Friday! We made it!
Welcome back to this wonderful space we share together each morning. I hope you enjoyed the opening round of the Masters yesterday and felt that special little tingle that comes whenever you see a beautiful shot of Augusta National. It's truly an experience like no other.
We'll go over some of the happenings from Day 1 at Augusta National on Thursday, and luckily we've still got plenty of exciting golf left to enjoy in the days ahead. We'll also discuss yesterday's wild ending to the Mets-Marlins game before touching on some college basketball and NBA Draft talk.
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I spent most of yesterday feeling incredibly sore and tired, and I'm not sure whether its the after-effects of the vaccine I got earlier this week or simply because I'm always incredibly sore and tired. Either way, I'm looking forward to some rest this weekend. The weather projects to be pretty nice up here in Boston, which means only one thing: DECK LIFE. If you've got similar plans, feel free to hit me with pictures of your deck and/or porch setup because nothing gets me excited quite like an exquisite outdoor space.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday to recap everything you might have missed while passed out on your porch.
📰 What you need to know
1. Justin Rose leads Masters heading into Round 2 🏌
It was an eventful first day of the 2021 Masters at Augusta, for better and for worse. As we mentioned yesterday morning, this is expected to be an incredibly difficult tournament due to the course conditions and, wouldn't you know it, yesterday's opening round turned out to be a fierce grind for many.
The course played firm and fast, which meant that we saw plenty of seemingly fine shots get away from the field all day. One guy who didn't have a ton of trouble was Justin Rose, who delivered an incredible 7-under 65. That puts him at the top of the leaderboard heading into today's action. It is Rose's fourth lead or co-lead after the first round, tying Jack Nicklaus for the most in Masters history, and his sixth lead or co-lead ever at the Masters -- the most for anyone without a green jacket.
Here are some opening round takeaways on Rose and others, courtesy of our Kyle Porter:
- Rose's astonishing round: After two bogeys in his first seven holes, it looked like Rose was going to experience a lot of the same problems the rest of the field dealt with on Thursday. Then he played the next 11 holes 9-under with seven birdies and an eagle. Rose finished at just under 10 strokes gained on the day and has a four-stroke lead heading into Friday
- Conditions were brutal: A combination of slick greens, firm fairways and wind made yesterday a treacherous venture for golfers. Last fall, 24 players shot in the 60s in the first round of the Masters, and only three guys managed to do that yesterday
- Another tough opening round for Rory: The first 18 at major championships have not been particularly kind to Rory over the years, and that trend continued yesterday. He shot a 4-over and managed to hit his own father with a shot in a rather unlikely and amusing moment (easy for me to call it amusing since I didn't take a golf ball to the leg.) Since 2015, Rory is 32-over in round one of majors
- Ian Woosnam's big day: A 63-year-old Woosie shot a 4-over 76 with a torn muscle in his groin yesterday. He averaged 269 yards off the tee while Bryson DeChambeau averaged 326 yards. They both finished with the same score
Rose may have a huge lead heading into today's action, but the unpredictability of the course means that nobody is really out of it after 18 holes. You can track the leaderboard here and follow our live blog throughout the weekend here.
I'll be back with you on Monday to recap and wrap up all you need to know after the green jacket is handed out.
2. Mets win on controversial hit-by-pitch ⚾
The New York Mets had their home opener at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon and they managed to send fans home happy with a walk-off win -- though that win came with plenty of controversy. After entering the ninth inning trailing by one to the Marlins, the Mets rallied and plated the game-winning run on the strength of a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. However...
- Michael Conforto clearly extended his elbow and leaned into the pitch, which would have been a strike had it not hit him
- Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa initially looked to signal strike three before changing his mind and calling HBP
- Umpires went to video review, but only the HBP itself is reviewable -- whether Conforto leaned into it is not. With the ball clearly hitting Conforto, the ruling stood and the Mets won the game
- Kulpa admitted fault after the game: "The guy was hit by the pitch in the strike zone. I should have called him out."
