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Sports Quick Hits: Thursday June 3rd, 2021

June 03, 2021
Source: Michel Euler/AP
Source: Michel Euler/AP

 🎾Tennis: As excited as we were for the French Open to start, we’re not as psyched five days in. Naomi Osaka dropped out, Bianca Andreescu and Felix Auger-Aliasime lost their first round matches, and Leylah Annie Fernandez dropped her second round match yesterday. 

  • Luckily, Fernandez and Gaby Dabrowski, as well as recent Italian Open winner Sharon Fichman (alongside partner Giuliana Olmos of Mexico) are still alive in the doubles contest.

⛳️Golf: Let’s hope things are better for our Canadians in this weekend’s U.S. Women’s Open. Brooke Henderson leads the pack of four Canucks looking to win the season’s second major. Get “the gist” on the tourney and then check out their tee times here.

🏒Hockey: Calgary has gotten a head start on its hot girl summer. Not only is the city hosting Team Canada’s women’s hockey Olympic training camp, but yesterday, it was announced as the host of August’s IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. Bring. It. On. 

U.S. Women's Open Preview

June 02, 2021
SOURCE: ROBERT WALKER/USGA
SOURCE: ROBERT WALKER/USGA

QUOTE OF THE DAY

It’s a wonderful feeling to win this championship. Once was wonderful. To win it twice was more than wonderful.

—Annika Sörenstam, the third-winningest golfer in LPGA history, who won the U.S. Women’s Open three straight times. Wonder how wonderful that third win was?

⛳️ The set-up

SOURCE: PATRICK KOENIG/GOLF.COM

After last year’s event was postponed from its usual date in June to December due to COVID-19, the 2021 tournament is now back in its rightful summer spot. Can you feel that Gemini energy?

Established in 1946, the U.S. Women’s Open is the oldest of the five LPGA majors, and the second of the season, after April’s ANA Inspiration. LPGA tournaments are usually four-day competitions, meaning the U.S. Women’s Open winner will be crowned Sunday.

  • This year’s field is made up of 156 of the world’s best golfers who will tee off at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, all in the hunt for the Harton S. Semple Trophy...and a cool $1 million. 
  • And while we’d love to predict a winner now (betting on women is kind of our thing), if the LPGA has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected...

🏆 The reigning champ

SOURCE: ERIC GAY/AP

Kim A-lim, South Korea: The Korean rookie came from behind to win the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, largely thanks to three straight birdies to end her final round. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour. 

  • Since that December win, she’s entered six tournaments and made the cut in just three, though her top 10 finish in April’s Lotte Championship was pretty impressive.

🥇 The other major winners

SOURCE: LPGA

Patty Tavatanakit, Thailand: The only major played between this U.S. Women’s Open and last year’s was the ANA Inspiration in April, won impressively by Tavatanakit. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour...wait, didn’t we just say that?

Sophia Popov, Germany: The reigning Women’s British Open champion has the ultimate underdog story. She entered the 2020 event ranked 304th in the world. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour...okay, now it’s just getting weird.

Kim Sei-young, South Korea: Since the 2020 Evian Championship cancelation, the only other reigning major champ from 2020 is Women’s PGA Championship winner Sei-young. Although that was her first major win, she had already won 10 LPGA events before, so we’ll stop with the déjà vu now.

💪 The contenders

SOURCE: JOEY YU/EPA-EFE

The Korda sisters, USA: We can’t pick just one — both world No. 11 Jessica and No. 4 Nelly Korda are winners in our eyes and in the 2021 record books, having both won LPGA tournaments earlier this year.

  • Add to that eight other top 10 finishes between them this year and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, and these two could be the most competitive golfers on the course this weekend.

Brooke Henderson, Canada: Henderson broke her two-year winless drought with a HUGEL-Air Premia LA Open win in April. She already has a major title on her résumé, the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship, and we think it’s time she doubles the tally.

