Ernie Els wins the British Open in stunning style...

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Ernie Els wins the British Open in stunning style...

From Comcast SportsNet
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- Ernie Els plucked the ball from the hole after one last birdie and heaved it into the grandstand. At the time, it looked like nothing more than a classy gesture by a former British Open champion -- not the next one. The name on the claret jug was supposed to be Adam Scott, who had a four-shot lead with four holes to play. But in a shocking turnaround Sunday, Els returned to the 18th green less than an hour later to claim the oldest trophy in golf. Scott joined a list of players who threw away a major. That was not lost on Els, whose heart sank when he looked over at the 32-year-old Australian. "Sorry," Els told him. "You're a great player, a great friend of mine. I feel very fortunate. You're going to win many of these." Scott might not get another chance like this. After hitting a 3-wood into a pot bunker on the final hole, Scott had one last chance when he stood over a 7-foot par putt to force a playoff. It stayed left of the cup, and Scott dropped into a crouch. Standing off to the side, his chin quivered as the magnitude of the meltdown hit him. Instead, he mouthed one word: "Wow." Wow, indeed. Even though Els had gone more than two years without winning, and had thrown away two tournaments in recent months with shaky putting, the Big Easy felt all along that something special was going to happen at this British Open. And it did -- all because of a collapse by Scott that no one saw coming. "I know I let a really great chance slip through my fingers today," Scott said. On a wind-swept afternoon at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that blew away the hopes of Tiger Woods and a handful of others, Scott looked steady as ever by going eight straight holes without making bogey. And that's when it came undone. "I had it in my hands with four to go," Scott said. A bogey from the bunker on the 15th cut the lead to three. That was followed by a three-putt bogey on the 16th, where his 3-foot par putt spun in and out of the cup and made the gallery gasp. From the middle of the 17th fairway, he hit a 6-iron that turned left, ran down the slope and took one last bounce in shin-high grass. "I thought, Hold on. We've got a problem here,' " said Graeme McDowell, playing with Scott in the final group. By then, Els had posted a 2-under 68 with a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole, a cheer that Scott recognized while playing the 17th. Scott failed to get up-and-down for par from the rough and suddenly was tied. Els headed to the practice green, where it rarely works out for him. In perhaps the most crushing defeat in a career filled with them, Els was on the putting green at Augusta National in 2004 when Phil Mickelson made an 18-foot birdie putt to win the Masters. "I just thought, I'll probably be disappointed again,' " Els said. "You're not really hoping the guy is going to make a mistake, but you're hoping you don't have to go a playoff, you can win outright. This one was different, because I feel for Adam." Els, who started the final round six shots behind, wound up with his second British Open -- the other one was 10 years ago at Muirfield -- and fourth major championship at a stage in his career when it looked as if his best golf was behind him. "Amazing," Els said. "I'm still numb. It still hasn't set in. It will probably take quite a few days because I haven't been in this position for 10 years, obviously. So it's just crazy, crazy, crazy getting here." The celebration was muted, unlike his other three majors. "First of all, I feel for Adam Scott. He's a great friend of mine," Els said. "Obviously, we both wanted to win very badly. But you know, that's the nature of the beast. That's why we're out here. You win. You lose. It was my time for some reason." The wind finally arrived off the Irish Sea and ushered in pure chaos -- a mental blunder by Woods that led to triple bogey on the sixth hole, a lost ball by Brandt Snedeker that took him out of contention and a topped shot that made McDowell, a former U.S. Open champion, look like an amateur. "I guess my disappointment kind of seems relatively stupid in relation to the guy ... I've just seen a guy lose The Open Championship," said McDowell, who played in the final group of a major for the second straight time. Nothing was more stunning than what happened to Scott, who closed with a 75. "I managed to hit a poor shot on each of the closing four holes," Scott said. "Look, I played so beautifully for most of the week. I shouldn't let this bring me down." Even so, it added another chapter to Australian heartbreak, most of that belonging to his idol, Greg Norman. Scott was the fourth Australian since the 2007 Masters to lead going into the final round of a major, yet the proud land Down Under remains without a major since Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006. "Greg was my hero when I was a kid, and I thought he was a great role model, how he handled himself in victory and defeat," Scott said. "He set a good example for us. It's tough. I can't justify anything that I've done out there. I didn't finish the tournament well today. "But next time ... I'm sure there will be a next time and I can do a better job of it." Already in the World Golf Hall of Fame, the 42-year-old Els joined even more elite company. He became only the sixth player to win the U.S. Open and British Open twice. The others are Jack Nicklaus, Woods, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones and Lee Trevino. Woods came undone on the sixth hole when he tried to blast out of a bunker from a plugged lie, stayed in the bunker, and three-putted for triple bogey. Still with an outside chance after a birdie on the 12th, he stuck with his conservative plan of hitting iron off the tee and made three straight bogeys. He closed with a 73 to tie for third with Brandt Snedeker, who also had his share of problems for a 74. Woods had his best finish in a major since he lost to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship, though he remains winless in the last 17. "It's part of golf," said Woods, who moves to No. 2 in the world. "We all go through these phases. Some people, it lasts entire careers. Others are a little bit shorter. Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this." Els finished at 7-under 273. He failed to qualify for the Masters this year for the first time in nearly two decades, but that won't be a problem now. His win gives him a five-year exemption into the majors. It was the most shocking collapse at the British Open since Jean Van de Velde took a triple bogey on the final hole at Carnoustie and lost in a playoff. But this was different. It wasn't a last-minute blowup, more of a slow bleed, similar to Jason Dufner losing a five-shot lead to Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship last year, or Ed Sneed making bogey on the last three holes at the 1979 Masters. There was just enough wind to make the 206 bunkers at Royal Lytham look a little bit bigger. And as the gusts increased, a calm week turned chaotic. It started with Woods on the sixth hole, his first triple bogey at a major championship since he lost his ball on the opening hole at Royal St. George's in 2003. "One yard," he said to his caddie, a measure of the miss. It plugged near the steep wall of a pot bunker. Instead of chipping to the middle of the bunker, Woods tried to get out with a ferocious swing. The ball smacked into the wall, nearly hit him and wound up near the left wall. He sat on the grass, his left knee (which has gone through four surgeries) flexed underneath him, his right leg extended as he dipped his upper body toward the sand to make a swing. This one also hit the wall, and caromed around and out to the right. From there, he three-putted for a 7. "The game plan was to fire it into the bank, have it ricochet to the right and then have an angle to come back at it," Woods said. "Unfortunately, it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me." Just like that, he was seven shots behind. It was the second time this year that one of golf's biggest stars made triple bogey in the final round of a major while in contention. Phil Mickelson made his on the fourth hole at the Masters and never recovered. Els made a bogey on the ninth to fall six shots behind. All that did was fire him up, and he came home in 32. His 68 is best measured in these terms -- of the last 12 players who teed off in the final round, no one else had better than a 72. Yet there was one more collapse, in the final hour, and it was the one everyone will remember from this British Open. It's one Scott will somehow need to forget. As winner and runner-up met in a portable trailer before going out to the trophy presentation, Els told him: "Don't beat yourself up."

