Monday, September 15, 2014

Soccer 101?

World Cup 2014 (Getty Images)
What do you get when you take a dyed in the wool soccer club supporting Brit, drop him into the early-formation chaos of Major League Soccer and then sit back and watch millions of new fans around the country scrambling to understand the "so-called" beautiful game and its nuances? You get Club Soccer 101, a new and very unique guide to the world's elite soccer clubs, written by Luke Dempsey for the American Soccer fan who loved the 2014 World Cup but is still struggling to understand the difference between Notts County and Notts Forrest.
The book takes most of the elite soccer clubs from around the world and breaks down the team's colors, traditions, business structure and the success or failures of each club in an easy to read primer. It's the perfect companion for the many USA-bred, sport-minded adults left wondering who their kids are following on the video game FIFA 2014 and a welcome resource for the millions of others now tuning into Premier League every weekend on NBC Sports Net.  The book comes just in time as the Champions League kicks-off in mid-September and international futbol returns to regular season play after a near month-long break for international play.
Club Soccer 101 will provide great insight into the history of Chelsea or the traditions on Manchester City, while also providing some much-needed explanations for MLS clubs like the Seattle Sounders, the LA Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo and even the New York Red Bulls, who Dempsey has been a season ticketholder for since they were the MetroStars toiling around in the vastness of Giants Stadium back in the day.   
The book is a very easy read and never gets bogged down in useless overstated terms, it is written with the knowledge that Americans want to understand more, but need the clubs explained in simple terms. Whether you are a loyal supporter of Arsenal or still discovering Sporting Kansas City, Club Soccer 101 has something for every sports fan, and for all the newfound soccer fans just discovering "The Beautiful Game" across America.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Notes

"T-Off" at Deutsche Bank Championship


Rory McIlroy enjoys playing in Boston (Getty Images).
NORTON, Mass - Surprise leaders Russell Henley and Billy Horschel are atop the Deutsche Bank Championship leaderboard as final round play was underway Monday morning in Boston where the PGA Tour's FedExCup playoffs continue on a busy sports holiday weekend in the USA.  The more familiar names of Rory McIlroy, the soon-to-be-crowned 2014 PGA Player of the Year and Aussie long-baller Jason Day are two strokes back from the lead. Day was in control after 54 holes at last week's Barclays championship but fell two strokes shy of Hunter Mahan's winning score. Mahan came to Boston as the FedExCup points leader after being rewarded with 2,500 points and vaulting from 62nd to first place on the leaderboard, besting PGA player of the year Rory McIlroy.

ON to DENVER: The top 70 players on the FedExCup points list will travel to Denver, Colorado for next week's BMW Championship, the semi-finals of the annual PGA Tour countdown to the season finale TOUR Championship at East lake CC near Atlanta, Georgia. ... Here in Boston, the top 100 players advanced to play but only 22 were eliminated after the cut and another seven players were shaved from competition yesterday evening after a rare modified cut-line was established to get the field of play down for Monday's final round. One of the players cut, Patrick Reed, shot an unspeakable 82 on Sunday after openings rounds of 68-68. Reed was No. 8 on the FedExCup points standings list coming into Boston. Reed is projected to drop to No. 14 after the rough round at TPC Boston.

BACK 9 NETWORK? - Jason Day has played the front 9 at the TPC Boston at -12 but the back nine at 2-over. "The front fits my eye," said Day on Sunday. "I like the front nine. The back nine, you've got to pay a little more respect, because it's a little tougher. Throughout the PGA Tour, normally, the harder holes are towards the end of the round. With that said, I feel I need to play the 18th hole a little better."

RYDER on the HORIZON: Although the PGA Tour playoffs are in full swing, the golf world seems to be more focused on the upcoming Ryder Cup tournament featuring the best players from Europe versus the USA in match play. Largely because the Ryder Cup is played every two years, the special nature of the tournament takes precedent over the regular season and playoffs in golf, much like the World Cup in soccer seems to dominate the news over the top European leagues. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tries not to get caught up in the mix. "I won;t say I haven't thought about it," said McIlroy. "I'll think about it more the week before, maybe the weekend before we get there. Right now, I'm thinking about myself. I've got (this tournament in Boston), and then two very important weeks to think about before I pay any attention to the Ryder Cup."

