Moving Day at Aronimink: Phil Martelli, Ian Baker Finch and the Anheuser-Busch Chalet

Moving Day at Aronimink: Phil Martelli, Ian Baker Finch and the Anheuser-Busch Chalet

I had originally purchased general admission gallery passes for all four days at this weekend's AT&T National. While they proved more than fine for the first two days, I will admit, as I did after the first round, that the allure of the private chalets and lounges was more than getting to me. A chalet, at least when it comes to golf, is a large corporate tent with stadium like seating and a special, sometimes complimentary, food and beverage hook up. In the past, I would have referred to such a structure as a tent. I would have been wrong. Trust me, it's a chalet.

I woke up Saturday morning to a call from my friend Jon, with whom I had walked the course on Friday. Jon, as it turned out, had lucked into two extra passes for day three. These were no ordinary passes, however; these tickets came complete with access to the Aronimink Golf Club clubhouse, private parking lot F and the Anheuser-Busch corporate chalet, which just happens to overlook the 16th green. Jackpot.

After coming to the mutual conclusion that I drove the least expensive car in lot F, Jon and I boarded the next shuttle headed for the course. As luck would have it, so did St. Joseph's University Men's Basketball Coach Phil Martelli. After a five minute ride down St. David's Road, I was able to catch up with Phil once inside the grounds. When I asked him what he was looking most forward to since Tiger was already finishing his round by the time we arrived, he responded:

"I'm just hear to take it all in. I'm here for everything. This is a great golf event for a great golf city. Granted, when Tiger's here, it's not just an event, it's an event. But honestly, this has just been great for the city and I'm excited to be here."

It was nice of Phil to take some time to chat with Jon and I; and, from what I observed both on the shuttle and at the course, he was shaking hands and making small talk with literally everyone who approached him. I know I'm usually pretty hard on the Hawks as a product of a certain institution up on Broad & Cecil B., but I will have to make a point to be a little kinder to Martelli in the future. His team will not be so lucky.

After making a quick pass through the clubhouse, we made it down to the driving range where we met up with CBS Sports golf analyst and the 1991 British Open Champion Ian Baker Finch. He revealed to us that he was familiar with more than a few of the area courses and had the privilege of getting on a very important local track Friday. For any of you golf fans who are potentially worried about the Merion Golf Club being too short for the U.S. Open coming in 2013, Finchy assured us that the greens and the rough will be more than enough for the West East Course to hold her own when the time comes. At a mere 6,800 yards, the Golf Association of Philadelphia and the members at Merion sure hope he is right.

One other quick note about the practice grounds, I spotted the 2009 PGA Champion Y.E. Yang hitting balls at the far end of the range at about 1 p.m. I quickly checked the tee sheet and discovered that Yang had missed the 36-hole cut and had evidently stayed around to do a little bit of work on the weekend. I watched for a few minutes as he pured wedge after wedge into the valley below. To skip ahead just a little, I found myself back at the range hours later, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tiger or any other big name hitting balls after their rounds. Though, I never saw Tiger, I did see Y.E. Yang. Again. Still hitting a wedge. At 4 p.m. Three hours later. Amateur golfers should learn something from the only man to ever take a 54-hole lead from Tiger Woods on Sunday at a major, learn to hit a wedge before you go breaking out the lumber.

Finally, we made our way to what we had built up in our minds as the greatest place on God's green Earth: the Anheuser-Busch chalet at 16. And you know what? It was great. Though the beer was by no means comp'd, as we had hoped, the unbelievable convenience of having, food, beer and a bathroom within a few hundred feet was a welcome change to the miles of hiking I did on Thursday and Friday. A day in the shade with a brew and bar stool, it's like I said, jackpot.

With just one more day to play, Englishman and European Ryder Cup lock Justin Rose sits atop the lead by four shots at -10 after turning in an impressive 67 on moving day. The tournament is his to lose. Unlike Phil at Winged Foot, I'm betting he pulls this one out. But who knows, there are grand stands down the left on 18. 

Fairways and greens, Justin, fairways and greens.

No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?


No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?

No. 16 Villanova (5-2, 3-1) vs. No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Fresh off a rare loss, Villanova looks to get back on track during its homecoming game against another nationally ranked foe. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak snapped in resounding fashion as they were shut out for the first time since 2004 in a 23-0 loss to Richmond. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk left the game in the second quarter with an injury, a big reason why the Wildcats finished with just 222 yards of total offense. But despite the final score, Villanova’s defense played well again with Austin Calitro and Rob Rolle each hitting double digits in tackles. The unit is ranked fifth in the FCS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and sixth in total defense (237.9 yards per game) and has scored four defensive touchdowns.

Scouting Albany
After winning their first four games, the Great Danes lost their next two, a 36-30 triple-overtime heartbreaker to Richmond followed by a 20-16 setback to Maine. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman led Albany with 187 passing yards and 75 rushing yards. But for the season, their offensive strength has been with sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who’s second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 105 yards per game. Albany’s defense is only behind Villanova in points allowed per game (19.3) in the CAA, but interestingly enough is last in total defense (420.2 yards per game). The Great Danes lead the league in turnover margin (plus-15), led by linebacker Michael Nicastro and safety Mason Gray with three interceptions apiece.

Series history
Villanova has only played Albany twice, beating the Great Danes, 48-31, in 2014 and steamrolling it, 37-0, last season. 

Storyline to watch
The big question going in is whether Bednarczyk will play with Villanova saying it will be a game-time decision after the QB suffered a concussion last week. If he can’t go, Adeyemi DaSilva will get the start in his place after replacing him in the second quarter vs. Richmond. DaSilva is a promising player but Bednarczyk was coming into his own this season and his absence would naturally be a difficult one. Of course, the Wildcats have been through this before with Bednarczyk taking over as the starter last season when star John Robertson went down with an injury of his own.

What’s at stake?
Villanova still has a chance to win the CAA but probably can’t afford a second loss in the league. And of course, there’s nothing better than winning in front of a homecoming crowd.

A lot depends on whether Bednarczyk can play … but even if he doesn’t, the Wildcats’ dominant defense may be enough to get the job done. 

Villanova 20, Albany 17

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."