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Brooks Koepka went on club-snapping spree amid slump

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Brooks Koepka went on club-snapping spree amid slump

LOS ANGELES — Sometimes, even the best golfers in the world need a moment, a timeout if you will, after a run of bad play.

Picture this:

Brooks Koepka, who has eight PGA Tour wins, including four major championships in a span of less than three years, became so frustrated with his game recently that he broke every iron in his bag.

Twice.

As in two different sets of irons.

The first time came after a missed cut at Mayakoba in December and the second after missing the cut at Torrey Pines last month.

That, of course, is what golf does to virtually everyone who plays it — even four-time major championship winners with more than $33 million in career earnings.

For the likes of Koepka, this also is a manifestation of raised expectations. Koepka, after all, won the U.S. Open in 2017 and 2018 and the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019, and he was the unquestioned best player in the world for that span.

Then came a slump caused, at least in part, by a knee injury. Last season was a lost year for Koepka — who didn’t win, wasn’t able to play the U.S. Open and recorded just two top-10 finishes, which is well below his personal expectations.

“Yeah, I was frustrated,’’ Koepka said Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s opening round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. “I snapped two sets of irons after playing Mexico [Mayakoba] and then after Torrey [Farmers Insurance], and I don’t really do that. So, there was quite a bit of frustration.’’

Asked about the details on his club cracking, Koepka revealed he did it in his living room.

“I wouldn’t do it so everybody else could see,’’ he said. “I walked right in and [cracked] them over my knee.’’

Asked if there was any video of the event, Koepka said: “No, no, you’re not going to get video of that. I have pictures. I sent it to all my boys.’’

Koepka said it’s “not a common ritual’’ for him to break clubs, even in the privacy of his home.

“You see me on the golf course, I don’t really slam clubs, don’t get too upset,’’ he said.

Adam Scott, the defending champion this week, knows of Koepka’s angst, because he has lived it.

“Yeah, I’ve snapped some clubs,’’ Scott said Wednesday. “I haven’t snapped two sets of irons, but I have snapped some clubs. It is difficult because you expect a lot out of yourself and you know what you’re capable of, especially if you’ve had the results. That may not have been Brooks’ first down [moment], but certainly one of them for him. How could you not after the run he’d had for three or four years before that?’’

Francesco Molinari, whose world ranking has plummeted to 107th, said he never has broken a club in anger, but joked, “If it worked for Brooks, maybe I should give it a go.’’

“I completely understand the frustration,’’ said Molinari, the 2018 British Open winner and Ryder Cup hero. “We all put a lot of effort into it and when results don’t go your way, it’s not nice. It’s nice to see Brooks back to his winning ways in Phoenix.’’

Koepka conceded that, after his run of wins in majors, he was “expecting to win’’ and it played on his mind.

Koepka’s outlook is a lot better these days, thanks to his victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month.

“You’ve just got to stick it out,’’ he said. “It’s nice to get that ‘W’ now.’’

Koepka revealed that he was “so pissed off’’ at himself after missing the cut at Torrey Pines that he “didn’t even come out of my room on Saturday at the house we rented.’’

“I don’t think I came out of the room for about 30 hours or so, I was so mad at myself,’’ he said. “I didn’t want to talk to anybody. [I was] really agitated, really pissed off. Sometimes you need that. Sometimes you just need to not reset but really think about, ‘All right, hey, this is what I’ve got to do.’

“And I did it, I guess.’’

Koepka, who finished tied for 43rd at the Genesis last year and missed the cut in 2017, called his game “pretty close’’ right now.

“I feel very confident,’’ he said. “I like where I’m at. My game feels exactly where it’s been in the past. It’s probably some of the best golf I’ve seen. I’m definitely confident coming off a win. That’s a big thing because I haven’t had that in a while, felt a little lost there for a bit.’’

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Harry Kane tells Tottenham he wants to leave amid Man United, Man City, Chelsea rumors

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Harry Kane tells Tottenham he wants to leave amid Man United, Man City, Chelsea rumors

Harry Kane has reiterated his stance that he wants to leave Tottenham this summer.

The 27-year-old has grown frustrated over the club’s inability to compete at the highest level, having seen his side fall out of contention to secure Champions League football for next season.

Spurs have long been reluctant to entertain bids for their talisman but the England captain is hoping that they will soften their stance after his long service to the club.

