Matthews: Koepka & Tiger - 5 Years Ago At Oak Hill

BROOKS KOEPKA AND TIGER – FIVE YEARS AGO AT OAK HILL

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the 95th PGA Championship. It was played at Oak Hill. Jason Dufner beat current USA Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk by two strokes for his first major victory.

One of the pairings for that weekend’s Rounds 3 and 4 – based on the leaderboard after two rounds -- was 14-time major champion Tiger Woods and an obscure 23-year-old winless PGA Tour player named Brooks Koepka.

Tiger shot 73-70 the final two round to finish tied for 40th with 284 (+4).

Koepka, who began his pro career overseas, was playing in only his third PGA Tour event. He had missed the cuts in the 2012 U.S. Open and the 2013 The Open. He shot 71-77 in the final two rounds at Oak Hill to finish 211 (+11) and tie for 70th.

Koepka and Woods finished 1-2 Sunday in the 100th PGA Championship.

Five years ago at Oak Hill, all eyes that day were on Tiger and Koepka was the “who is that guy?” Last weekend, Koepka was the winner but most of the eyes were on Tiger – again.

Koepka now has four career PGA Tour victories – amazingly, three of them are majors (the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens and the 2018 PGA Championship). His only non-major PGA Tour victory was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Koepka likely will be the 2018 first-time winner of PGA Player of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year. Woods has won each honor 11 times.

IS TIGER NOW A RYDER CUP LOCK?

A hot debate in recent past weeks was if Tiger Woods should be one of Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks for the USA team versus Europe in the Ryder Cup in Paris in late September.

I assume Woods’ performance in recent weeks – particularly his 66-66-64 final three rounds in the PGA Championship last week – has convinced nearly everyone that he deserves a spot on the 12-man squad. It would be interesting if Furyk teamed Tiger and Koepka in a match or two.

Here are some of their updated stats for this season (Tour ranking in parentheses):

Scoring average – Koepka 69.359 (5th)...Woods 69.438 (8th)...Tour average 71.166

Official money – Koepka $6,412,492 (3rd)...Woods $3,407,462 (19th)

Driving distance – Koepka 313/1 (t10th)...Woods 304.7 (34th)...Tour average 295.8

Ryder Cup points – Koepka 13,298.472 (1st)...Woods 4,196.794 (11th).

HOW DID YOU LIKE THE BILLS’ WIDE-OPEN OFFENSE?

If you thought the Buffalo Bills had a more wide-open offense in last week’s pre-season opener against the Carolina Panthers than we’ve seen in the past three seasons – well, you’re right. I liked it and most of you probably did, too.

The Bills lost 28-23 but it was entertaining, right?

Only one of the 32 NFL teams had more running plays than pass attempts last season – the Buffalo Bills (487 to 476).

In fact, Buffalo was the only NFL team to have more runs than passes in each of the past three seasons.

In a league that is built for passing -- and even makes rules to favor passing -- that’s not a good thing. Do you honestly believe Buffalo had a better idea than all of the other teams?

The Bills actually were less effective running the ball last season than they were with Rex Ryan as head coach in 2015 and 2016:

2015 – 152.0 rush yards per game (1st)...4.8 yards per rush (1st)...487 runs (4th); 476 passes (31st)

2016 – 164.4 rush yards per game (1st)...5.3 yards per rush (1st)...492 runs (1st); 474 passes (32nd)

2017 -- 126.1 rush yards per game (6th)...4.1 yards per rush (14th)...509 runs (2nd); 465 passes (31st).

In last Thursday night’s home loss to Carolina, Buffalo outgained the Panthers 430-342, including 338 to 289 passing. The Bills had more plays (62 to 58) and led in time of possession (31:18 to 28:42).

The Bills had 39 passes and 21 rushes. They looked more like a typical NFL team on offense.

New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is reputed to be aggressive and innovative. The Bills sure played like that against the Panthers.

A few reasons it might be wise for Buffalo to throw more often than run this season: Tyrod Taylor is gone and the Bills will miss his legs if not his arm...QBs AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman might be high percentage passers and a long completion by rookie Josh Allen might be more productive than a bunch of short running plays...Three of last season’s Opening Day starting offensive linemen are gone and their replacements might be better at pass protection than at run blocking...Cutting down on running back LeSean McCoy’s workload might keep him healthy and effective all season.

JOSE RAMIREZ IS CLOSING IN ON THE 30-30 CLUB

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez has 34 home runs and 27 stolen bases this season and figures to become the 39th member of baseball’s 30-30 Club – and the first since 2012.

I’ve always respected 30-30 Club members because it takes a combination of power and speed to earn a spot.

Four other players appear to have at least a slim chance to join Ramirez in the 30-30 Club this season. Like Ramirez, they’re all MVP candidates: Mike Trout (Angels) 30 HRs, 21 SB...Francisco Lindor (Cleveland) 29-19...Mookie Betts (Boston) 27-23...Javier Baez (Cubs) 25-19.

The first 30-30 Club member was Ken Williams (39 HRs and 37 stolen bases) of the St. Louis Browns in 1923. He finally got some company 33 years later, when Willie Mays of the New York Giants hit 36 HRs and stole 40 bases in 1956.

There are the 38 members of the 30-30 Club and 13 of them did it more than once. Here they are in chronological order (number of times -- more than once -- in parentheses):

Ken Williams -- 1922 39 HR-37 SB...He was a very good player but no Hall of Famer. The left-handed hitting left fielder was a career .319 hitter with 196 HRs and 916 RBI in 1,397 games. 1922 was the only year he stole more than 20 bases. He was caught stealing an AL-most 20 times that season. Being the first and only member of the 30-30 Club for a long time is his major claim to baseball fame.

Willie Mays (2) -- 1956 36-40...1957 35-38

Hank Aaron -- 1961 44-31

Bobby Bonds (5) -- 1969 32-45...1973 39-43...1975 32-30...1977 37-41...1978 31-43

Tommy Harper -- 1970 31-38

Dale Murphy --1983 36-30

Joe Carter -- 1987 32-31

Eric Davis -- 1987 37-50

Howard Johnson (3) -- 1987 36-32...1989 36-41...1991 38-30

Darryl Strawberry -- 1987 39-36

Jose Canseco -- 1988 42-40...the first 40-40 Club member

Barry Bonds (5) -- 1990 33-52...1992 34-39...1995 33-31...1996 42-40...1997 40-37. Isn’t it amazing that the only five-time 30-30 Club members are a father-son duo (Bobby and Barry Bonds)?...Joined Jose Canseco in the 40-40 Club. Interesting that they were two of the most notorious juicers.

Ron Gant (2) --  1990 32-33...1991 32-34

Sammy Sosa (2) -- 1993 33-36...1995 36-34

Dante Bichette -- 1996 31-31

Ellis Burks -- 1996 40-32

Barry Larkin -- 1996 33-36

Jeff Bagwell (2) -- 1997 43-31...1999 42-30

Raul Mondesi (2) -- 1997 30-32...1999 33-38

Larry Walker -- 1997 49-33

Shawn Green -- 1998 35-35

Alex Rodriguez -- 1998 42-46. Joined Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds in the 40-40 Club. Another juicer.

Preston Wilson -- 2000 31-36

Bobby Abreu (2) -- 2001 31-36...2004 30-40

Joes Cruz -- 2001 34-32

Vladimir Guerrero (2) -- 2001 34-37...2002 39-40

Carlos Beltran -- 2004 38-42

Alfonso Soriano (4) -- 2002 39-41...2003 38-35...2005 36-30...2006 45-41. The fourth member of the 40-40 Club and the only non-juicer (I believe).

David Wright -- 2007 30-34

Jimmy Rollins -- 2007 30-41

Branson Phillips -- 2007 30-32

Grady Sizemore -- 2008 33-38

Hanley Ramirez -- 2008 33-35

Ian Kinsler (2) -- 2009 31-30...2011 32-30

Matt Kemp -- 2011 39-40

Ryan Braun (2) -- 2011 33-33

Jacoby Ellsbury -- 2011 32-39.

Mike Trout -- 2012 30-49.

For the record, the closest Babe Ruth came to the 30-30 Club was in 1923. He hit 41 HRs and stole a career-most 17 bases (he was caught stealing 21 times).

SPRAYING MORE BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS

David Bote on Sunday against Washington hit the first pinch-hit grand slam HR with two outs in the ninth inning in a walk-off win for the Chicago Cubs since Earl Averill May 12, 1959.

Glyber Torres (18) and Miguel Andujar (17) are the first pair of rookies for the New York Yankees to each have at least 15 home runs. Where would the Yankees be without them? They could each top 20- or 25 HRs this season.

The Baltimore Orioles released former Red Wing Danny Valencia last week. He was one of the team’s few remaining decent hitters. I wonder if O’s management cares anything about winning games. They might finish 60 games behind Boston in the AL East.

Chris Davis (Baltimore) update: o-for-10 in his last three games, with 8 strikeouts. Batting average down to .158.

If Boston’s Andrew Benintendi doesn’t cool off soon (.301, 32 doubles, 6 triples, 15 HRs, 70 RBI), he might not drop off the list of Major League Baseball’s most underrated players.

Chris Sale (Boston) pitched five shutout innings Sunday against the Orioles and struck out 12 of the 16 batters he faced. Is next scheduled start is Sunday night against the Cubs.

The St. Louis Cardinals are a National League-best 12-4 in their last 16 games.

26 players have appeared in games for both the Minnesota Twins and the Rochester Red Wings this season. That’s a lot.

RED WINGS HOME WOES ARE TOUGH TO FIGURE

Rochester Red Wings fans have enjoyed the home cooking at Frontier Field this season but the home team hasn’t thrived at home.

The Wings on Sunday concluded their homestand with a victory and are 22-36 at home this season, much the worst in the 14-team International League:

Rochester 22-36

Louisville 28-35

Syracuse 27-32

Buffalo 30-31.

