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The Rundown: August 14, 2012

McIlroy and Woods at the PGA Championship

As the Olympics were wrapping up, the PGA Championship was being played in South Carolina.

And, stunningly – much like his first Major victory in the US Open at Bethesda last year – Rory McIlroy lapped the field.

McIlroy’s PGA title is his second major win, and he’s only 23. That sounds oddly familiar…

McIlroy’s 6-under final round turned into a coronation, more than anything else, as the 23-year-old Irishman held a three-shot lead over the rest of the field heading into Sunday. He beat the field by eight shots, by day’s end – a “Tiger-esque” feat, one could say, considering his age, and the fact that the margin was a tournament record. What’s more, he had won by the exact same margin in 2011.

The only question now is, can he keep this up? After his US Open victory, McIlroy had a disappointing showing at both the Open and PGA Championships. He seemingly came out of nowhere after an up-and-down 2012 season. Consistency was what brought Tiger to elite, then legendary, status. While it is still too early to anoint McIlroy as the second coming, his youth and, perhaps, a measure of consistency in winning championships in 2013, could help secure that status in the future.

Then, there is the other end of the spectrum.

“Why are you dragging me into this again?”

One Eldrick Woods collapsed again over the weekend after a promising first two days at the PGA Championship. Entering Saturday at 4-under par, and ahead of McIlroy by 2 shots, Tiger had a disastrous front 9, with four bogeys in five holes. He finished the round with a 2-over 74, and finished the weekend as a non-factor, with an even-par 72, 11 shots behind McIlroy.

And now, it’s a drought of 18 Majors without a victory for Woods, his last coming in that remarkable finish on Sunday, and subsequent 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate, in the 2008 US Open. The questions continue – what’s wrong with him? Well, I, for one, might be saying this until he ends up winning another major, because I don’t believe he’s done as a professional golfer by any stretch of the imagination.

The truth is, the ordeal he suffered – mainly, by his own misdoings – is something that no professional golfer has ever had to face. The ACL injury; the infamous car crash; the numerous uncovered affairs and the subsequent humiliation stemming from them; the divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren, and the separation from his children; on top of all the personnel and swing changes. That kind of mental anguish would have drove any other golfer out of the game completely. It is a crisis for an individual athlete in almost every sense of the word.

YOU try winning majors with THIS scrutiny constantly hanging over your head.

He still has years to really win on the major field again. And, even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Just understand that this is still going to be a long process. In any case, the dichotomous views of McIlroy and Woods could be a changing of the guard. However, until I see more consistency from both golfers, I’m not ready to bury Woods – or crown McIlroy – just yet.

Moss, Manningham Impress in 49ers Training Camp

Training camp continues as the NFL preseason is underway. And, with the San Francisco 49ers, the eagle-eyed focus continues to bear down on the wide receiver corp out in Santa Clara – namely, new arrivals Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

All reports out of 49ers training camp say that Mario Manningham (left) and Randy Moss are working well with the offense.

So much so, ESPN has had an ongoing series of blogs called “MossWatch,” chronicling Moss’ experiences, as well as his teammates and coaches’ reactions to him, at training camp.

The mercurial 36-year-old wideout has been getting rave reviews since his arrival. Though, to be fair, whether that means productive results on the field remains to be seen. However, it is always a good sign of leadership and maturity when Moss is reported to have great rapport with the rest of the WR corp – working out and catching passes with Vernon Davis after practice, for example.

Mario Manningham, too, has been looking good in initial workouts. Learning from Moss, his smooth transition into the West Coast offense is a good sign that he could go on to do great things for the position in 2012.

Though it has been reported that Moss will only receive 20-25 snaps per game, I highly doubt that Harbaugh will stay true to this “snap cap” – especially if Moss is productive. No one in the Bay wants a disinterested Randy Moss – no matter how much he has changed in demeanor. Just go across the bay, and ask Raiders fans, for proof of that.

As for Manningham, it would be wise for Smith to use him more often as a go-to receiver – after all, it worked well for Eli Manning while he was with the Giants. He is still relatively young, at age 26. His rapport with Smith and the offense is just as vital, if not more so, than Moss’.

49ers QB Alex Smith will need to incorporate his new WRs into an adjusted offense that should see more of a passing attack.

In any case, with Moss and Manningham catching passes Alex Smith on a regular basis, the focus will no longer be solely on them, but may be the 49ers as a whole – headed to the Super Bowl.

USA Gymnast Mckayla Maroney: Internet Meme Sensation

It has been weeks since American gymnast Mckayla Maroney took the Olympics by storm, along with the rest of the Fab Fi–err, I mean, Fierce Five. Her near-perfect vault in the team final helped propel the young ladies to the first U.S. gold medal since the Magnificent Seven’s Olympic run in 1996.

Yet, those accomplishments were not the genesis of what apparently gave her relative immortality in the realm of the internets. It was actually the aftermath of her biggest disappointment at the games.

“Oh, I’m gonna pay for this on the internet, later.”

Considered the runaway favorite at the Vault final, Maroney inexplicably fell on her second vault. While the fall did not cost her a place on the medal stand – she still received the silver medal for her efforts – an average vault, without a fall, would have easily secured a gold medal. Her reaction now lives in Meme lore.

Behold – the scowl that launched a thousand memes.

Now hundreds of captions, featuring her now-infamous silver-medal sneer, pepper internet sites like Tumblr and 9GAG, and her online popularity has reached a fever pitch. The 16-year-old from Orange County has even said that she is greatly amused by the meme:

I think it’s really funny. At first, I was really confused and I couldn’t believe that just from making that face for two seconds it could turn into that, but I guess in my head I was just disappointed that I fell on my butt at the Olympics. And when the National Athem was playing, and it wasn’t my country, I was just thinking in my head, like just dangit, and that’s what my face did. And I guess it turned into some big thing. It’s kind of funny.

Her viral popularity had spawned other pictures of her and the rest of the Fierce Five, and it doesn’t seem like the memes will stop anytime soon.

“Om Nom Nom Nom…” See? I just came up with another one!

For Maroney, one of her most embarrassing moments actually turned into one of her most endearing.

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  1. MSR’s Random Sports Thoughts, Vol. 5 « The Macho Sports Report

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