's quickly forgotten and he moves on to the next one. His approach should serve him very well next month in the U.S. Open. Now if only they could somehow move that tournament to Georgia, he might just about be guaranteed to win it...

Speaking of Georgia, there must be something in the air of the Peach state that I like as well... For some reason, Georgia natives seem to find me (or is it the other way around)??!! My connections there go back about nine years now - in 1998, I created a webpage devoted to Marietta, Georgia native Jennifer Paige. Paige had the huge #2 pop hit "Crush" that same year... One of my main Fantasy Baseball leagues is called "Georgia Trades Win." I'm now in my third year in that particular league, though I've been playing in fantasy leagues with league organizer and Georgia native Keith Jansen for over five years now... Needless to say, I'm the only Californian in this league which is otherwise filled with Georgians... Keith and his family are truly some of the nicest, most gracious people I've met in my nine years of playing fantasy baseball... Last, and certainly not least, my friend 2006 Miss DC Kate Michael would also be a Georgia native, growing up in the city of Lilburn. Perhaps with all of these Georgia connections, I need to pay a visit there one of these days - maybe late this summer I will get the chance to finally go.


Well, it's time to really change things up here - I'm actually going to talk about hockey! Two months of posts here and not a single mention of hockey until today... well with the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs and looking to go to the Stanley Cup, I guess it's about time that I started giving them some recognition. While I'm not much of a hockey fan - my sister and brother-in-law are HUGE fans though - I have been paying attention to what's been happening with our hometown Ducks. For nearly 58 1/2 minutes yesterday, the Detroit Red Wings completely controlled game 5 of the best of 7 series... still, their 1-0 lead was tenuous at best. A penalty on Pavel Datsyuk with 1:47 to go, gave the Ducks a power play. Ducks' coach Randy Carlyle pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a 6-on-4 advantage. Exactly a minute later, Scott Niedermayer scored the dramatic game-tying goal.

In overtime, the momentum clearly had shifted as the Ducks had complete control most of the time. The Red Wings' spirit appeared to be broken - you could sense it was only a matter of time before the Ducks would somehow pull it out. Andreas Lilja, who scored the Red Wings line goal in game 5, turned the puck over deep in the Red Wings' zone 11 minutes and 55 seconds into the overtime... It was a fatal mistake for the Wings as the Ducks best player and leading scorer Teemu Selanne wound up with the puck. Selanne quickly faked out Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek and flipped in the winning score. The series now heads back to Anaheim where the Ducks hope to close out the Red Wings on Tuesday night.


Yes, there was also lots of baseball played on Sunday - the so-called "Freeway series" was played here in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and Angels in Anaheim. Quite surprisingly, the Angels swept the Dodgers, closing their series with a 4-1 victory yesterday. Derek Lowe pitched well for the Dodgers, but two errors and a couple of other misplays doomed them as Kelvim Escobar pitched a brilliant seven innings. Francisco Rodriguez closed things out for his 13th save for the Halos.

In Chicago, the White Sox took it to the crosstown rival Cubs, torching Carlos Zambrano for seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of a rain delayed game for a 10-6 victory... A.J. Pierzynski (aka: "Punch A.J.") hit a grand slam in the top of the 7th inning to give the White Sox the final margin of victory. Matt Morris threw a two-hitter in Oakland as the A's were stifled by the San Francisco Giants 4-1. The red-hot Randy Winn went 3 for 5 with a homer, and is starting to look a lot like the Randy Winn who helped out a lot of my fantasy teams late in the 2005 season... In Washington, D.C., it looked like the Baltimore Orioles were going to sweep the injury plagued Nationals as they took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th... The suddenly resurgent Nats would have none of that, however, as Ryan Langerhans hit a run scoring single, and Nook Logan hit a two out, two-run single to give the Nats a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the frame. Chad Cordero closed out the Orioles in the ninth to get his first save in nearly three weeks.

In the battle of New York, the Yankees torhced Mets starter John Maine for five earned runs in five innings, and Alex Rodriguez hit his major league leading 17th home run as the Yankees avoided the sweep, defeating the Mets by a 6-2 score.


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