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By Garrett Johnston

 

Harris English understands his strengths. It takes time, but the 25-year-old is in a good place with his mental and physical games.

How that translates to the golf course-no less today’s final round-will be vital to whether the Georgia alum can cash in for his third win on Tour.

Twice has English held a 36-hole lead and both times he delivered. First at the FedEx Classic in June 2013 and then at the Mayakoba Classic in late 2013. He held the 36-hole lead at 10-under par on Friday and goes into today’s round with the 54-hole advantage tied with veteran JB Holmes at 9-under par.

What may be English’s greatest strength is his determination and commitment from age 11 to be a presence on the PGA Tour.

“Harris has conditioned his mind to be prepared for the PGA Tour,” English’s junior high coach Bill Connelly said. “Since he started the game as a kid.”

English remembers Connelly taking him the two-hour drive from Thomasville, Georgia to the Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s marquee event, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida during his childhood in Thomasville, Georgia.

“Bill always told me to watch the players and see what they do on the course,” English said. “If you want to be like them you have to watch them.”

Clearly English followed the advice of his old coach and now he will step on a Torrey Pines South course which has been dominated by the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in recent years.

With both stars not able to survive for the weekend, Woods withdrew with injury Thursday and Mickelson missed the cut on Friday, English and Holmes stand atop the leaderboard and will both have the last say come Sunday afternoon on the 72nd hole.

This situation produces pressure and often causes mistakes for many, especially on a hard course like Torrey Pines.

Just last year Gary Woodland held the lead late until he hit his second shot on the 71st hole out of bounds and Scott Stallings took the victory coming from an earlier group.

English has a collected perspective towards today’s round.

“This is what we play for, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” English said.

“You’ve got to embrace the heat of a Sunday, it’s a hard course.”

So what’s the right mentality for a tough, unforgiving course where double bogey is a possibility on every hole?

“I’m just going to get out there and work really hard to execute my gameplan-but I’m going to have fun doing it.”

Isn’t golf even more exciting when it’s fun?

That’s the name of the game.

 

 

 

 

 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — If Aaron Rodgers has his way, he would like to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers through at least the 2020 season, maybe beyond.

“I’ve had eight great years there, the last five as a starter,” Rodgers said of his career in Green Bay. “Hopefully I can give them another eight-plus years of playing at a high level.”

Rodgers is enjoying his offseason this weekend on California’s iconic Monterey Peninsula. He is competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament, formerly known as the Bing Crosby, and is paired with PGA Tour professional John Mallinger.

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Rodgers’ current contract expires following the 2014 season, but he understands there is considerable interest in when he will receive a contract extension.

“We’ll see what happens with that, I’m not stressing about it,” Rodgers said. “I think the Packers would like me to be around for a few more years, and I’d love to finish my career there.”

Rodgers earned NFL MVP honors in 2011 and was named Super Bowl MVP two years ago after leading the Packers to a championship.

Getting the Packers back to the big game is no small task, especially with the San Francisco 49ers coming back to prominence in the NFC, but Rodgers believes strongly in the principle of timing in the playoffs.

“We just got to put it all together at the right time,” Rodgers said. “We see these teams most of the time, they go into the playoffs playing well, and they keep it rolling. Baltimore this year, I think they lost three of the last four (regular-season games) coming in, so I think they just found the right recipe.”

To Rodgers, the Ravens’ resurgence during the playoffs was assisted by one man.

“They got Ray Lewis back and kind of got re-energized,” he said. “(Winning the Super Bowl) is about being healthy at the right time and playing the right way.”

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Rodgers was impressed by the closing effort of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the big game.

“Joe had a great postseason, and now he’s got to be considered among the top guys winning the Super Bowl,” Rodgers said.

There are some question marks that surround retaining Packer personnel this offseason. Rodgers is hoping veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings will be one of those players that stays in Green Bay.

“We’d love to have Greg back, he’s been a great player for us for a long time,” Rodgers said. “I’ve been fortunate to play seven years with him, so hopefully we can find a way to get a deal done because he’s a great player.”

Regarding tight end Jermichael Finley, Rodgers clearly thinks he already is a part of next season’s squad.

“He’s under contract,” Rodgers said, “so far as I know he’s going to be a Packer. I haven’t heard anything (otherwise).”

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Rodgers said playing in this golf tournament has special meaning.

“It’s great,” he said. “I’m glad they invited me back this year. It’s a special place to be. It’s fun to see the pros in their element.”

