The Back Nine comes to you after a weekend of baseball and baseball and lots of golf watching. And a real tragedy that didn’t involve winning or losing games.
10. I can’t begin without mentioning the terrible news that 24-year-old Dwayne Haskins died when he was hit by a dump truck while crossing I-595 in South Florida. Haskins was an incredible quarterback for Urban Meyer at Ohio State, finishing third in Heisman voting in 2018. There are people who criticized Haskins the NFL player AFTER the tragic news, but that’s how the media the NFL tend to react to everything. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if he figured things out or was better off in Pittsburgh or became a Pro Bowler. What matters is that a young man that people really seemed to care about passed away in a tragic way that makes you think how precious life is.
11. Moving on to The Masters, which was a little disappointing but certainly makes us wonder if we see the next dominant player in Scottie Scheffler. Pretty amazing to hear him talk about how he cried like a baby on the morning of the last lap because he didn’t think he could handle the moment. Oh, he took care of it. Usually after the last round of toonimint I want to go out on the course and hit some balls, but on Sunday I wanted to go out on the course and work on my short game. Pitches 1, 3 (who came in) and 4 calmed Scheffler and set up the rest of the day. He could have easily felt like letting it get away, but he has a short game that is good at the next level. And at the next level, there’s no reason to think this is the last major for Scheffler.
12. We have to include the Tiger Woods phenom that enveloped the whole weekend. It’s amazing that he got to play and then enjoyed the warm embrace of Augusta’s customers. We’ve never seen Tiger smile before after a straight 78. But the victory was in the finish even though his limp became more pronounced as the week progressed and was level with Walter Brennan as he tried to get to the scorer’s room. All I know is that it was must-watch TV. But I can’t help but wonder if his physical situation means we’ll see him struggle but unable to close the deal for the rest of his career. The man was in pain and in great pain.
13. I’m talking about all the credit Florida has run the season if that turns out to be the case in baseball. I went to Friday’s game as a fan and Saturday’s as a writer and the Gators went 2-0. I thought Kevin O’Sullivan was pretty interesting after the game. “We have to improve,” he said. “Everyone’s talking about Arkansas, then Vandy, then Tennessee. Regardless, you gotta worry about today and play the best baseball you can. It starts Tuesday night with a road trip to FSU. This season was on the verge of disaster, but taking two of the three from the nation’s No. 2 team tells you that team isn’t as bad as its SEC record.
14. Softball? I do not know what to think. Twice in the past three games, the Gators have had chances to leave home games and couldn’t get the clutch shot. They really need to find a way to win against Alabama tonight. It still looks like a team that can accommodate a regional and probably not a super regional.
15. That’s the problem. Expectations for both bat and ball sports are as high as for any sport on campus – with fewer fans – and we’ve become so jaded by Gator’s wins. But this league is ridiculous in both baseball and softball and you have to hit every bat and throw every pitch like it’s the last of the last game of the year. It’s tough, but Florida has the coaches to make it happen. Even then, even with great recruiting classes, it’s still about playing the game with intensity.
16. Dabo Swinney said what many of us said this week when he talked about the state of college football. “There are no rules, no tips, nothing,” Swinney said. “It’s out of control. It’s not sustainable. It’s an absolute mess and a train wreck, and the kids are going to be the ones who suffer in the end. Well it’s a mess and it looks like a train wreck and I think people are put off by the NIL offers and the transfer portal. But they don’t go away. And while the NCAA is mostly responsible for the inaction of these things being part of the landscape, the coaches aren’t blameless. They are the ones who bail out teams, collect ridiculously high salaries and are the ones who restrict the schools players can transfer to. So don’t act like the coaches are beyond reproach.
17. I was watching the movie “King Richard” for which Will Smith won an Oscar (I saw a guy who was reprising his old role of Bagger Vance, but I digress) and he approached the end and Venus Williams and he realized that his first professional match – which is shown in the film – was against our old friend Shaun Stafford. Stafford, of course, played for Buchholz and UF and won the NCAA singles title in 1988. She is also a member of the UF Athletic Hall of Fame.
18. Life has been interesting around the Dooley house lately and the best thing I did this weekend was go to games and remember why I love Gainesville. Also, I had this playlist:
* “HAPPY LIFE” by Judah and the Lion.
* “Wait a Million Years” by The Grass Roots.
* “Shake Me Down” by Cage the Elephant.