Lydia Ko, New Zealand: After dominating the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the former world No. 1 and two-time major winner found herself in a lull for a few years...until now. The Kiwi won the LOTTE Championship in April while also recording four top 10 finishes since February. Can we call it a comeback?

🔢 By the numbers

SOURCE: JOHN MUMMERT/USGA

Minus 16: The lowest recorded U.S. Women’s Open score, set in 1999 by Juli Inkster in the first of her two victories. 

4: The record for most career U.S. Women’s Open wins, shared by Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls.

19: Age of the youngest champ in tournament history, Inbee Park of South Korea, when she won in 2008.

39: The size of the field in the first U.S. Women’s Open in 1946.

1,595: The number of entries (from eligible golfers who want to qualify) the USGA received for the 2021 event. 

$5.5 million: The total prize purse for 2021, to be split amongst all players who make it past Friday’s cut. Just for reference, the men’s U.S. Open purse is $12.5 million. We’ve come far, but still have a ways to go.

🥰 Memorable moments

SOURCE: AP

With every major, there comes the opportunity for another herstoric moment. Here are a few of our favorites over the last 75 Opens:

1954: At the age of 43, and just one year after battling cancer, Babe Zaharias became the oldest major winner. Sadly, she wasn’t able to defend her title in 1955 when her cancer returned, and though she passed in 1956, her name will live on forever in U.S. Women’s Open lore.

1998: They call it the win that inspired a nation. A relatively unknown 20-year-old from South Korea named Se Ri Pak won the title after three playoff holes, and her victory sparked a golf boom in her homeland. Deservedly, Pak became the first (and so far, only) Korean to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

2014: Michelle Wie West had already set a wild number of records by the time she turned pro in 2005 at the age of 15, but it wasn’t until 2014 that she finally won her most elusive victory: her first (and only, to date) major title.

👀 How to watch

SOURCE: KELVIN KUO/USA TODAY SPORTS

Before the action begins tomorrow, check out the full field and tee times here. Then set yourself up in front of a screen for the next four days, because the U.S. Women’s Open will air live on Peacock and NBC in the U.S., TSN in Canada and the Golf Channel in both nations. Enjoy!

Guide to Golf

May 26, 2021
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM

The GIST

A full round of golf is 18 holes. Holes generally range from 100 to 500 yards. Unlike most other sports, the goal is to have the lowest score (counted by strokes) at the end of the game — meaning take the least amount of swings or putts to get the ball in the hole. Each hole on the course is given a number of strokes that it should take for a person to get the ball in the hole (this is called par) and typical championship courses have a full par value of 72. 

How is it organized?

Similar to tennis, men’s professional golf players play in PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour and women play in LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association) tournaments. A tournament consists of four rounds of golf (one per day from Thursday until Sunday). The biggest tournaments are called majors. The PGA hosts four majors each year: the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. The ladies have one additional major on the LPGA circuit. Their five majors are the ANA Inspiration, U.S. Women's Open, Women's PGA Championship, Women's British Open and the Evian Championship. 

Outside of the majors, there are various other tourneys the pros can partake in. A player’s world ranking is based on how they do in each tournament. The most well-known tournament is the Masters, played in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to winning copious amounts of cash money, players also receive the green jacket (super cool to win, super impractical to wear). But, while the Masters is known for the coveted jacket and its prestige, the tournament also has a disturbing sexist and racist past. Change is long overdue

Golfin’ greats

This isn’t just your grandparents’ game anymore! While golf is a sport where experience is incredibly important, the past decade has shown that you can be young and still be at the top of your game. The best golfers today include Dustin Johnson (American who is married to Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina Gretzky), Rory McIlroy (Irish sweetheart), Brooks Koepka (American who won back-to-back US Open and PGA Championship tourneys) and Jordan Spieth (young American stud). 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. Tiger dominated the game for over a decade, winning 14 major tournaments. That rapid rise was followed by a sudden fall from grace, when Tiger was caught cheating on his wife and Swedish model Elin in 2009. While the golf legend had been mounting a spectacular comeback, he was injured in a scary single car crash in February 2021. Here's to a speedy recovery. 