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford to undergo appendectomy, out indefinitely

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford to undergo appendectomy, out indefinitely

The Blackhawks announced Saturday afternoon that Corey Crawford is undergoing an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital and will be out indefinitely.

Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry released this statement regarding Crawford:

"Corey presented this morning with acute appendicitis. He is undergoing an appendectomy today at a Philadelphia hospital. We are anticipating a full recovery and return to play. We will provide details regarding the timeline of his return after we have more information about the surgery.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Scott Darling got the start against the Flyers, and the Blackhawks signed 23-year-old Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as an emergency backup goalie. He played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey's Wildcats.

Crawford has been lights out for the Blackhawks this season, owning a 12-6-1 record with a 2.27 goals against average and .927 save percentage, including two shutouts.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany offers his take on College Football Playoff picture

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany offers his take on College Football Playoff picture

INDIANAPOLIS — Once upon a time, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was quite the advocate that only conference champions should reach the College Football Playoff.

It sounds like he's OK with losing that fight, though, as one of his conference's teams, Ohio State, looks ready to become the first team to reach the Playoff without winning its conference championship.

Delany joined the crew of ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday morning in Indianapolis and discussed the current Playoff picture, which is a little clearer — and a little worse for the Big Ten — after Washington won the Pac-12 championship on Friday night.

With Alabama and Ohio State looking like Playoff locks, Washington seemingly punched its ticket to the final four with a dominating performance in a 31-point clubbing of eight-ranked Colorado. That would leave one spot up for grabs, and another Big Ten team that will finish the year without a conference championship, Michigan, is certainly still in the mix. So too are Wisconsin and Penn State, who play each other in Saturday night's Big Ten title game. The other team competing for and perhaps the favorite for that fourth spot is Clemson, currently ranked third and playing Virginia Tech in Saturday night's ACC title bout.

So Delany provided an assessment of the landscape on GameDay, though his comments revealed some politicking for either Michigan or the Big Ten champ, as he left two spots open without acknowledging Washington.

The idea that two of the four teams in the Playoff field, should both Ohio State and Michigan find their way in, would box out three champions of Power Five conference clashes with the argument Delany made just a few years ago.

"Well I was a campaign manager four years ago for the four best conference champions. We lost that election, and what we decided on was the four best teams, which I'm fine with," Delany said. "Obviously this year's unique in some ways. We have the two divisional champions playing head to head here today for the conference championship, and they won their division and they should be respected for that. The committee has another role, and that is to pick the four best teams in the country. I think there are a couple teams that are unequivocally among those four best. I think Alabama has had a great year, Ohio State. It seems to me like there's probably winners of games today plus Michigan who the committee's going to have to sort through to fill out those next two spots. But in my view, this event has been great for this conference, and the College Football Playoff has been terrific for college football in large part because people are playing people. So it should be about who you play, who you beat.

"For sure you have to — when teams have similar resumes and records are similar — you have to look at conference champions, but there are 10 conference champions. Not all conference champions are equal, OK? There are 10 in the FBS. Several conference champions are going to be evaluated, including the one out of this conference, the one out of the Pac-12, the one out of the Big 12, the ACC. I myself think Alabama has done enough whether they have a conference championship behind their resume or not. I think Ohio State has done enough. I think the committee has suggested that in their early years. So what we have right now, I think, are two slots available and probably three, four, five teams fighting for those. Conference champion is relevant, but also who you played head to head, who you beat. Who'd you play in the non-conference, who'd you beat."

Again, that seems to be some not-so-subtle campaigning for either Michigan or the Big Ten champ. The Wolverines boast a resume with three top-10 wins, including a non-conference game against Colorado. Ohio State, too, won a big non-conference game on the road against a top-10 Oklahoma team. Penn State has already beaten a top-10 team in Ohio State, Wisconsin opened the season with a non-conference win over LSU, and Saturday's winner will gain another top-10 win. Washington earned its first top-10 win Friday night after playing non-conference games against Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State.