That's a brutal and gutting way to lose a game if you're the Marlins, and Kulpa better hope that they don't miss the playoffs by a game (luckily, I think he'll probably be in the clear there.) At the very least, at least he showed some accountability postgame, though I'm not sure that's going to make the Marlins and their fans feel any better.
Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Conforto ate one in the ribs the next time these two meet on Saturday. I'd have to imagine Miami wants to remind him what a real hit-by-pitch looks and feels like.
3. Making sense of the college hoops transfer portal 🏀
The capital-M Madness might be over, but college basketball still has plenty of craziness right now thanks to a transfer portal that is unlike any before it. Transfer portal season is just getting started and there are multiple reasons why it's going to be a bit busier than usual. First, an expected NCAA rule change would allow first-time transfers immediate eligibility at their new schools. Additionally, the NCAA is granting a free year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That means there are plenty of question marks surrounding college basketball rosters across the country, and some of those question marks may remain for a while longer. Our David Cobb has highlighted a few winners and losers through the first few weeks of the transfer portal window:
- Winner: Maryland -- The Terrapins have snagged Georgetown center Qudus Wahab after a promising end to his sophomore season, and Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell will use his final season of eligibility at Maryland as well. The Terps will lose Darryl Morsell to the portal, but it's a net positive for a team that just won an NCAA Tournament game
- Loser: Minnesota -- The firing of Richard Pitino may have cost Minnesota its leading scorers in Marcus Carr and Liam Robbins, as both are in the portal along with several other Gophers. It's not entirely surprising, as roster turnover often follows a team changing coaches
- Winner: Kentucky -- Kentucky is coming off a disastrous season and there's plenty of pressure mounting on John Calipari, but he did snag a couple of nice additions from the portal. Lethal Davidson shooter Kellan Grady is heading to the Wildcats, as is West Virginia big man Oscar Tshiebwe. Kentucky is losing Devin Askew and Cam'Ron Fletcher, but that's a swap worth making
- Loser: Boston College -- Earl Grant just took over at BC and he'll have his work cut out for him. The Eagles had their top four scorers from last season enter the portal, and three of them have already moved on
Cobb has more winners and losers listed here. I'd expect that list to grow in the coming weeks as the offseason finds more twists and turns.
4. NBA Mock Draft season is here 🏀
With the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament earlier this week, that means we now find ourselves in a position where it's acceptable to toss around some NBA mock drafts. Some of the stars we just watched capture glory on the college hoops stage will soon be bound for the pros, so let's hit up Kyle Boone for some insight into his latest mock draft:
- Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham is projected to go first overall to the Houston Rockets, which is no surprise
- Quote from a scout: "Cade [Cunningham] is special. His IQ, playmaking, vision, positional size, three-level scoring ability, efficiency, consistency and crafty creativity is what separates him. ... He is what you want in a No. 1 pick."
- Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs is currently projected to go No. 3 to the Timberwolves
- Top prospect Jalen Green, who skipped college to instead go to the G League's development team (and dominated), sits at No. 4
The mock draft isn't necessarily a straight-up ranking of each prospect, but more of an informed projection on where they might land in the draft considering a number of factors -- from raw ability, to NBA readiness and team need. If you want a straightforward set of rankings, you can check out the CBS Sports Big Board.
📝 Odds & Ends
- MLB is reportedly examining multiple "suspicious" baseballs used by Trevor Bauer in his start on Wednesday
- Mariners pitcher James Paxton is likely to need Tommy John Surgery
- Former NFL defensive back Phillip Adams has been identified as the gunman who killed five people in South Carolina on Wednesday
📺 What to watch this weekend
Saturday: 🏀 Lakers vs. Nets, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ABC
Sunday: ⚾ Phillies vs. Braves, 7:08 p.m. | TV: ESPN
🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday
Tommy Fleetwood aced No. 16 at Augusta National yesterday and could not stop smiling afterward.