Trey Sermon has cleared the concussion protocol and is the most likely 49ers running back to rejoin the team for Sunday’s game against the Packers, while JaMycal Hasty (ankle) is out and Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) is doubtful.
Murly Theegala had a feeling his boy, Sahith, might be special when he was just six years old. At the Junior Worlds in his first tournament, he won his age group and a spectator pointed out that he had done it while hitting cross-handed – a feat Murly had never noticed. But that wasn’t the clue for Murly that something was different about his boy. Instead, it came when they tried to correct it. Shortly after winning Junior Worlds, he took him to the range to get him out of it and figured the change would take weeks or even months to break the cross-handed action his boy had built over the previous three years. “After five balls, he said, ‘OK it feels pretty good.’ It was amazing because he had played for three years left-hand low and switched it almost instantly,” Murly said. “That was an amazing transformation. I said, ‘My god this boy has a knack for this game.’” When Sahith was a toddler, Murly, who moved to the United States in 1987 from India for graduate school, didn’t care what sport was on the TV just as long as it was on. He loved watching sports and basketball and golf in particular were his favorites. Sahith, his oldest boy, would sit with his dad when he was just a toddler just as captivated as his old man was. “He was 1 or 2 and sitting with me, watching Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and he just kept watching, watching and watching,” Murly said. When he was three, Murly asked him if he wanted to go hit balls himself? Of course, he did. So Murly borrowed a U.S. Kids driver and got Sahith a small bucket of 25 balls. He made good contact on 20 of them – a feat Murly was amazed by because when he’d tried to play golf for the first time with his buddies before Sahith was born, he rarely made contact the first couple tries. “I said, ‘Man, he’s got something,’” Murly recalled. “He was never afraid. He’d just try to rip it as hard as he can. Then I took him to the putting and chipping green, and he fell in love with it. He’d keep practicing putting and chipping until it went dark and then he’d cry when it’d get dark.” You still see that fearlessness and short game imagination throughout Sahith’s game today. His swing’s unique, he hits crazy recovery, gets up and down from the craziest places, and loves shaping the ball both ways. It’s kind of like a younger version of Bubba Watson’s game. At the 2016 U.S. Amateur, Sahith still laughs at the fact that he purposefully hit it down a different fairway on almost half the holes at Oakland Hills. It’s such a free-wheeling, creative game based off feel that a lot of people think he’s never had a coach. He actually has. He’s been working with the same instructor since he was eight, but the instructor learned quickly not to focus on positions or mechanics. Only setup, feels, visualizations and trajectories. It’s just all become more refined with age…well, everything except his driver. Unfortunately, there’s no reigning in that youthful fearlessness that he honed on the ranges of Chino Hills, California as a kid. “I get a little wild off the tee. That’s still my bugaboo,” Sahith said. “I’ve always had this attitude of I’m going to go hit it and find it and then try to hit a great shot from there and don’t let a bad shot bug me because you can do something special with the next one. And because of that I’ve always hit some pretty cool recovery shots. I was absolutely forced to have a good short game or else I’d shoot in the 80s every time. The reason I feel like I’ve made so much progress over the last couple of years is I was able to dial in my swing a little bit and hit the ball better and that’s freed up my short game a bit.” Although he’s been able to dial the swing in a little bit in recent years by creating a more consistent process and method, he also knows his incredible feel is the reason he was so good as a kid. He didn’t think about it. He just felt shots and hit them. Whenever his game gets out of line these days, he always goes back to that. “Obviously we’re sticking to our method every shot, feeling it doesn’t mean not going through your process, but yeah, there’s always time where I’m like, ‘Yeah, go play like a kid,’ because it’s so easy to overanalyze golf,” Sahith said. The Lean Times As easy as this journey to the top of the sport has seemed for Sahith, he hasn’t always made the game look like he was playing on easy mode. Despite Murly’s precociousness as a youth, which included Junior Worlds titles at age six, eight and 10, it all seemed to evaporate when he hit a six-inch growth spurt between his freshman and sophomore year of