State of play for Kane’s future

Daniel Levy will demand a huge fee for Kane – who prefers a move within the Premier League – as he is on a long-term deal until 2024.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are potentially viable destinations, although it is still unclear as to whether a move will materialise.

All three of the aforementioned Premier League giants have significant financial might and are looking for attacking signings, even with the coronavirus pandemic causing monetary problems. 

In Man Utd’s case, however, they have renewed Edinson Cavani’s contract after a good run of form and are thought to have switched focus to signing a right-winger – potentially Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Kane is keen to resolve his situation ahead of the European Championship but it is likely to rumble on throughout the summer.

What has Kane actually said?

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In a host of recent interviews, Kane hasn’t sought to sugar-coat his unhappiness in north London and vocalise his desire to represent a club that challenges for major honours.

“Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements,” the striker said . “When I look back at the end of my career, I will go over it and take in a little bit more. The goal right now as a player is to win team trophies.

“As much as this [London Footballer of the Year award] is great, I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team, and we are not quite doing that.

“It is one of those [situations], it is bittersweet. I would rather be winning team trophies than this award. It is what it is. I am proud to win it. It means it has been a good season on the pitch, so I have just got to try and continue what I am doing.”

What have Tottenham said?

In a brief statement released to various media outlets, Spurs’ commented: “Our focus is on finishing the season as strongly as possible. That’s what everyone should be focused on.”

Kane’s stats this season

With 22 Premier League goals, Kane is level with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the race for the golden boot. 

Furthermore, he has 32 goals and 16 assists in 47 games in all competitions, ranking him among the world’s best strikers.

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Jordan Binnington restrained from nearly starting goalie fight at end of Blues vs. Avalanche

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Jordan Binnington restrained from nearly starting goalie fight at end of Blues vs. Avalanche

The Blues and Avalanche already have some bad blood brewing in the first round of their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup.

In the aftermath of the Avalanche’s 4-1 series-opening win, several scrums broke out between the two sides, including one in front of the net between Blues forward Kyle Clifford and Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth. 

But when Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer got in on that battle, that prompted a response from St. Louis’ netminder Jordan Binnington.

MORE: Former Predators goalie Chris Mason talks Nashville’s Stanley Cup chances

Binnington made his way down the ice and had to be restrained from going after Grubauer, as you can see below via SportsNet.

The referees got to Binnington well before he could engage with Grubauer and escorted him off the ice. That prevented the goalie fight, a rare spectacle, from happening.

Nonetheless, Binnington’s willingness to get involved in the late-game physicality must have been appreciated by his teammates. After all, Binnington had a terrific Game 1 for St. Louis, making a whopping 46 saves on 49 attempts, and did everything he could to give his team a chance to win.

Perhaps Binnington’s effort in all facets of the game will provide his teammates with a much-needed spark as they look to even the series with the Avalanche in Game 2.

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Braves’ Huascar Ynoa picks fight with bench, loses, breaks hand

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Braves' Huascar Ynoa picks fight with bench, loses, breaks hand

Huascar Ynoa has broken a bat or two in his career, and now the wood is fighting back. 

Dugout frustration is part of baseball. Hundreds of Gatorade coolers have been demolished, gloves have been thrown across zip codes. It happens.

But when you’re a pitcher, you may want to think twice about what you do with your pitching hand, and Braves starter Ynoa found that out the hard way over the weekend.

Ynoa landed on the 10-day injured list Monday after punching a dugout bench following his exit from Sunday’s forgettable start vs. the Brewers and breaking a bone in his pitching hand.

MORE: Mets’ Kevin Pillar takes fastball to face

What’s especially brutal is that Ynoa is off to the best start of his career: Through nine games (eight starts) he’s pitched to a 3.02 ERA (3.72 FIP) with a 144 ERA+ in 44 2/3 innings.

Ynoa’s frustration is understandable, as he was pulled from his worst start of the season to Milwaukee on Sunday: He allowed five runs on nine hits through 4 1/3 innings in the loss.

Maybe somewhat luckily for Ynoa, it’s not the most unfortunate injury for a pitcher this season. That dishonor belongs to A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo, who broke his finger in an unfortunate video gaming moment.

Let this be a lesson, kiddos: Don’t pick fights with inanimate objects. They will win most of the time.

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