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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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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

Donald Douglas, the longtime executive director of the Public School Athletic League, died late Friday night, according to friend and PSAL colleague Dwayne Burnett.

Douglas was 58, according to his Facebook page.

Douglas died of a heart attack, while vacationing on the island of Jamaica, after a bad fall eventually caused a blood clot to form, according to Burnett. The Brooklyn native and Bushwick High School alum had retired this week from his post. He was PSAL director since 2004, when he was promoted from deputy director, and spent more than 35 years working for the New York City Department of Education.

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

The 2021 fantasy baseball draft season is upon us, and with its arrival comes a variety of strategies to test out and employ.

Drafting with position scarcity in mind is something we see every year, and though the catcher position is routinely linked to the strategy, the belief that you need to draft one of the top backstops early is a mistake. If you have been leaning in that direction, it’s time to change gears before you fall over.

In fantasy football, position scarcity has people drafting No. 1-ranked tight end Travis Kelce early because, in securing him, you are obtaining a significant advantage over your opposition. His production dwarfs that of anyone else at his position and on a 10-man roster in a weekly matchup, the impact is huge. The same cannot be said regarding the No. 1 catcher, J.T. Realmuto.

There is plenty to love about Realmuto from a fantasy perspective. His three-year average has him as a .273 hitter with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. The numbers are strong, but does drafting him in the fourth or fifth round over a 40-homer Pete Alonso or a 200-strikeout Lance Lynn still give you an advantage? Not when you understand it’s just one-fourteenth of your overall team production or when you see what you can get at the position several rounds later.

Casting aside 2020 data, we can look at a number of backstops who not only hit 20 or more home runs, but also hit .270 or better in 2019 and can be obtained at a much lower cost. Willson Contreras, Mitch Garver, Christian Vazquez and Omar Narvaez immediately stand out.

JT Realmuto
JT Realmuto
Getty Images

You also have players such as Yasmani Grandal and Roberto Perez, who matched the power, but fell short on the batting average, or James McCann and Travis d’Arnaud, who posted strong averages, but hit for slightly less power. That’s already eight players who can provide similar numbers at a fraction of the cost, and we’re just scratching the surface.

If Realmuto was a .300-30-100 player, the conversation would certainly be different. He’s a great player but he isn’t performing at a level that leaves your opposition in the dust. If his production can be matched 10 rounds later, you’re better off using that early pick on an elite arm or a bigger bat at another position. Leave your catchers for later.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso wasn’t the only big voice in the Mets organization to deactivate his social media accounts over the offseason.

But the first baseman going dark on Twitter and Instagram had nothing to do with the aftermath of a stock market saga, which was the reason owner Steve Cohen ditched Twitter, and everything to do with a new outlook on life away from a screen.

“I think that real life is just absolutely fantastic and for me, I think life is a blessing, it’s something that I feel like a lot of people, sometimes including myself, take for granted,” Alonso said Friday after a workout. “And I want to spend every second soaking in every single day because every single new day is a blessing, and I feel like especially in wake of what happened last year, there’s a lot of things that I feel like were taken for granted.

“In 2019, if you see everybody wearing this mask, you kind of scratch your head and just be like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ But there’s a lot of new social norms that are in place now that we took for granted. I think for me, I just want to be appreciative of every single day. I want to live in real life.”

Alonso had been one of the more active Mets interacting with fans through social media, especially during his Rookie of the Year season in 2019, when he adopted “#LFGM” as the team’s new rallying cry.

Though he will no longer be in touch with fans online, Alonso is very much looking forward to welcoming them back in person at Citi Field this season. After playing at an empty stadium in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Mets are expected to have at least a portion of Citi Field open to fans when the 2021 season begins.

“Playing on TV is absolutely fantastic, but being there in person where one swing of the bat or making a diving play or striking somebody out, you can make that many people in person smile, stand, clap, cheer, yell even just by doing something,” Alonso said, with a big smile breaking out. “Once I heard 40,000 people at Citi Field go absolutely bonkers, that’s an adrenaline rush that I’m addicted to.

“I can’t wait until it’s packed out again like that. If it’s 25 percent, 30 percent, I can’t wait to hear people cheer again in person. For me, it’s addicting, and I love it.”

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