August 30, 2013 - 9:35 AM
August 29, 2013 - 11:07 PM
Doug Marrone had a beleaguered look after Thursday's 35-13 home loss to the Lions in the final preseason game. It was understandable.
Marrone's Bills were bad for the second time in six days. At halftime, they were down, 35-6. They were outgained badly for the second game in a row in the first 30 minutes -- 221 yards to 44. They turned the ball over three times, including two brutal interceptions by emergency quarterback Matt Leinart.
In assessing his team's overall play, Marrone made it clear that some of his backups were not taking advantage of their opportunities in the preseason. He seemed to be coming to the realization that his team lacks the overall talent to be a contender at this stage of the game. In other words, the Bills aren't very deep. I asked him in the post-game press conference if he was concerned about his depth.
"I am," Marrone said.
Marrone said the Bills will be scouring the waiver wire after NFL teams make their final cuts. He said every team does it. After the draft, it's one of the crucial ways to improve your roster. But the better NFL teams will surely cut players who are better that some of the marginal players who will make the Buffalo roster.
Meanwhile, Marrone said he remains encouraged by EJ Manuel's recovery from his knee procedure. Manuel worked out on the field before the game. He seemed to be favoring his bad leg, but Marrone said his rookie quarterback is "progressing well."
"I really feel good," Marrone said of Manuel. "If he's back by Wednesday, he'll have an opportunity (to play in the opener). If not, I'm not going to look to play him in the first game."
Marrone said he didn't want to give the wrong impression about Manuel's condition. Jeff Tuel is still slated to start against New England. The Bills shouldn't play Manuel unless he's close to 100 percent. But Marrone seems reasonably confident in Manuel's progress.
August 23, 2013 - 12:45 PM
On EJ Manuel's injury and the Bills' quarterback situation:
August 23, 2013 - 8:56 AM
August 9, 2013 - 2:18 PM
PITTSFORD -- Any golf fans who decided to follow Phil Mickelson around Oak Hill the first two days certainly got their money's worth. They got to cheer for the beloved Lefty -- and they also saw the two guys who happened to lead the PGA Championship midway through the second round.
Adam Scott, the reigning Masters champion, shot 2-under 68 today and led the field at 7-under 133 with the afternoon group just beginning its round. Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, was a shot behind at 6-under after shooting 66, including a blistering 29 on the front nine -- his second nine of the day.
Rose was seven shots back of Scott after they completed their first nine Friday. Rose promptly birdied four of the next five holes on the front side. Then he birded his last two, the 8th and 9th, to finish his round. Scott played the front side in 35.
Oh, I almost forgot Mickelson. He shot another pedestrian 1-over par 71 and stood at 142, nine shots back of Scott after two days. Mickelson had only one birdie. He shot identical rounds of 37-34 the first two days of the championship. He's likely to make the cut, but has only a remote chance of becoming the first man to win two majors after his 43rd birthday.
Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, tied the course record with a 6-under par 64. Simpson, who opened with a 72, was in a four-way tie for seventh at 136 heading into the afternoon session. Simpson played the back nine (his first nine) in 32, then birdied the second, third, fifth and sixth, putting him at 7-under with three holes to go. By parring in, he would have broken the Oak Hill record and equaled the record low of 63 in any major.
But Simpson bogeyed the seventh and parred the last two, settling for his 64. On Thursday, Simpson was 5-over par through his first eight holes. That means he played his next 25 holes in 10-under par to get back in the hunt.
"It was a great day," Simpson said. "I thank the Lord for giving me patience yesterday. At 5-over through eight holes, it was a pretty low moment for me. But I kind of had a pep talk with myself on the seventh green, and you know, just told myself, 'One hole at a time,' and tried to get a birdie here, a birdie there."
"Two-over felt like 64 yesterday after being 5-over. So I was extremely happy with my game today. All around, it was really solid."
A steady rain on Friday morning softened the already receptive greens and prevented a lot of tee shots from rolling into the difficult Oak Hill rough. The field continued to have its way with the East Course. Robert Garrigus birdied four of his first seven holes in the afternoon and moved into a tie with Scott at 7-under. Jason Dufner eagled the second hole, and was 4-under through five holes.
Jim Furyk birdied the first and was at 6-under. You got the feeling that another 64, or even something lower, might still be there.
August 8, 2013 - 4:19 PM
PITTSFORD -- Tiger Woods took lots of momentum to his second nine Thursday in the opening round of the 95th PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club. Then the tournament favorite promptly gave it away.
Woods missed reasonable birdie putts on his first three holes of his back nine (Oak Hill's front) and finished with a 1-over par 71. Woods had turned in 2-under and was within a shot of the leaders early in his morning round. But he finished the round six shots behind Jim Furyk, who tore up the normally treacherous East Course layout with a 5-under 65.
Only 2.2 percent of the golfers who finished 72 holes had posted under-par scores in the seven previous majors at Oak Hill. But an overnight rain and faint winds made the course vulnerable to low scores in the opening round. In the morning, 21 players finished under par, which is 70 at Oak Hill.
