Wednesday, July 28, 2021

June 17, 2021 SAN DIEGO (AP) — The USGA is starting to escape that reputation of an East Coast bias for the U.S. Open. The return to Torrey Pines for the 121st U.S. Open means another prime-time show along the Eastern seaboard, and that’s happening with greater frequency for the U.S. Open.

It wasn’t until the 48th edition of this national championship that it ventured farther west than Colorado, with Ben Hogan winning at Riviera in Los Angeles in 1948. That was the start of eight U.S. Opens in California over a span of 50 years.

The next 25 years include just as many U.S. Opens on the West Coast, which includes Los Angeles Country Club in 2023.

One appeal is being able to go prime time, with the weekend finish anticipated for 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday and 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

“It’s always good to have a West Coast site leading into the next TV negotiations or coming out of it,” former USGA executive director David Fay said.

The start of a 12-year agreement with Fox (since returned to NBC) was 2015 at Chambers Bay south of Seattle. The next TV contract would start in 2027 at Pebble Beach.

And then there’s the weather.

“I’ve been looking at the forecast,” Jordan Spieth said before he even arrived at Torrey Pines. “Cooler nights, 75 degrees in the day and no rain. They can do whatever they want.”

As comfortable as it sounds, that’s not necessarily comfortable for the players. All indications from three days of practice is the USGA has the South course right where it wants it, with little chance of something unexpected causing the wrong kind of havoc.

Missing the fairways is enough of a problem. Of greater concern might be missing the green. Wilco Nienaber, the big basher from South Africa, found that out behind the fifth green Wednesday. All he could do was chop at it to get it up in the air and move it forward, and then watch it roll some 25 feet by the hole.

Sure, it’s tough. That’s what players have come to expect from the U.S. Open. And that works anywhere in the country, East and West, or somewhere in between.

“It’s fairways and greens,” Rory McIlroy said. “It’s a proper U.S. Open test.”

McIlroy arrived later than usual for the U.S. Open, mainly because he played the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January. It’s not the same — not even close — though he has a familiarity of where the ball should be going, where not to miss.

His hope is not to be too slow out of the gates. McIlroy has gone seven years since he last won a major in the 2014 PGA Championship, a stretch too long for that amount of talent.

In his last three majors, two of them the Masters, he has started 75-76-75.

“Probably just putting a little too much pressure on myself, playing too carefully, being a little tentative,” McIlroy said. “I think that sort of sums it up.”

McIlroy at least has won recently, at Quail Hollow. Dustin Johnson hasn’t won in four months. He felt the pieces start coming together last week in South Carolina, right up until a triple bogey on the 16th hole Sunday that dropped him out of the top 10.

“If I can drive it well, I feel like I’m going to have a really good week,” Johnson said

The course, as always, figures to take the stage even from the silly feud between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.

Mike Davis, the retiring CEO of the USGA, walked the course over the weekend and was reminded of how tough it played in 2008. Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate finished at 1-under 283, with Woods beating him in 19 holes of a playoff.

“It played like a U.S. Open should,” Davis said. “You had to hit all the shots. We tested shot-making skills. We tested your course management. We tested your ability to handle your nerves when it most counts.”

That’s what we saw this year and Davis said, “Can’t wait for it.”

When does it return after this year? That question is a little more complicated. During that early 50-year stretch of eight Opens in California, Riviera had it 1948 and the other seven were divided between Olympic Club and Pebble Beach.

Torrey Pines was part of a push to go public. Fay lobbied for Bethpage Black in 2002 and that turned out to a big hit, especially with Woods holding off Phil Mickelson along the back nine. The second version was a rain-soaked mess that was lucky to finish on Monday — Lucas Glover was the winner — and it’s no longer in the picture.

Would the U.S. Open have returned if Woods had not won?

“Having the champion you want does help,” said David Fay, the former USGA executive director when Bethpage and Torrey were awarded the Opens.

The USGA is planning a rotation of U.S. Open courses that include Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Shinnecock Hills and Pinehurst, leaving less room for others.

“We love Torrey Pines, and let’s see what unfolds this week,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “Again, I’m not going to speculate on the future, but we love everything about this place. ... It will get every bit of consideration it deserves.”

Whether there’s room for Torrey Pines, redemption for Chambers Bay, a star in the making at Los Angeles Country Club, the West Coast tends to put on a prime-time show.

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Entertainment

July 22, 2021  LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts. Sheriff’s deputies brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist into court in a wheelchair. He was wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and face mask. Attorney Mark Werksman entered the plea for the disgraced movie mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison term. Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him good luck as the hearing ended. He now awaits a second trial on a second coast, and the possibility of another lengthy sentence.

