Can Brooks Koepka hold off other stars atop the Masters rankings? Plus, no more transfer portal drama

Hello everyone, but especially to…


Sometimes it takes a while for the best in the world to feel comfortable at Augusta National. Not this time.

With ideal playing conditions, many of the sport’s brightest stars got off to terrific starts at the Masters on Thursday, leaving us with an absolutely packed standings:

  • T-1: Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka (-7)
  • T-4: Cameron Young, Jason Day (-5)
  • T-6: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland, Sam Burns, Sam Bennett (-4)

Of these 12 players, 11 are either in the top 15 of the Official World Golf Rankings or have won at least one major tournament. The only one that doesn’t match the trend? Benneta fifth-year senior at Texas A&M of which 68 was the best opening round by an amateur at the Masters since 2001.

But that’s not all. Plenty of big names are looming just behind, with this leading group including…

  • Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose, Tony Finau (-3)
  • Justin Thomas, Cam Smith (-2)
  • Dustin Johnson (-1)
  • Rory McIlroy (even)

The three 65s โ€“ tied for the most ever in a single Masters round โ€“ played out differently. Rahm, for example, posted the lowest post-opening round with a double bogey in Masters history. That’s right: He took four shots on the first hole to drop two shots, but then finished with seven birdies, an eagle and nine pars. The response was as good as ever from Rahm, even by the high standards he set for himself, writes our Patrick McDonald.

By the way, Rahm is now favorite to win.

However, it was Koepka’s 65 – seemingly out of nowhere given his knee issues – that caught our Kyle Porter’s eye.

  • To carry: “I have a theory: Brooks Koepka is terribly afraid of failure. Like all of us. It’s just that his fear of failure plays out on bigger stages and has bigger historical stakes than ours. It’s a tough concept to handle…. So now sometimes what you see is someone who’s surly, someone who has an existential fear, and someone who’s convinced themselves that the only thing that keeps him out of other major leagues is an element of his game that he usually can’t control: his health.”

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

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Of course not all big names got off to a good start at Augusta National. The biggest name in sport, Tiger Woods, limped home with a two out of 74putting him nine strokes behind the leaders and in danger of missing the cut for the first time as a pro at the Masters.

  • It was his worst opening round at the Masters since 2005. Sure, Woods rallied to win that year โ€” his fourth of five career green jackets โ€” but a similar rebound seems unlikely this time around.
  • Woods hit 32 putts and had a pair of three-putts. After getting things a bit on the right track with birdies at 15 and 16, he bugged 18.
  • Woods made 22 straight cuts at the Masters, one shy of tying the record by Fred couples And Bernard Langer.

Worse still, after leaving early in perfect conditions on Thursday, Woods late tees todayWhen rain and potential thunderstorms are expected.

Not so honorable mentions

Ryan Nembhard enters transfer gate, slides Creighton into Top 25 and 1 ๐Ÿ€


It may be the first weekend without college basketball, but with the transfer portal is exploding with talent, there really is no off-season. So this weekend be on the lookout for plenty of action off the pitchwith visits and, possibly, engagements along the way.

The latest major addition to the portal is Creighton leader Ryan Nembhardwhich comes sixth in David Cobb’s updated transfer rankings.

  • Nembhard played two seasons at Creighton. He won Big East Freshman of the Year in 2021-22, then improved his numbers across the board in the second year as the Bluejays headed to the Elite Eight. He had 30 points in their round of 16 victory Baylor.
  • He is the younger brother of the current Pacers leader Andre Nembhardwho also transferred after two seasons, going from Florida For Gonzaga.

Here’s who leads Ryan Nembhard in the standings:

  • 1. C Hunter Dickinson
  • 2. G Max Abmas
  • 3. C Kelโ€™el Ware
  • 4. G LJ Cryer
  • 5. G Tramon Brand

As a result, the Bluejays went from sixth to ninth in Top 25 and 1 by Gary Parrish.

Who left for a more worrying departure, the Mariners or the Phillies? โšพ

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In baseball, it’s still early until it’s not. When does that change, exactly? The All-Star break? The trade deadline? September? It’s certainly not anytime soon.

But that doesn’t mean slow starts aren’t frustrating, especially for teams like the sailors And Phillieswho both just cracked the 2022 seasons. Seattle made the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and Philadelphia moved from Wild Card to a World Series appearance, their first since 2009. This season they are respectively 2-5 and 1-5.

But which beginning was the most worrying? That’s what our baseball experts answered in their weekly round table Batting Around. Here’s Mike Axisa’s take:

  • Axis: I would say the Phillies. They won’t have Bryce Harper a little more time or Rhys Hoskins at all this year, plus I’m still nervous about pitchers after a World Series. These guys throw a lot of very stressful innings and they also have a shorter offseason to recover from, so the slow starts for Aaron Nola And Zack Wheeler are suboptimal. Additionally, the Phillies are stuck in a split with the brave And Dishes.”

The common theme between all the answers, however? It’s early. Super early. No need to get Also concerned…for now.

Where will Lionel Messi end up next? โšฝ

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Lionel Messi is one of the greatest players of all time, has just won a magical World Cup title and remains a highly productive star for one of the best teams in the world, PSG. But that last part might not be true for long.

Messi is probably leaving Paris as the club have to cut wages this summer. This, of course, coincides with the expiration of Messi’s contract. You can do the math. The suitors are not lacking, with teams from around the world showing interest. Saudi side Al Hillal offered a 400 million euro contract. And it’s not a total of 400 million euros. It’s 400 million euros… per year. It is also not the only one to be offered big bucks.

But what about Barcelona, the club where he went from promising young talent to legend? Our James Benge says to return is “the chance to right the great wrong in his career..”

But James also says storybook ending is far from a sure thing.

  • Benge: “There are players who are worth shaking up the systems. Messi might just be one of them. Argentina have finally found a way to be defensively rigid while still getting just enough from their best player at the other end of the pitch, but even the best international tournaments don’t demand the tactical rigor of the Champions League.That’s ultimately what Messi would be aiming for if he returned to Barcelona, โ€‹โ€‹a move that would mean the heart triumphed over the head (and even the wallet)”

What we’re watching this weekend ๐Ÿ“บ

โ›ณ We’re watching the Masters all weekend. here’s how.


๐Ÿ€ Grizzlies at Bucks8 p.m. on NBA TV
๐Ÿ€ Suns to the Lakers10:30 p.m. on NBA TV


๐Ÿ’ Penguins with Red Wings1 p.m. on ABC
๐Ÿ’ Golden Knights of the Stars3:30 p.m. on ABC
โšพ Rangers at Cubs4:05 p.m. on FS1
๐Ÿ’ Devils at the Bruins8 p.m. on ABC


๐Ÿ€ Hawks at Celtics1 p.m. on ESPN
๐Ÿ€ Jazz at the Lakers3:30 p.m. on ESPN
๐Ÿ’ Bruins to Flyers6 p.m. on TNT
โšพ Padres to Braves7 p.m. on ESPN
๐Ÿ’ Duck avalanche8:30 p.m. on TNT

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