Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2019


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Tiger Could Be in Future 3M Open

July 07, 2019 - (0) comments

 

Tiger Woods declined to participate in the inaugural 3M Open that ends today at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. Will he play here in future years?

John Harris, the former University of Minnesota golfer who is now seen occasionally on the PGA Tour Champions for seniors, believes so. Harris, 67, is a friend of the legendary Woods who has won 15 majors including the 2019 Masters. Harris has provided assistance this year to Hollis Cavner, whose tournament management company has a seven-year commitment from the PGA to make Minnesota an annual tour stop.

Woods hasn’t played in a tournament since the U.S. Open ended June 16. Harris told Sports Headliners it is important to Woods to spend time with his two children in early July. Although there has been no announcement, there is speculation the 3M Open’s future dates will be later in the summer than this year. Harris said Cavner offered ideas to Woods about how he could show the kids a memorable time including summer camp and being entertained at the Mall of America.

“He (Cavner) had promised Tiger that his kids would have the greatest week of the summer right here in Minnesota,” Harris said. “So unfortunately, it didn’t work this year but I am convinced he will be here before the 3M run is over.”

Woods would have maximized interest and attendance at the first 3M Open. Did Cavner come close in securing participation by golf’s biggest name? ” Very, very close,” Harris claimed. “And you know what? I think that if Tiger was going to play at any time between the U.S. Open and the British Open it would have been in Minneapolis.”

The British Open will be played July 18-21 at Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Much of the golf world’s eyes will, as usual, be on Woods. “He is single-handedly carrying the game right now,” Harris said. “You know what? It’s not really fair but that’s the way it is, and he can’t play every week. He’s gotta protect his body. I think his priorities are still the majors and the world events. He has not been to Portrush, so going to Portrush and preparing for this British Open is high on his list right now.”

Woods is 43 years old and his win at the Masters was his first majors championship in 11 years, brining his career total to 15. As even casual golf fans know, he is chasing Jack Nicklaus’ majors record of 18 titles.

“He played hard before the Masters and I think there is a tremendous let down after winning the Masters (in April),” Harris said. “I think his body kind of shut down a little bit, and he needs to re-energize and get himself ready to go. I think he views this Portrush golf course as a real opportunity to win a major.”

Harris is a native of Roseau, and like other Minnesotans, he obviously wishes Woods was here for the 3M Open. He talked about how Woods “would bring a lot of people to the gate” (and help his friend Cavner). “…He makes every event go from great to a huge success,” Harris said. “I think he wanted to be here and he will come at some point over the course of this event.”

In 1993 Harris won the U.S. Amateur Championship at age 41. Woods won the next three amateurs. The two also played together on a U.S. Walker Cup team. Harris has played in three PGA Tour Champions events this year and is likely to play in more.

Taste Fore the Tour

Wayne Kostroski

Before the 3M Open competition started last week, the first-ever Taste Fore the Tour debuted at Interlachen Country Club in Edina as part of a national charity culinary series created to raise awareness and donations for hunger relief causes. Founder Wayne Kostroski told Sports Headliners the event raised enough money to provide 1 million meals for the Bloomington-based Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People organization.

VEAP is efficient at feeding the hungry and Kostroski, the Minneapolis philanthropist who led last week’s fundraiser along with his son Pete Kostroski and golf’s Sir Nick Faldo, said the organization can make $20 create 120 meals. A short-term goal now is to raise $30,000 from the public who can make donations via the link TasteForeTheTour.com (see Tee Off Against Hunger).

At Interlachen guests enjoyed food prepared by celebrity chefs including Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel fame, and chatted up well-known Minnesota sports figures such as Joe Mauer, Rick Spielman, Paul Molitor, Jason Zucker and P.J. Fleck. They were all in good spirits Monday night because of the cause.

“When you’re here in the United States, no one should ever go hungry with all the resources and everything we have here,” said Spielman, the Vikings general manager. “So to come out here…to promote that is something that is very important.”

Helping the needy has been on Wayne Kostroski’s mind for a long time. His mom set an example when he was a child, loading up a bag of food and sending it to a church or local food bank. “Every good fiber in my body is from my mom,” he said.

Back in the 1980s Kostroski started sending chefs from his Minneapolis restaurants to charity events. He realized there are so many individuals who would never be restaurant customers at his restaurants but needed help. “They’re struggling just to get their next meal,” he said.

That’s why in the early 1990s Kostroski started the annual Taste of the NFL fundraisers responsible for providing over 200 million meals for the hungry. With one in six Americans going hungry, Kostroski said, there is certainly a need for events like Taste of the NFL and Taste Fore the Tour, the initiative that successfully launched several days ago. “This is Minnesota great,” he said of the event’s premiere.

 

City Fighter Seeks Bigger Spotlight

June 25, 2019 - (0) comments

 

Jamal James of Minneapolis is the No. 5 ranked middleweight by the WBC and is positioned for more notoriety. He headlines the July 13 pro boxing card at the historic Minneapolis Armory that will include nationally-televised bouts.

James, 25-1, fights Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco, 33-7-1, in a 10-round bout that will be seen on FS1. James has 12 career knockouts, DeMarco, 24. DeMarco is a former world lightweight champion.

Jamal James

James fights in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. His bout with DeMarco is listed as a welterweight matchup, but middleweight is where he could make an even bigger name for himself. A local boxing insider emailed this prediction about James: “…Definitely in the global conversation for a title fight.”

The middleweight division is loaded with talent including WBA title holder Manny Pacquiao, 61-7-2. He fights Keith Thurman, 29-0, next month. IBF, WBO and WBC are other organizations where James might have a path to title opportunities.

Professional boxing has found a home at the Armory and continues to generate awareness in this marketplace. The building was once the site of Minneapolis Lakers and city high school basketball games. Renovated now and being used for corporate events and entertainment, three previous boxing cards have attracted announced attendances of 3,149, 3,320 and 3,417.

Attendance of more than 3,000 is expected again in July and as of late last week 1,678 tickets had been sold. Ticket prices range from $25 to $250, with the average at $115.

Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions is the promoter for the July 13 card. PBC fights are seen on Fox and FS1, with recent cards being watched in approximately 1.5 million homes.

Boxing has been struggling for decades to regain its foothold with the American public. In the first half of the 20th century boxing was one of the most popular sports along with baseball, horse racing and college football.

Worth Noting

The Minnesota Wild’s 2019-20 regular season schedule was released today. The Wild opens the season in Nashville on October 3, the first of three straight road games. Minnesota has its home opener on October12, hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild plays 17 of its first 26 games of the season on the road (October 3 thru November 30). The nine home games in October and November are the fewest in franchise history.

Charlie Danielson, the 25-year-old Osceola, Wisconsin native accepted a sponsor exemption into the 3M Open today. The Illinois alum and 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year recently qualified for the U.S. Open. The new PGA Tournament begins next week at TCP Twin Cities in Blaine.

The Twins, who split four games on the road with the Royals in their most recent series, hold the No. 3 spot in yesterday’s Yahoo.com power rankings of MLB teams, trailing the No. 1 ranked Dodgers and No. 2 Yankees.

Cbssports.com dropped the Twins from No. 2 to No. 3 in its rankings that came out yesterday. The Yankees are first, the Dodgers second.

The Twins, who start a home series tonight against the Rays, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by displaying a full-sized statue of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit at Target Field. The statue is accessible to all fans, and is located outside the Bat & Barrel entrance on the Delta SKY360° Club level.

A Forbes.com June 11 article lists the top 100 wealthiest athletes in the world, with $25 million the cutoff figure to be ranked. Lionel Messi, with $127 million in earnings in the last 12 months, leads the list. He is followed in the top 10 by Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Canelo Alvarez, Roger Federer, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. The top three in earnings are all soccer players, followed by boxer Alvarez.

The Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins is No. 91 with a reported $26.1 million in pay. He is the only Minnesota athlete to make the list.

Romain Metanire, the Minnesota United defender who will play in the July 31 MLS All-Star Game in Orlando, reportedly earns $305,000 in base salary, according to multiple news sources.

The United has seven of its next 10 matches in St. Paul at the much acclaimed Allianz Field that includes the Brew Hall with its many local beers. Unlike soccer venues in Europe, fans fan consume beer in the seating areas at Allianz.

Ex-Gophers Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy will have tryouts respectively with the NBA’s Clippers and Timberwolves. They could eventually play in the NBA’s development league. During the 2018-19 season, players with G League contracts earned base salaries of $7,000, or $35,000 for five months.

Prior Lake five-star forward Dawson Garcia continues to attract impressive scholarship offers, with news yesterday Kansas hopes he will be part of its 2020 recruiting class.

Gophers’ football marketers are trying to improve ticket sales in 2019 after last season’s announced average attendance of 37,914 for seven home games. That figure was reportedly the lowest since 1992. Season tickets in 2019 are offered for as low as $35 per game. Mini-plans starting at $60 (three games) went on sale yesterday.

 

Vikings Carry ‘Chip on Shoulder’ Attitude

June 23, 2019 - (0) comments

 

Spend time around the Vikings this offseason and it doesn’t take long to pick up on expectations for an improved record in 2019. The Vikings were 8-7-1 last year and the whole organization is determined to have better results this fall.

