Does Tiger Woods have a shot to win the Masters this weekend?

Happy Friday, my friend! You’ve made it through the week and you’ve got plenty of treats waiting for you now. Not only do we have the Masters all weekend (hopefully the weather will cooperate a bit more over the next few days) but we’ve also got lots of football coming our way. Good vibes protocol: Engage. 

And aside from sports, it’s also a very strong entertainment Friday. There’s a new Chris Stapleton album waiting for your ears, plus an incredible “Iris” cover from Phoebe Bridgers & Maggie Rogers that I might eventually dare to say is better than the original. Oh, and a brand-new “Call of Duty” is out today, too! It’s not a bad day to be locked in the house after all. 

If you need any additional entertainment over the weekend, you know where to find me. Give me a shout on Twitter and send me pictures of what you’re drinking. But for now, we’ve got business to take care of and the itinerary is quite full, so let’s finish the week off strong. 


📰 What you need to know

1. Tiger Woods is in contention at the Masters 🏌

Well, Round 1 of the Masters is in the books … kind of! After a three-hour weather delay to start the day yesterday, play eventually had to be suspended when the sun went down, which means a number of golfers are finishing their first round this morning at Augusta National. A fittingly weird start, right?

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Despite the complications, it was a very entertaining and eventful day on the course and there’s plenty we’ve got to discuss for Day 2. Here are some leaderboard takeaways:

  • Paul Casey is your current leader: As it stands heading into Friday, Casey is at the top of the leaderboard at -7. He posted a bogey-free 65 on Thursday (including an eagle on the par-5 2nd hole). It’s his best opening round score at a major in his career
  • Tiger Woods ties his best Masters start: Tiger is the reigning champ but he entered yesterday with plenty of doubters thanks to a rough 2020 so far. But Tiger got off to an awesome start on Thursday — in fact, his 4-under 68 matches his best-ever start at the Masters. He played the final six holes at 3 under and, as of the time of writing, he sits tied for fourth
  • Justin Thomas pushing for lead: Casey might be first on the board right now, but Thomas is only two strokes back with eight holes left to go in his first round. JT had a late start on Thursday and was tearing it up before play was suspended. He could potentially be the post-Round 1 leader if he picks up where he left off today
  • Bryson DeChambeau struggles: DeChambeau came into Round 1 as the favorite to win the event but his didn’t have the best opening round. He hit two provisional balls through three holes as he struggled to find his distance and control, but he did rally and recover a bit, playing the final 14 holes at 4 under

No disrespect to Casey or Thomas, but we can all agree that Tiger’s impressive opening round is the biggest story here, right? I mean, golf has a completely different feel and atmosphere to it whenever Tiger is in contention, and that’s especially true when it comes to the Masters. Given his struggles this year — especially in majors — a lot of people didn’t expect Tiger to make much noise, but it appears we could be in for a show this weekend … and maybe even a repeat?

Then again, consistency hasn’t been a strong suit for Tiger in recent years, so that strong start could easily be undone over the next 18 holes. But we’ll choose to be positive and celebrate the surprisingly strong start yesterday. Tiger Watch: ON!


2. Colts finish strong to top Titans 🏈

 
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Don’t let the start of the Masters distract you from the fact that we also had the NFL back in action last night. Not only was it a pretty intriguing matchup between two good teams — the Titans and Colts — it was also a statement game for the AFC South. And, at the end of the night, that statement was pretty clear: The Colts are the team to beat in that division now. 

Here are some takeaways from Indy’s 34-17 win on the road in Tennessee:

  • Philip Rivers threw for 308 yards and a touchdown while backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett also recorded a rushing TD after subbing in for Rivers in a goal line set
  • Rivers and Brissett weren’t the only NC State products who got in the endzone: Colts RB Nyheim Hines accounted for 115 total yards and two touchdowns
  • The Titans took a 17-13 lead into halftime but were shutout in the second half. The Colts scored 21 unanswered points over the final two quarters
  • Tennessee had a brutal game on special teams; Reserve punter Trevor Daniel shanked a 17-yard punt (which led to a Colts TD) and had another blocked and returned for a Colts TD. Stephen Gostkowski also missed a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter

Now the Colts and Titans both sit at 6-3 in the AFC South. The confidence and momentum is on Indy’s side right now but both teams will have a pretty tough week ahead; The Colts will head home to get ready for the Packers next weekend, while the Titans will have to prep for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Baltimore. 

