Sports Briefs: 06-07-21

  • Patrick Cantlay holds the trophy after winning the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Cantlay wins a playoff at Memorial on Sunday

DUBLIN, Ohio — The emotion and intensity felt the same to Patrick Cantlay, whether it was his clutch 25-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead or his 12-foot par putt in a playoff that made him a winner again Sunday in the Memorial.

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The handshake with Jack Nicklaus? As special as it was two years ago.

That was as far as normalcy was allowed to go at a tournament that was as much about the guy who won as the guy who didn’t play.

Plenty of drama. A little rain. No sign of Jon Rahm.

Some 24 hours earlier, as Rahm pulled away with a 64 to build a six-shot lead, Cantlay already was trying to figure out how low he would need to score to have a chance. And then Rahm was told off the 18th green Saturday evening that his COVID-19 test came back positive, knocking him out of the tournament.

“I would much rather have faced him down today and shot an extremely low round and beat him that way,” Cantlay said after closing with a 1-under 71 and beating Collin Morikawa (71) with a par on the first playoff hole.

“But unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do,” he said. “I did everything I could with the cards I was dealt, and I really did a good job of focusing today on the task at hand and staying present. And that’s all you can do in this game.”

He did it one putt better than Morikawa, who missed a 6-foot par putt to extend the playoff.

The tour said Rahm had been in contact with a COVID-19 positive and was in its contact tracing program, subjected to tests every day since Monday. Every test was negative until Saturday, after his rain-delayed second round.

He was informed after tying the 54-hole record at 18-under 198. His six-shot lead tied the Memorial record set by Tiger Woods. And then he was out of the tournament.

“We’re all devastated,” Nicklaus said earlier Sunday. “I wish we could figure out how to give Jon three-fourths of the trophy.”

Biles claims another U.S. Gymnastics title

FORT WORTH, Texas — Simone Biles toned it down. A little anyway. And soared even higher.

The 24-year-old gymnastics superstar claimed her record seventh U.S. title Sunday night, delivering another stunning — and stunningly easy — performance that served little doubt the pressure surrounding her bid to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic championships in more than 50 years is only pushing her to even greater heights.

Shaking off a somewhat sloppy start Friday, at least by her impeccable standards, Biles put on a four-rotation showcase that highlighted why a GOAT emblem — a nod to her status as the Greatest Of All Time — has become a fixture on her competition leotard.

Her two-day total of 119.650 was nearly five points better than runner-up Sunisa Lee and good friend and teammate Jordan Chiles. Biles’ all-around score on Sunday of 60.100 was her highest since 2018 and served notice she is only getting better with the Tokyo Games less than seven weeks away.

It helped that she managed to stay inbounds (mostly) during her floor routine after stepping out three times on Friday. Blame in on the rush she gets when the lights are on and a crowd is in the palm of her hands. She was far more precise in finals save for one tumbling pass where one of her feet stepped over the white border.

Oh, well, something to work on for the Olympic trials later this month in St. Louis.

“It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds and I never have this much power,” Biles said. “But with the adrenaline, that’s where it comes.”

Titans agree to deal with Falcons for Julio Jones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans had been talking to the Atlanta Falcons about seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones for nearly three weeks.

In the end, they pried Jones loose with a couple of draft picks, the highest being a second-rounder.

“We felt like it was good value for us, and Atlanta felt like it was good value for them obviously or they wouldn’t have done the trade,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said Sunday, hours after the teams announced the deal.

Robinson said Jones still must pass a physical, and the Titans have “some things we’ve still got to work through” with the salary cap.

The Titans GM also wouldn’t discuss if Jones, under contract through 2023, will be getting a revamped deal in the trade from the defending AFC South champs.

“We’re going to always keep that mindset of being diligent with our approach and aggressive when we feel like we need to be aggressive,” Robinson said.

The Falcons will receive the Titans’ second-round pick in 2022 and their fourth-rounder in 2023 with Atlanta sending Jones and a sixth-round pick in 2023.

Larson wins again as Hendrick continues month of dominance

SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson first visited Sonoma Raceway as a young kid dressed head-to-toe in Jeff Gordon gear watching NASCAR practice from the hillside on a Saturday afternoon.

Now he’s a Cup winner at what is considered the Elk Grove racer’s home track, but his victory lane celebration Sunday was a disaster.

Larson tried to recreate a 2014 photo of himself spitting wine into the air following a lower level win, but it was far windier after this big leagues victory and when Larson splayed his mouthful from the oversized chalice, the red wine splashed all over the new track president.

“I blew it,” Larson said. “It was way windy and I feel super bad.”

It was the only thing Larson did wrong all day.

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Larson beat teammate Chase Elliott in overtime to win his second consecutive race, third of the season, and help Hendrick Motorsports continue its month of dominance.

By wire sources

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