A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

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A remarkable turnaround for this PGA golfer

From Comcast SportsNet
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- For the second straight week, a PGA Tour event ended with Kyle Stanley in tears. This time, they were tears of joy. Taking advantage of Spencer Levin's final-round meltdown, Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss at Torrey Pines to win the Phoenix Open on Sunday, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse a week ago. "You go from a very low point to a high point," Stanley said. "I'm not sure I expected to maybe recover this quickly. ... I think the biggest challenge was seeing if I could put last week behind me. I think I did." Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 15-under 269 -- a stroke ahead of playing partner Ben Crane and two ahead of Levin. Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75. "It just wasn't my day, obviously," Levin said. "But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away. My hat's off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you've got a six-shot lead and don't win, then I think it's on the player with the lead, for sure." When asked about Levin, Stanley echoed what Torrey Pines winner Brandt Snedeker said about Stanley a week ago. "I really feel for him, experiencing that," Stanley said. "You don't want to wish that upon anybody. He's a very good player, way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover." At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn't get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup. "I'm never going to forget that," Stanley said. "But I think it makes this one a lot sweeter, just being able to bounce back. I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm very grateful for the support I've gotten. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable turnaround." The 24-year-old former Clemson player from Gig Harbor, Wash., earned 1,098,000 for his first PGA Tour title. One of the tour's longest hitters at only 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Stanley birdied the par-5 13th and par-4 14th to take a one-stroke lead at 15 under. On No. 13, he powered a 376-yard drive through the desert area to set up the tying two-putt birdie. "Got a really good break there. Not quite sure how that ball ended up where it did," Stanley said. "We only hit 9-iron in there." On 14, he hit a 325-yard drive down the middle and holed a 12-footer to take lead. "Kind of a chip wedge in there," he said. Levin, winless on the PGA Tour, birdied the 14th to regain a share of the lead, but followed with a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th. "I wasn't doing trying to do anything different," Levin said "It had to be my mind. You get weird thoughts creeping in here and there. At least, I do. I think it was more my mind than my swing. Just kind of just wanting it a little too much." On 15, Levin's drive bounced off the cart path on the right and ended up against a cactus in the desert area. He took an awkward stance near the cactus and got the ball back into the second cut just off the fairway with a hockey-style slap with his driver. He emerged with jumping cholla stuck in his shirt and pants, then hit his third shot in the water short and right of the green. "I pushed it a little bit, but I guess I didn't hit enough club," Levin said. "I thought 4-iron would go over the green and 5-iron didn't carry." Stanley parred the final three holes, hitting a difficult recovery shot to 20 feet from an awkward angle under cactus to the right of the green on the short par-4 17th. "It's not a shot you really ever practice," Stanley said. "I had pitching wedge out, Brett (Waldman, his caddie) gave me the sand wedge. Just shut the face and tried to play a little bit of a hook, and it came off perfect." Playing two groups ahead of Levin, Stanley birdied five of the first 11 holes to get to 13 under, and within three strokes of the faltering leader. Levin birdied No. 3 to reach 18 under, but bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 and dropped two more strokes on 11 and 12 to let Stanley into the mix. Stanley, though, wasn't fully aware where he stood. "I didn't pay much attention to the leaderboards until maybe four or five holes left," Stanley said. "Once I made a couple birdies there on the back nine, I figured I was maybe getting close. But I didn't really think about it too much today. "I made the mistake of thinking about it probably all of the final round last week. So, this week, I just kind of tried to just let it happen." DIVOTS: Crane shot a 66. ... Phil Mickelson tied for 26th at 6 under after a 73. "I just couldn't quite get it going," the former Arizona State star said. ... The crowd was announced at 58,447, bringing the seven-day total to 518,262. A tournament-record 173,210 watched play Saturday.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead