Could it be that fourth-year Kansas football coach David Beaty actually has chosen a starting quarterback but is keeping it quiet so as not to tip off Nicholls State? I suppose so, but I don't think so.
If the players know who's starting they aren't saying, and the way they answered questions about it Thursday told me they don't know and that the job still is not settled.
"It's definitely a close competition," receiver Evan Fairs said. "Just as a receiver, me seeing it, I know it would be hard for me (to pick one), so I know for the coaches it must be even harder."
Why is it difficult?
"I feel like I love all of them individually the same," Fairs said. "I feel like they all have different traits, but at the same time they all play at the same level, so it’s definitely going to be hard to make the decision.”
Receivers aren't paid to make such decisions but can offer insights. I asked Fairs if Bender distinguishes himself from the group by throwing the best deep ball, Miles Kendrick by being the best runner. He didn't see it quite that way.
“I’ve caught very deep balls from all three of them throughout the spring and the summer, so I feel like they all can be accurate on the deep balls,” Fairs said. “I feel like Peyton can put the ball in tight spots more, and Miles, I feel like his feet are good, but I feel like Carter can do the same things with his feet as well, sprinting out of the pocket.”
Fairs reiterated that the defense won't be able to creep up without fear of getting burned long no matter which of the three passers is in the game.
"As far as their arms, I feel like all three of them have big arms," Fairs said.
How about how easy it is to catch their passes?
"All of them throw tight spirals," Fairs said. "As far as how the ball is coming to me when I catch it, they're all the same."
Slimmed-down defensive tackle J.J. Holmes didn't sound as if he had any idea as to the identity of KU's starting quarterback.
"I don't know," Holmes said. "There is a lot of competition still continuing, a lot of people fighting for spots. It's still early. It's still early."
And getting later by the day.
As Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry were shooting the Golden State Warriors to their third NBA title in four seasons, retired voice of the Jayhawks Bob Davis reminded me that Brandon Rush guarded both of the NBA superstars.
Rush was on Curry for much of the night in 2008 when Kansas defeated Davidson, 59-57, in an Elite Eight game in Detroit. Curry scored 25 points but made just 9 of 25 field goals and 4 of 16 3-pointers.
“I tried not to let him get any air space,” Rush said of his approach against Curry. “The way he plays now, he can create so much space for himself. Nobody can do that like that guy.”
Rush was a teammate of Curry’s for two seasons (2014-15, 2015-16) and said it’s no mystery why Curry has improved so much.
“He works every day after practice, works on dribble moves,” Rush said. “Every day. Every single day. I tell that to everybody and nobody believes me, but it’s true. He does that after practice every single day.”
Durant scored 32 and 37 points against Kansas in his lone season at Texas. In the first game, he was making shot after shot, with Rush guarding him tightly.
“Just like he does now,” Rush said. “He got better, too. And it helps when you have four guys who know how to play and know where you want the ball. He’s having a good time out in the Bay. I’m happy for him.”
Rush last played an NBA game in 2016-17. He signed a 10-day contract with Portland in February, but never played in a game for the Trailblazers.
He said he wants to catch on with a team this coming season.
“Everybody doesn’t know I was really ill for a while,” he said. “I was sick. I had to be hospitalized for a while. I had a heart infection. It was crazy. I’m all better now.”
Rush has worked his way back into shape and has a shot to catch on with a roster because he’s a popular teammate, doesn’t rock the boat and is a good long-range shooter. His career 3-point percentage is .402.
Rush, 33, also moves his feet so well for someone with his length that he can defend multiple positions. He said he has had to guard LeBron James “plenty of times.”
“He’s a tough cover,” Rush said. “He’s big. People don’t realize how big he is. His shoulders are wide. He’s big as hell. He’s fast as hell.”
James is not the toughest player in the NBA for him to guard, though, Rush said. Instead, he cited two Portland guards from smaller college basketball programs as the toughest assignments for him.
“I would say C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard,” Rush said. “Those two are tough to guard.”
A whopping 24 players, including two current University of Kansas golfers, tied after two rounds of stroke play for the 64th and final spot in match play in the U.S. Amateur.
The 24 players, including KU junior Andy Spencer and sophomore Ben Sigel, all finished stroke play, which consisted of a round at Pebble Beach and a round at Spy Glass Hill, at 4-over par.
The playoff started at 9:30 a.m. and took two holes to complete after two players advanced with a birdie.
The playoff started at No. 17 at Pebble Beach, a par 3, and concluded on No. 18, a par 5. Neither Spencer nor Sigel made it past the first hole.
Playing in the second foursome to tee off in the playoff, Spencer pulled his tee shot well left of the green into a deep rough, missed a long putt on a misread and picked up.