TOUGH COMPETITORS: Billy Horschel is known on the PGA Tour as a tough-minded competitor who might be playing his way on to the USA Ryder Cup team as a Captain's pick. Horschel was asked if it was a surprise to see R3 leader Russell Henley and himself atop the leaders going into the final round. "I'm not surprised to be here," he said. "If people are surprised that I'm in second place, then they must not know what kind of person I am. Obviously, my season hasn't been anywhere as good as last year, but I'm a guy that's going to keep working hard, keep grinding until they tell me the season is over and I can't play anymore. I've put a lot of time in the last few months, and it's just now starting to pay off. ... On Russell Henley: "He's a guy who comes from a basketball background. He's like a three-point shooter, he's going to keep shooting, and they're going to start falling sooner than later. That's his kind of mentality. I like that. He's a guy who is never going to give up."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Furyk at the 15th - TPC Boston

These guys are - pretty damn good.

Jim Furyk on the 15th hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship for Eagle!

See for coverage of the event this Labor Day weekend.

Saturday's Alright in Boston

Notes & Quotes on DBChampionship


THE DAY BEFORE MOVING DAY:  At PGA Tour events around the world, Saturday is fondly called "Moving Day," as the tournaments are almost always scheduled to run Thursday-Friday (then a cutdown) with Saturday and Sunday as the third and final rounds, respectively. Here at the Deutsche Bank Championship, held over the Labor Day holiday in the USA, the tournament begins a day later than usual and, thus, Saturday's round leads to the cut and Sunday's round is "Moving Day," a term the players use to note the clutch play to move into contention for a tournament win.

PALMER on PALMER: Ryan Palmer jumped to the lead at the DBChampionship, held at the TPC-Boston, a course originally designed by Arnold Palmer. Initially, the design and layout of the course drew criticism from the golf world, mainly because of its structure for long hitters but also because of poor, unforgiving greens. After a re-design and, quite frankly, the power of mother nature over time, the greens settled in and the course was tweaked to become one of the favorites on the annual PGA Tour schedule. A rather dry month of August in the suburban Boston area has resulted in firm greens at the TPC Boston which should increase as the tournament proceeds. Ryan Palmer has experienced some success at the DBC, with a T-11 in 2010 after shooting a first round 64 (-7). He bested that number in R1 on Friday with a (-8) 63, two strokes ahead of New England bred Keegan Bradley.

Palmer has a new caddie this week, as his regular partner, James Edmondson, is home in Texas on a personal matter. Brett Waldman, the regular caddie for David Toms, is stepping in for Palmer this week in Boston.

Keegan Bradley in R1 of  DBChampionship in Boston
KEEGAN'S BLUFF: In 2012, Keegan Bradley, a native of nearby Vermont, shot a 71-73 to barely make the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship. However, he made good use of "Moving Day" and shot an 8-under 63 in R3 to help him finish T13 for the tournament. He is in the midst of his fourth consecutive start at the DBC and has made it to all four events on the PGA Tour's FEDEXCup playoffs every year since joining the tour in 2011. Coming into the week, Bradley was ranked #13 in USA Ryder Cup points and is an odds-on favorite to be a captain's choice for the USA team in 2014. A strong finish at the DBC will most likely lock him in to be one of Tom Watson's three choices, to be announced this Tuesday, Sept. 2.

LEFTY: At Fenway Park in nearby Boston, right-handed hitters have an advantage when staring down the Green Monster. However, a left-handed hitters, like Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski and David "Big Papi" Ortiz have made quite a statement at Fenway to become two of the three greatest Red Sox batters of all-time. While there's no "Green Monster" at the TPC-Boston, left-handed PGA Tour great Phil Mickelson has had his share of success in Boston, winning the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship and capturing a Top 15 in each of the FedExCup standings over the past seven seasons. Mickelson struggled in his R1 this year, shooting a (+3) 74, hitting only half of the 18 greens in regulation. His group shot a collective (+16) in R1, with Justin Hicks (77) and Ryo Ishikawa (78).

PLAYER NOTES in GENERAL: Defending DBC winner, Henrik Stenson, shot a (-1) 70 as he tries to become only the second player to win multiple Deutsche Bank titles in Boston. Vijay Singh is the only player to win the tournament twice, in 2004 and 2008. ... Jim Furyk opened with a (+1) 72 came into the weekend as the sixth highest FedEXCup points scorer. He finished in 8th place at The Barclays last weekend, his 13th Top-10 finishin FedExCup events, tying Steve Stricker who is not playing in Boston this week. ... World #1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, enjoys significant support from the large Irish community in Boston. McIlroy won the DBC in 2012 but finished a distant T-47 in 2013 and T-37 in 2010.