Watney Wins by Two; What Now for Professional Golf in Philadelphia?

Watney Wins by Two; What Now for Professional Golf in Philadelphia?

On a muggy Sunday in Newtown Square, 54-hole co-leader Nick Watney carded a final round 66 to claim victory at the 2011 AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club. The win is Watney's fourth as a professional and second this season.

Ending the day in solo-second, South Korean K.J. Choi put up a strong fight, but was ultimately undone by a ill-timed double bogey on the 500-yard par-4 15th.

The remaining man in the final group—Rickie Fowler—was not so fortuitous as to follow suit and secure third. Continuing an unfortunate trend of difficult final rounds—two within the last year at Muirfield Village and TPC Scottsdale—Fowler forfeited his share of the lead early on Sunday and was never able to right the ship after a day-long battle with his putter. A +4, 74 plummeted Fowler from the top of the leaderboard to a tie for thirteenth.

Back to the winner—Watney—the thirty-year-old Californian was presented a trophy shaped like the Liberty Bell and something
very much like $1,116,000, putting an end Philadelphia's latest experiment with professional golf.

Just as quickly as it arrived, the AT&T National has packed its bags to return to Bethesda, Maryland in 2012. The question now for local golf fans is simple: where do we go from here? We break down the future of professional golf in the Philadelphia area after the jump...
It's no great secret that the membership of the Aronimink Golf Club is looking to land a major championship following the success of the past two years. The club has previously hosted the 1962 PGA Championship, 1977 United States Amateur Championship, the 1997 United States Junior Amateur Championship and the 2003 Senior PGA Championship and is looking to take that next step in catching "the big one." Given the caliber of the tournaments already held on the grounds, it would seem as though the PGA and the USGA think highly enough of the course to give the AGC its fair consideration.

Unfortunately, such a scenario, even if plausible, isn't likely to result in an event any time soon.

With the Masters annually played at Augusta and the British Open obviously on the other side of the pond, only the U.S. Open and PGA Championship are in play. Those events, much like the World Cup and Olympics, are booked well in advance, with the Open already committed through 2019 and the PGA through 2018.

Further complicating matters is the Open's involvement at Merion in Ardmore in 2013. Though fans will certainly be excited to have the Open "in Philly," the tournament will more than likely have negative implications for Aronimink, insofar as the USGA likes to spread the event throughout the country.

That, of course, leaves the PGA as Aronimink's best chance at hosting a major any time soon. And on that front, "soon" won't come any quicker than August 2019.

Throwing aside the prospect of another major, and for the moment Aronimink itself, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem remarked earlier this week that the Tour was pleased with the success of the 2010 and 2011 AT&T and may move to explore a more permanent return to the Philadelphia market.

While there's no question that our area has the caliber courses to host a routine tour stop, that's done little to secure a long-standing event in the past. Timing, sponsorship and the necessary space for tournament infrastructure all play a role in the process.

For now, we can look forward to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. After that, well, your guess is as good as mine.

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Before the offseason craziness starts, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze whether the No. 3 pick or adding an impact free agent is more important for the Sixers.

Camerato
The Sixers have the third pick in the 2017 draft. 
 
They also had the same pick in 2014. 
 
And 2015. 
 
And the number one pick in 2016.
 
The No. 3 is a nice addition of potential young talent, but how much further does *another* high lottery pick progress the Sixers?
 
The team is at a point where they need more experienced players to boost the development of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric … and basically everyone on the roster except Jerryd Bayless, who is the only player under contract for next season with more than four years of NBA experience.
 
Veterans make younger players around them better. This isn’t only being a voice in the locker room either. This season the Sixers could greatly benefit from a vet who is in game with them, not just on the bench. Look at what 35-year-old Joe Johnson did for the Jazz this season. 
 
Do the Sixers need to go out and sign a big name free agent to a max contract? No. They have the money to spend but also a lot of questions to answer about Simmons’ role and Embiid’s health before locking in someone long-term. 
 