But Woods, who has been seeking a 15th major title since his U.S. Open win in 2008, couldn't capitalize. He bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole, the easiest birdie hole on the course. He was still under par until he double bogeyed his final hole of the day, the 452-yard, par-4 ninth.
Still, Woods was pleased with his round, which has become typical of the world's No. 1-ranked player when he performs below expectations.
"I played really well today," Woods said. "I made some nice key putts and the key is I left it in all the good spots, too."
Well, he didn't hit it so well from those spots. Woods was short on many of his approaches. He hit irons off several tees, evidently because he doesn't trust his longer clubs. He didn't look much like the Tiger of old, or for that matter, the Tiger of a week ago at the Bridgestone.
He looked like just another player, and the leader board reflects it. There are quite a few obscure names in front of Woods on the board.
"I'm still right there," Woods insisted. "I mean, as of right now, I'm only six back and we have a long way to go."
Yeah, and he'd better get it going soon.
August 7, 2013 - 5:14 PM
There are still foursomes available for the eighth annual Olmsted Open, a golf scramble that will be held on Friday, Aug. 9, at the Delaware Park course. The event, which benefits the Olmsted parks, is a shotgun start at noon.
The cost is $100 a person and covers all the usual amenities at a scramble, including a dinner. For more information, call the Olmsted conservancy at 838-1249.
I know there are a lot of golf benefits this time of year, all for worthy causes. This one provides much-needed help for the Olmsted parks -- Delaware, South Park and Cazenovia -- which are three of Buffalo's civic treasures.
Thomas Herrera-Mishler, the president and CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, is a caretaker and impassioned advocate of the Olmsted parks. Herrera-Mishler, who moved to Buffalo five years ago, feels the residents here don't understand just what rare gems these parks are.
Herrera-Mishler said he spoke recently with Adrian Benepe, the former commissioner of the New York City parks. He said Benepe told him the Olmsted parks were the best maintained system of the nation (Central Park in NYC is a stand-alone park and not part of a system).
You can count me among the guilty. I've spent my share of time in Delaware Park, and come to appreciate its many virtues. I even golf there on occasion. But I had never spent any time in South Park or Cazenovia -- despite taking up golf 13 years ago and priding myself on visiting most of the courses in the area.
So Herrera-Mishler invited me and my wife, Melinda, to play the South Park and Cazenovia courses. Alan Bozer, a lawyer who is on the board of trustee of the Olmsted parks, rounded out our foursome.
South Park, like Delaware, was not originally intended as a golf course. It was, in Herrera-Mishler's words, "just plunked down on our historic landscape." It's a quirky layout, like Delaware. But it's the park itself that is the star. South Park is a marvelous place. I felt guilty of a North Buffalo bias, never having spent any time there. The landscape is magnificent.
Herrera-Mishler is especially proud of South Park, which was built in 1888. He's a landscape architest, like Frederick Law Olmsted, and treats the trees as if they were fond children. What sets the park apart is that the trees are an arboretum collection, one of the most fabulous you'll find.
I struggled to a 44 over the nine-hole course at South Park. Two weeks later, we met again and played Cazenovia. Golfers from the South Towns have told me for years about "Caz," that it's a legitimate nine-hole course. I felt negligent for having not played it during my well-chronicled golf career in Buffalo.
There are around 24,000 rounds a year played at Caz. It's jammed during the summer months. The locals like to refer to it as "South Buffalo Country Club." I was really impressed by the course. It had some length (3,124 yards from the whites). But many of the holes play longer. There are some challenging, uphill holes that make you play up a club.
Bozer had read my recent column about wanting to break 90 again. After the 44 at South Park, he said I would shoot 45 at Caz and he would count it as an 89. He knew exactly where I stood at every step of the round. At the ninth, a tough par-4 over water, I laid up in front of the water in two. Then I hit a 7-iron to about 20 feet.
I heard him muttering to Melinda as I lined up my putt. I figured it meant I needed to two-putt. I yanked the first one five feet left. But I calmly made the comebacker and Alan happily informed me I had shot 45.
I was prouder of a 45 on Caz than the 44 on South Park. But it wasn't really about the score. I was grateful that Herrera-Mishler and Bozer had given my wife and I a chance to experience two of the city's fine examples of landscape architecture. Suffice it to say, Melinda was a lot more impressed with meeting the CEO of the Olmsted parks than seeing me break 90.
Sadly, I won't be able to attend Friday's scramble at Delaware. I'll be at another of Western New York's golfing treasures: Oak Hill in Rochester for the PGA Championship.
August 2, 2013 - 2:56 PM
News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan host a live weekly show at 10 a.m. on BuffaloNews.com. Here is a replay of this week's show:
On Bucky's car and Sully's new dog:
On Mario's foot and head:
Doug Marrone and the media:
On the QB battle and Stevie Johnson:
On UB's upcoming season:
Guest Jeff Quinn:
More on UB:
On Baseball Hall of Fame:
ON PGA Championship:
On Canisius hockey playing downtown:
On Reggie Witherspoon and ECC:
Bozos of the Week: