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Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week in Sports: July 27, 2012

The sports drought has ended.  We are headed into a stretch where you can find an interesting sport to watch at any time of the day or night.

The Week that Was:  

The Open Championship:  The Open Championship ... aka The British Open ... was played last weekend at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.  The biggest stories of the tournament were the weather and the long putter.

Normally, competitors have to deal with chilly temperatures, rain and strong winds.  This causes the players to play a distinctive links style of golf that requires low, knock-down shots and runners that are far less picturesque that what we normally see on the PGA tour.  But, this year's Open was played under very mild conditions.  That led to some very low scores being posted throughout the week.  

The other story was the length of the putters that were used by the players who were contending for the championship down the stretch on Sunday afternoon.  As Adam Scott got started on his back nine, it appeared that he was going to run away with the championship.  It would have been his first major championship.  It would also have been the first major to be won by a player using a long, anchored putter.  Scott was using a putter that he rested and anchored against his breastbone.  

In the end, it was that long putter that tripped Scott up.  Scott missed a putt on the 18th that would have forced a playoff.  The missed putt completed Scott's brutal collapse on the final four holes of the championship and gave Ernie Els the coveted Claret Jug.

The Week Ahead:  The greatest spectacle in all of sports begins this week.  That will dwarf all other sports stories for the next couple of weeks, but there will be some other events taking place, too.

MLB:  Baseball's most storied rivalry gets revived this weekend as the Boston Red Sox head to the Bronx to take on the New York Yankees.  This time around, the 3-game set is much more important for the visiting Sox than it is for the Yanks.  The Yankees are cruising towards a division championship. But, the Sox are fighting to remain alive in the wildcard race.  The Red Sox can ill-afford a drubbing in New York as the calendar turns the page towards August.

NASCAR:  After taking a week off, NASCAR heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The history of the Brickyard makes this a special race for the drivers and the fans.  The layout of the track makes it a unique race on the circuit.  Instead of being an oval or a tri-oval, Indy is more like a rectangle.  Instead of sweeping, banked turns, four relatively sharp corners divide two long straightaways from the two shorter straightaways.  Track position and fuel economy typically play a large role in deciding who gets to kiss the bricks at the end of the race.

Summer Olympics:  Obviously, the biggest event of the week, and the whole summer, is the 2012 Summer Olympics.  The Games of the XXX Olympiad will get underway in London on Friday, July 27.  They will continue through August 12.  The Olympics include a wide variety of events ... everything from familiar sports like basketball and swimming through obscure games like fencing and trampoline.  The games will be shown on the NBC family of networks.  London is five hours ahead of New York time, so that presents some scheduling conundrums for the NBC execs.  The premier events will take place in real time while most Americans are still at work.  Fans in the United States who want to watch the taped-delayed events in primetime will have a difficult task trying to avoid news of the results on the Internet and social media.

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