Categories
Ohio Sports

Column: The measure of DeChambeau is if anyone copies him

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer
He reduced the golf course to a pitch-and-putt with power that got everyone’s attention.
That was John Daly at Crooked Stick in 1991 when he followed his caddie’s instructions — “Kill it!” — on his way to winning the PGA Championship.
It was Tiger Woods at Augusta National in 1997, when he hit pitching wedge into a par 5 and won the Masters by 12 shots.
Not to be forgotten is J.B. Holmes at the Phoenix Open in 2006. He hit 4-iron from 263 yards — back when a 263-yard shot over water to a par 5 was considered a risk — and finished with a tee shot that took bunkers, water, everything out of play.
Fascination with the long ball is nothing new, and the hype gets even stronger when it leads to the lowest score.
Bryson DeChambeau took that to another level last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Along with getting the result that matters — the trophy — he had some of the gaudiest numbers golf has ever seen, at least since the PGA Tour developed the statistical tools to measure them.
DeChambeau finished with a 367-yard drive at Detroit Golf Club — his fourth-longest shot of the week — that set up a flip wedge to 3 feet for birdie and ultimately a three-shot victory.
Since the PGA Tour resumed its schedule a month ago, it was the 29th time he’s had a drive go 350 yards or longer.
Sixteen of those were in Detroit, where he was able to “unleash the Kraken” far more often than he could at Colonial or Harbour Town. He hit a 374-yard drive on the 13th hole Saturday, which is why in the final round he waited for the green to clear on the 399-yard hole and let Troy Merritt go first.
“I don’t do that very often,” DeChambeau said. “And hopefully, I can have that going on a lot more down the road. That would be a lot of fun.”
Is there no end to how far he can hit it?
DeChambeau is taking a week off before returning for the Memorial at Muirfield Village, where Jack Nicklaus is constantly tweaking his prized golf course in a losing battle against the modern game.
What DeChambeau is doing looks more futuristic.
It’s a different brand of technology, for sure, one involving muscle activation and ground force as much as polyurethane and titanium. Whatever the case, it appears to be working.
DeChambeau is 69-under par in the four tournaments he has played since golf was shut down for three months by the COVID-19 pandemic. That was ample time for DeChambeau to work out and eat. Considering his size, he did plenty of both.
The real measure of his plan is whether DeChambeau changes the way golf is played. Woods didn’t invent fitness, but his dedication to becoming more athlete than golfer inspired a generation.
Will anyone copy DeChambeau?
“I’m going to come back next year and look like a different person,” he said Oct. 6 in Las Vegas. “You’re going to see some pretty big changes in my body, which is going to be a good thing. Going to be hitting it a lot further.”
That’s what impresses his peers the most. He did what he said he was going to do. He looks like a different person. He’s hitting it farther than anyone in an era already ruled by power.
Who’s next?
“I’m sure there will be people trying to do it,” DeChambeau said. “And when I say that I’m going to keep pushing the limits, I’m going to keep doing that. I’m going to see how far, how fast I can get and how straight I can hit it. As a result of what I’ve done, I think it’ll affect some people.”
He also believes players will stick with what works for them. As Dustin Johnson said when he won the previous week at the Travelers Championship, “It doesn’t matter how far you hit it. You’ve got to get it in the hole.”
DeChambeau led the field in Detroit in driving distance and putting. That’s a winning combination.
Based on his last four weeks — particularly his victory — he now is the betting favorite in the three majors this year. That, too, will be a greater measure than 350-yard drives or consuming 3,500 calories a day.
For now, he is getting his share of believers, though not yet followers.
Justin Thomas recalls being on the range next to DeChambeau at the Travelers Championship. It was one thing to see DeChambeau pounding 350-yard drives. It was another to see where they landed.
“You could put a blanket over about half of them,” Thomas said. “That’s what’s unbelievable. People don’t understand how hard it is to hit it that straight at that high speed. … Obviously, he had some foul balls at a place like last week where it looked like he could hit it anywhere, but for the most part, he’s driving it on a string really far.
“I went from being a little skeptical about it to maybe saying some things to realizing he was beating me every week and I should probably shut up and just starting playing better for myself.”
Thomas had a one-year start on the PGA Tour and has twice as many victories as DeChambeau (12-6), along with a major championship and a World Golf Championship title. What he does seems to work, too.
___
More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Ohio Sports