Gals who golf

It’s a myth that ‘golf’ stands for “Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden”, but only just barely. For decades, golf has been seen almost exclusively as a man’s game, but thankfully ladies have continued to break down those barriers. Professional women play in the LPGA (Ladies PGA) which is organized similarly to the men’s. And Canadian sensation Brooke Henderson is one of the best in the world — she holds the record as the youngest woman to ever win an LPGA tournament AND is the winningest pro golfer in Canadian history (male or female) with nine career titles. Just unreal.

In 2019, the LPGA awarded its largest ever prize ($1.5M USD) to South Korea’s Sei Young Kim at the CME Group Tour Championship. That’s $500k more than the previous record prize. And, even though the overall prize money handed out in the LPGA pales in comparison to the PGA, there's reason for optimism. After the pandemic disrupted much of the 2020 season, the 2021 LPGA schedule features a record 34 events with over $75 million (USD) in prize money on the line. Keep making moves, ladies!

Prep for your next trivia night by making sure you know these facts:

  • A hole-in-one means you took just one stroke to get the ball all the way into the hole. Tradition says that that golfer must then buy a drink for each person in the clubhouse. But fear not, most courses have hole-in-one insurance so that you actually don’t have to pay. Hilarious.
  • Jack Nicklaus is strongly considered the best golfer of all-time winning 18 majors, which remains the record for most ever.
  • Have you ever sipped on an Arnold Palmer, that delicious blend of iced tea and lemonade? Well, the drink is named after a very successful pro golfer who was known to request the combination! The late Arnold Palmer won four (!!!) Masters tournaments and seven majors over his career.

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Sports Quick Hits: Monday May 24th, 2021

May 25, 2021
Source: Matt York/Associated Press
Source: Matt York/Associated Press

 ⛳️Golf: As we mentioned at the top, Phil Mickelson proved age is just a number yesterday with his second-career PGA Championship win. Not only is he the oldest player to win a major, he’s just the fourth to win one in four separate decades. Congrats, Lefty! Now let’s get you some better security.

🏎️F1: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix to take his first-ever lead in the Formula One world championship standings. Meanwhile, seven-time world champ Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wasn’t feeling it in Monaco, finishing in a disappointing seventh as he and Verstappen continue their heated hunt for the title.

🎾Tennis: Olivia Rodrigo wasn’t the only one showing out for Gen Z this weekend. On Saturday, 17-year-old Coco Gauff notched her first career singles title on clay while sweeping both the singles and doubles titles at the Italian Open. Perfect timing before next week’s French Open. Très bien. 

What’s not très bien? Fellow Gen Z Denis Shapovalov dropping out of Roland Garros (aka the French Open) with a shoulder injury. C’est dommage. 

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Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test

May 10, 2021
Source: Jeff Roberson/AP Photos
Source: Jeff Roberson/AP Photos

 🏇Horse racing: Recent Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed his drug test. Yes, the horse. The American thoroughbred owned by Bob Baffert is at risk of having his title revoked, in what was Baffert’s record seventh win. Baffert has been banned from Churchill Downs (the Derby’s venue) while investigations continue.

🏎 Formula One: To absolutely no one’s surprise, Sir Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday, thanks to some sneaky strategy from his Mercedes team. F1 is on hiatus until the May 23rd Monaco Grand Prix, so while you wait, check out the latest Beyond The Grid podcast episode featuring the first-ever female F1 team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn.

🥌 Curling: Switzerland won the World Women’s Curling Championship yesterday, earning a spot in next year’s Olympics. Meanwhile, Team USA won the bronze and Team Canada earned an Olympic berth.

⛳️ Golf: A couple of longtime droughts ended in the golf world this weekend. Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship yesterday, his first win since November 2019, while Ariya Jutanugarn won the Honda LPGA Thailand in her home country. It marked her 11th career victory, but the first in 1,015 days (almost four years!).