Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria: Warriors Thompson wants to win it badly; Giants surprise with weekend sweep of LA; plus more

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) says he wants to win the NBA Finals badly after being laid off the last two NBA seasons with injuries (file photo by USA Today)

On Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria:

#1 Tony, I know you have a lot to say about the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors in game 5 of the NBA Finals last night at Chase Center in San Francisco. Warriors series tied up at 2-2 the Warriors Andrew Wiggins who at one time contemplated taking a Covid 19 vaccine shot or stay off the team that was nine months ago Wiggins thought the better of it and where he is now? He led the Warriors with 26 points last night to go up 3-2 in the series.

#2 Game six is in Boston is on Thursday night the Warriors Klay Thompson was quoted as saying “I want to frigging win” remarking on his long three year wait after sitting out two straight seasons with an ACL and Achilles injuries.

#3 Tony have to ask you about the recent sweep of the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers there are a lot of people in baseball who are shocked about three straight over a Dodger team like this.

#4 The Oakland A’s will try and pick up a win in Boston tonight. They won only one game on the current road trip which started in getting swept in two games in Atlanta and then getting losing three of four games in Cleveland needless to say it’s been tough sledding for Oakland as they open for three games tonight in Boston.

#5 Tony, Phil Mickelson met with the media on Monday at the US Open and he was needless to say very uneasy in the meeting. He was evasive, dodged some of the questions, he wasn’t nervous but it was obvious that he didn’t want to be at the podium and afraid of questions regarding his book in consideration about joining Saudi Super Golf League.

Join Tony for Headline Sports podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria: Mickelson to sit out the Masters; Tiger will play in the Masters; plus more

Phil Mickelson seen here at the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course, Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Kiawah Island, S.C. has vied not to play at the Augusta GA Masters this April 7-10, 2022 (AP file photo)

On Headline Sports podcast with Tony R:

#1 Phil Mickelson has pulled out of the Augusta he was invited and was not disinvited according to  Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley. Mickelson had said he was going to look into joining the Saudi Super Golf League and leave the PGA. Mickelson has not played in a PGA event in two months.

#2 What hurt Mickelson most was when he said, “They killed (Washington Post journalist Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights, Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates” said Mickelson in his book “Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar.”

#3 Tony, Tiger Woods says he’s feeling pretty good and said he had to have Nike custom make shoes for him that would take a lot of pressure of his back and help his golf swing. Tiger said he’s ready to get back and play in the Masters in Augusta April 7-10.

#4 Turning to Major League Baseball the Oakland A’s are in Philadelphia this Friday to open the 2022 season they have pretty much fire saled much of their veteran talent including former starter Sean Manaea who they sent to the San Diego Padres for two prospects. The A’s are expected to struggled this season and end up in last place in the AL West.

#5 Tony, the San Francisco Giants will be without starters third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. due to injuries. The Giants will be starting their number one ace Logan Webb who had a great 2021 and are hoping for big things from him in 2022.

Join Tony Renteria for Headline Sports each Thursday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Fortinet Championship: Homa surges ahead for win as McNealy falters late

Max Homa holds the Fortinet Championship Trophy at the 18th hole at Silverado Springs in Napa after winning Fortinet Championship PGA Tournament on Sun Sep 19, 2021 (AP News photo)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: Homa surges ahead for win as McNealy falters late

By Jeremy Harness

NAPA, Calif. – The guy known for his hilarious golf-swing roasts did some more roasting with his own game on Sunday.

Starting his Sunday two shots back and playing two groups ahead of the leaders, Cal alum Max Homa was steady as can be for the first five holes and then caught fire, making birdie on three of the next four holes.

He then bogeyed the 10th but came right back two holes later by holing out from the rough for an eagle-2 at the par-4 12th. He quickly followed that up by draining a 21-foot birdie putt at the par-4 13th.

He then two-putted for birdie at the par-5 16th and then rolled in a 19-foot breaking birdie putt at the par-4 17th to take the lead, and when McNealy suffered a double bogey at the 17th moments later, he suddenly had a three-stroke lead that he would not relinquish.

As a result, the 30-year-old collected his third-career win on the PGA Tour by taking the Fortinet Championship by a single stroke.

“I really learned it’s a marathon,” Homa said. “Those Sundays are long, a lot of things happen. I played with Scott Stallings, he played awesome especially right off the jump and he kind of got going ahead of me and I just kept telling myself to just keep playing golf and, you know, just let the birdies come. Don’t force anything, don’t try to beat anybody, just go play the golf course.