Oh, and if you need to feel better about losing all sense of time this year, just remember that an entire professional officiating crew completely missed the end of the first quarter last night. Time is just a construct.

3. Jose Abreu, Freddie Freeman win MVP awards ⚾


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Major League Baseball handed out its MVP awards yesterday and we’ve got a couple of first-time winners on our hands. Jose Abreu of the White Sox took home the American League award, while Freddie Freeman of the Braves earned the honor in the National League. 

  • Abreu earned 21 of 30 first-place votes, beating out DJ LeMahieu and Jose Ramirez
  • Abreu had a slash line of .317/.370/.617 (166 OPS+) with 19 home runs and had an AL-leading 76 hits. He also led the majors with 148 total bases. At 33 he is the AL’s oldest MVP winner since Dennis Eckersley won it as a 38-year-old in 1992
  • Freeman earned 28 of 30 first-place votes (Mookie Betts received the other two)
  • Freeman hit .341/.462/.640 with 23 doubles (tops in MLB), a triple, 13 homers, 53 RBI and 51 runs (tops in MLB) this year
  • He is the first Braves player since Chipper Jones (1999) to win the NL MVP 

Freeman may not exactly seem like a guy who screams FUTURE HALL OF FAMER but our Matt Snyder says that he’s starting to build a case for Cooperstown, and this MVP award might go a long way toward a possible enshrinement. Freeman still has a good amount of work to do — he’ll need to compile numbers for years to come — but he’s only 31 and has some serious hardware in his trophy case. 

My question is this: Will these MVP awards ultimately hold the same amount of weight and significance as an MVP in a real season? Will it be held against them that they won the award during a shortened season and, if so, is that fair? One can argue that it’s much harder to stay at a MVP-caliber level over a 162-game season as opposed to a 60-game season, but that doesn’t change that these two guys were better than almost everyone else with an even playing field this season.

4. Ivy League cancels basketball season 🏀

 
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Earlier this year, when the pandemic was threatening the viability of college football and other fall sports, the Ivy League was the first college conference to pull the plug and cancel its fall season. Though others followed (and some ultimately reversed that cancellation) the Ivy League set the precedent and they stuck to their guns in prioritizing health and safety over sports. 

Now, they’re doing the same for winter sports. 

  • The league announced Thursday that it’s cancelling all winter sports, making it the first Division I conference to nix winter sports
  • Ivy League statement: “Consistent with its commitment to safeguard the health and well-being of student-athletes, the greater campus community and general public, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has decided that league schools will not conduct intercollegiate athletics competition in winter sports during the 2020-21 season”  

This doesn’t exactly come as a huge shock, as there were plenty of signs that the Ivy League would double down on its decision to forgo sports this year. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, some programs haven’t even been working out and it sounds like coaches were just bracing for the official announcement. 

Now that the first shoe has dropped, it’ll be interesting to see if any other conferences decide to follow in the Ivy League’s footsteps. That doesn’t seem very likely, though, as the scheduled start of the 2020-21 college basketball season is just 12 days away. 


📝 Odds & Ends


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📺 What to watch this weekend


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Friday

🏈 Iowa vs. Minnesota, 7:00 p.m. | MIN +3.5 | TV: FS1

Saturday

🏈 No. 9 Miami vs. Virginia Tech, 12:00 p.m. | VT -2 | TV: ESPN

🏈 No. 13 Wisconsin vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m. | MICH +4.5 | TV: ABC

Sunday

🏈 Bills vs. Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. | ARI -2.5 | TV: CBS 

🏈 Seahawks vs. Rams, 4:25 p.m. | LAR -1.5 | TV: FOX 

🏌 The Masters, Final round


📝 Top scores from last night

🏈 Colts 34, Titans 17

Indianapolis scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to mount a comeback victory over Tennessee. 
💵 Winning wagers: IND -1, Over (48.5)

🏈 Boise State 52, Colorado State 21

Despite missing 14 players due to COVID-19 protocols, the Broncos had three special teams touchdowns in a rout over the Rams.
💵 Winning wagers: BOISE -14, Over (62.5)  


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