Those pros include the likes of fan favorite Phil Mickelson and American Ryder Cup member Brandt Snedeker, as well as European stalwarts Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington.

Rodgers played in the same group as former tennis star Andy Roddick. Rodgers said he and Roddick have been friends for a couple years.

“Andy’s a great guy,” Rodgers said. “Actually, we met a couple years back. He spent some time in Wisconsin growing up.

“It’s fun to be able to try and hit it around with him in a game that is foreign to us.”

Roddick enjoyed a Packers game a few years ago as a guest of the quarterback.

“(Rodgers) gave us the whole dog and pony show,” Roddick said. “We had the on-field tour beforehand, we sat with his parents in the sky box. He was really gracious about it all, really nice.”

Rodgers is slyly self-deprecating when describing his golf game.

“I’m an inconsistent player at best,” Rodgers said. “This is a fun event though. It gives you some nerves you don’t usually get playing my sport, so it’s fun to be out here with the pros.”

Rodgers feels privileged to be able to play this game with pros and people from other sports.

“I think it’s great you know a lot of different people from different walks of life,” Rodgers said. “This is a special place to be out here to view just the beauty of the courses. It’s fun to be able to be a part of it. I’m just trying to stay out of the pros’ ways.”

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2013/02/09/aaron-rodgers-contract-green-bay-packers/1905785/

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF.

Barely a month removed from one of the Chiefs’ biggest games in years, Alex Smith is still feeling the sting of the season-ending playoff loss at Indianapolis.

Smith tried to put that behind him as he played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week. Smith and his professional partner, Brendon Todd, finished three rounds at 16-under 199 and were not in position to make the cut when play was suspended Saturday because of darkness.

“You get over it enough for sure, but it always kind of stays there a little bit,” Smith said. “You kind of have a little bitter taste in your mouth, and I don’t think that ever leaves until next season.”

Smith is not into second-guessing the way the game unfolded either. He is however looking forward to the development of coach Andy Reid’s offense moving in to their second year together.

“I’m very excited, if you look at our last eight or nine games offensively, we really did some good things and took off a little bit there,” Smith said. “And we got some momentum heading into the offseason. Obviously the playoff game was tough to take, but there are some positive things, too.”

A significant change toward a pass-heavy offense midway through the season showed a gradual building of trust between coach and personnel.

“It just kind of happened naturally,’ Smith said. “I think the defense was playing great for the first half, and we played some good defenses as well.

“It was our first year in the offense, we didn’t turn the ball over, we were opportunistic in the red zone, but yes we didn’t really have the entire playbook at hand, and that’s to be expected in the first year with a lot of new faces. So as the year went on and we got more comfortable and coach Reid got more comfortable with us and his staff, he started to trust us with more and we showed that we could handle it. By the end, I was feeling really good about things.”

Smith was also glad to see a great development in 24-year-old receiver AJ Jenkins last season. In that 45-44 playoff loss, Jenkins’ number was called on a key third-down play in the fourth quarter. Jenkins gained 27 yards and a first down.

“He came along all season,” Smith said. “and really it was coach Reid and it was a play that was designed for AJ. It was him all the way, and he stepped up with Donnie (Avery) going down.

“We put a lot of trust in him, he’d worked hard and took some huge steps I thought as the season went on, and he made a huge play there on a third down.”

That game also gave Smith a chance to show off his arm and open up the passing game.

“It was fun, I felt like Indy was just kind of a taste of what we could do,” Smith said.

Since the playoff loss, Smith participated in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and attended the Super Bowl in New Jersey. Smith and his family are staying in northern California, and Smith says he’s “not sure” if he’ll return until April.

There are also contract questions that naturally arise.

“I’d love to be (in Kansas City),” he said. “We’ll see. I’ve still got one more year on my contract. It’s such a year-to-year deal anyway, so we’ll see what happens.

“I think at this point when you get veteran enough it’s always year to year. You just understand it’s the nature of the game. You’ve got to play good, otherwise you move on, so I don’t care how many years you’ve got on a contract, for me it’s just to be expected.”

Ultimately, Smith is happy to see the team’s progress.

“I’m excited,” Smith said. “We’re a young team. We did some things, but you’ve got to start all over now.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article338622/Chiefs-QB-Alex-Smith-looks-to-the-future-not-the-season-past.html#storylink=cpy

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. • David Lee begins his 10th NBA season Wednesday believing he’s in the prime of his NBA career….

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/other/future-looks-bright-for-chaminade-alum-lee/article_b94356c2-839d-5a45-9304-92af1636ae65.html

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