“I’ve been playing the back nine really well all week so I learned that a lot from Riviera, just plugging along, picking up maybe a shot here and there and kind of — I had a really good feeling. This golf course sets up where 16, 17, 18 is where the crux of the movement comes, so I was really pleased to par 14, 15 and go into 16 tied. I’ve been playing the par 5s well. I know Maverick had been as well, but I wanted to at least not have to do anything nuts on the last three, but I needed to be close enough on those three to have the opportunity to go and something happen and fortunately was tied going into those and could just play kind of play normal solid golf.

McNealy, who was looking for his first PGA Tour win, played the first 16 holes like a man poised to get that W, going four-under and bogey-free during that stretch.

Then came that short, but tricky, par-4 17th that ultimately decided the tournament.

Homa had birdied that hole a few minutes prior, and McNealy, who had hit his wedges and short irons very well all week, went with a long iron off the tee rather than a driver, to put himself in position for a comfortable second shot.

However, he blew his tee shot way right and hit a tree, and although he got a nice deflection off a tree, he ended up 181 yards from the hole. He then hit his second shot past the green and had major troubles around the green.

“I was just trying to hit the same shot I hit yesterday, which is a low 2-iron,” McNealy said. “I caught it off the heel and it caught the last branch of the tree and dropped straight back. Standing there from 195 yards with a 6-iron and I hit it exactly — it was a great second shot — exactly where I wanted to play to and misjudged the lie. That’s something that I want to work on going forward.”.

It took two more shots to get on the green and then two-putted for a disastrous double.

However, he had one last push at the par-5 18th, as he hit a nice drive followed that up with a shot that hit the green. When that shot did not fine the bottom of the cup, Homa was ensured the victory, but he nonetheless drained the ensuing 32-footer for eagle.

“That eagle putt was gravy, but I was really proud of that drive on 18 because hitting that fairway, it sets you up for birdie,” McNealy said. “And this is the first event of a new season. There’s a big difference between T-2 and solo second, that’s a lot of FedEx points, it’s world ranking points, it’s every shot matters, especially when you’re up at the top of the leaderboard. I was really proud of how I executed.”

Fortinet Championship: McNealy still on top, but he’s got company

Maverick McNealy finished Sat Sep 18, 2021 two under round of 70 and is -14 and tied with Jim Knous who fired a 65 at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Springs in Napa (file photo PGA Tour)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: McNealy still on top, but he’s got company

By Jeremy Harness

NAPA–To keep a lead in the Fortinet Championship, you have to shoot under par, and there’s no question about it.

Stanford alum Maverick McNealy, Friday’s leader, finished Saturday’s third round with a two-under round of 70, and predictably, others have caught up by going even lower. He is currently tied for the lead with Jim Knous, who fired a 65 to get into a tie with McNealy at 14-under overall.

He had his struggles on Friday on his back nine, and it continued in to the front nine on Saturday, as he dropped four shots en route to shooting two-over after nine.

However, he steadied himself on the back side, making birdie at the par-4 13th before closing things out with three birdies in a row, and now he’s only 18 holes away from his first PGA Tour win.

“It was a crazy day, I’m not going to lie, that front nine got going pretty quick,” McNealy said. “(I) hit it in a few funny spots. We were on the clock, I think, on, I want to say, the ninth hole, and it was just pretty hectic.

“I just started seeing the lines with the putter. I felt like I could make everything from 40 feet and in. I made the putt on 13, almost made a 40-footer on 14, left it on the edge on 15 from 30 feet and then hit great putts on 16, 17, 18. It took a lot of pressure off my chip on 18. I just thought all I want to do is stick this on the green to give my putter another chance.”

While McNealy finished second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year and has been in the mix on several other occasions, the same cannot be said for Knous. The 31-year-old did not make a single cut in 2021 and has had only one top-10 finish in his career, when he was tied for 10th in this event two years ago.

Their starts were polar opposites as well, as Knous birdied the par-3 second before running off five straight birdies at holes five through nine. He cooled off a bit on the back nine but got things back on track with a pair of birdies on the last three holes to card a seven-under round of 65.

What makes things more impressive for Knous is that he only hit 5 of his 14 fairways and only 11 of 18 greens on Saturday. He has improved his scrambling – getting up and down to save at least a par when not hitting the green – each day and was perfect in that category in the third round.

He is currently fifth in total putting and fifth in scrambling, despite being tied for 100th in the field in driving distance and tied for 74th in greens in regulation.

“It was a great day, putter got hot there late on the back nine, on the front nine, stayed hot pretty much most of the round,” said Knous, who has one more event left on a medical extension and has generally struggled to keep his PGA Tour card. “Especially a nice putt on the last, that was a bonus. Just played solid, just stayed patient, kind of let the course come to me. When it gets firm and fast like that, just got to be patient.”

