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.

Jeremy Hellickson enjoyed his time with Phillies, now he'll look for free-agent riches

Jeremy Hellickson enjoyed his time with Phillies, now he'll look for free-agent riches

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Jeremy Hellickson made his final start of the season for the Phillies on Thursday night.

Now he becomes the team’s first big offseason decision.

Hellickson had long left the game with a sore right knee by the time struggling reliever Jeanmar Gomez was tagged for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in what ended up as a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay). The Phillies were swept in their final trip to Turner Field — the Braves will move into a new ballpark in April — and have lost six of their last seven games heading into the final weekend of the season and a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s a bad time to be in a rut and we’re in a rut,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “We’ve got to go home and snap out of it.”

Besides supporting his rotation mates, Hellickson won’t make any contributions this weekend. The 29-year-old right-hander, acquired in a November trade with Arizona, finished his season 12-10 in a career-high 32 starts. He tied a career high with 189 innings. His final ERA of 3.71 was his best since he recorded a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Tampa Bay in 2012.

Though he left the game in the fourth inning after tweaking his knee while running the bases (see story), Hellickson achieved his season goal.

“This isn’t anything that’s going to linger,” he said, looking down at his knee. “So I came out healthy. That was my main thing, try to throw 200 innings — I fell just short of that — and stay healthy. So as far as those two goals go, it was good.”

By staying healthy and pitching well, Hellickson built himself a nice free-agent platform. But before Hellickson heads out on the open market, the Phillies must make a decision: Do they offer him $17 million to retain him in 2017 or simply let him go. As a rebuilding team, the Phils would love to get a draft pick as compensation for Hellickson’s leaving. But to get that pick, they must make Hellickson that one-year qualifying offer and he must reject it and sign elsewhere. 

It seems likely that the Phils will make the offer to Hellickson. If he takes it, he will return in 2017 and fill the same veteran stabilizer role he did this season. If he rejects, the team will get a pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s draft. The value of that draft pick is significant and was seen as a reason the Phillies did not trade Hellickson in July.

Qualifying offers go out in early November, but general manager Matt Klentak isn’t ready to tip his hand on what he’ll do.

“Both are valuable,” he said, weighing Hellickson's returning on a one-year deal versus picking up a draft selection between the first and second rounds. “For the same reason Jeremy Hellickson was valuable to us this year, Jeremy Hellickson or a player like that could be valuable to us again next year. The draft pick at the end of the first round has a real, measurable, tangible value.”

After Thursday night’s game, Hellickson was asked if he believed he’d made his final start with the Phillies.

“I hope not,” he said. “But I don’t really know how to answer that. I would love to be back here next year. I think everyone knows how much I’ve enjoyed my time here and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

The pitcher was pressed as to whether he could envision himself accepting the qualifying offer if the Phillies made one.

“Yeah, I mean I definitely could see it,” he said. “But …"

Hellickson paused. Then a reporter broke the silence by suggesting the pitcher would rather get a multi-year deal on the open market.

“Yeah, I would love that actually a little bit more,” he said.

The Phillies could look to strike a multi-year deal with Hellickson before he hits the open market five days after the World Series, but that does not appear to be in the club’s plans. The Phils seem to be interested mostly in short-term deals for veterans as they let their kids develop.

In time, this thing will play out.

But for now, the Phillies head home looking to stop a losing streak and scuttle the Mets’ postseason hopes.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

Best of MLB: Cardinals top Reds on Molina's disputed double in 9th

Best of MLB: Cardinals top Reds on Molina's disputed double in 9th

ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina hit a disputed double that drove in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night, sending the St. Louis Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.

The Cardinals began the day one game behind San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot.

Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk from Blake Wood (6-5). With two outs, Molina's one-hop hit appeared to bounce off a sign above the left-field wall and carom back into play.

Carpenter kept running and scored from first. Reds manager Bryan Price ran after the umpires, who left the field as soon as Carpenter touched the plate.

Price later said umpire crew chief Bill Miller told him that teams have 10 seconds to appeal on a game-ending play, and that the complaint wasn't made in time.

"I'm not blaming the umpires. I'm blaming the system," Price said.

Molina and Jedd Gyorko hit solo homers for the Cardinals.

Seung Hwan Oh (6-3) wound up with the win (see full recap).

Jimenez delivers strong start, Orioles blank Blue Jays 4-0
TORONTO -- Ubaldo Jimenez and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Blue Jays 4-0 on Thursday night, moving into a tie with Toronto in the AL wild card race with three games remaining.

When he started at Toronto on June 12, Jimenez allowed five runs and six hits in 1/3 of an inning, the shortest start of his career.

The right-hander returned Thursday and carved up the Blue Jays. The only hit he allowed was Ezequiel Carrera's single to begin the first. Josh Donaldson followed with a walk but Jimenez retired the next six batters in order.

Devon Travis walked to open the third and advanced on Carrera's sacrifice, but that was the first of 11 consecutive outs for Jimenez, a streak that ended with Edwin Encarnacion's two-out walk in the sixth. Jose Bautista flied out to end the inning.

Jimenez (8-12) allowed one hit in 6 2/3 innings, improving to 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in five September starts. He walked three and struck out five (see full recap).

Cubs, Pirates play to rare MLB tie
PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates played a rare major league tie on Thursday night when their game was called off due to rain with scores level at 1-all in the sixth inning.

With the Cubs and Pirates not scheduled to play again this season, officials decided the game would not be made up, since its outcome will not affect postseason positioning. Chicago long ago clinched the National League Central, while Pittsburgh is out of playoff reckoning, sitting third in that division.

So instead of becoming a suspended game, the match was declared a tie -- the first since Houston and Cincinnati went seven innings on June 30, 2005, before rain halted them.

Willson Contreras had two hits and scored for the NL Central champion Cubs, who have already clinched the best record in the majors. Josh Bell hit a sacrifice fly for the Pirates.

The game was called in the top of the sixth after a delay of 1 hour, 23 minutes.

Tim Federowicz hit a sacrifice fly in the Cubs second. Pittsburgh tied it in the third.

Cubs rookie Rob Zastryzny gave up one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings in his first major league start after beginning his career with seven relief appearances (see full recap).

Buxton doubles, triples in Twins' 7-6 victory over Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Byron Buxton tripled, doubled, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-6 on Thursday night.

After Salvador Perez's pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the ninth pulled the Royals within a run, Terrance Gore ran for him. With Paulo Orlando, who had four hits to match his career high, hitting, Brandon Kintzler picked Gore off first base.

Gore was initially called safe, but after a 1 minute, 15 second review, the call was reversed to end the game.

Buxton's one-out double triggered a three-run ninth off Kelvin Herrera (2-6). Robbie Grossman, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler contributed run-scoring singles in the ninth.

The Twins won for the first time in 10 games this season at Kauffman Stadium (see full recap).