Can adding experience develop them further than potential would at this point? Yes.

Haughton
There's always a delicate balance between blending homegrown talent and free agents. With this Sixers team, I think adding another young piece to the core with the No. 3 pick is far more important than luring someone on the free-agent market.

If we're being honest about the team's roster, there are only two real difference makers in Embiid and, in all likelihood, Simmons. In that third draft slot, the Sixers have an opportunity to select yet another top-tier talent and address an area of need (guard or wing) without spending a boatload of cash.

The Sixers' youthful makeup resembles a college team and makes it easier for rookies to mix into the group. That also means the draft pick has a chance to grow on the same track as his teammates and build for the long-term betterment of "The Process" instead of a free agent that is likely trying to speed things up to win now.

Speaking of FAs, there will be a nice pool of guys available for the Sixers. However, it's not like any of them are going to put the team over the top and in the conversation for any postseason hardware.

Stick to the script and focus on the draft. Whichever player hears his name called at No. 3 will have a far bigger fingerprint on where this franchise goes next than anyone acquired via free agency.

Hudrick
The Sixers have identified Embiid and Simmons as their franchise players. Embiid is 23 and Simmons will turn 21 in July. Embiid has played in 31 games and Simmons has yet to take the floor.

I mention this because this Sixers team is still very much building. They're nowhere near a finished product. The veteran additions of Gerald Henderson and Bayless (who was limited to mostly a mentoring role last season) no doubt helped the team last season. But what does signing a marquee free agent do? 

Looking at the market, the two most obvious choices are point guard Kyle Lowry (31) and two guard J.J. Redick (32). Lowry and Redick both fills needs and will make the Sixers better immediately. 

But this team won 28 games last year while only having Embiid for 31 games and not having Simmons at all. Add the No. 3 overall pick to that equation -- whether it's Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, Jayson Tatum or De'Aaron Fox -- and the Sixers should improve on that mark.

There will be a time to sign a big-name free agent. I'm just not sure this is the offseason to do it. They need to get their first-round pick in here and see how that player gels with the team's core. After you see how the team starts to take shape, that's when you need to add a free agent to put you over the top.

Tonight's lineup: Howie Kendrick returns, Odubel Herrera rides the pine

Tonight's lineup: Howie Kendrick returns, Odubel Herrera rides the pine

Updated: 4:33 p.m.

Howie Kendrick is back after a month and a half on the disabled list while Odubel Herrera is heading to the bench for a few days.

The Phillies reinstated Kendrick from the DL and he's in the lineup, batting second and playing left field vs. the Marlins (7:10/CSN and CSNPhilly.com). Meanwhile, manager Pete Mackanin said pregame slumping center fielder Odubel Herrera will be on the bench both today and tomorrow. Maikel Franco was moved down further in the lineup.

Kendrick batted a sterling .333 in his 39 at-bats in April, looking the part of a top-of-the-order hitter. The former infielder played only left field during his 10 games before going down with an oblique injury (see game notes). He gives the Phillies a chance to rest their outfielders or allow them a new look in the corner infield. 

Herrera is in the midst of a 1-for-22 slide that has brought his batting average down to .217. Mackanin said postgame on Sunday that he would move Herrera down in the lineup and would give him a few days off at some point with Kendrick back as an extra outfielder. Mackanin hoped time off would help lessen the pressure on the scuffling Herrera.

Mackanin also mentioned the inconsistent at-bats of Franco, who is down to seventh in the lineup. Catcher Cameron Rupp was moved ahead of him to sixth in the order with Franco batting .213 and going 2 for 18 since his eight-game hitting streak ended on Monday.

Jeremy Hellickson makes his first start since allowing a seven-run third inning to the Rockies on Wednesday. The good news for the righty is that he dominated the Marlins last season and was similiarly strong in a victory vs. the Fish in April.

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Edinson Volquez:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Aaron Altherr, CF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P