Browns sign ‘Bama tackle Wills, team’s first-round pick

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jedrick Wills has slid into place for the Browns.
The former Alabama star right tackle, who will attempt to slide over to the left side for Cleveland, signed his four-year, $19.7 million contract on Tuesday, two weeks before he’s scheduled to report to his first NFL training camp. The deal includes an $11.9 million signing bonus.
The Browns selected Wills with the No. 10 overall pick in April’s draft, which boasted an elite class of tackles.
Cleveland has plugged the vital position the past two seasons with stop-gap measures following perennial All-Pro Joe Thomas’ retirement after the 2018 season. Cleveland’s hoping Wills can be their long-term answer at left tackle, but he’ll first have to adjust to playing on that side of the line after working exclusively at right tackle for the Crimson Tide.
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Wills started his final 28 games at Alabama, where he opened huge running lanes and protected the blindside of left-handed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He only allowed one sack last season as a junior before deciding to turn pro. He was named a second-team AP All-American.
His athleticism and versatility is what set him apart from the other tackles for the Browns, who have been impressed with his eagerness and aptitude during their virtual offseason program.
New Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan said Wills has picked things up quickly through video training.
“It has been really positive,” Callahan said last month. “He is really a sponge of information. He has absorbed all the content that you can give him and he wants more. I am really excited about him. I am eager to at some point get on the field with him.”
The Browns have signed five of their seven draft picks. The only unsigned players are second-round safety Grant Delpit and third-round linebacker Jacob Phillips — both from LSU.
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Categories
Ohio Sports

AP source: Browns restructure DE Olivier Vernon’s contract

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Olivier Vernon’s status with the Browns has more certainty. So does his paycheck.
The defensive end, whose future in Cleveland seemed in doubt for months, has renegotiated his contract for next season, a person familiar with the talks told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Vernon’s days with the Browns seemed numbered as he was going to make $15.25 million — a non-guaranteed deal that was the largest current one-year contract on Cleveland’s roster — as long as he was around after training camp.
But the club reworked his deal and Vernon will earn $11 million, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicly disclosing the agreement.
ESPN was first to report Vernon will get a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus and $2 million in incentives.
The 29-year-old Vernon joined the Browns last season after coming over from the New York Giants in the blockbuster trade that brought wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland.
Vernon started slowly last season, and was just finding his rhythm when he injured his knee in a Week 9 loss at Denver. He finished with 3 1/2 sacks in 10 games, hardly what the Browns envisioned with him playing on the opposite side of star end Myles Garrett, who could be poised to get a major extension soon.
There was speculation the Browns would trade Vernon this offseason as they’ve reportedly been pursuing free agent Jadeveon Clowney, who remains on the market and has already rejected an offer from Cleveland. But it appears Vernon will be back with a defensive front that has been upgraded with the offseason additions of Adrian Clayborn and Andrew Billings.
Following the draft, Browns first-year general manager Andrew Berry said the team was pleased with Vernon.
“Olivier is a good football player, and we like having good football players on the roster,” Berry said at the conclusion of the draft in April. “He is a talented defensive end. He is here and will continue to be here.”
Vernon has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons. He was inactive for the Giants first five games in 2018 because of an ankle injury. He missed four games in 2017 with a bad ankle.
Vernon was a second-team All-Pro in 2016, his first season with New York after four in Miami.
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Categories
Ohio Sports

Ohio High School Athletic Association changes leadership

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced that its executive director has been replaced by an interim leader while the organization searches for a permanent replacement.
The president of the association’s board of directors, Dan Leffingwell, said Monday that Jerry Snodgrass had been replaced by interim executive director Bob Goldring.
Director of Communications Tim Stried told news outlets that the board of directors felt it imperative to take the leadership of OHSAA in a different direction.
Snodgrass had served as executive director since 2018 and spent 12 years with the association, according to an OHSAA statement.
Goldring, formerly the OHSAA senior director of operations, has served with the association for 25 years. Goldring will serve in an administrative capacity and work with state government leaders and school district administrators to develop a plan to return to play this fall.
“I am honored by the confidence the board has placed in me,” the news release quoted Goldring as saying. “We have a solid team of knowledgeable and dedicated professionals at the OHSAA who are committed to serving our member schools. My top priorities are to prepare for return to play this fall, and successfully lead the team until a permanent executive director is hired.”

