TIME golf

Watson Wins Travelers Championship On 2nd Playoff Hole

Bubba Watson
Jessica Hill—AP Bubba Watson holds the championship trophy after winning the Travelers Championship golf tournament, Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Cromwell, Conn. Watson beat out Paul Casey in a playoff

"I hung on, and that's what you have to do sometimes to win"

(CROMWELL, Conn.) — Bubba Watson is hard to beat in a playoff.

The long-driving lefty made an 8-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole Sunday to outlast Paul Casey for his second Travelers Championship victory.

Watson improved to 5-1 in overtime.

Casey overcame a three-stroke deficit with five to play, catching Watson at 16-under 264 in light rain at TPC River Highlands.

But the 37-year-old Englishman, playing the tournament for the first time, lost his chance at the title while playing the par-4 18th for the third time when his third shot from a greenside bunker flew over the green and landed on the cart path.

Watson hit his 160-yard approach just to the right of the hole to set up his winning putt.

“I hung on, and that’s what you have to do sometimes to win,” Watson said.

Watson, who also needed extra holes to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in November at the start of the season and won the Travelers in 2010 in a three-way playoff for his first win on the PGA Tour.

“It’s just about staying calm,” he said. “That’s what you have to do, you just breathe and walk slower, take some deep breaths and focus on the fact that no matter what you still come in second place.”

Watson had a chance to win in regulation. But the two-time Masters champion bogeyed the 17th, while Casey closed with three birdies on the final five holes, sandwiched around a bogey on 15.

Casey watched in the scoring trailer with 9-month-old son Lex on his lap as Watson made a 3 1/2 -foot par putt to force the playoff.

Watson finished with a 67, and Casey shot 65.

“There are always ifs and buts and could haves,” Casey said. “But the goal was to give myself a chance to win, and I did that.”

This was the sixth time since 2004 this tournament has gone to overtime.

Brian Harman, who had a one-stroke lead after 54 holes, had a 69 to finish a stroke out of the playoff. After 39 straight holes without a bogey, he had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 9 and 10 to fall two strokes behind Watson. His birdies on the final two holes were not enough to catch Casey and Watson.

But the finish assured the 28-year-old from Georgia a spot in the British Open, along with Canadian Graham DeLaet, who finished two shots back, Carl Pettersson who finished fifth at 13 under, and Luke Donald, who tied for seventh at 11 under. Sixth-place finisher Zach Johnson already had an exemption into the field.

“I’ve been thinking about that tournament for a long time and really trying to look at a way to get in there,” Harman said. “This one burns a little bit, but that definitely helps the sting.”

The Travelers was the first of three PGA Tour events where finishers not already exempt can get into St. Andrew’s. There also are four spots available at The Greenbrier Classic and one at the John Deere Classic.

Watson became the sixth multiple winner of this tournament, joining Billy Casper (1963, 1965, 1968, 1973), Arnold Palmer (1956, 1960), Paul Azinger (1987, 1989), Phil Mickelson (2001, 2002), Peter Jacobsen (1984, 2003) and Stewart Cink (1997, 2008).

Rain forced a late start Sunday, and the players went off in threesomes from two tees. But the wet weather also created scoring opportunities, with players taking advantage of the soft greens to shoot for the pins.

Watson started strong with birdies on his first two holes, chiding a fan on the second hole who had suggested he go under a tree with a 4-iron. Watson used a wedge that he hit to 6 feet.

He seemed to lock up the championship on the 13th, where he sank a 39-foot putt for eagle, his longest made putt of the tournament.

His approach at 14 ended up 13-feet right of the pin, but his birdie putt ended up on the front lip of the cup.

“I was hoping nobody else would birdie, but Paul Casey decided he wanted to birdie some holes to make it interesting,” Watson said.

Casey began the day tied for fourth, but moved up quickly. His second shot at the 431-yard third hole bounced once from 126 yards out and went straight into the hole for an eagle. He also made a 64-footer for birdie on the par-3 eighth hole.

He made a 6-foot birdie putt on 16, and a 15-footer on 17 to stay in contention. Watson lost his lead after hitting his approach on 17 to the right of the hole behind two bunkers.

Both made par on the first playoff hole. But on the second, Watson’s tee shot when down the middle, and Casey found bunkers on his first two shots.

“It does remind me of 2010, where coming down the stretch I had to hit some good shots and I didn’t,” Watson said. “I wish it was a lot easier, but a victory is a victory.”

Watson led after the first two-rounds, but was a stroke back of Harman after Saturday. He becomes the fifth golfer to win this tournament since 2000 after leading or being tied for the lead going into the second round.

He also moved closer to his career goal.

“My whole goal in my career was to get 10 wins,” he said. “I need two more wins.”

TIME Soccer

Abby Wambach Has Best Day Ever With U.S. Soccer Win and Gay Marriage Ruling

"For me it doesn't get any better"

(OTTAWA, Ontario)—That the United States capped Friday with a victory over China to advance to the semifinals at the Women’s World Cup had special meaning for forward Abby Wambach.

Earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples across the nation have the right to marry. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion: “No longer may this liberty be denied.”

U.S. Soccer posted to Twitter: “More than ever, today we are #OneNationOneTeam #LoveWins.”

Wambach has been married to her partner, Sarah Huffman, since 2013.

“Obviously it impacts my life personally, but everybody on our team was super happy and excited about it. And to cap it off with a win, moving on to the semis at the World Cup, for me it doesn’t get any better,” Wambach said.

The United States defeated China 1-0 on Carli Lloyd’s goal in the 51st minute. The win sends the second-ranked Americans to a semifinal on Tuesday in Montreal against top-ranked Germany.

The Supreme Court ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them.

 

TIME NBA

Satnam Singh Just Became the First Indian to Make It to the NBA

The big man from a small village in Punjab was the 52nd draft pick

He’s only 19 years old, 7 ft. 2 in. tall and weighs 290 lb. He also just became the first-ever basketball player from India to be drafted into the NBA, when the Dallas Mavericks announced Thursday night that they selected him with their 52nd pick. Meet Satnam Singh Bhamara.

Born in a small village in Punjab that has a population of around 700, Singh was noticed while playing at local clubs and moved to the U.S. in 2010 to train at the IMG Academy in Florida.

Given his young age, towering presence and shooting ability (as this video from DraftExpress shows), Singh is a player the Mavs will undoubtedly be looking to develop over the next few years.

He will reportedly suit up for the team’s Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

Singh joins Canada’s Sim Bhullar, who became the first player of Indian ethnicity in the NBA when he took to the court for the Sacramento Kings earlier this year, in boosting the increasing popularity of basketball in India. And Mavericks owner Mark Cuban knows it.

“I’m over the moon,” Singh said to Indian news channel NDTV after the draft. “I hope this opens new avenues for many more Indian basketball players in the future.”

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TIME Family

Watch the Multi-Talented Ayesha Curry Score a 3-Pointer

It runs in the family

Ayesha Curry has some basketball skills of her own. Her famous husband, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, is an NBA champion, but, even at nine-months pregnant, Curry proved in an Instagram video that she’s got game too.

Hopefully, we’ll see the youngest (and cutest) member of the Curry family, Riley, scoring her own 3-pointers a few years down the road. She’s already been getting lots of attention for her candid comments at her Daddy’s press conferences.

TIME Soccer

U.S. Soccer Captain Clint Dempsey Gets a Two-Year Open Cup Ban for Ripping Up a Referee’s Notebook

New England Revolution v Seattle Sounders
Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Clint Dempsey #2 of the Seattle Sounders FC dribbles against the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field on March 8, 2015 in Seattle, Washington

That's in addition to the three-match suspension he's already been given

Clint Dempsey, the captain of the U.S. soccer team, has been given a two-year or a six-game ban from the U.S. Open Cup — whichever is longer. The disciplinary move comes after he knocked a notebook from a referee’s hand and then tore it up during a June 16 game between his club side, the Seattle Sounders, and the Portland Timbers.

The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel announced Thursday that he would also be fined.

Dempsey had already been punished with a three-match suspension on June 19, according to the New York Times. He has sat out on two games already.

During the June 16 game, Dempsey knocked the notebook out of referee Daniel Radford’s hand toward the end of the match in objection to a call. According to CBS Sports, Radford red-carded Dempsey but then noticed that the U.S. captain was already walking off the field.

[CBS Sports]

TIME World Cup

In Women’s World Cup, U.S. Feels Weight of Expectations

Members of China's national team take part in a training session at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa on June 25, 2015 on the eve of their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal match against the US.
Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images Members of China's national team take part in a training session at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa on June 25, 2015 on the eve of their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal match against the US.

It's not enough for the Americans to just beat China in Friday's quarterfinal

They haven’t lost a single game in this World Cup. They haven’t given up a goal since the opener, stringing together a remarkable 333-minute shutout streak. On Friday night, they face China—a team that hasn’t beaten them in 24 matches, dating back to 2003—in the World Cup quarterfinals. They’re three games away from a championship.

So why all this anxiety about the U.S. women’s soccer team?

Despite the wins—and a scoreless draw with Sweden in group play—the team has drawn more critics than cheers. Eric Wynalda, the former men’s national team player and commentator for Fox, went so far as to call the team’s performance against Colombia, a 2-0 U.S. win in the round of 16, “pathetic.”

Wynalda, and other pundits, have pointed fingers at the coach, Jill Ellis, for the team’s lack of offensive dynamism. She’s employed a defensive-minded game plan—which has clearly worked. So far. If the team couldn’t rack up more goals against early-round competition, the U.S. will be in trouble against a Germany, France, or Japan. “There’s been a lack of offensive flow and rhythm,” said former U.S. star Julie Foudy, a member of the last American team to win a World Cup, in 1999. “They’re not creating a lot of chances, they’re not taking players on, it’s really been four stagnant games.”

OK, but what about all that winning? Does it count for anything? According to Foudy, an ESPN analyst, the complaining has a bright side: we gripe because we care. “It really speaks to the growth of the game here, that we’re all debating it, we’re talking about it, we’re not content with just winning anymore,” said Foudy. “Sure, you can win on good defense. And sure you can grind it out. But really, with more support, more funding, more kids playing in the United States, why are we relying on grinding it out anymore?”

For the Americans, the beautiful game needs to be more beautiful. To that end, Foudy’s hoping that Ellis will deploy three scoring forwards—perhaps a combo of Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Sydney LeRoux—against China, instead of the usual two. Such a formation would ease the burden on the veteran Wambach, 35, who has had to cover more ground in the two-forward set. “For her to be chasing balls down on into the corner flag is crazy to me,” Foudy said. “That’s not her game.”

Bottom line, Foudy wants Ellis to shake up the game plan now, before trying it out against Germany or France in the semis. Not that the U.S. can look past China. They’ve got strong goalkeeping, and can cause trouble off set pieces. China faced the U.S. in the epic ’99 final, but women’s soccer has declined in that country since that time: as the New York Times reports, only some 6,000 or 7,000 female players above the age of 12 are registered to play. Parents are more likely to stress school over soccer, which offers few opportunities beyond the national team. But China’s president, Xi Jinping, likes soccer, and is backing a plan to revive the game.

Heading into Friday night’s game, the U.S. is also missing midfielders Megan Rapinoe, who along with goaltender Hope Solo has probably been America’s MVP this tournament, and Lauren Holiday, who’ve been issued two yellow cards in the tournament, and thus have to sit out a game. Still, said Foudy, “the U.S. should be absolutely fine” against China.

Fine, however, is no longer fine. The Americans need to win big to temper all this stress. Until the next game at least.

TIME Basketball

Minnesota Timberwolves Select Karl-Anthony Towns With No. 1 NBA Draft Pick

Karl-Anthony Towns speaks to the media after being drafted first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the First Round of the 2015 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 25, 2015 in the Brooklyn, New York.
Elsa/Getty Images Karl-Anthony Towns speaks to the media after being drafted first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the First Round of the 2015 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 25, 2015 in the Brooklyn, New York.

The 6-foot-11 Towns averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game

(NEW YORK)—The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, the first of three straight freshmen chosen.

The Timberwolves went for the center in their first time owning the No. 1 pick. They can add him to a young roster featuring Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, who was picked first last year by Cleveland and later dealt to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade.

The Los Angeles Lakers then took guard D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State, who was wearing a red jacket, bowtie and shoes that matched the Buckeyes’ school colors.

The 6-foot-11 Towns averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game, as Kentucky used a platoon system in winning its first 38 games and reaching the Final Four.

It was Kentucky’s third No. 1 pick in the last six years, joining Anthony Davis in 2012 and John Wall in 2010. The Wildcats were hoping to have a record seven players picked.

It was the sixth straight year a freshman was the No. 1 pick. Russell also played just one year in college.

For weeks, Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor had been considered the top two selections. But the Lakers instead decided on backcourt help with a player who can step right in and play alongside Kobe Bryant.

Instead, Okafor fell to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3, becoming the 19th lottery selection and 29th first-round pick — most in NCAA history — under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The Knicks ended the run of one-and-dones when they took Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick. The 19-year-old forward had been surging up draft boards but Knicks fans who filled parts of Barclays Center in Brooklyn wanted no part of him, booing loud and long after his name was called by Commissioner Adam Silver.

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