The Sports Report: John Daly returns to the spotlight

John Daly
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

Hello everyone. My name is Houston Mitchell. and I’m wondering if the NHL referees have a subconscious desire for the San Jose Sharks to win it all this year.


The second of golf’s four majors, the PGA Championship, begins today. I was all set to tell you all about it, but Sam Farmer already did and he’s a much better writer than I am, so I’m going to let him do it. (Read the whole thing here).

John Daly was a sight to behold Wednesday, rolling around Bethpage Black — a course that traditionally doesn’t allow carts — with his green-swirled surfing shorts, a cigarette dangling from his lips and his platinum mullet glistening in the sun.


“Let’s go, Johnnie!” rang the encouraging shouts from the gallery, cheers for an unvarnished man of the people knocking his way around a brutal, undulating, 7,426-yard public course.

“This could be a weird PGA Championship.

“One month removed from the most dramatic Masters in memory, the spotlight swings to Long Island, where two of the most talked-about competitors are someone who got the most out of his talents — recently, that is — and someone who’s gotten the least.

“The golf world is waiting to see if 43-year-old Tiger Woods can follow his victory at Augusta National with another major championship at Bethpage, where he won the U.S. Open in 2002. Depending on the oddsmaker, he’s either the favorite or close to it, even though it would be stunning for him to assemble back-to-back major victories after an 11-year drought.


“And then there’s the Daly, who has two major wins and one bum knee. He was granted a waiver to use a cart in the tournament because of arthritis in his right knee. That’s controversial because a lot of his problems were brought on by excessive weight and hard living.

“I can’t walk but six or seven holes,” Daly told The Times last month. “It’s osteoarthritis. Just had the meniscus cut out. ... I’m going to get a cart for the PGA Championship, and I’ll hopefully get one for the British because I hate to miss it. But if I walk six holes, this [knee] will swell up like a grapefruit.”

“Woods, who seldom takes a jab at anyone, made his feelings clear this week when asked at a news conference about Daly’s use of a cart.

“As far as J.D. taking a cart,” he said, “well, I walked with a broken leg, so...”

“The last competitor allowed to use a cart in a major was Casey Martin, now the golf coach at the University of Oregon. He was born with a circulatory disorder that nearly cost him his leg. He was permitted to compete in two U.S. Opens, in 1998 and 2012, while riding in a cart.

“He recently came out in support of Daly, telling “I’m happy for him because I know John a little bit and I know for certain that he’s not trying to get an advantage.”

“Woods made the most of his abilities in winning the latest Masters, in that he’s had to rely on strategy over power in the wake of four back surgeries. Then again, he went through a long stretch when his game and personal life were circling the drain, so he and Daly are hardly polar opposites.

“Regardless, Woods winning the Masters has breathed new life into golf, just as moving the PGA from August to May has allowed the sport to capitalize on that Augusta momentum and intrigue.”



Our Jorge Castillo on Cody Bellinger:

Cody Bellinger’s two-run home run Tuesday, a drive to left-center field off San Diego Padres rookie standout Chris Paddack, was his 15th this season. It was also his first in two weeks.

“I’m certain that it was in the back of his mind,” Dodgers hitting strategist Brant Brown said. “Like, I haven’t hit in a homer.’ We’re just trying to ease that edge. Like, ‘Hey, keep putting good swipes on it. You will hit another homer this year. We promise you.’ ”

Typically, a slugger’s production tapers when the home runs vanish. That was not the case for Bellinger since he last belted a home run April 28. The right fielder batted .357 with an .878 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the 12 games between home runs. It was simultaneously a slump by the unsustainable standard he set over the season’s first month — his batting average dropped from .427 to .407 — and a blistering two-week period for most hitters.

“It’s definitely easy to get caught up,” Bellinger said. “But I’m just in the on-deck circle, ‘All right, stay with the plan. Don’t try to get a hit. Just stay with the plan.’ That’s what I’ve been doing.”

And if you missed the game, Kenta Maeda struck out 12 in 6 2/3 innings and drove in the only two runs in a 2-0 victory over San Diego.



If you are watching the Eastern Conference finals, you are seeing a familiar face helping the Milwaukee Bucks: former Laker Brook Lopez. Our Dan Woike spoke to him:

“Brook Lopez screamed for what felt like 82 straight seconds after hitting his first shot Wednesday night. If he had stayed in Los Angeles with the Lakers for this past season, that scream might’ve lasted for 82 straight games.

“Circumstances that still have people around the league scratching their heads allowed for the Bucks to sign Lopez to a $3.4-million contract more than a week into free agency. Instead of staying with the Lakers, something he says he was willing to do, Lopez took a job firing threes, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots on the NBA’s best team, leading them to 108-100 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“He scored a team-high 29 points to go with 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Bucks improved to 9-1 this postseason.

“This couldn’t have worked out better,” he said.

“No kidding.

“Instead of being dragged down with instability, trade rumors and a disconnected front office, Lopez found himself part of one the league’s strongest cultures, a team where misses do no harm, where mistakes are just a chance for improvement and where three more wins earns you a chance at an NBA title.

“In a big moment,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, “that was a great Brook Lopez tonight.”

“Lopez and the Bucks hadn’t played since closing out the Boston Celtics in Game 5 a week ago, and like any team removed from the playoff grind for that long, they struggled early as they recaptured their edge.

“Lopez missed all three of his triples in the first quarter and the Bucks hit only three of 15. Even as the Bucks settled into the game, Lopez struggled from deep. But while those shots weren’t falling, he was doing other things to remain active, grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring in the paint, where the Bucks outdid the Raptors 44-26.

“I think we did a good job of sticking with what we’ve been doing all postseason long,” Lopez said.

“And sticking to it means continuing to launch. It’s been a massive part of what the Bucks have done all season, and even their first conference finals game since 2001 couldn’t get them to stop.

“[Budenholzer] wants us to trust one another, keep moving the ball and if we’re open, shoot the ball,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”

“And Lopez doesn’t need to be told twice. He scored 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers, in the fourth quarter alone as the Bucks pulled away from a tired Toronto team.

NBA playoffs

Western Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Golden State 116, Portland 94

Tonight, 6 p.m., Portland at Golden State, ESPN

Saturday, 6 p.m., Golden State at Portland, ESPN

Monday, May 20, 6 p.m., Golden State at Portland, ESPN

*Wed., May 22, 6 p.m., Portland at Golden State, ESPN

*Friday, May 24, 6 p.m., Golden State at Portland, ESPN

*Sunday, May 26, Portland at Golden State, ESPN

Eastern Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Milwaukee 108, Toronto 100

Friday, 5:30 p.m., Toronto at Milwaukee, TNT

Sunday, 4 p.m., Milwaukee at Toronto, TNT

Tuesday, May 21, 5:30 p.m., Milwaukee at Toronto, TNT

*Thursday, May 23, 5:30 p.m., Toronto at Milwaukee, TNT

*Saturday, May 25, 5:30 p.m., Milwaukee at Toronto, TNT

*Monday, May 27, 5:30 p.m., Toronto at Milwaukee, TNT

*-if necessary

NHL playoffs

Western Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at San Jose 6, St. Louis 3

St. Louis 4, at San Jose 2

San Jose 5, at St. Louis 4 (OT)

Friday, 5 p.m., San Jose at St. Louis, NBCSN

Sunday, Noon, St. Louis at San Jose, NBC

*Tuesday, May 21, 5 p.m., San Jose at St. Louis, NBCSN

*Thursday, May 23, 6 p.m., St. Louis at San Jose, NBCSN

Eastern Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Boston 5, Carolina 2

at Boston 6, Carolina 2

Boston 2, at Carolina 1

Tonight, 5 p.m., Boston at Carolina, NBCSN

*Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Carolina at Boston, NBC

*Monday, May 20, 5 p.m., Boston at Carolina, NBCSN

*Wednesday, May 22, 5 p.m., Carolina at Boston, NBCSN

*if necessary

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Odds and ends

Lakers’ NBA draft lottery win one of franchise’s top moments in years…. NBA mock draft: A look at the players that lottery teams will select…. Klay Thompson not backing down from stopping NBA’s best players…. USC football coach Clay Helton made $3.2 million for 2017-18 fiscal year…. Ex-USC assistant Tony Bland shouldn’t serve prison time, attorney argues…. Angels end 11-game trip with late rally that falls short against Twins…. Maximum Security owners file lawsuit to overturn Kentucky Derby results…. Killing someone in the ring? Deontay Wilder says it’s legal, but opponent says it’s crazy…. Carlos Vela‘s exclusion from Mexico’s Gold Cup roster a boost for LAFC…. UCLA softball confident and energized heading into NCAA regionals…. NBA to honor Magic Johnson and Larry Bird with a lifetime achievement award…. Tyus Edney won’t return as a UCLA basketball assistant coach.

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

FC Dallas at LAFC, 7 p.m., ESPN 2, 710 ESPN

Born on this date

1928: Baseball player/manager Billy Martin

1953: Former Dodger Rick Rhoden

1955: Baseball player Jack Morris

1955: Gymnast Olga Korbut

1957: Marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson

1964: NBA player John Salley

1966: NFL player Thurman Thomas

1970: Tennis player Gabriela Sabatini

1977: NHL player J.S. Giguere

1985: NHL player Corey Perry

Died on this date

2013: Race car driver Dick Trickle, 71

And finally

Olga Korbut competes in the 1972 Olympics. Watch it here.

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