An easy way to describe the club’s new attitude is “chip on the shoulder.” Reserve quarterback Sean Mannion, a third round draft choice by the Rams in 2015, signed with the Vikings in April and although new to the organization noticed the mindset of his new team.

“I think that would be an accurate way to describe it, for sure,” Mannion told Sports Headliners. “The big thing is just channeling that and focusing on your craft. Using that as motivation but not letting it become destructive. Letting it be something that motivates you to work on your skills, work on your abilities, and just continuing to grow as a player.”

Kirk Cousins

After the Vikings finished spring practices, new assistant head coach Gary Kubiak acknowledged the determination starting quarterback Kirk Cousins has expressed to him. “That’s one of the first things that he said to me when we talked back a few months ago when I got here. He said, ‘Coach, I’ve had some good things happen in my career, and had some good numbers, but I want to win.’

“And that’s what we all want to do,” Kubiak said. “That’s what you’re searching for with your football team, and if you got people thinking that way, you got a chance to get there. …”

Even head coach Mike Zimmer, often a curmudgeon with his team and media, has expressed optimism about the Vikings having the potential for a big season. “I definitely picked up on that (optimism),” Mannion said.

The national perspective on the Vikings when they go through training camp in August likely will be that Minnesota is picked for second in the NFC North Division behind the Bears, last season’s champions. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero told Sports Headliners “they (the Bears) come in as the favorites.”

The biggest question about the Vikings, per Pelissero, is just how fast the offense will come together. “It’s all about marrying the run and the pass,” he said. “Making those two things look the same (to defenses).”

Pelissero, who lives in the Minneapolis area, said the offense has “got the weapons” and will feature more play-action and bootlegs to make Cousins more effective in his second season with the Vikings. Cousins will need help, though, from a reshuffled offensive line that last season was subpar.

“Average (for the line) would be an improvement from where they were a year ago, frankly,” Pelissero said.  “I am sure they are shooting for higher than average, but average would be workable from where they’re at.”

Worth Noting

The first of 16 training camp practices open to the public at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan will be July 26. New this year is a policy that autographs will be available only to fans 18 and younger.

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Wood gave the Timberwolves an A grade for drafting Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver who is considered a skilled offensive and defensive player. Writing last Thursday on SI.com Woo said, “This is strong value for Minnesota at No. 6 landing a player who you can argue for as the third best prospect in the draft.”

Did you notice Indiana’s Romeo Langford was the only Big Ten Conference player among the 15 lottery choices in last Thursday’s NBA Draft?

University of St. Thomas athletics director Phil Esten told Sports Headliners the school is in the early stages of “sorting all our options” regarding whether it will continue to compete in Division III, move to Division II or possibly make an eventual transition to Division I. The D-1 level requires a lengthy process and timeline including starting at D-2.

The Tommies must leave the D-3 MIAC after next spring. It’s way down the road speculation but if St. Thomas decided to pursue D-1 status for its athletics program, Allianz Field and Xcel Energy Center could be attractive homes for the Tommies football and basketball teams.

In this glutted sports market, the Tommies would be challenged to draw large crowds in both sports, but more so in football. With a capacity of about 20,000 at Allianz, St. Thomas football could attract larger crowds than some struggling D-1 programs have done over the years. For example, Akron, from the MAC, had average home attendance of 9,170 in 2014, per multiple reports.

With the high quality basketball played in the state, the Tommies could become competitive after a few years at the D-2 or D-1 levels. Men’s coach John Tauer is highly thought of and is capable of taking the Tommies beyond D-3 success that includes the 2016 NCAA title.

Tommies games at the Xcel Energy Center against regional and national teams with brand recognition might attract crowds of 10,000 or more. Ideal box office draws would include Notre Dame and Marquette.

Fan HQ is promoting the sale of Joe Mauer number retirement baseballs, with online ordering and then pickup at the Ridgedale store.

Twins Hall of Famer Kent Hrbek appears from 7 to 8 p.m. July 11 at the Eden Prairie Center Fan HQ.

Bill Robertson, commissioner of the Twin Cities-based WCHA, was pleased that two league alums, David Backes and Colton Parayko, played for the Bruins and Blues respectively in the Stanley Cup Finals. Backes is from Minnesota State, while Parayko is an Alaska Fairbanks alum.

Congratulations to tennis achievers Hugh Cutler, Larry Sundby, and Tom and Tim Wynne, on their induction into the USTA Northern Section Hall of Fame. USTA Northern, based in Bloomington, is a nonprofit and one of 17 sections of the United States Tennis Association that is dedicated to the growth and development of tennis.

 

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