July 21, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — “The View” canceled a planned appearance Wednesday by a woman who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O’Reilly, after the former Fox News Channel personality sought and received a restraining order against her. O’Reilly accused his former producer, Andrea Mackris, of violating a non-disclosure agreement by talking about her experiences with him nearly two decades ago. ABC’s daytime talk show, in a statement, said that after being notified of the restraining order “we decided to postpone her interview pending further developments. We look forward to welcoming her to ‘The View’ at a later date.” Mackris gave an interview to the Daily Beast earlier this month detailing her experiences with O’Reilly. She had accused him of making repeated lewd telephone calls, while he accused Mackris of an extortion attempt before agreeing to a $9 million settlement in 2004.


July 21, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kennedy Center Honors will return in December with a class that includes Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels and actress-singer Bette Midler. Organizers expect to operate at full capacity after last year’s ceremony was delayed for months and later conducted under COVID-19 restrictions. This 44th class of honorees for lifetime achievement in the creative arts is heavy on musical performers. The honorees also include opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell. All will be honored on Dec. 5 with a trademark program that includes personalized tributes and performances that are kept secret from the honorees. Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said the current plan is to pack the center’s opera house to full capacity and require all attendees to wear masks. But the plans remain fluid and Rutter said they’re ready to adapt to changing circumstances depending on the country’s COVID-19 situation.


July 22, 2021   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kanye West knows how to make a splash even with a listening event. West is expected to unveil his 10th studio album, “Donda” during a listening event Thursday night at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. His album was named after his mother, Donda West, who died at the age of 58 following plastic surgery complications in 2007.  The sold-out event will be live-streamed on Apple Music. West, 44, is mostly known as being associated with Chicago, but he was born in Atlanta - a Georgia city where there are no restrictions against large gatherings. The rapper-producer gifted 5,000 tickets to faculty, staff and students from some Atlanta HBCUs including Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman, Morris Brown and the Interdenominational Theological Center. The 22-time Grammy winner revealed in a commercial, featuring U.S. track star Sha’Carri Richardson, during the NBA Finals on Tuesday that his highly-anticipated album will be released Friday. The commercial, scored and directed by West, featured “No Child Left Behind,” a song from his forthcoming album.

Business News

July 22, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by this year’s COVID-19 relief bill. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her agency on Thursday will begin accepting applications for the competitive grants, which officials hope will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and help struggling cities and towns make long-term investments to drive development for years to come. “This is about real help for communities across the country as they rebuild,” Raimondo said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s about longer-term investments to help communities build themselves back from the bottom up in the ways that work best for them.” The grants will be targeted at supporting local infrastructure, job training programs and developing new industries. Recipients will be selected on the basis of the anticipated return on investment to taxpayers. Raimondo was set to appear at Thursday’s White House press briefing to promote the new program.

July 21, 2021   DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — For months, anyone who wandered onto a dealer lot to look for a used car could be forgiven for doing a double-take — and then wandering right off the lot. Prices had rocketed more than 40% from their levels just before the viral pandemic struck, to an average of nearly $25,000. The supply of vehicles had shrunk. And any hope of negotiating on price? Good luck with that. But now, a sliver of hope has emerged. The seemingly endless streak of skyrocketing used-vehicle prices appears to be coming to a close. Not that anyone should expect bargains. Though average wholesale prices that dealers pay are gradually dropping, they’ll likely remain near record levels. So will the retail prices for consumers. Supply remains tight. And while demand has eased a bit, a steady flow of buyers could keep prices unusually high for a couple of years more. “It’s a short-term correction,” suggested Paul Sugars, sales manager for pre-owned vehicles at Jack Demmer Lincoln in Dearborn, Michigan. “Buyers are sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happens.”

July 22, 2021  SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bury 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) of its power lines in an effort to prevent its fraying grid from sparking wildfires when electrical equipment collides with millions of trees and other vegetation across drought-stricken California. The daunting project announced Wednesday aims to bury about 10% of PG&E’s distribution and transmission lines at a projected cost of $15 billion to as much as $30 billion, based on how much the process currently costs. The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill at the lower end of those estimates. Most of the costs will likely be shouldered by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the U.S. PG&E stepped up its safety commitment just days after informing regulators a 70-foot (23-meter) pine tree that toppled on one of its power lines ignited a major fire in Butte County, the same rural area about 145 miles (233 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco where another fire sparked by its equipment in 2018 killed more than 80 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

Fashion News

“Faced With Restrictions, These Are the Designers Who Took Us Somewhere New”—Vogue Editors Weigh In on the Most Innovative Presentations of Spring 2021