high school that threw his game all out of whack. “When he grew that six inches, he was not even breaking 80. The golf game just went so south,” Murly said. “But I knew he had those fine instincts and intangibles, and I knew he’d be successful if he stayed with it, so my goal was to just keep his confidence up. I started just saying enjoy your round because when you enjoy it, the round turns out amazing.” He did stay with it, fighting through the growth spurts to get his game back and earn a scholarship to Pepperdine. It was there as a freshman where the wrist injuries first started to surface with tendinitis in his wrist. It got better for a year or so but then midway through his junior year he developed a stress fracture in his wrist. He sat a month but tried to come back too early and played through it as it worsened during the Spring and Summer because he didn’t want to let his team down. “It was a stupid decision looking back at it. Took a cortisone shot but it still hurt like crazy, but I played all through summer. By the time I got to the US Amateur, I couldn’t hold a club,” Sahith said. “My joint was messed up, tendon was gone, TFCC was torn. It was just a mess. In total, he took 11 months off from tournaments and couldn’t play at all for six of them after surgery. In those 11 months, he worked with his coach to refine his swing to where it would put less pressure on his wrist. In his downtime, he developed a love of chess. He watched a lot of his Los Angeles Lakers. And when it was time to come back, he came back better than ever, dominating college golf as a senior to the point where he became only the fifth player ever to sweep all three major National Player of the Year awards. “That time away was great perspective too. I think that helped me mentally too,” Sahith said. “I was so hungry when I got back but at the same time, I was like golf doesn’t mean life and death and sometimes you need a reminder. I just think of that whole thing as a blessing instead of a setback.” Dad’s Birthday Gift Ironically, in arguably the biggest moment of Sahith’s career, Murly couldn’t be there because he was moving his youngest son, Sahan, into Seton Hall University for his freshman year. Instead, he was following closely on the PGA TOUR app as his boy delivered an early birthday present with a T4 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. He knew that T4 would be enough for his boy to secure his first PGA TOUR card. “I said, ‘Boy, you gave me a great birthday present!’” Murly said. “Because I knew a T4, mathematically there was a chance he could get eliminated, but I knew there was no way that he could miss a PGA TOUR card. I knew in my heart of hearts, but we didn’t want to celebrate until the next event.” When Sahith, 23, made the cut the following week at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, it was official and Murly and his wife, Karuna, flew out to get to Nebraska in time for the card ceremony. “I think it finally hit me on Sunday night when he was finishing up 18. This is for real,” Murly said. “He made it!” The pride Murly has in his boy seemingly oozes out with every word and every inflection as he speaks. It’s the type of pride and joy that comes from parenthood but also from being a cheerleader, chauffeur, and financier for every step of the journey. Even a premonition that the boy was special was a kid couldn’t have prepared Murly for this journey. His boy, Sahith, is now a PGA TOUR member, competing against the guys he used to watch with him on TV. “There’s no words,” Murly said. “That day when I told him he gave me the best birthday present, it hit me finally, I said, ‘Oh my god, this is like a dream come true!’ because I’ve watched thousands of junior golfers and so many great swings and so many great players and here in the end my boy did it! Seeing his name at the end, it made me so proud!” Proud not just because of what he’s accomplished on the golf course but proud because he never quit. Proud because he got his degree from Pepperdine while juggling the full-time job that is college athletics. Proud because it didn’t come easy even after turning pro as the top-ranked player in the country. Proud because of the type of person he’s grown up to be. “We all understood how much he went through to get that. It’s just a very proud moment. It’s a story that unless you’ve been there it’s so hard to realize,” Murly said. “Going through the process, it’s not easy and what he did is amazing, amazing, amazing.” It’s a process that is difficult for everyone turning pro but was made even more difficult by the timing of when Sahith was – Spring 2020, also known as about the worst possible time to turn pro due to the pandemic. Professional golf was on hiatus for nearly three months, creating deeper fields than ever and making it more difficult than ever to get sponsor exemptions when it returned. Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament was cancelled for the year, and the NCAA Championship had been cancelled, too, so his name didn’t get out there as much as most National Player of the Years would. He also narrowly missed out at Forme Tour Q-School. “Unfortunately, with COVID, opportunities just came less,” Murly said. He even considered going back to college for another year after the NCAA granted another year of eligibility to every player due to the pandemic. But ultimately, there was nothing left to prove on the college golf scene, so he remained a pro even with nowhere confirmed to play. “I just wanted to compete,” Sahith said. He even filled in the lean weeks with mini-tour events, winning a couple times to give him the confidence that he could do it at the pro level too. In his seven TOUR starts, he earned just enough non-member FedExCup points to sneak inside the top 200 and earn a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He was so close that he even flew on a red eye from Reno, Nevada to the Wyndham Championship Monday qualifier to try to earn more non-member points at the regular season finale then flew to the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season finale after he missed. Ultimately, his 197 non-member points ended up being enough. “I was like, ‘Sweet! For the first time all year I have a schedule of three events in a row I know I’m going to play in,’” Sahith recalled. There will be more where that came from for Murly’s boy on the PGA TOUR this season.
The Cleveland Indians have activated right-hander Shane Bieber from the 60-day injured list for a start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Tiger Woods might be near 1,500 miles away from Whistling Straits while he recovers from leg injuries suffered in a February car accident, but he continues to play an important factor in the U.S. Ryder Cup campaign. RELATED: Day 1 match recaps | DeChambeau hits unbelievable drive Woods – the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup Captain who would have been either a player or Vice-Captain on Steve Stricker’s team if fit – sent a motivational text to the team on Cup eve and it certainly had the desired effect on Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele and FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay. Ryder Cup rookies Cantlay and Schauffele were incredible playing Foursomes together Friday morning, winning the first five holes out of the gate against European veterans Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter on their way to a 5 and 3 demolition job. It was part of a dominant 3-1 morning session for the U.S. Team who are determined to win the Ryder Cup for just the second time in the last six attempts. “We had a nice message from Tiger last night, and obviously not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew. We referred to it a few times a day, and we knew what we needed to do,” Schauffele said. “We knew he was fist pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he’s as fired up as any back at home. So it’s nice to have his support.” Cantlay revealed he actually visited Woods in the lead up to the competition, fresh of winning the FedExCup, as he looked to garner any advice possible. “(There’s) no better role model and no better leader, and just somebody that you can always learn from. I saw him last week at home, and just picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today,” Cantlay added. While the duo didn’t reveal exactly what Woods had said there was an insinuation the 82-time PGA TOUR winner was reminding the U.S. Team to never let up and to keep the pressure on the Europeans at all times. Having seen Europe come back from deficits before while winning four of the last five contests this U.S. Team is instead trying to begin a dynasty of their own. “It is puzzling how we’ve lost a lot in the handful of years looking back at the past. But that’s the past. We’re here and we’re about the present or hopefully what the future is going to be like,” fellow rookie Collin Morikawa said. With six Ryder Cup rookies, and eight members of the team under 30, it really is a changing of the guard for the U.S. Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler join Morikawa, Schauffele and Cantlay as first timers but between the six they boast two majors, a FedExCup, an Olympic Gold medal and 22 PGA TOUR wins. Morikawa paired with Dustin Johnson to win 3 and 2 over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland Friday morning while Berger was also victorious playing with Brooks Koepka in a 2 and 1 win over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick. Scheffler and English were making their first starts in the afternoon Four-Ball session.
