Tiger Is Back... Or Is He?

posted by Steve Bortstein -

First things first.... Paul Casey won the Valspar Championships yesterday.

Paul Casey, an Englishman and a PGA Tour grinder for more than a decade who last tasted victory in America in 2009 when he won the Houston Open.

So congrats to Paul Casey.

But he wasn't the reason many of you tuned in to watch the Valspar Championships, which to be honest, nearly 95 percent of you couldn't even tell me where the actual tournament was being held.

That's OK, I didn't actually know either until last week.

Tiger Woods stole the show on Sunday. His move to within one shot of the 54-hole leader (someone else you'd likely never heard of before) left Saturday spectators thinking there could be one more magical run, one more victory, one more dramatic fist-pump into the sky.

Alas, it was not to be. 

It was a frustrating round for scoring opportunities for Woods. He was even through 16 holes before a little of the old magic shone through.

Woods drained a 44-foot putt on the 17th hole on Sunday to put himself one shot back of Casey, who has long since ended his day. The putt itself is remarkable (check it out here) and the crowd responded with all the same hype and enthusiasm you'd come to expect.

Woods left himself with another 40-foot birdie putt on 18 which rolled just inches short, thus ending the chance at extra golf and a chance to see Woods pick up his 80th career PGA Tour win.

Next time we see Woods, it will be at the Arnold Palmer Invitiational, an event he's won multiple times, an event he's dominated and one in which he'll be looked to for some of that old magic.

Problem is, he'll be facing some of the really new guns and hard hitters on the circuit.

Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and others.

You know how many of the world's current top 10 golfers finished in the top 10 of the Valspar Championships?

One. That would be Justin Rose, currently ranked 5th in the world.

I'm not going to knock Woods for being just a bit better than the rest of the field in a tournament that didn't feature many of the sport's most important athletes.

But I would caution all you temporary fans of the sport to be careful what you read this week about Woods' performance and how that is supposed to translate into future expectations at the Bay Hill Country Club this week.... and then of course on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National in the Masters.

It's a great story, and the sport of golf will be on the televisions of many more people these next few weeks as a result of this effort.   

And if Woods keeps this up, if he should win or even be on the leaderboard going into Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, then we should all sit back and enjoy the thrill ride. 

Yes, it's that time again...

Even the most casual, lackadaisical and least knowledgeable college basketball fan will be frantically filling out brackets this week. Whether it to be to win a monetary prize or just some bragging rights in the company's break room, bracket time is a rare time indeed when the most passionate college basketball fan gets to do battle with the gossipy girl from the next office who doesn't even know the location of Gonzaga, much less how close they came to winning it all last season.

And again, it serves as a chance to remind you of the proper etiquette in which I do my bracket pools.

Click here for your printable bracket.

Note this is not a requirement for you. I won't judge (alright, maybe a little) if you choose to fill out twenty different brackets with a multitude of different outcomes and different champions and send them to all your friends, but all that really means is you have access to a printer and the ability to spend countless hours composing and creating all sorts of wacky scenarios that would likely only be played out on an episode of  a fictional production of "What if the World Ended".

One bracket. Send it out to multiple places. Send it to everyone, but make it one bracket. One champion. One path to victory.

Imagine the thrill of being right in all twenty of your office pools, your big bracket boards, imagine the looks of disdain and anger you get from your contemporaries when you have that 12 seed beating the 5 in the first round only because the school happens to be named after a late uncle, and the person who studies games all the time thinks you're reasoning and logic is absurd.

That's why we call it March Madness.

One bracket to rule them all.

Send your competition into the depths of Mordor. 

Take no prisoners. Let the illuminating light of a 6-seed in the West region guide you (yes, that's a bit of a prediction) into the murky waters of the Sweet 16. 

Go boldly into the night, my friend. 

One bracket. Global domination. 

Again, if you missed it, here's your printable bracket.

Why win one bracket challenge out of 20 or 30 when you can make your presence known in all of them? 

Let your voice -- no matter how irrational -- be heard loudly from the red-stained inkblots of your brackets. Stand tall when you pick that second round upset, even if you haven't got the foggiest idea who the leading scorer is on the team you just picked.

Now is not the time for facts or logic or common sense. Now is the time to make predictions based on the color of the school's mascot or the fact you had a relative who went to such and such school three generations ago.

You do you. But be bold in the process.

One bracket to rule them all.

Sherman comes to San Francisco

I have no idea when the first time is next season when San Francisco will face Seattle, but I know I'm looking forward to it, particularly if Richard Sherman will be on the field for that game.

Signed this weekend by the 49ers after being released by the Seahawks, Sherman is easily the most vocal figure in the NFL and, if healthy, will certainly have a lot to chat about in the days leading up to a game pitting his now current team against his former team.

Sherman told the MMQB that he made the decision to join the 49ers for personal reasons, saying "I'm vengeful in that way."

Sherman acknowledged his feelings after seeing the reaction from Seahawks fans to his signing with one of their rivals.

"I love the fan base to death, and I loved playing there. It was such a great opportunity. I helped the organization get to a great place and stay there," Sherman said. "But now it's like I abandoned them. People are out there burning my jersey. Come on. I'm not the one who let me go. They let me go. I didn't abandon anybody."

Oh yeah, this is gonna be fun.

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