Washington Redskins

De Jonge leads the AT&T National, but Tiger is lurking

806876.png

De Jonge leads the AT&T National, but Tiger is lurking

For the second straight sweltering afternoon at Congressional Country Club, Tiger Woods short game helped him move up the leaderboard at the AT&T National.

Unfortunately for area golf fans, none of them were there to witness it.

Woods shot a bogey-free four under par 67 to move into a three-way tie for second place on a course that was eerily empty Saturday as spectators and non-essential tournament workers asked to stay away for safety reasons after a powerful storm Friday night left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Brendon de Jonge, meantime, shot 69 and leads the field at 7-under. Lurking just behind the Zimbabwe native is a trio that includes Woods, Bo Van Pelt, and Seung-Yul Noh, setting up a potentially thrilling Sunday in Bethesda.

With only a handful of Congressional members, media and relatives of the golfers on the grounds, this was anything but a normal weekend day on the PGA Tour.

It was similar to what we've faced when we play overseas in practice rounds or when we have dangerous summer conditions such as thunderstorms, Woods said. Ive played in front of small crowds like this, but not generally for an 18-hole competitive round.

Added de Jonge, who attended Virginia Tech: There was no buzz. It was hard to get the adrenaline going. It kind of felt like you were playing a Tuesday practice round or a qualifier.

Play had been scheduled to begin around 7 a.m. but was postponed until 1 p.m. to give workers enough time to clear as many as 40 fallen trees, hundreds of branches and other debris that had been strewn about by a fast-moving derecho that packed 70 mph winds.

It was sort of awe-striking a little bit, said Leesburg, Va., native Billy Hurley III, who is tied for fifth after carding a 66. Youre walking around and youre just like, Wow, thats crazy a storm can knock down that tree. Trees this big around just snapped.

Said Van Pelt: Those were trees that have probably been around 100 years. Theyve survived a lot of storms. The fact that this one knocked them down just shows you how powerful it was.

The decision to ban fans was a difficult but necessary one, according to Mark Russell, the PGAs vice president of rules and competition.

Several trees were snapped at the trunk in spectator areas. Power around the course was spotty and often dependent on a generator. And the roads leading up to the entrance were littered by fallen trees and large branches.

Thats very drastic decision, not allowing fans to come out, Russell said. But its in their best interest. Its a dangerous situation in the area today with the heat and storm and everything.

Tickets for Saturdays round will be honored on Sunday, according to tournament officials. Tickets can also be returned to the Tiger Woods Foundation for a refund.

Tee times on Sunday will be 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., utilizing Nos. 1 and 10.

When Mahan, who owned a two stroke lead after 36 holes, teed off Saturday, there were four people seated in the grandstand and three of them were tournament workers.

And by the time Mahan bogeyed No. 4 a short while later, Tigers charge was gathering momentum. Mahan, meantime, finished with four bogies and, as a result, enters Sunday tied with Hurley, two strokes behind de Jonge.

As Mahan faltered, Woods surged, scoring birdies on three of the first six holes, including a highlight reel chip into the cup from the rough on No. 6, eliciting a confident fist pump.

After scoring pars on each of the next three holes, Woods vaulted into second place with a birdie on No. 10, the 181-yard par-3 where the green is protected by a water hazard. He stuck his tee-shot about eight feet from the hole, then watched nervously as his putt rolled around the lip of the cup nearly a full 360-degrees before dropping in.

Woods, now ranked No. 4 in the world, has two wins on the PGA Tour this season, 73 in his career and hoisted the trophy in this tournament three years ago.

The men hell be pursuing on Sunday have one PGA victory between them and certainly will be aware that you-know-who is on the prowl.

I played myself into good shape for tomorrow, Woods said. Im happy with the way I played.

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Projecting the Caps' roster after the first week of training camp

usatsi_10294865.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Projecting the Caps' roster after the first week of training camp

The Capitals are one week into training camp with two preseason games already in the rearview mirror. The roster battles are coming into focus and some players are already staking their claims.

So what will the final roster ultimately look like on opening day? Here's a projection based on what we have seen and heard through the first week:

Forwards (14)
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jakub Vrana
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Nathan Walker - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson
Anthony Peluso - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen (7)
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Aaron Ness - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Taylor Chorney

Goalies (2)
Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

Notes:

  • According to Cap Friendly, this roster would put the Caps $40,000 over the salary cap. My caveat is that the salary cap is so complex that no one really knows exactly what a team's salary number is except for the team and the NHL. Cap Friendly is an incredibly useful tool, but it is a projection. A difference of $40,000 is well within the margin of error I consider to be realistic. for the Caps to make this roster fit under the cap.
  • If the Caps can't make this work, don't be surprised to see them start with 22 players.
  • Peluso is not talked about all that much, but the team needs Wilson to focus on his offense and not fighting. They need someone else to take that responsibility from his shoulders. Peluso may spend more time in Washington than you may think, even if he spends more games in the press box than on the ice.
  • Chiasson played well in Washington's first preseason game and his versatility makes him attractive to Washington. In a pinch, he could play on the third line, perhaps even the second if needed. The only way it can really work in Washington, however, is if he agrees to sign for a league minimum $650,000 which you would think is certainly doable. He was without a job a few weeks ago, is he really going to haggle over price?
  • Christian Djoos did not play particularly well in the team's first preseason game and given his size, the team will not simply give him a spot because they have a hole in the lineup. As of now, I would predict the Caps will send Djoos back to the AHL and hope his size will dissuade any potential poachers form snagging him. If he hopes to make the NHL roster, he needs to make an impactt with his next opportunity or he will almost certainly be back in the AHL.

 

MORE CAPITALS: JAKUB VRANA MADE THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITY MONDAY