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The Ryder Cup’s Four-balls format allows a player to swing with a bit more abandon. His partner is there as something of a safety blanket, lessening the anxiety he may feel while standing over each shot. RELATED: Recaps from Day 1 | How format works Bryson DeChambeau took advantage of that fact to unleash a blast that sent a message to Europe, and the long drivers he will compete against next week. While Jordan Spieth’s incredible pitch from an awkward lie that almost sent him tumbling into Lake Michigan was the shot of the morning session, DeChambeau’s incredible show of strength was the highlight in the afternoon. With Scottie Scheffler safely in the fairway at the 581-yard, par-5 fifth hole, DeChambeau took the, ahem, aggressive line on the serpentine par-5. DeChambeau, who this year broke his own record for single-season driving-distance average (323.7 yards), teed his ball high, waggled and huffed and puffed to prepare his body to exert maximum energy on the unwitting golf ball. His 417-yard blast over a lake and then a sea of sand left him with just 72 yards to the hole (Scheffler, by comparison had 274 yards remaining and Rahm was left with a 253-yard second shot after a 336-yard drive). DeChambeau took advantage of the blast, wedging to 5 feet and making the eagle putt to tie the match. The U.S. pair was tied with Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton at the halfway point of their match.
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When the Ben Hogan Tour began in 1990, there was a familiar player on the membership roster, and early that season in Fort Myers, Florida, he showed up to play his first tournament. Some knew who he was. The name rang a bell to others. But to many of the younger, up-and-coming players who were milling about the Gateway Golf Club range, however, this tall “older” player with the sweet swing was just another anonymous competitor. They found out soon enough. Although he hadn’t played in any of the first eight events that opened that inaugural season of a circuit that today is known as the Korn Ferry Tour, Bruce Fleisher made his debut in the Gateway Open, in April 1990. At the 54-hole tournament on Florida’s west coast, Fleisher showed off, tying for second with a long-driving player from Arkansas named John Daly. The duo came up just short, losing in a playoff to Ted Tryba. Fleisher had returned from anonymity to contend at almost golf’s highest level. He longed to step up one more rung on the ladder, and the runner-up performance let him know he could. Fleisher’s seemingly out-of-nowhere performance that week in Fort Myers came after he essentially walked away from competitive golf six years earlier, electing to become a club pro and only playing a PGA TOUR tournament here and there. Too many lonely nights in hotel rooms away from his wife, Wendy, led to the decision. But more importantly, an abundance of missed cuts and weeks with no paydays played the primary role. This all transpired even though the former U.S. Amateur champ and U.S. Walker Cup team member had joined the TOUR with significant credentials, a beautiful swing and an expectation that he would compete, and win, against contemporaries Lanny Wadkins, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw. Instead, in 13 full seasons between 1972 and 1984, Fleisher never did hold up a trophy, as he did at the 1968 Amateur. With that backdrop, it’s not a stretch to say Bruce Fleisher had four separate, distinct careers during a life that ended September 23. He was 72. “Our thoughts are with Bruce’s friends and family as we mourn the passing of an incredible competitor and friend,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Miller Brady. “Bruce had an exceptional career on PGA TOUR Champions, highlighted by his 18 victories, and we’re forever grateful for the impact he made on so many people throughout his career.” Fleisher’s first act came as a celebrated amateur. He hit the pinnacle with his one-stroke win over Vinny Giles in Ohio, at the U.S. Amateur at Columbus’ Scioto Country Club. From there, it was on to the PGA TOUR, a natural, second-act progression that didn’t go exactly as planned. While his early TOUR years weren’t all discouragement and frustration, as Fleisher did finish second three times, by 1982, he was 112th on the money list. Subsequent seasons of 103rd- and 138th-place finishes on the money list, respectively, led to a loss of playing privileges. So, he walked away, accepting a club pro job. “When you get beat up a lot, it’s hard to feel like you’re on top. And I got beat up a lot,” he said, remembering those early PGA TOUR seasons. Teaching golf for five years instead of playing