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Tiger Woods, son Charlie’s 11 straight birdies fall short of Daly duo

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Tiger Woods, son Charlie’s 11 straight birdies fall short of Daly duo

ORLANDO, Fla. — Tiger Woods might not be ready for tour-level golf. He can still deliver quite a show.

In a remarkable return from a car crash 10 months ago that badly damaged his right leg, Woods and 12-year-old son Charlie set a tournament record with 11 straight birdies and pushed John Daly and his college son all the way to the finish Sunday in the PNC Championship.

Daly and John Daly II, a freshman at Arkansas, shot 57 in the scramble format and won by two shots. It might have been the widest Woods ever smiled after a runner-up finish.

“The fact that I’m able to have this opportunity this year — even a couple weeks ago we didn’t really know whether or not I would be doing this,” Woods said. “But here we are. And we had just best time ever.”

The birdie streak began on the seventh hole when Woods hit a half-wedge into a foot. Charlie holed a 10-footer on the next hole, stooping to pick up the marker before the ball was even in the cup, another moment where the confident son looked a lot like his father.

Tiger Woods and his son Charlie.
AP

It was like that over the final two hours, Woods often hitting the key irons and Charlie making the putts. They briefly had the lead after a birdie on the 14th and the margin was thin the rest of the way until the very end.

Daly, playing two groups behind, birdied the 16th hole to regain the lead. He and his son stayed in front when Team Woods chipped too strong on the par-5 closing hole and each of them missed 8-foot birdie putts. They shot 57 with only four pars, two of them on par 5s.

“We thought we’d have to birdie every hole on the back nine, and it turned out to be that way,” Woods said. “But man, what a blast it was. We just had a blast all day.”

Daly and son two-putted for birdie on the 18th and set the record that mattered. They finished at 27-under par, breaking by one the mark set by Davis Love III and his son three years ago.

“Yesterday, it was all him. I putted so bad,” Daly said. “I finally hit some decent shots. He played unbelievable. I played a little better today. I made him happy.”

The most famous encounter between Woods and Daly was in 2005 at Harding Park in a World Golf Championship, which ended in a playoff when Daly three-putted from 15 feet.

Woods was charging again — Tiger and Charlie — except Team Daly didn’t flinch. Daly hit 7-iron into the wind to short range on the 16th for birdie, and he coaxed in a 4-foot par putt on the 17th to stay ahead.

Tiger Woods embraces his son Charlie.
Tiger Woods embraces his son Charlie.
REUTERS

The most popular offseason event that pairs major champions and a family member suddenly felt tense on a warm Florida afternoon, all because of Woods and everything that led to him playing again.

Woods suffered multiple injuries to his right leg on Feb. 23 when his SUV traveling about 85 mph crashed through a median and down a hill in the Los Angeles suburbs.

He said amputation was a possibility. It took three months for him to get on his feet with help of crutches. And he ended the year in a Sunday red shirt, holing birdie putts and delivering short irons that led to one birdie after another and a chase that felt like old times.

This wasn’t just about Woods. His son, playing this event for the second straight year, delivered the goods down the stretch, particularly a 5-iron to 4 feet on the par-3 17th that gave them a tie for the lead going to the 18th.

Tiger Woods reacts after hitting his tee shot on the 18th hole.
Tiger Woods reacts after hitting his tee shot on the 18th hole.
REUTERS

Team Daly held it steady behind them.

It was only one month ago when Woods first posted a three-second video showing him hitting a short iron with the message, “Making progress.” He was hitting balls at the back of the range at Albany in the Bahamas two weeks ago. He was able to ride a cart at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, which helped him get by in the 36-hole event on a flat course.

He kept insisting that playing at a high level against the best players in the world is still a long way and a lot of work ahead of him.

But there was no shortage of birdies, big shots and loads of hopes for a fairy tale ending.

“The competitive juices, they are never going to go away,” Woods said. “This is my environment. This is what I’ve done my entire life. I’m just so thankful to be able to have this opportunity to do it again.

“Earlier this year was not a very good start to the year and it didn’t look very good,” he said. “But the last few weeks, to push as hard as we have the last seven months … and to have this opportunity to be able to play with my son and to have these memories, it’s worth all the pain.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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