Sigel teed off in the third foursome, and reached the front of the massive green. He initially took a few practice swings with a wedge and then put that club back in the bag in favor of a putter. He left the putt well short, then left his par putt of about 75 feet, which, as it turned out, was meaningless anyway, an inch short.
Another player left in the same spot later in the playoff hit wedge from there and left it a few feet from the pin. Had he sunk it, he would have incurred a two-stroke penalty anyway because he had suffered a brain cramp and left the pin in.
Jacob Bergeron emerged from the playoff victorious with a bogey 6 on No. 18, knocking Peter Quest, who knocked his second shot into the ocean, out of match play. Quest missed his 5-foot bogey putt.
Bergeron earned the No. 64 seed in match play and advanced to a first-round match with Daniel Hillier, 19, of New Zealand. By the way, Hillier is not a brother to KU golf team brothers Charlie and Harry Hillier.
A replay of the playoff can be watched on the USGA Twitter account.
Stop grousing about that 10-foot putt you barely missed costing you 10 bucks. Nobody wants to hear it. Besides, it could be worse. You could be missing it on the PGA Tour, where one stroke sometimes costs you more than 10,000 times as much as that.
Gary Woodland’s 16-foot birdie putt on No. 18 in the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club came up an inch short, bumping him from what would have been a three-way tie for fourth place with Stewart Cink and Jon Rahm into a four-way tie for sixth with Thomas Pieters, Francesco Molinari and Justin Thomas.
That one stroke was the difference between making $452,833 and $334,712.50. In other words, one inch equated to $118,120.50.
Woodland’s frustration over the putt coming up short had nothing to do with $118,120.50. At this point, every putt that drops draws him a little closer to joining the best of the best American golfers and becoming a player who could represent his country in the Ryder Cup. His effortless swing produced terrific results for him all week and he had an incredible day with the putter on Aug. 9 to become the first-day leader on his way to becoming the second-day leader.
He didn't play as well on the weekend, but could move himself from the outside looking in at Ryder Cup contenders to gaining serious consideration if he can get hot in the first three of four FedExCup playoff tournaments. Woodland is taking off this week's Wyndham Championship to gear up for the Northern Trust at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. the following week.
On the same day Woodland completed his strong PGA performance with a 69, 2,000 miles to the west, Web.com touring pro Chris Thompson made a 15-foot putt on No. 18 that gave him a 64 for the day and a solo third-place finish. He made $40,800 in the tournament. Had he missed it, he would have been in a seven-way tie for third, which would have paid him $25,843. So that’s a difference of $14,957, basically a grand per foot.
Again, it’s not the money itself that made it such a big putt. It’s what the money did for Thompson’s standing on “The 25,” which is what the Web.com Tour calls its money list because the top 25 finishers on the money list in the regular season earn PGA Tour cards. He stands at 19th with one tournament remaining. Had he missed the putt, he would be in 24th, $16 ahead of Ben Taylor, squarely on the bubble heading into the Portland Open, which has an $800,000 purse.
The higher purse means there could be more movement than usual in “The 25,” but it would take an awful lot of things to have to happen for Thompson to drop below 25. For example, if Thompson didn’t earn any money, then the six players directly behind him all finished in the top 13 in the tournament, that would do it, but that’s not very likely to happen.
St. Louis — Based on a points system, the top eight players gain automatic spots on the America's Ryder Cup team and four captains’ picks will be added.
After finishing in a tie for sixth in the 100th PGA Championship, Woodland finished 19th in the final Ryder Cup standings.
The eight players who earned automatic spots, in order of their points: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson.
Woodland doesn’t seem to be in the conversation yet for one of the captains' picks, but with strong finishes in the first three FedExCup playoff tournaments, he could make it happen.
“I definitely think there’s still room,” Woodland said Thursday after taking the first-round lead with a 64.
Woodland’s best previous finish at a major was tied for 12th at the 2011 PGA, so this was a significant step for him.
Now he’ll turn his attention to the FedExCup playoffs.
“That's been as frustrating as my major record. I've been in the fitting, I think, for the last seven years for all the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup's fittings,” Woodland said. “I tried all the clothes on. I’ve seen them all, and I've just never had a chance to make the team. Last year, I think, was probably as close as I made, and that's frustrating.”
Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk said he will hold one pick until after the BMW Championship (Sept. 6-9), the third FedExCup playoff tournament.
“If there isn’t someone who just sticks out as a hot player, we’ll take the best player available,” Furyk said.
Woodland, who has made great strides in his smooth, powerful swing working with Butch Harmon, has time to become that hot player.
“I got off to a great start this year, but I made a lot of changes because of my major record,” Woodland said. “Pete Cowen and I have made a lot of changes in the short game, that was with Butch’s recommendation. I just, the short game has really held me back. I hit the ball beautifully, but to contend week in, week out, I have to get better in those areas.”
Resurgent Tiger Woods, who stormed to a second-place finish, playing his Sunday round with Woodland, likely will lock up one captains' pick, Phil Mickelson another. Bryson DeChambeau was edged by Simpson for the final automatic spot, so he’ll receive strong consideration.
Mickelson finished 10th, Woods 11th.
The Ryder Cup points standings don’t determine anything beyond the top eight spots, but are worth looking at to see what other golfers Woodland would have to beat out. Spots 12 through 18: Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Kyle Stanley, Brian Harman and Kevin Na.
Woodland earned $334,712.50 for finishing in a tie with Thomas Pieters, Francisco Molinari and Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship.
Jon Rahm, of Spain, was the only one of five players who finished ahead of Woodland who has not won a major, and Peters, of Belgium, was the only one who tied him who is without a major.
Woodland’s winnings moved him to 32nd on the PGA Tour money list with $2,601,066, and 32nd in the FedExCup standings. He moved up to 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Welcome to the first breakfast version of Lunch Break.
In almost 40 years as a sportswriter, I can’t recall any organization doing as through a job supplying information as the PGA does for the fourth major. (Next year it will move to the second major, after The Masters, and will be played May 16-19 at Bethpage Black).
Consider some the facts and figures provided by the PGA staff after the third round about Gary Woodland and his playing partner today for a 1:35 p.m. tee time:
Woodland hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation in the first two rounds, but just 10 of 18 in the third round.
He made 152 feet, 5 inches of putts Thursday, 72 feet, 5 inches Friday, and 49 feet Saturday.
This is his seventh PGA. His best finish, tied for 12th, was in 2011. It's his best finish in a major and this is his 28th.
He ranks sixth this week with an average drive of 317.5 yards, behind Rory McIlroy (330.30, Jason Day and Brooks Koepka (325.8), Ollie Schniederjans (323) and Byeong Hun An (318.5).
Woodland is second to Brooks Koepka (1.59) in the tournament in strokes gained off the tee (1.255).
Woodland is the only one to make a triple bogey on No. 10 in the event, but the par-4 hole was the hardest on the course Saturday with a 4.3 average, compared to the easiest, the par-5 17th (4.45).
Woodland would rather be leading, but in some ways it might be less pressure coming from behind. He knows what he'll need to do to regain the lead.
"I'm going to have to play aggressive," he said. "Going to have to make a lot of birdies. It's going to take that tomorrow. All in all, we'll play aggressive and just stick to what we've been doing."
Woods had a similar outlook after his round: "Not just myself, but everyone's going to have to shoot low rounds. Its soft, it's gettable and you can't just go out there and make a bunch of pars. You're going to have to make some birdies."
Information provided on Woods includes but is not limited to:
This is the first time Tiger has been in the top 10 after 54 holes in consecutive majors since the 2012 British Open (fourth-place finish) and PGA (tied for sixth).
The four-time PGA Championship winner made five birdies and one bogey through eight holes and finished with 10 consecutive pars.
He played 29 holes Saturday, including 11 holes of his second round.
In his third round, he hit 10 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation, was 3 for 3 scrambling and stroked 30 putts.
This is his first PGA since 2015, when he shot 75-73 and missed the cut.
Can tie Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen with the most PGA Championship titles (five).
Ranks 47th in FedEx Cup standings and the two-time FedEx Cup champion has not qualified for the playoffs since 2013.
That's just a small sampling of information provided on every player in the field, including the 20 club professionals who qualified in the PGA Professionals Championship, won by former University of Kansas All-American Ryan Vermeer, 40.
Ben Kern, the only club professional to make the cut, shot a 67 Saturday to move to 3-under for the tournament. Kern was just one of three players who made it through his round without a bogey, joining Daniel Berger (66) and Jon Rahm (66).
Vermeer’s 6-over was fifth best among club pros. By winning the club pros championship, Vermeer not only took home a $55,000 check, he qualified for six PGA Tour events next season. So if Chris Thompson can finish strong in the final two weeks of the Web.com Tour regular season and finish in the top 25, there could be a few PGA tour events featuring three Jayhawks. Wonder if a tournament director might put them in the same grouping for the first two rounds? I think the three Jayhawks would enjoy that.
St. Louis — Gary Woodland’s PGA Championship record of 130 strokes for two rounds held up as the lead heading into the third round after several players completed their second rounds Saturday morning.
Woodland, who is 10-under, holds a one-stroke lead over Kevin Kisner and a two-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler on a star-studded leaderboard.
Woodland, Kisner and Koepka tee off at 1:38 p.m. at Bellerive Country Club.
Other past major winners with striking distance include Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel at 7-under, Justin Thomas at 6-under, Adam Scott, Francesco Molinari and Jason Day at 5-under, Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson and Stewart Cink at 4-under and Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy at 3-under.
Gary Woodland was probably a little light in estimating that 75 to 100 spectators came from Kansas to watch him compete Thursday in the first day of the 100th PGA.
His high school golf coach and high school basketball coach were in the crowd, as were many friends from his high school and college days.
I ran into a grandmother, husband, wife and four young children who made the trip from Overland Park to watch Woodland. Former Lawrence High star and University of Kansas walk-on Stephen Vinson and his family followed Woodland, a former AAU basketball teammate of Wooldand’s.
“Gary was a shoot-first point guard, but to his credit he could shoot from his far away from the basket as anyone I ever played with,” Vinson said on a bus ride from a hotel to Bellerive Country Club before Woodland teed off Thursday. “He had great range from a young age. He would be a good three, four steps behind the NBA line and he still would shoot. That was the part of the game he enjoyed the most. He was a really good shooter.”
I bounced my theory that shooting a basketball and putting are similar skills and that I’ve always maintained that a good putter is somewhere inside Woodland just needs to be freed.
“I would agree,” Vinson said. “He was a very good baseball player too, a very good shortstop. I played against him in baseball. That wasn’t very fun either. Like a lot of kids, if you’re good at something, you’re good at everything.”
Vinson said Joey Devine, who went 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA in seven seasons in the major leagues as a reliever with the Atlanta Braves and Oakland A’s, was on the AAU team also.
Nicholls State seemed like a safe tomato can for Kansas to pummel in the season-opener when the game was scheduled, but the Colonels are one of the more impressive turn-around stories in college football.
Fourth-year coach Tim Rebowe inherited a program coming off an 0-12 record and has gone 3-8, 5-6 and 8-4.
The Colonels return four starting offensive linemen, their quarterback, leading rusher and leading receiver.
And Kansas isn’t the only school to add talent via the transfer route. Junior running back Kendall Bussey transferred in after rushing for 237 yards for Texas A&M last season.
The Colonels also welcomed a graduate transfer from Texas. Alex Anderson, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive lineman from Landry Walker High in New Orleans, appeared in eight games for the Longhorns, including three last season.
All three of KU’s nonconference games have at least one thing in common: It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Kansas were to win or lose any one of them.
Miles Kendrick spent one semester at San Mateo Community College before transferring to Kansas. He hasn’t had nearly as much experience running an Air Raid offense as either Peyton Bender, who started eight games for Kansas season, or Carter Stanely, who started four.
Kendrick studies more than his playbook.
“I really just try to take advantage of those mental reps I get watching those guys,” Kendrick said. “I can only bang my head on the playbook so many times.” He said that all three quarterbacks were getting about the same number of reps the first couple of days of practice.
Neither Bender nor Stanley had particularly strong numbers last season, but both quarterbacks showed toughness by taking so many vicious licks and getting right back up.
Kendrick is shorter, thicker and more muscular than the two quarterbacks with whom he is competing.
If one of the three quarterbacks had stood out in the spring, a starter would have been named already. Having three competitors triples the chances that one will have a breakthrough camp.
At San Mateo, Kendrick completed a so so 57.9 percent of his passes, but in a more important statistic, yards per attempt, he produced a great number (10.6). Kendrick also rushed for an average of 4 yards on 103 attempts.
As a runner, he sounds as if he might share the quality of past Kansas greats John Hadl and Todd Reesing in that he doesn't heat up a stopwatch but tends to run one step faster than the man chasing him.
“Pure speed, I’ve never really been a guy who when you see him out running you say, ‘That guy’s really fast.’ You can tell I’m athletic, but when those lights come on and you have big, mean, sweaty guys chasing you, it tends to speed you up,” Kendrick said. “I would say I’m more of that guy.”
And as a thrower?
“I feel like I can make every throw, every throw in the playbook,” Kendrick said. “I’ve always taken pride in that.”
It's an interesting QB competition. Bender throws the prettiest ball. Kendrick's probably the best runner. Stanley can do a little bit of both and has a little pep in his step that can perk up a team.
Stanley wasn't surprised to hear that head coach David Beaty stated a preference for choosing a quarterback quickly, but only if one steps up and wins the job.
“If I were the head coach I think I would want to name a starter sooner," Stanley said. "I think it’s an opportunity for a team to get behind that one guy and it’s an opportunity for that one guy to get true No. 1 reps."