Another guy in the mix is Max Homa, a Cal alum who won the Genesis Invitational earlier this year, but is probably more known for his legendary roasts of other golf swings – pros and amateurs alike – on social media.

A native of Southern California, Homa enters the final round only two shots back after going seven-under on Saturday. He had an up-and-down front nine but got very hot on the back nine, playing the final nine holes bogey-free with six birdies and closing out his day with three in a row.

“The crowd was awesome,” Homa said. “There were people out there with — obviously mostly Phil (Mickelson) fans, but I had a few in the Cal gear and a couple guys wearing shirts, so it was awesome. Really fun coming to California for me, I have great support out here. And getting to play with Phil, too, you know you’re going to get a big buzz, so it makes everything more fun.”

Fortinet Championship: A little local flavor on top

Maverick McNealy takes the lead with a eight under par 64 lead and is on top of the leaderboard with a -12 at the Silverado Resort Fortinet Championship in Napa (file photo birdiesforeducation.com)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: A little local flavor on top

By Jeremy Harness

This tournament has been known for guys going low throughout the weekend, and for the leaderboard to change rapidly at a moment’s notice.

Friday’s second round did not disappoint, as several players took advantage of the calm conditions at Silverado Resort & Spa, and the birdies continued to roll in without ceasing. And yes, there were a band new set of leaders atop the Fortinet Championship.

Maverick McNealy, a Stanford grad who is seeking his first professional victory and whose best finish is second in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, shot up to the top of the leaderboard with an eight-under round of 64 on Friday.

Starting on the 10th hole, he got off to a very nice start to his round, birdieing his first two holes and then adding three more birdies on his front nine. He hit a major snag on his back nine by bogeying the first three holes there but quickly rallied with four birdies in a row and capped things off with an eagle at the par-5 ninth.

“It’s great, but there’s a lot of great players on this leaderboard and every shot’s going to matter,” McNealy said. “I just keep telling myself every putt you make now is one less you have to make later and you have to keep the pedal down. My goal tomorrow’s to get out there and give myself a birdie look on the first hole. I’m just going to have to keep doing that. Yeah, it’s great to be at the top of the leaderboard now, but it means a heck of a lot more to be at the top at the end of 72 holes.”

If you ask any good player the easiest way to shave strokes off your game, that person will most likely tell you to work on your putting. You want proof? Take a look at McNealy’s second round.

He drove the ball less accurately off the tee – he hit only six fairways Friday, compared to eight on Thursday – and didn’t hit it as far as he did in the first round, and he hit fewer greens in regulation (13 as opposed to 15) as well.

However, he made considerably more putts on Friday than was the case the day before, resulting in four more birdies and four fewer strokes. He is now second in the field in putts-per-green-in-regulation with 1.536.

While many were going low,first-round leader Chez Reavie went the opposite direction, carding a three-over round of 75. He was even-par after nine, but this time, he did not get hot. Instead, he went four-over in holes 11 through 13, including a double at the par-3 11th. He made back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th, but the damage was done.

He did not make nearly as many putts as he did in the first round. In fact, he lost more than a full stroke to the field in putting, in addition to being at a severe disadvantage off the tee and got up and down only 33 percent of the time on Friday, as opposed to 80 percent the day before.

Fortinet Championship: Clear skies, bright start to the PGA Tour season

Chez Reavie on the 18th green looks at his handy work a putt at the Silverado North Course on Sep 16, 2021 at the Fortinet Championship PGA golf tournament first round (AP News photo)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: Clear skies, bright start to the PGA Tour season

By Jeremy Harness

At this point last year, this tournament was played at a time where the skies were a dark orange color because of the fires that seemed to engulf the entire Northern California region. An eerie sight to see, to be sure.

Furthermore, there were no spectators allowed on the grounds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making this a thoroughly-depressing tournament to watch on television.

Fast forward 12 months, and even though there are fires burning around the region – particularly in the Lake Tahoe area – and COVID-19 is still most definitely a real thing – the atmosphere around Silverado Resort & Spa could not have been any different from 2020.

Golfers teed off Thursday morning and afternoon under clear skies, with no smell of fire smoke to speak of. And just as important, spectators were free to follow their favorite players, something they could only hope to be able to do again months earlier.

As for the Fortinet Championship itself, Chez Reavie overcame a tough start to take the lead after Thursday’s first round.

Starting on the 10th hole, he was one-over after the first six holes, but then he got rolling in a major way. He birdied eight of the final 12 holes, including three in a row to close out his round. When it was all said and done, he finished with a seven-under round of 65.

He isn’t the longest hitter out there – he was 117th in the field in driving distance Thursday while hitting 8 of 14 fairways, which ranked 23rd – but he hit 13 greens and was 2nd in putts-per-green-in-regulation, and he was the eighth-best putter overall.

“It was kind of a slow start but I told myself to stay patient, you have plenty of chances to make birdies, and I was able to do that coming in,” Reavie said. “But I was 1 over through six holes, I think. I was like, okay, stay patient, don’t become impatient. Yeah, fortunately I was able to make some birdies.”

The only real downer of this tournament is that since the Ryder Cup is next weekend, there aren’t nearly as many big names out there as a lot of fans would like. In fact, the only Ryder Cup participant who is playing this week is Jon Rahm, this year’s runner-up for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year.

The Spaniard, who won the 2021 U.S Open, did not exactly get off to the kind of start he would have liked, particularly after also finishing second in this year’s Tour Championship, eventually losing out to Patrick Cantlay.

He was one-under for his first nine but endured a pair of tough bogeys on his second nine against one birdie, and he finished with an even-par round of 72. To be fair, Rahm had been battling a stomach ailment this week leading up to this event and has not felt anywhere close to 100 percent until Thursday.

“Not my best ball-striking day, a little tight today probably from having to be in bed for so long yesterday,” Rahm said. “So a little tight, just didn’t feel as fluid as it usually does. Even with how I felt, I played a little bit better than I thought I was going to, to be honest. Started great, started to hit some good shots, too bad I couldn’t capitalize on some of the good chances early on.

“Towards the end a lot of times my mind just wasn’t in it, I was having a hard time focusing given the fact that I haven’t had a solid meal since Tuesday morning. It is what it is. I just started, I’m feeling good now, so get a good meal right now and rest up the rest of the day. We have three more days to go. You can’t win it today, you can certainly lose it and it wasn’t my best day.”

Headline Sports podcast with Barbara Mason: Calif Legislature looking into legalizing sports betting;Wallace insists rope was noose (see photo) ; plus more

@bobpockrass photo: NASCAR’s only black driver Bubba Wallace’s crew member found a noose in his garage stall on Sunday night. Wallace had pushed for banning the Confederate flag symbols at NASCAR races. The FBI concluded from video evidence that the noose had been at stall number four since October 2019 long before Wallace was booked for that stall last weekend it was later determined it was not a noose but a door pull. Wallace on Don Lemon Tonight on CNN said he knows what a noose looks like adding, “tied in 2019 or now it was a noose.”

On Headline Sports podcast with Barbara:

#1 California Legislature is considering legalizing sports betting but casinos are putting up a fight as it would cut into their sports book business.

#2 Bubba Wallace NASCAR’s only black driver who two weeks ago pushed for banning the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. A member of Wallace’s crew found a noose in his garage stall late Sunday afternoon. After bringing in 15 FBI agents for an investigation into who left the noose in garage stall four where Wallace was at Talladega. Video evidence showed that the noose had been there since October 2019 and it was determined it was not a noose but a door pull.  No one would have known that Wallace would have been at that stall going forward. The FBI said they will not pursue federal charges. Wallace insisted on CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight on Tuesday night that it was a noose.

#3 Webb Simpson won the RBC Heritage on Sunday after finishing 7 under Par 64 at Harbour Town at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

#4 Tiz the Law set a record winning the Belmont Stakes last Saturday in what is one of the few live sports in the Coronavirus era. Tiz the Law with his victory became the first New York bred horse to win at the Belmont in 138 years.

#5 After someone who visited the San Francisco Giants training facility in Scottsdale who was Covid-19 positive the facility was immediately shut down on Friday night. The person was a family member and several other individuals are being tested who had come in contact with this positive tested person. Teams who have closed facilities Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies and the Giants.

Join Barbara for Headline Sports each Tuesday night at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM: Mickelson, Day make huge runs but Taylor maintains slim lead

photo from sfgate.com: After making a birdie on the 18th green Nick Taylor holds first place on the leader board at Pebble Beach in the second round on Friday

By Jeremy Harness

PEBBLE BEACH – As Nick Taylor has found out through the first two days of this tournament, in order to get on top and stay there, you have to go low. Very low.

That’s precisely what the Canadian has done, but in doing so, he still doesn’t have much breathing room. He held a two-shot lead after the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a 63, which is tied for the lowest opening-round score in four years, and after a 66 on Friday, goes into the weekend with the same two-shot advantage.