Categories
Ohio Sports

PGA Tour, Memorial scrap plans to have limited spectators

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer
The PGA Tour and the Memorial scrapped state-approved plans to have limited spectators next week because of what it described as rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus at his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, was in line to be the first tournament with spectators since golf resumed its schedule on June 11 in Texas.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, last month approved a plan that would allow the Memorial to have 20% capacity on property, which would include fans, private hospitality areas and essential staff to run the tournament.
“But given the broader challenges communities are facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stay focused on the No. 1 priority for our ‘Return to Golf’ — the health and safety of all involved,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement Monday.
The absence of spectators also means the tournament will not have a pro-am.
Muirfield Village this week is holding the Workday Charity Open, a one-time event that replaces the John Deere Classic, which officials chose to cancel this year and bring back in 2021. No spectators were to be allowed this week.
It’s the first time since 1957 a course has held different PGA Tour events in consecutive weeks.
The 157-man field this week includes Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay. The Memorial has special status and features only a 120-man field. Tiger Woods, who has not played competitively since the pandemic shut down golf, is a five-time champion at the Memorial.
“We had a good plan in place, and I could not be more proud of everyone who contributed to it,” Nicklaus said. “In the end, we have the responsibility to recognize the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament.”
The 3M Open outside Minneapolis on July 23-26 already has said it would not have spectators, while the PGA Championship in San Francisco is being played Aug. 6-9 without fans. That leaves the World Golf Championships event in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 30 as the next opportunity for golf to have fans on the course.
___
(This version corrects that it’s the first time since 1957 that a course has hosted consecutive events.)
___
More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Ohio Sports

Cavs’ Drummond picking up $28 million option for next season

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers center Andre Drummond plans to exercise his $28.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season and stay with Cleveland.
Drummond, who was acquired in a trade from the Detroit Pistons in February, said on an ESPN podcast Tuesday that he intends to pick up the option. Drummond’s decision had been expected, but it’s the first time he had publicly stated his intentions.
“Yeah, that’s going to be pretty hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still,” Drummond said with a laugh during the interview in which he discussed beer, his love of music and that he had started taking acting lessons. “I definitely will be in Cleveland.”
Drummond must notify the Cavs in writing about the option by Oct. 17. The NBA’s offseason calendar has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cavs surprised many around the league when they obtained Drummond, a two-time All-Star in Detroit. His arrival seemed to create a logjam in the front court since Cleveland already had Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic.
Drummond joined the Cavs just after first-year coach John Beilein stepped down and was replaced by J.B. Bickerstaff. In eight games with Cleveland, Drummond averaged 17.1 points and 11.1 rebounds as the Cavs went 4-4 and showed some promise.
“Going to Cleveland was like going down the street,” said Drummond, drafted by the Pistons with the ninth overall pick in 2012. “I enjoy being in Cleveland. I think the people there are outstanding. The fan base is super dope. The gym is dope. I love playing there. The coaching staff is good. The team is young, so it’s good to work with.”
___
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Categories
Ohio Sports