Inexplicably, the Red Wings are one of the only four IL teams with winning records on the road:

Durham 30-23

Lehigh Valley 34-26

Rochester 31-28

Toledo 30-29.

RATTLERS FINALLY BEAT THE LIZARDS TO REACH MLL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

The Dallas Rattlers, based in Rochester until this Major League Lacrosse season, ended a seven-game losing streak against the New York Lizards last Saturday with a wire-to-wire 18-11 victory in the Major League Lacrosse semifinal game before 6,124 fans in their new home in Frisco, Tex., the practice facility for the NFL Dallas Cowboys.

Ben Reeves (Palmyra-Macedon/Yale), Jordan Wolf, Randy Staats and Ty Thompson each had two goals for the loaded Rattlers. Drew Simoneau (Nazareth College) won 24 of 31 faceoffs and had 10 loose balls and John Galloway had 12 saves to boost his record to 9-1 this season.

The Rattlers will play the Denver Outlaws in the MLL championship game Saturday, 7 p.m., in Charleston, S.C.  Denver, coached by BJ O’Hara (former coach at Hobart/Rochester Rattlers), has reached the championship game three straight seasons. The Outlaws lost last year’s title game 17-12 to the Ohio Machine. The game was played in Frisco, Tex., before a crowd of 7,543. That turnout probably convinced Rattlers ownership and ambitious MLL officials to move the team from Rochester.

SHORT SHOTS

The Buffalo Bisons had an expected addition to their Superheroes promotion last Saturday night at Coca Cola Field: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s top prospect and third baseman for the baseball Bisons, was met with Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 overall pick by the hockey Sabers in the 2018 NHL draft, for the fist time. Dahlin turned 18 in April 13 and Guerrero turned 19 on March 16. Guerrero in his first 12 games with Buffalo en route to the Toronto Blue Jays: .395 (15-for-38), 2 doubles, 4 HRs, 7 RBI (homered in four straight games).

Scratch one potential 20-goal scorer for this coming season’s Amerks. Veteran right wing Mike Sislo, a four-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL, including a team-high 23 for the Tucson Roadrunners last season, has signed a free-agent contract with the New York Islanders. He was acquired by Buffalo with defenseman Brandon Hickey for Hudson Fasching June 14.

Kaitlin Clementi from Greece, N.Y., became the 10 millionith fan of Frontier on Sunday and received a mammoth prize pack of goodies on the field in the fourth inning. The Red Wings also announced a two tickets-for-the-price of one promotion for September 2 or September 3, the final two games of the season.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, August 13

Filip Forsberg (22)...Randall Grichuk (27)...DeMarcus Cousins (28)...Jerry Hughes (30)...Marty Turco (43)...LPGA Rochester International winner Lisa Kiggens (46)...Elvis Grbac (48)...Shayne Corson (52)...Cris Dishman (53)...Jay Buhner (54)...Jon Borchardt (61)...LPGA Betsy King (63)...Bobby Clarke (69)...Andre Thornton (69).

Tuesday, August 14

Kiko Alonso (28)...Tim Tebow (31)...David Peralta (31)...Shea Weber (33)...Josh Gorges (34)...Clay Buchholz (34)...Juan Pierre (41)...Mike Vrabel (43)...Wayne Chrebet (45)...Mike Mamula (45)...Ed O’Bannon (46)...Mark Loretta (47)...former Red Wings favorite Tommy Shields (54)...Mark Gubicza (56)...Magic Johnson (59)...swimmer Debbie Meyer 66...pro wrestler Bob Backlund 69.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

August 13

70 years ago (1948), 42-year-old Negro Leaguer legend Satchel Paige pitched his first Major League Baseball complete game...55 years ago (1963), NBA player Dave DeBusschere pitched a shutout for the Chicago White Sox over the Cleveland Indians...49 years ago (1969), Baltimore’s Jim Palmer no-hit the Oakland A’s 8-0...30 years ago (1988), Payne Stewart won the PGA Championship, his first of three career golf major victories...14 years ago (2004), the 28th modern Summer Olympics opened in Athens, Greece.

August 14

115 years ago (1903), James J. Jeffries KOd James J. Corbett in 10 for the world heavyweight boxing title...82 years ago (1936), the United States beat Canada 19-8 in poor weather outdoors in Berlin for the first Olympics gold medal in basketball...65 years ago (1953), the Baltimore Colts beat the College All-Stars 29-0 in the 26th NFL Chicago All-Star Game before 93,818 fans...59 years ago (1959), the AFL organized with New York, Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver and Houston. Buffalo later joined...49 years ago (1969), the New York Mets dropped 9 ½ games out of first place. They wound up winning the NL pennant...30 years ago (1988), Rochester’s Jeff Sluman won his only PGA Tour major, the PGA Championship, by three shots over Paul Azinger...25 years ago (1993), the New York Yankees retired Reggie Jackson’s No. 44...2 years ago (2016), Usain Bolt became the first man to win Olympic gold in the 100 meters three times.

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