Taylor, whose lone victory on the PGA Tour came in his rookie season of 2014-15 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, finished his second round at Pebble Beach in grand fashion, making birdies in four of his last five holes, capping off his round by rolling in a 16-footer at the iconic par-5 18th.

Taylor has, in large part, done it with his putter. He is currently second in the field in strokes gained in the putting department, as he made 101 feet of putts on Friday

“I hit some really good shots coming in and made all the putts,” Taylor said. “So obviously, it was all coming together there.

“I really love coming to this stop, so I was happy to come here, and it’s been nice to make some putts. I feel like from here, and next few months, are probably my favorite stretch of golf tournaments.”

There were a number of players who made big charges on Friday and wound up hot on Taylor’s tail, including Phil Mickelson, the left-handed crowd favorite who is known for his exquisite short game and sometimes-erratic play off the tee.

He, in his words, “drove it like a stallion” on Thursday to get himself in the hunt and more than holding his own at Spyglass Hill, and he did the same the next day to inch closer, blistering Monterey Peninsula in the process.

He started out his day with back-to-back birdies and made another birdie three holes later. After dropping a shot at the par-4 15th, he rallied to make eagle at the par-5 16th. He started his second nine with four straight birdies and was eight-under through his first 14 holes.

However, the fog rolled in at that point, and that seemed to affect his scoring. His birdie rampage stalled, as following the four consecutive, he parred the ensuing four holes and even dropped a shot at the par-3 ninth to end his round in third place.

Jason Day finished his round about an hour before Mickelson, so he just missed the fog and played all 18 of his holes in picture-perfect conditions with relatively-light wind and responded with a seven-under round of 64 at Pebble Beach that put him in second place, two shots behind Taylor.

Day did not have to go through foggy weather, but he did have to battle through injuries, particularly with his back – a very common issue in the game of golf – throughout most of last season, and he spoke Friday of the return of his health.

“I’ve been working very (hard), and I’ve been very disciplined about the rehab,” Day said. “I had six, seven weeks of rehab before Torrey Pines (two weeks ago), and I’m trying to stay on top of that right now, and for the most part, I feel pretty good.

He also spoke of a change in focus, not only in his practice routine but also his overall approach to the game. In years past, he would spend at least two hours putting in a day, but due to his back issues, he has cut that time in half and has, in turn, turned up the concentration in those sessions.

In getting ready for this tournament, Day said that he did not play standard practice rounds but rather would play different nine-hole rounds at the different courses with a number of friends.

“Sometimes working hard is not the solution,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, you still have to work hard, but don’t be so involved in it, and don’t make it your whole world.”

DeChambeau, Watney come crashing down while another NorCal soars to the top

photo from sfgate.com: Cameron Champ hits on the sixth fairway in the third round of the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort on Saturday. Champ’s emotions are in play as his grandfather Mack battles stomach cancer in the Sacramento area.

By Jeremy Harness

Saturday was not a very good day for Bryson DeChambeau or Nick Watney, and as a result, they fell from the top of the leaderboard while some new folks took over the top spots as the final day of the Safeway Open approaches.

DeChambeau’s four-over round of 76 dropped him toward the middle of the pack, while Watney’s round of 72 was a little more modest, and he is now tied for the fifth spot in the field and four shots shy of the lead.

Meanwhile, another native of Northern California grabbed the lead on Saturday with stellar play. Sacramento native Cameron Champ, who considered to be the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, used that distance to get good looks at birdies and ended up shooting a five-under bogey-free round of 67.

Besides averaging 335 yards off the tee this week that ranks him at the top of the field, including a 372-yard bomb on Saturday, Champ also leads the field this week with a 91.67 scrambling percentage. He is also tied for the fewest bogeys this week.

“I’m extremely pleased,” Champ said. “Not to make a bogey on the scorecard, mission is accomplished. I’m hitting it well, I’m giving myself so many chances. I’m just executing everything. I’m hitting my shots, I’m not making the little mistakes I was, then I’m getting it up and down when I need to.

“Today was like a faultless day.”

Champ currently leads the tournament by three shots, while Sebastian Munoz also shot a 67 on Saturday to get into the second spot. Munoz has had some recent winning experience, as he won the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier in the 2019-20 season.

He then followed that up with a tie for seventh place at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.

“I’m hitting the ball pretty solid, I’m making the putts, so I’m feeling great,” Munoz said.

Joining Munoz in the No. 2 slot are Canadians Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor. Hadwin first a five-under 67 while Taylor shot 70 to give themselves a chance to win on Sunday.