U of Cincinnati removing Marge Schott’s name from stadium

By JOE KAY AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — The University of Cincinnati is removing Marge Schott’s name from its baseball stadium and a library archive in light of her racist comments while owner of the Cincinnati Reds.
The school’s board of trustees unanimously approved the move Tuesday, 12 days after a Catholic high school also decided to remove references to Schott from its facilities. Over the years, UC students, faculty and alumni have objected to Schott’s name on school facilities, but no changes were made.
“Marge Schott’s record of racism and bigotry stands at stark odds with our university’s core commitment to dignity, equity and inclusion,” said school President Neville G. Pinto, who recommended the change.
The national push for racial justice sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has prompted local institutions to revisit Schott’s history.
Former UC baseball player Jordan Ramey started a petition June 1 on Change.org to have the stadium renamed, drawing national attention. Ramey, who is Black, grew up in Cincinnati and learned about Schott’s history of racist comments from his father.
Nearly 10,000 people had signed the petition as of Tuesday. Ramey was gratified by the trustees’ unanimous vote and Pinto’s comments. The school president called Ramey after the decision.
“All our leaders need to have that kind of vision, that kind of outlook, especially with the history we have,” Ramey said in a phone interview. “Our leaders need to acknowledge our history and accept our history and take ownership of our history. That’s the only way we can move forward.
“If we keep denying it, we’re going to pass it along and it’s going to keep going.”
After Schott’s death in 2004, most of her estate went to a foundation that funds a wide range of philanthropic ventures. Her name is featured on many facilities in the city.
As Reds owner, Schott was repeatedly suspended and ultimately ousted by Major League Baseball for her slurs and praise of Adolf Hitler. Team employees said Schott used slurs for Black players and made derogatory remarks about Jews and Japanese. She said Hitler was “good at the beginning” but then “went too far.”
Major League Baseball banned her from the team’s day-to-day operations for the 1993 season and levied another suspension after she returned and continued to make offensive remarks. Ultimately, she was forced to sell controlling interest in the team in 1999.
The university built Marge Schott Stadium with a $2 million donation from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation in 2006. In addition to removing Schott’s name from the stadium, trustees agreed to remove it from a space in its archives library.
“I hope this action serves as an enduring reminder that we cannot remain silent or indifferent when it comes to prejudice, hate or inequity,” Pinto said. “More than ever, our world needs us to convert our values into real and lasting action.”
Earlier this month, Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati decided to remove Schott’s name from a science, language and arts building that was constructed with the help of her donation. It also is renaming its athletic facility, which was called “Schottzie Stadium” in honor of Schott’s dog.
Schott’s foundation has encouraged discussions about naming rights.
“While we cannot make excuses for the rhetoric made by Mrs. Schott decades ago, we can ask you to learn from Mrs. Schott’s mistakes as well as her great love for Cincinnati,” the foundation said in a statement this month. “We appreciate what these great organizations bring to Cincinnati and we fully support the decisions made by the organizations who have received grants from the Foundation.”
Ramey, who recently graduated from UC, was gratified that his petition was so widely shared and signed.
“I’m looking at just under 10,000 people who shared, who signed, who talked about this situation as an injustice,” Ramey said. “A lot of people feel very strongly about this. I don’t think it’s a celebration. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
Ohio Sports

Big Ten commissioner starts voter registration initiative

By LARRY LAGE AP Sports Writer
The Big Ten has created a voter registration initiative to go along with its Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, hoping its 14 schools and thousands of student-athletes can leverage their platform to spur social change.
“It all fits together,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a telephone interview. “I’m hopeful that what we do here will be able to lead the way for colleges around the world.”
Warren, the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference, said the announcement Monday of the voting initiative finalizes plans that have been in the works since February.
Warren hopes the nonpartisan program will encourage student-athletes to become part of the electoral process. It will include monthly programming, beginning in July and ending with the general election in November, with participants from each Big Ten school.
“The right to vote is an incredible honor and most tangible and powerful way to make social change,” Warren said. “And for many of our student-athletes, this will be their first opportunity to vote.”
Last week, Warren said he was motivated to launch the Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck, sparking massive protests against racism and police brutality around the country and world.
“I was very heartbroken by the death of George Floyd, but this is the most encouraged I have been in this country,” Warren said. “After we finally hit rock bottom publicly, the only way to go is up from here. When you saw that happen to George Floyd on TV, you could not deny we have a problem. Now, we need to pull together to make this a better place for our children and grandchildren.”
The Big Ten released the names of the people who will be part of its new coalition, which includes school presidents, athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes.
“I am thankful to have been nominated for such an incredible union,” said Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner, who is part of the coalition. “I am an agent of change and will use my platform to create real change in this country.”
___
Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/LarryLage
___
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Categories
Ohio Sports

