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The Binghamton area began its attempt at a PGA Tour comeback last weekend when the Champions Tour, for professional golfers 50 and over, made its first stop at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott.
En-Joie lost its spot on the PGA Tour last year when flooding on the course wiped out the last scheduled B.C. Open, forcing it to be moved to the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Oneida, NY. The resort has now landed its own tournament on the PGA Tour with the first Turning Stone Casino Championship September 12-15 at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, NY.
With the loss of a spot on the PGA Tour schedule, Endicott was fortunate to claim a consolation prize, a shot at some of the big names on the Champions Tour. With En-Joie still on the road to recovery from the damage inflicted last year, the course was at less than ideal shape, but the tournament still drew a strong field of players who were familiar with the course from when they were climbing the ranks of the PGA Tour.
Tom Kite, Denis Watson, Lon Hinkle and R.W. Eaks, all among the top 10 money winners on the Champions Tour when the week began, made the trip and Eaks came away with the title.
Eaks followed up the best round of the tournament when he shot a 10-under-par, 62 Saturday by matching the best round of the day Sunday with a 66 to finish at 17-under-par, 199.
Eaks, who had a hole-in-one and another eagle Saturday, shot 32 on the front nine in both of the weekend rounds to break away from the field. He had his second straight eagle at the par-5 third on Sunday and added three other birdies for the 5-under-par front nine. Although he slowed to a 34 on the back nine, Eaks was in control while posting his first win on the Champions Tour after five runner-up finishes, including three this year.
After eight straight pars to protect the lead, Eaks closed out the win with a birdie on the par-4, 18th hole.
Bruce Vaughan shot a 64 on Saturday and finished three strokes back in second place. Lonnie Nielsen shot 206 for third place, one shot ahead of D.A. Weibring and Andy Bean.
Craig Stadler shared the first-round lead after shooting 69 and finished tied for ninth.
The tournament had a total price purse of $1.6 million. Eaks won $240,000, pushing him over $1 million in earnings for the first time in his career.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Former New York Met Timo Perez was named the Most Valuable Player when the International League defeated the Pacific Coast League, 7-5, in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Albuquerque, NM.
Perez, playing for the Toledo Mud Hens, went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs.
Two members of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees contributed to the win.
Designated hitter Shelley Duncan started and went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Pitcher Jim Brower came on in relief to retire the only batter he faced, ending the sixth inning.
In the Eastern League, the All-Star Game had to be halted because of fog during the third inning with the teams tied, 2-2.
Three of the four Binghamton Mets selected for the game had appeared for the Northern Division before the contest was canceled.
Brett Harper had a hit and Mark Kiger was 0-for-1 with a run batted in.
Kevin Mulvey allowed two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Caleb Stewart did not appear in the game.
In the Pacific Coast League, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson returned from the all-star break to go 3-for-5 in the first three games for the Tucson Sidewinders of the PCL.
Thompson had three runs, two RBIs, a walk and two stolen bases in the three games to raise his season batting average to .289.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Keystone State Games, scheduled for the York area, open with a few events Tuesday, July 24.
The games will continue through July 29.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
Stewart Is Back In Victory Lane, Joliet, IL – Tony Stewart climbed the fence at Chicagoland Speedway and celebrated with fans after winning Sunday’s USG Sheetrock 400, for his first win since last November at Texas.
Tony Stewart celebrates his Sunday win at Chicago from the flag stand.
Photo courtesy of NASCAR
In a race that left many fans feeling like they didn’t get enough bang for their buck, Stewart was able to dominate the latter stages of the 267-lap race.
“Being out front and being in clean air was everything,” said Stewart. “The team is the ones that got us into victory lane today.”
Stewart was leading with Jimmie Johnson running a close second on lap 220, when Johnson lost a right-rear tire and went into the wall. He demolished his No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet, wound up 37th, and dropped from fourth to seventh in the points.
From that point on, it seemed like everyone’s pit strategy changed.
When green flag racing resumed on lap 230, it was Stewart, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards.
Kenseth challenged Stewart for the lead on the restart, but after a couple of laps, Kenseth dropped back to run second.
“I can’t say that I’m happy, because no racer is ever happy to finish second,” said Kenseth. “We just didn’t have the car. One time I got a run on him and ran side-by-side for a lap or two, but when I got down into three I almost lost control, and I didn’t want to take both of us out.”
Carl Edwards, Kenseth’s Roush Fenway teammate had one bad pit stop midway of the race, but at the end he tried to overtake Kenseth for second, but had to settle for third.
“We had a good car today, and it was fun racing with Matt,” said Edwards. “My hat’s off to Tony. Our car was awesome and we were coming, but that’s just the way it played out.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a pump freeze up and the power steering belt broke on lap 207. He had to drive the remainder of the race without the benefit of power steering.
“Man, it was tough,” he said. “I’ve never had that happen before. I didn’t know what had happened. At first I thought it was a tire, and then the steering locked up.
“I did the best I could.”
Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Top 10 Chase For the Nextel Cup Contenders: 1. J. Gordon-2911, 2. Hamlin-2608, 3. Kenseth-2565, 4. J. Burton-2491, 5. Edwards-2473, 6. Stewart-2429, 7. Johnson-2423, 8. Harvick-2337, 9. Kyle Busch-2314, 10. Bowyer-2281.
Edwards Continues To Lead Busch Series – Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Edwards-3074, 2. Harvick-2358, 3. Reutimann-2207, 4. Blaney-2194, 5. Ragan-2116, 6. Leffler-2097, 7. Hamilton Jr.-2059, 8. Leicht-2000, 9. Bowyer-1999, 10. Ambrose-1939.
Skinner Gets Fourth Truck Win – Top 10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Skinner-2238, 2. Hornaday-2074, 3. T. Bodine-1950, 4. Kvapil-1950, 5. Crawford-1731, 6. Benson-1721, 7. Sprague-1629, 8. Musgrave-1601, 9. Crafton-1571, 10. Fike-1487.
How Much Longer For Marlin? As Sterling Marlin and the rest of the Nextel Cup teams get this weekend off, the driver of the No. 14 Ginn Racing Chevrolet weighs in on the 2007 season and beyond.
With Ginn’s announced cutbacks to a two-car team in 2008, Marlin might be out of a ride.
Currently ranked 28th in Nextel Cup driver points, Marlin says he's looking for top finishes during the rest of the season to help propel the team in the standings.
The following is a short question and answer with Marlin, who competed in his 730th Cup race this past Sunday.
Q: Evaluate your 2007 season.
Marlin: “This season’s been pretty up and down for us. We’ve had some really good runs, and then some problems that we want to forget about. We wanted to be strong off the bat in Daytona, and that looked like it was going to work out for us until we got wrecked on the last lap.
“We’ve had some good runs and thought we’d have some better finishes, but we just haven’t gotten everything going in the right direction at the same time yet.
“Our number one goal has always been to win races, and that’s never going to change. But we also want to focus on getting solid finishes every week and moving up higher in the points. Last year we were 34th at the halfway mark of the season, so we’re in better shape now than we were then.
“We also want to have a car that consistently contends for top-10 finishes. If we can do that, we’ll be putting ourselves in a good position to win a race.”
Q: What races are you looking forward to before the end of the season?
Marlin: “Even though we've had terrible luck at the restrictor-plate tracks, I always look forward to Daytona and Talladega, so I'm ready to get there (Talladega) in the fall. Other than that, I really like the short tracks. So Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond are on my list of places I'm ready for.”
There is the possibility that Ginn might run a third team in 2008 on a part-time basis. If so, this might be just the ticket for Marlin, who turned 50 on June 30.
He hasn’t won a race since 2002 with Chip Ganassi Racing. After 730 races, the Franklin, Tennessee native knows the clock is running down on his racing career.
As fellow driver Ken Schrader, once said, “When you pass that big 40 mark, your telephone don’t ring very often.” Based on Schrader’s statement, Marlin has had ten years of grace, so why shouldn’t he be ready to retire to his farm in Tennessee?
“If I could run a part-time schedule for a couple years that would be O.K.,” continued Marlin. “It would be hard to shut down all my racing, because I still love to do it. I’m sure a part-time schedule would work, maybe something like Bill Elliott is doing.
“When you’ve done a thing for over 30 years, it’s hard to just pull the plug on it.”
Marlin’s best years were 1995 and 2001, when he finished third in the Winston Cup points. But he has provided fans with lots of excitement and has been a good ambassador for the sport. Your fans will miss you, Sterling.
It looks pretty slim for NASCAR fans this weekend. The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck teams have an off weekend. The only major racing is in the Busch Series. They will be at the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway, across the river from St. Louis, MO.
Saturday, July 21, Busch Series 250, race 21 of 35, 200 laps, 8 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Tony Raines drive for?
Last Week’s Question: How many races are in this year’s “Chase for the Championship,” which begins September 16? Answer. Ten. It begins at Loudon, NH and ends at Homestead, on November 18.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at email@example.com.
Bridgette Robinson has followed the accomplishment of Jillian Pagnotti to make it two straight years that an Abington Heights player, with family ties to Susquehanna, has been named to participate in the USA Field Hockey Futures Program.
Pagnotti recently completed the five-month 2007 program after earning a spot based on her performance in last summer's Bloomsburg University camp. She followed up the strong summer by starting on the Abington Heights defense last fall. She played in 16 out of 17 games (missing one with an injury) and started 13.
Robinson qualified for the 2008 Futures Program, which is the Olympic Developmental Program for USA Field Hockey, based on her performance at the Revolution Field Hockey Camp at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. Robinson made the camp all-star team and scored a goal for the winning team in the camp championship game.
Robinson split time between the varsity and junior varsity in both field hockey and soccer during her recently completed sophomore year. She appeared in eight varsity games and shared the team lead in plus-minus – the JV Lady Comets scored six more goals than they allowed when she was on the field – while helping the junior varsity to a winning record. In soccer, she played in nine games for the District 2 Class AAA champion varsity team and shared the scoring lead on the unbeaten JV team.
Bridgette's father, Tom Robinson, is the assistant coach of the Abington Heights field hockey team.
Pagnotti is the daughter of the former Theresa Adornato of Susquehanna.
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