So What's a Mud Ball?

So What's a Mud Ball?

USA Today Images

We're going to have situations where, if it does dry out through the weekend and hit a few good drives down there and get a few mud balls we're going to have to deal with it.  It's part of the game, getting up and down, and dealing with some of the situations like that. -Tiger Woods

I think mud balls are a problem.  I think they're unfair.  I think golf is designed to be played from a closely mown fairway.  If you hit it in that fairway you deserve a great line and a great opportunity to attack the green surface.  That's the reward you get for hitting the fairway.  I think guys who hit it low, guys who hit it high, guys who have a different spin rate, mud balls affect them differently. -Graeme McDowell

So if you do drive the ball well on those holes, and you manage to hit a lot of fairways and hopefully you don't get too many mud balls and control your second shots, you can have a good round of birdies. - Sergio Garcia

ARDMORE, Pa. -- If you've been paying attention to the U.S. Open this week, after three days of practice rounds and press conferences, you may be thinking to yourself...

What the hell is a mud ball?

A "mud ball" is the scientific term for a golf ball with mud on it. And if you haven't heard, it's rained a little bit at Merion. The course has taken on more than 6 1/2 inches of rain in the last week and more is on the way.

[click here for more of TheLevel's 2013 U.S. Open coverage]

Mud balls will be a problem this week because the USGA doesn't believe in the practice known as "lift, clean and place." Most PGA Tour events, when conditions call for it, will allow players in the fairway to mark their position, pick up their ball, and clean it off. But not the U.S. Open.

So what does mud do to a golf ball? Let 1971 U.S. Open champion Lee Trevino, who beat Jack Nicklaus in a playoff that year at Merion, explain:

All this theory about, oh, if the mud's on the right it will go left and if the mud's on the left it will go left and believe me, that's a bunch of baloney," Trevino said. "You don't know where the hell it's going to go when that mud is on there."

So if you can't control a golf ball with mud on it, and the USGA won't let you clean it off, and the U.S. Open is on the line, what can you do about it? We need some WWLTD bracelets.

LEE TREVINO:  Well, I had an advantage in the mud.  I hit a low ball.  Very seldom my ball ever picked up mud because I went so low that it cleaned itself before it stopped rolling.  You think about that.  You think that's funny, but it's true.  And you have to adapt your game to that.  If your ball starts picking up mud out there and you're going up here, brother, you better bring this baby down here (Indicating).

...

But that's one of the reasons that I played so well when it was wet. Also, here's the only time that we were off when we were working is when it was raining and it was muddy and the course was closed, so we could go out and play (Trevino caddied as a kid).  But I learned to play that way simply because I didn't like that mud on the ball.  So I bring the ball down.  Just hit it low.  You won't pick up any mud.  No.

This is the same guy who would hustle club pros and beat them while playing with a shovel.

I anticipate a lot of "balls" comments.

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek styled matching green jerseys during Friday’s practice at Flyers Skate Zone.

Together, they whipped around the ice in what head coach Dave Hakstol called a “physical, grinding, competitive day, probably the most competitive of camp … and that was for a purpose.”

Flyers fans are likely crossing their fingers, hoping the trio in green holds a purpose, as well.

The line of Konecny, Couturier and Voracek was a new wrinkle to 2016 training camp, a day before the team’s fifth preseason game. Maybe an experiment of sorts by Hakstol, but one that exudes all kinds of potential leading up to Saturday night’s contest against the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s one day of practice,” Hakstol said. “They were fine. I wasn’t keying on that line in any way, I was keying on a lot of our team play. They were fine, they worked hard. To really see what kind of chemistry they have and how productive they can be, we’ll have to wait until the game [Saturday] if they’re together.”

Will we see that?

“You might,” Hakstol said. “I don’t have anything set yet.”

Konecny played left wing Friday, next to Couturier at center and Voracek on the right. If that is in fact the case Saturday, the 19-year-old Konecny will see another golden opportunity to woo management in his push for a roster spot. The Flyers purposely paired Konecny with NHL forwards Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl in Wednesday’s 2-0 preseason win, and the 2015 first-round pick responded with a goal and an assist.

Friday marked a new day with new possibilities.

“It felt good,” Konecny said. “Just like the game [Wednesday] night, you’re playing with good players and it makes the game easier. I was just trying to keep things simple and work hard.”

Couturier and Voracek are two of the Flyers’ most skilled passers and playmakers. Combine them with Konecny — a prized prospect with the same traits — and it’s hard to measure the upside.

“It opens up a lot of space,” Konecny said. “Those guys are big out there, so when they’re going to the corners, it creates a little room for me. I’ve just got to find the holes and find the spots and the puck kind of just comes to you.”

Left wing is Konecny’s best shot at making the team’s roster and snagging a top-six role. The Flyers are heavy at right wing while light at left. Among the Flyers’ group of forwards, it’s the position of greatest need.

Like Hakstol said, Friday’s practice had purpose. So Konecny’s trying out left wing had substance, too.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Hakstol said. “I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute, but that’s one area that we’re looking at — not just for him, but for other players. So that’s one possibility.”

Konecny, more of a right winger and/or center, has no qualms with playing left. Really, a player of his ilk can make an impact regardless of position.

“I’ve played all positions through junior,” he said. “I’ve played right, middle and left, so wherever I fit in, I’d play there. I’m trying not to look too far ahead, though, just trying to play every day, and wherever I am that day, I’ll focus on that position and get the job done that day.

“I usually end up on the left wing when I’m coming across the ice anyway. I enter the zone on that side of the ice, so it helps me. I actually think I see the ice better when I play on that side of the ice.
 
“I got another day to play today. It’s just about earning each and every day.”

Voracek and Couturier, both of whom have yet to play in a preseason game because of World Cup of Hockey competition, looked at Friday as just another practice with new elements — such is life in training camp.

“It needs some work, obviously we need to get used to each other but if we skate and play with the puck, we should be fine,” Voracek said.

“Even last year along with this year, every game [Konecny has] been very solid. He’s a hard-working kid for his size. He’s very greedy, he’s not scared and he’s skating well. For a 19-year-old, he’s looking very, very sharp.”

Roster talk
According to a report by generalfanager.com, the Flyers waived forwards Petr Straka, Andy Miele, Chris Conner and Greg Carey, as well as defenseman and South Jersey native T.J. Brennan. None of the five were seen practicing Friday and the Flyers did not have an announcement. If they clear waivers — which seems likely — they’ll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With the reported moves, the Flyers’ roster stands at 34, including injured players Nick Schultz, Mark Alt and Cole Bardreau. The Flyers will have to be at 23 by the season opener Oct. 14.

Goalie situation
Hakstol said whomever is in net Saturday will play the entire game. He would not say if it would be Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth. An announcement will be made Saturday morning. Neuvirth is back from the World Cup and has yet to play a preseason game.

Gudas update
Defenseman Radko Gudas (wrist), who said Wednesday he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent, will “definitely” play in a preseason game, Hakstol said. The coach would not say whether it would be Saturday or next week.

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.