By Peter Santo
I figure what better place than the Auburn University library, a place I will spend a lot of time in over the next four years, to get SantoSports back up and running this summer.
Well, a lot has happened since I last published an article. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended 52 years of frustration by defeating the Golden State Warriors for the NBA title. Dustin Johnson overcame a pathetic rules decision by the USGA to win his first major championship. Oh, and the Pittsburgh Penguins rode a rookie goaltender to the Stanley Cup title.
We will start with Cleveland, a city that has been tortured by its sports teams since the Cleveland Browns captured the NFL Championship (before the Super Bowl was even a thing) in 1964. When LeBron James returned home two years ago, he promised to deliver Cleveland the championship that had eluded them for so long.
And deliver he did, but it did not come without some drama. After seeing the 2015 season end in a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Cavs were out for revenge. Both James and his teammates certainly had their fair share of doubters. To win the title, they would have to defeat the team that finished with the best regular season record in NBA history.
To make matters worse, they lost 3 of the first 4 games of the Finals to fall behind 3-1. Most thought it was over, they were ready to crown the Warriors NBA champions once again, anoint the Dubs the best team in the history of the NBA. But LeBron James had other ideas. James and teammate Kyrie Irving went on a tear for the ages in games 5, 6 and 7, handing the Warriors their first three game losing streak of the season, and seizing the title for Cleveland.
To win the title, they needed to win a game 7 on the road. Kyrie Irving hit a game winning three pointer, and LeBron James somehow rejected Andre Iguodala at the rim to seal the deal.
I don’t care how much you hate LeBron James, Cleveland winning this title was good for basketball, and good for sports as a whole.
While James and company were preparing for game 7, Dustin Johnson was busy exasperating his own demons. DJ had come so close in majors so many times, but had always come up short. There was the final round collapse at Pebble Beach in the 2010 US Open, the bunker incident at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA, the drive OB at Royal St. Georges in the 2011 Open Championship, the three putt at Chambers Bay.
People rightfully began to wonder if Johnson, one of the most talented and athletic golfers the game has ever seen, was simply destined to never win a major championship.
Shane Lowry entered the final round with a four shot lead, perhaps this helped DJ in his quest for that elusive first major, as the pressure was squarely on Lowry to close the deal. However Lowry struggled from the get go en route to a final round 76 and T2 finish, and the ball was in Dustin’s court.
Well DJ began putting together a flawless final round, the USGA did everything in their power to get in his head, and keep him from winning our National Championship. It all started on the 5th hole, when it was questioned whether or not Johnson caused his ball to move as he addressed a 3 foot par putt. Johnson conferred with playing partner Lee Westwood and the rules official walking with his group, and together they determined that Johnson had not caused the ball to move, and that his par would stand.
According to USGA rules, this should’ve been the end of it, however Mike Davis and company felt like drawing things out for some reason. They called rules officials in off the golf course to re-watch the video footage and when Johnson reached the 12th tee, he was informed that they were still reviewing footage, and they had yet to determine whether or not he would be penalized.
How on Earth could Dustin, or any golfer, attempt to win a major championship under these circumstances? Superstars such as Rickie Fowler, Rory Mcilroy, and Jordan Spieth ripped the USGA on Twitter, and no one could quite believe this was happening.
Give credit to Johnson, he refused to let it get to him, striped his drive on the 12th, and went on to win by three, eliminating any doubt. In the end, Johnson was penalized a stroke, but it didn’t matter.
They tried to take it away from him, but Dustin Johnson is, and will forever be, a US Open champion.