golf for a living was enough for Fleisher, and what gave him the confidence to give the touring life another go was rooted in two things: his 1989 PGA Club Professional Championship victory in La Quinta, California, where he outlasted Idaho’s Jeff Thomsen to win the title; and the PGA TOUR’s decision to create the Ben Hogan Tour, designed for players just beginning their careers but also for players like Fleisher seeking a second chance. It was on the upstart tour the following year that Fleisher lost in that Tryba-Daly playoff. It was also where he had a T3 at the Greater Ozarks Open four months after his close call in Florida. In only five tournaments, not exactly much of a season, Fleisher still finished 60th on the money list, his confidence slowly returning. He added international wins at the Bahamas Open and the Jamaica Open, bolstering his I-can-do-this attitude. During his nomadic existence, Fleisher would also play PGA TOUR events now and again as he retained some status, sporadically getting into tournament fields. Such a scenario happened in 1991 when South African Bobby Cole withdrew from the New England Classic. Fleisher was the first alternate. Off to Massachusetts he went. All Fleisher did at Pleasant Valley Country Club was open 64-67 and take a three-stroke lead into the weekend. He then recovered from a third-round 73 to shoot a sterling Sunday 64 that earned him a spot in a playoff with Ian Baker-Finch, an overtime session that would take seven holes before Fleisher prevailed. The win came with a little Hollywood flair, Fleisher’s clinching putt a 50-foot birdie that looked like it was going to miss on the right side but instead curled in, entering the cup from the back. “This is crazy. I’ve been away from the TOUR for more than seven years,” he said after accepting the $180,000 first-place check, easily the largest payday of his career at the time. There would be plenty more lucrative weeks. Following seven more full-time PGA TOUR seasons, and one more close call—a runner-up showing at a familiar place and tournament, the 1993 New England Classic, Fleisher patiently waited until he turned 50, in October 1998, to begin Act 4. To say that Fleisher’s PGA TOUR Champions career was impressive doesn’t even do justice to what he accomplished during a six-year span. Fleisher saved his best performance for last. In his “rookie” year of 1999, Fleisher won tournaments in his first two starts (the first player to pull off that feat) — at the Royal Caribbean Classic and the American Express Invitational. He picked up five more titles, was a runner-up an additional seven times and cruised to an almost $500,000 money-list victory over No. 2 Hale Irwin. In his first four PGA TOUR Champions appearances, Fleisher had two wins and two runners-up. When he finished 27th in his fifth start, at The Tradition, people didn’t know what to do. By the end of the season, Fleisher was the Tour’s Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year. “I never dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing. Well, I dreamed I’d do it. But I never dreamed it would happen like this. It’s a wonderful place to be,” he said. So, wonderful, in fact, that Fleisher would add 11 more PGA TOUR Champions’ trophies to his case and come oh so close 16 additional times. None was more important that the U.S. Senior Open title he won in 2001, at Salem Country Club, again in Massachusetts. Entering the final round four shots behind Japan’s Isao Aoki, Fleisher made all three of his birdies on the front nine then made pars on his final 12 holes to pull past Aoki and Gil Morgan to give himself another United States Golf Association championship to go with the other one he earned as an amateur 32 years earlier. Fleisher was so dominant and successful that he still ranks eighth on the all-time money list, some 13 years after his PGA TOUR Champions career began coming to a close. A few years after turning 50, Fleisher enjoyed telling the story that prior to his rookie PGA TOUR Champions season, a friend suggested to him that he win three times and finish top-five on the money list. “I told him, ‘You know, that sounds great, but let’s be realistic.” Fleisher is survived by his wife, Wendy. Funeral services are pending.
What to watch for in every game. Bold predictions. Fantasy advice. Key stats to know. And, of course, score predictions. It’s all here for Week 3.
Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr., barring an unforeseen setback between now and game time, is expected to play against the Bears on Sunday, a source told ESPN.
The schedule for wild-card weekend will now feature two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday.
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