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.

Bears hope they found another Peanut Tillman with CB Deiondre’ Hall

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Bears hope they found another Peanut Tillman with CB Deiondre’ Hall

In the second round of the 2003 draft the Bears took a flyer on a tall cornerback out of a smaller school. Now they have gone a similar route, hoping to land another Charles Tillman.

At the very least they secured a tall cornerback from a smaller school who WANTS to be another Charles Tillman.

Deiondre’ Hall, 6-2, 190 pounds, became a Bear with the team’s third pick in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Hall comes out of Northern Iowa with 13 career interceptions, six returned for touchdowns, with another 28 passes broken up.

In the Tillman tradition he also finished with four forced fumbles, three of those his senior season.

His role model, “for cornerback, me personally, I’ve always loved him, is Charles Tillman,” Hall said. “Just being a ballhawk and getting that ball. That’s something that’s been huge to me throughout my time at Northern Iowa… .

“I’ve always kind of tried to model my game after him. Like I said, just being a ballhawk and getting that ball out. That’s one of the key emphasis throughout my time at Northern Iowa. Not basically mimicking his game but taking bits and pieces and adding it to mine.”

The turnover bits and pieces of his game will be welcome additions for a team that totaled just 17 total turnovers last season and whose cornerbacks (Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter) combined for just three interceptions.

But Hall has started at linebacker, is a physical defensive back, and is likely to get at least a look at safety as well. There his football template changes.

“For safety positions, I’ve always kind of saw myself as a ‘Honey Badger,’” Hall said, referencing Arizona Cardinals All-Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. “Being able to play a little corner, coming down in the slot and guarding those quicker guys and being able to stay up top and cover ground. That’s huge in the game these days.”

Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

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Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

In one of those ironies of NFL life, Miami safety Deon Bush frequently worked with fellow Hurricane and NFL veteran Antrel Rolle. Now Bush is on a vector that puts him on a possible roster collision course with Rolle.

Rolle was hampered by injuries all year, starting just seven games before finishing the season on injured reserve.

“I grew up watching Antrel Rolle, and while he was down here in Miami I was working out with him, so he's kind of like a mentor to me,” Bush said. “He's been in the league for a long time and I want to be in the league for a long time, so there's a lot to learn from him. It's just great having another player from ‘The U,’ being like a family, like a brotherhood and it'll be great playing with him.”

Where Bush fits warrants watching, with Adrian Amos ensconced at free safety but the other position is very much shrouded in doubt.

That has become something of a Bears tradition at safety.

In 2014 the Bears selected Minnesota safety Brock Vereen in the fourth round. By the end of that season Vereen was starting alongside Ryan Mundy.

But the Bears signed Rolle early in free agency and Vereen lost the starting job almost at the outset of training camp, eventually released in late September. Mundy went on injured reserve with a hip injury and was done for the year.

Last year the Bears drafted Amos out of Penn State in the fifth round. He became a day one starter alongside Rolle.

Bush projects as an immediate fit for special teams but also has shown the speed (4.48 sec. in the 40) to work in coverage, a critical skill set for a position once viewed more in terms of run support. Bush collected 103 tackles and three interceptions over his junior and senior seasons, in addition to forcing five fumbles in the 2014 season.

“I take big pride in being a big hitter, that's how I grew up playing the game,” Bush said. “I've been trying to be the best hitter on my team (since my early days). I just take pride. That's how I like to play the game of football. I like to play tough, I like to put fear in my opponent and that's a big thing in my game.”

Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

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Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

Keeping in step with the twin themes of the Bears’ 2016 draft, GM Ryan Pace started Day 3 exactly as he did Days 1 and 2 – with a trade – dealing up in the fourth round to select West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who immediately dials up the competition level at inside linebacker.

And some good feelings. Former Mountaineers teammate Kevin White, the Bears’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, immediately tweeted:

“I’m pretty close with Kevin,” Kwiatkoski said. “He came into West Virginia as a junior-college player, lived two doors down from me, and have stayed close with him. I lived with his brother Karon at West Virginia this past year.”

Kwiatkoski, 6-2, 241 pounds, fits the template for inside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme of John Fox/Vic Fangio, with mobility enough in his senior seasons to post three interceptions, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven passes defensed and a team-high 86 tackles. He had six interceptions and 14 passes defensed in his four West Virginia seasons.

“My junior year I played a lot more of the sub packages," he said. "This past year, I played them but not as much. But I feel like I can stay on the field for a third-down guy and different sub packages. This year I’m transitioning to outside backer so I was in coverage a lot more than I was the prior year so that definitely helps contribute to that.”

Kwiatkoski also goes into a competitive cauldron with offseason signees Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in addition to ILB holdovers Christian Jones, Jonathan Anderson and John Timu. Pace has said throughout the offseason that increasing competition was a goal, and the nature of the picks has followed that lead.

The Bears gave the St. Louis Rams the sixth-round draft pick they’d acquired from Carolina in the Jared Allen trade early last season. The deal allowed them to move from No. 117 to No. 113, another move pointing to the Bears targeting best players available on their board and moving to get them.