Choi Fires Record-Tying 64; We Get Picture of the Tank, Other Patriotic Scenes

Choi Fires Record-Tying 64; We Get Picture of the Tank, Other Patriotic Scenes

2011 Players Champion K.J. Choi tied the Aronimink Golf Club course record with a -6, 64 Friday morning. The 41-year-old South Korean matched the mark set by defending champion Justin Rose in second round of last year's tournament. Choi, winner of the 2007 AT&T National at Congressional, was unaware that he had tied the record until he reached the press room and was so notified. Speaking through a translator, Choi said that although he's "not really a records kind of guy," he is nonetheless "very pleased" with his accomplishment. He currently leads at a total -7, two shots clear of Justin Leonard, Chris Riley, Bo Van Pelt and Charlie Wi, the last of whom finished in fourth place at last year's AT&T.

Oh, and as Matt P. demanded last evening, we got some pretty sweet shots of that tank parked behind the ninth tee. All sorts of other patriotic pictures and goings on after the jump…
As the event is held over the July 4th weekend, AT&T National tournament reps have gone to great lengths to honor members of our military. Throughout the week, on-course volunteers have encouraged fans entering through the main gate to sign the tournament's "Salute to the Troops" wall. The idea was such a hit that the entire wall was covered after only three days. Wall number one has since been moved inside the media center to make way for wall number two, which is once again filling up with all kinds of drawings and well-wishes. My favorite section on the first wall is a intricately drawn re-creation of the famous "Flag Raising on Iwo Jima." Pictures of the wall and the drawing may be found below.

Amongst other tributes, Lockheed Martin is encouraging fans to send complimentary care packages to the troops. The packages are fully paid for by Lockheed and sent along with a personalized note from you, the sender.

And, for those members of the military actually in attendance, we have the 215-yard, par-3 17th. Behind the 17th tee sits the Lockheed Martin Military Pavilion (yes, Lockheed is everywhere), an exclusive chalet accessible only to members of the military. Admission is free with a military ID, granting our veterans, those still actively enlisted and their families the opportunity to watch the action from one the most gorgeous locales on the course.

It is next to this tent, by the way, that you will find the "massive freaking tank" we discussed yesterday. After realizing we came up short in not having pictures for our  post, we brought a camera along and snapped multiple shots of the metal monster.  They, like the pictures of the Salute the Troops wall and a full shot of the 17th hole, appear at the bottom of the post.

For one more pinch of red, white and blue given the patriotic aesthetic at 17, the tournament's traditionally yellow flagstick has been replaced by something a bit more obviously American. As was the case last year, the pros are taking aim at a single American flag, handled only by two members of the military who spend the day green side. After taking a look at the picture below, you'll understand why we included the 17th on our list of the best vantage points on the course.

You may also remember that we promised details on the tournament merchandise tent. So now that we've covered our tribute to the military, we can move on to something just as wonderfully American—capitalism!

Looking for an AT&T National polo shirt? Well you've come to the right place; so long, of course, as you have $73 on you.

Yes, the prices are absolutely absurd. Still, though the tent itself may be a legal exercise in highway robbery, the goods found within remain pretty cool. Cool enough, in fact, that the prices haven't stopped fans from flooding the tent and selling out its contents by the end of each day. By Sunday of last year's tournament, there was little to be had that wasn't already out of stock. Much of the same appears to the be the case in 2011. If you're looking for something on the more reasonable side, they've got a few faded Aronimink t-shirts that caught my eye at $25 each. Here's the bottom line on the tent—bring money and get there early. Otherwise, you may be out of luck.

Finishing up with a bit more on the golf, three notable names missed the cut Friday afternoon following a difficult Thursday and Friday. Jim Furyk (+8), Sean O'Hair (+7) and Camilo Villegas (+5) all failed to qualify for weekend play. Furyk and O'Hair are obviously disappointing cuts due to their local roots, while we wish Villegas would have hung around so we could see more of this.

Defending champion Justin Rose followed up an even-par start with a +2, 72 on Friday. He sits nine-shots behind the leader Choi and made the +4 cut line by just two.

We'll be back tomorrow with Round 3 coverage from the AT&T National. In the meantime, here's another clip from Caddyshack and pictures from the course as promised. Enjoy your weekends, guys.

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s as if the season began right where it left off for the handful of Flyers players that participated in the World Cup of Hockey. 

Five months removed from their first round series with Washington, the group that played in the international tournament says it was nearly identical to the tempo they saw in the NHL playoffs.

“Our division was really tight so right from the get-go you couldn’t afford to lose a game,” said Sean Couturier, who suited up for North America. “It definitely felt like playoffs, and it definitely didn’t feel like September.”

Couturier was joined by his World Cup teammate Shayne Gostisbehere, along with Team Czech Republic’s Jake Voracek and Michael Neuvirth, in their return to Voorhees for their first practice with the Flyers on Monday. Team Canada’s Claude Giroux and the Team Europe duo of Mark Streit and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will be competing in the finals this week.

While it may have been an early exit for the first wave of Flyers who reported back, the experience of playing in a tournament with that high of intensity has left them more confident than they’ve ever felt at this time of the year, particularly for Gostisbehere. 

The Calder Trophy runner-up underwent offseason hip surgery following his 46-point season. Having missed a season two years ago because of a torn ACL, Gostisbehere is thankful for how much the World Cup prepared him for his second year. He says he feels better now than he ever has in his career after picking up four assists in the tournament.

“You don’t play in those games in September normally so it was pretty cool to do,” Gostisbehere said. “I think the tournament was a good stepping stone for me and to branch off my injury and give yourself the confidence that you’re feeling good for the year.”

Like Couturier and Gostisbehere, Voracek said the World Cup gameplay mirrored that of the NHL postseason. 

“When I look at the season for the Flyers, it was the best thing that could have happened for me,” Voracek said. “The World Cup was high level… I’m six games in before training camp even starts.”

After what he calls a “good offseason” of training, Voracek saw this opportunity as almost a saving grace – a chance to regain form before embarking on his sixth season in Philadelphia. The winger had one goal and one assist in three games that “felt like I was playing in the playoffs.”

Had this tournament occurred in 2015, the mindset coming back may have been different. Dave Hakstol was coaching his first professional season and as evidenced by their record to start the year and the comments made throughout, things took a little longer than expected when it came to picking up the new coach’s system.

That process is behind the Flyers, and it makes missing the first weekend of camp and possibly the first week of preseason games an easier obstacle to overcome.

“It’s always better when you know the system and what Hak wants in you,” Voracek said. “It’s obviously going to get better and better.”

The best-of-three World Cup finals will begin on Tuesday with the third game (if needed) commencing on Saturday. If the teams go the full distance, the remaining three Flyers involved would likely not play their first preseason game until October 6 if not October 8, the final exhibition game. 

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz's 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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