Mayfield “absolutely” will kneel during national anthem

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to kneel during the national anthem this upcoming season to support protests of social injustice, police brutality and racism.
In answering a post from a fan on his Instagram account Saturday that pleaded with him not to kneel, Mayfield responded: “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.”
Mayfield has been outspoken about the need for more understanding and justice in the nation following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
“It’s a pivotal time for change,” Mayfeld said Thursday. “What’s being addressed now obviously has been going on for a long time. So now everybody’s finally coming together to address it. And doing it the right way of holding people accountable.”
Mayfield wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt while working out. Later, he posted another message outlining his stance on kneeling.
“Everybody so upset about my comment doesn’t understand the reason behind kneeling in the first place,” Mayfield wrote. “I have the utmost respect for our military, cops, and people that serve OUR country. It’s about equality and everybody being treated the same because we are all human. It’s been ignored for too long and that it my fault as well for not becoming more educated and staying silent.”
“If I lose fans, that’s OK. I’ve always spoken my mind. And that’s from the heart.”
On Friday, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he would kneel with his players if they chose to do so during the anthem.
Earlier this week, while not going as far as O’Brien, new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear he would back his players in any peaceful demonstrations.
“My position is I want to make sure I support our players,” Stefanski said. “First things first, I want to make sure I sit down with them and talk. … I can just promise you this, we will spend as much time as needed to make sure that we are all on the same page and we are a united front from a player, staff, you name it (standpoint).”
Stefanski attended a peaceful protest last weekend and has encouraged his players to “get in the arena.”
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Categories
Ohio Sports

Browns’ Landry ahead of schedule in rehab from hip surgery

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Quarantine has allowed Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry to focus even more on his recovery from off-season hip surgery.
Landry, who opted for surgery in February after being slowed by an injury last season, said on a Zoom call Wednesday that his rehab has gone as well as expected and he’s “a little bit” ahead of schedule.
Landry envisions being back on the field in August — assuming players are allowed to return in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Rehab process is going great,” Landry said from his Florida home. “It’s just a little difficult obviously, just some of the modality type of things I’ve been doing that obviously with quarantine and everything I haven’t been able to have access to. So that’s kind of been the toughest part of it.
“Right now I’m a little bit ahead of schedule, but the most important thing right now is taking it day by day. I can’t predict when exactly I’ll be on the field, whether that’s July, August or September. But obviously my return date is sometime in August.”
Landry didn’t miss a game last season despite a hip injury that flared up in training camp. The 27-year-old has never missed a game since breaking in with Miami in 2014 and said he’s determined to keep his streak intact.
“That’s one of the goals that I would set out for myself since I was a kid watching ‘Monday Night Football,'” he said. “And it’s still something that’s in the back of my mind. Obviously I want to make sure that I’m going through this process the right way, too, and making sure that I’m healthy enough to be able to go out there and help the team win games and not hurt the team.”
Landry finished with a team-high 83 catches for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns last season. In six seasons, he has 564 catches for 6,188 yards and 32 TDs.
During the shutdown because of the virus outbreak, Landry has stayed in touch with good friend and teammate Odell Beckham Jr., who had surgery in January for a core muscle injury.
“We’ve been Face-Timing,” Landry said. “We’ve been kind of documenting our whole process of recovery and sending it back and forth to each other. Obviously right now, it’s a crucial time in our recovery stages of getting our strength back. The healing process is kind of done. Now it’s time to make sure that everything’s working together.”
NOTES: The Browns signed two 2020 draft picks: TE Harrison Bryant and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones to their rookie contracts. Bryant, the John Mackey Award winner last season from Florida Atlantic, was taken in the fourth round while People-Jones, who played at Michigan, was drafted in the sixth round. Landry and Peoples-Jones became friends before the draft and Landry has been impressed with his new teammate. “He has a lot of questions, which I admire about him,” Landry said. “He’s asking me about punters. He’s asking me about the team. He’s asking me about guys on the team. I see already he’s a hard worker. I see that he’s eager to learn.”
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL