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The Sports Report: It’s Masters time

U.S. Open - Final Round
Brooks Koepka
(Rob Carr / Getty Images )

Howdy everyone, my name is Houston Mitchell, proprietor of this here newsletter. Let’s get right to the news.

Golf

I don’t watch golf every week, but when The Masters comes around, I try to watch as much of it as I can. And this is Masters weekend. I used to watch golf much more when I was a kid (my favorite player was Johnny Miller), so of course I am always nostalgic for that era, but the golfers today are amazing.

After Thursday’s first round, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau share the lead after shooting a six-under 66. They are one shot ahead of Phil Mickelson, who overcame bogeys on 10 and 11 to shoot a 67. Tiger Woods shot a two-under 70.

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“I thought there were some 66s out there,” Mickelson said. “Look, the greens are softer than they’ve ever been, and they’re not as fast as they normally are. So today was a day to take advantage of it. I’m sure they’ll get firmer and faster as the week goes on. But you could get after the pins and you could putt aggressively.”

Koepka is trying to win his fourth major, after winning the U.S. Open in 2017 and 2018 and the PGA Championship in 2018. He is currently fourth in the world golf rankings, trailing Justin Rose (shot a 75 Thursday), Dustin Johnson (68) and Rory McIlroy (73). DeChambeau is ranked sixth, Mickelson 22nd and Woods 12th.

DeChambeau is an interesting guy. All his irons are the same length. Each one is 37½ inches long, about the length of a 7-iron -- with club heads that each weigh 278 grams.

According to ESPN, last week he spent 14 hours working on a gear system at Dallas National Golf Club, attempting to get on the right side of the spin loft curve with his wedges.

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“If I get driven enough to where it’s been a long enough time to where we haven’t figured something out, I will exhaust every resource until I figure it out,” DeChambeau said. “And that’s common with me. I become almost a little, in a positive way, OCD about trying to complete something, very positive way.”

Lakers

One theme came out from the Lakers’ exit interviews: The botched trade for Anthony Davis, where the Lakers essentially offered every young player they had for him, hurt the team greatly.

“At the trade deadline, everybody kind of lost themselves,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. "… The locker room changed. Everybody was pretty much worried about that — especially guys that haven’t been through it. They were worried where they were going to end up. How they were going to do it. How it was going to mentally affect them.”

“For the first time in our life, as young players and not even just us because everyone was in talks, but it was the first time realizing that basketball is business,” Kyle Kuzma said. “For us, our whole life as young players, we’ve been strictly, ‘Have fun, enjoy the game.’ All this and all that but then you get to the NBA and part of — going back to what Magic said — growing up, you have to realize this is business and you can always say, ‘Control what you can control,’ but without going through something first you can’t really listen to other peoples’ logic behind things.”

“No one’s perfect,” Josh Hart said. “You slip a little bit, but that’s when your teammate’s there to pick you up. So I guess it was annoying. The media made it annoying. Social media made it annoying. But at the end of the day there was no frustration with each other. No frustration between us and the front office. We were all a collective unit, and we tried to be professionals about it.”

Make sure you read more in Tania Ganguli’s excellent story by clicking here.

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The other bit of news that came out Thursday was this: There apparently aren’t a lot of people in the NBA who like Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

“Are they a bad franchise right now? Yes, they are a bad franchise,” said an Eastern Conference general manager, who like everyone else interviewed on the subject would speak only on condition of anonymity. “Are they correctable? Yes, they are correctable. But they are not a well-run franchise. But because they are the Lakers, they can turn it around.”

One agent said: “I just don’t see how they do anything going forward with Rob in place. No one trusts him.”

Another agent: “Honestly, they need to hire an experienced general manager with credibility and let him fire Rob. Let that president that come in, let him have the authority to hire his staff and to hire their head coach if he doesn’t want Luke Walton.”

A GM for another team: “To tell you the truth, they should go out and get a top executive in the league to run everything. That’s what they need to do. Go get a guy that can get this done. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t get done. Go get an executive that’s done it or who has built something. Go get [Golden State’s] Bob Myers if you can. Go after [Oklahoma City’s] Sam Presti. Those guys know how to build a team. If they have the tools that the Lakers have — cap space and a big city, appeal, you got LeBron James on your roster — you got to be able to attract one of these guys to work in their front office.”

Dodgers

Remember when the Dodgers were 8-2 and the talk of town? Well, they were swept in four games by the St. Louis Cardinals. So much for being the talk of the town.

Be sure to subscribe to our Dodgers newsletter to get more in-depth analysis on the team. Subscribe here.

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NHL playoffs

Thursday’s scores (read game stories here)

Toronto 4, Boston 1 (Maple Leafs lead series, 1-0)

Washington 4, Carolina 2 (Capitals lead series, 1-0)

Calgary 4, Colorado 0 (Flames lead series, 1-0)

Today’s schedule

All times Pacific

Columbus at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., CNBC (Blue Jackets lead series, 1-0)

Pittsburgh at New York Islanders, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN (Islanders lead series, 1-0)

St. Louis at Winnipeg, 6:30 p.m., CNBC (Blues lead series, 1-0)

Vegas at San Jose, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN (Sharks lead series, 1-0)

Clippers playoff schedule

All times Pacific

Saturday, 5 p.m., at Golden State, ABC

Monday, 7:30 p.m., at Golden State, TNT

Thursday, 7:30 p.m., at Clippers, TNT

Sunday, April 21, 12:30 p.m., at Clippers, ABC

*Wednesday, April 24, TBA, at Golden State, TBA

*Friday, April 26, at Clippers, TBA

*Sunday, April 28, at Golden State, TBA

*-if necessary.

Odds and Ends

Neal ElAttrache’s understanding of boxing makes him an ideal surgeon for Vasiliy Lomachenko…. Outfielder Brian Goodwin a godsend for injury-plagued Angels…. NBA playoffs preview: DeMarcus Cousins gets his chance to help Warriors win a title…. Ryan Hunter-Reay among drivers who look forward to Grand Prix of Long Beach…. Nico Young continues his climb through the long-distance record books…. Galaxy acquire Giancarlo Gonzalez from Italy’s Bologna…. Mick Cronin jumps right into his work as UCLA basketball coach…. UCLA receiver Jaylen Erwin is ready to prove he belongs at elite level.

Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)

Milwaukee at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, KTLA Ch. 5, AM 570

Angels at Chicago Cubs, 11:15 a.m., FSW, KLAA 830 AM

Born on this date

1952: Boxer Alexis Arguello

1954: Boxer Marvin Johnson

1965: Figure skater Elaine Zayak

1968: NHL player Adam Graves

Died on this date

1977: Cubs owner Philip K Wrigley, 82

1989: Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, 67.

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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