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The Dean's List: Jordan Spieth, The Open and The Thunder

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

HERE COMES THE BLITZ!

Join on the Blitz tonight as we cover a wide range of topics, including the Thunder’s moves since firing Scott Brooks and what’s in store for Monday’s finish at the Open Championship.

STORYLINES GALORE AT OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Heading into the second Monday finish in 144 Open Championships we have a bevy of storylines that could lead some of you devotees to call in sick – at least half the day since ESPN hits the air at 5AM tomorrow. Cutting the list down to a manageable number, here’s what lies ahead.

1.  Jordan Spieth’s clutch 6-under 66 vaults him one shot out of the lead and with a legitimate chance to do what only Ben Hogan has ever done in the history of the game: Win the first three legs of the Grand Slam. Took 37 putts in Round 2 with 5 three-putts. Took 27 putts today with zero 3-jacks. With Dustin Johnson’s 75 inexplicably shooting himself out of the championship, and with Rory watching soccer highlights, the loquacious Longhorn will probably find his biggest tests coming from Oosty and J-Day. If Spieth makes every putt inside six feet Monday, he’ll be hard to beat. It’s hard to believe but the world’s greatest putter ranks 77th on the Tour on 4-8 footers; usually a killer at majors. My biggest concern for Spieth is that his scant course knowledge will be giving a shot to a guy in Oosty who was born to play the Old Course at St. Andrews. It’ll probably take a 66 or 67 for Spieth to win, but his chances have immeasurably increased in the last 24 hours. That’s when DJ, who par is closer to 67 than 72, had a __ shot advantage and had turned the birthplace of golf into Johnson’s Most Famous Pitch & Putt. I’ll be up early sweating it out hoping that if one of the local stories doesn’t strike gold, we see Jordan taking off the cap after putting out on the 72nd hole and nervously patting his balding scalp as if anyone in the world cared what that short, blonde mane looks like. I enjoyed watching James Street quarterback Texas (except against my Hogs and the Sooners), Earl Campbell run over anything not wearing crimson and movies with Matthew McConaughey. But I’ve never rooted harder for a Longhorn athlete that The Natural, Jordan Spieth -- aside from that long drink of water who roams the baseline down near Reno Avenue in OKC.

2.  Jordan Niebrugge/Paul Dunne or Robert Streb are also fantastic stories to root for – or, as my speech coach required, fantastic stories for which to root. The OSU golfer didn’t win a bunch this year in the college ranks, as didn’t co-leader Dunne. But the 21-year-old is making the most of spending the past month getting used to the weather and links golf and has the look and the game of a champion.  Dunne didn’t look like the guy who didn’t win a college event this year, wasn’t the clear No. 1 player on his UAB team and whose best score all season on much easier courses was 67. The Scottish terror goes 66 today! At St. Andrews, with the whole world watching. Bobby Jones is the last amateur to win the British Open in 1930 and was the last amateur to lead after 54 holes three years earlier at St. Andrews, when he also won the Claret Jug. Streb would suddenly become the most famous of all the Edmond North golfers around here and would increase his already good standing internationally in the game. I remember caddying for my stepsons in many a tournament fifteen or so years ago when the first thing they’d want to know when checking in, was “Is Robert Streb playing.” “Yes,” was always the answer, because his daddy and Robert knew that hard work and experience via tournament golf were what it took to be a champion. I’d love to see Streb win. But it would be an stunner, primarily because he’s never seen the course, or even been across the Big Pond before the Open.

3.  Louis Oosthuizen will be awfully hard to beat. He’s in perfect position, knows the track better than all others, has a remarkable record at the Old Course where he could follow Tiger’s trick of back to back wins at St. Andrews, after winning here in 2010, and might just have the most sound swing in the game. Won’t hurt that he’ll be a crowd favorite and appears to have the heart rate of a dead man.

4.  Jason Day is due and one of my faves. He’s also tied at the top and has game on top of game on top of game. Hits driver straight, is stronger than a brahma bull and makes five footers as if tapping in gimmies in a game with his pals. But surprisingly, despite the fact he’s been close in majors, his best Open finish was T30.

5.  Sergio Garcia is three back but there may never be a better time than now. No Rory, Dustin, Spieth trails, and he is surrounded by adoring fans. The good news is he’s got the game to do it. The bad news is he’s had the game to do it for a long time. And never done it. 19 treks around this place –I know, sounds impossible, but true – and nary a Jug (Or jacket, US Open or PGA). The biggest reason he won’t win it is his name is ….. ready? Because he’s Sergio Garcia.

Enjoy and join us on the Blitz for more Open conversation.   

THUNDER PUTS ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF ANOTHER AND IS IN GOOD POSITION

The OKC Thunder are a different-looking organization after a number of moves made after the regular season finale.

Fire Scott Brooks.

Hire Billy Donovan.

Retain key assistants and hire quality, veterans in Mo Cheeks and _____ New Orleans coach.

Draft a third point guard, and it being Cam Payne, seemingly a great fit.

Re-sign Enes Kanter by matching Portland's offer sheet.

Trade dead weight Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, even if little in return

Strong summer camps for Mitch McGary and Christon.

And you've heard some more about Kevin Durant's status?

Bonus: I've learned more about KD's injury and rehab and believe he stands a great chance of a full recovery and that his shooting drills and overall rehab is going swimmingly. Source: "Russ is a freak."

The most successful people consistently stack one good decision on top of another.

So, the Thunder has incrementally...and under the radar, executed multiple sound decision (begin with coaching change)...and thus, put themselves in their best position to make a run at a title. And, critically, given themselves their best chance possible in re-signing Kevin Durant – a big motivator behind the offseason moves.

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