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It’s here — Ryder Cup in Minnesota!

Photos by Tom Donoghue

Photos by Tom Donoghue

This is not the Super Bowl, but it’s close. The 2016 Ryder Cup is the biennial contest between American and European teams in the 41st annual event. Davis Love III is the U.S. captain, while Darren Clarke is the European captain.

Clarke has played on five winning Ryder Cup teams and recorded a 10-7-3 record. Love has played on six Ryder Cup teams and has a 9-12-5 record. Love has been a captain before, in 2012; that year the U.S. team blew a four-point lead.

Photo's by Tom Donoghue

Photo’s by Tom Donoghue

This is the first time that Minnesota has ever hosted the Ryder Cup, the biennial golf competition between the best of the United States and Great Britain/Ireland, which began in 1927. These 24 golfers, 12 on each team, will go head-to-head in match play pairings over three days at Hazeltine National.

Hazeltine is a world-class golf club venue in Chaska, Minnesota and last hosted Major championships in 2002 and 2009 when the PGA championships were held there.

It’s about time for an American victory in this event. The matches were one-sided for much of the first part of the 20th century with the United States winning 22 of 25 matches between 1927 and 1983.

However, Europe has won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups and three in a row heading to Hazeltine. It’s been tough — only one victory by the United States this century. This year’s American team is loaded with talent and is a perennial favorite, which lends itself to the most predictable upset in sports.

The issue has always been that the Ryder Cup seems to mean more to the European players than it does to the multi-millionaire Americans. With the sudden passing of golfing icon Arnold Palmer at age 87, we can’t know what impact his death will have on the USA team and their motivation to win the Cup on U.S. soil.

Photo by Mike Croke

Photo by Mike Croke

The U.S. team members are Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Brook Koepka, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes, Matt Kuchar, and Ryan Moore fresh from his runner-up finish in the Tour Championship, the final captain’s pick.

The Ryder Cup will have a $135 million estimated economic impact in Minnesota. There will be an estimated 250,000 attendees coming in this week for the event. Nearly 80 percent of the visitors are national and international visitors coming from outside of Minnesota.

As many as 500 million households from 160 countries and territories around the globe are expected to tune in on NBC. Rory McIlroy just won the Tour Championship and the Fed-Ex Cup title, so he comes in as the hottest golfer in the world. The matches take place over three days, starting Friday, September 30 and ending Sunday, October 2.

Vikings beat Packers 17-14, but Adrian Peterson hurt!

It’s a new day and chapter in Vikings history. The experience has never been quite like this combined with the expectations.

Quarterback Sam Bradford, in his first start with the Vikings, delivered a big time performance, outplaying Aaron Rodgers in a 17-14 hard-hitting Vikings win before 66,813 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Sunday’s early season showdown in the NFC North was everything it was built up to be. The game was an old fashioned physical border battle that was like a bar fight. The fact that it was in primetime on NBC, the number-one show in television, just added to the drama. It’s the second week in a row the Vikings rallied to win. It’s no secret the Vikings have a big time defensive unit — when you can stop people, you’re always in the game.

Green Bay led early 7-0 after Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a one-yard touchdown pass. The Packers’ Ty Montgomery and Damarious Randall blocked Jeff Locke’s punt.

Offensively, the Vikings again struggled to sustain drives, as the Packers loaded up on defense to attack the Vikings offensive line. Putting eight and nine players in the box, Adrian Peterson ran 12 times for just 19 yards, before he left the game with a right knee injury in the third quarter.

It’s been tough going for Peterson, who in two games has just 50 yards on 31 carries. Head Coach Mike Zimmer said, “He might miss a week. I don’t know if he will or not. Whatever it was has calmed down now, so we’ll see.” Peterson told me his right knee locked up on him and he did not want to put any weight on it. It has since been reported that Peterson suffered a torn meniscus and will be undergoing further evaluation.

Bradford clearly has done his homework getting this offense down. He was brilliant, with 22 of 31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was terrific with nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown.

Photo by Steve Floyd

Photo by Steve Floyd

He is the first Vikings receiver with back-to-back 100 yard games since Cris Carter in 1997. “I was just trying to get open for my guys,” said Diggs. “[And] do things the right way. Run the right routes, at the right depth and catch the ball for him and do my job.”

Diggs, in his second season, leads the NFL in receiving yards with 285. With Bradford and Diggs, plus tight end Kyle Rudolph, maybe the Vikings are transitioning to a more balanced offense instead of 60-40 run pass. “It feels good to come out with a win. Obviously, any time you can beat a division rival, it’s a great win for this team.” said Bradford.

The Vikings led 10-7 at halftime. The halftime show featured a tribute to Prince by the award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, who played “Purple Rain,” accompanied by The Steeles.

The Packers were on the attack for most of the game, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy made a critical decision. On fourth down and two, at the Vikings 14 late in the third quarter, the Packers passed on a certain game-tying field goal and went for it. But James Starks was stuffed at the 13 yard line, as defensive lineman Linval Joseph and Brian Robison combined to stop Starks.

The Vikings then used the momentum of the big defensive stop to drive six plays in 87 yards: two huge Bradford-to-Diggs throws of 46 yards, and the game-winning 25-yard touchdown from Bradford to Diggs for a score of 17-7 Vikings.

Rodgers tried to bring the Packers back in the fourth. He ran 10 yards for a touchdown to bring the score to 17-14 Vikings. The Packers were on the move again in the fourth quarter when veteran defensive end Robison sacked Rodgers from behind and forced a fumble that was recovered by Sharmar Stephen.

The 2-0 Vikings next travel to North Carolina to face the 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, the defending NFC Champions.

Over the last year and a half, the Panthers are 18-1 against everyone except the Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos, having lost to them 24-10 in Super Bowl 50, and 21-20 in the 2016 NFL kickoff in back-to-back games.

Fitzgerald Scores Career Touchdown No. 100!

Without quarterback, Tom Brady and tight end Ron Gronkowski, the New England Patriots survived the Arizona Cardinals on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal, and the Patriots prevailed 23-21.

“We were obviously not ready to play,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “They outplayed us, and we will learn from it.”image-2

The Patriots were the only team from the AFC East to win on Sunday with the New York  Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins all losing. Bill Belichick and the Patriots again proved they know how to win big games.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did just enough in his first NFL start to lead the Patriots to victory, throwing for 264 passing yards.

New England is the only NFL team to win 12 division titles in 13 years, and they are off to another strong start; they have won 12 or more games in six consecutive seasons.

New England’s win at Arizona spoiled the NFC West champion Cardinals’ home opener and the great performance by Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., who caught his 99th and 100th career touchdowns.

His 100th touchdown reception from quarterback Carson Palmer lit up University of Phoenix Stadium and gave the Cardinals a 21-20 lead in the fourth quarter, their first of the game.

Fitzgerald’s 100th touchdown was a spectacular diving, over-the-shoulder catch. He’s now tied for eighth all-time on the touchdown list with Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Tim Brown.

“I’m glad to put it behind me so I don’t have to talk about it anymore,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also respondimage-3ed to and NFL Network report that he was telling people close to him that he was retiring after the season.

” You know, I do
n’t talk about the future,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight, let alone what I’m doing next year.

“I signed another year for a reason,” he added. “I believe in what we’re doing here. I believe in the guys that I have in this room, the head coach (Bruce Arians) his staff. (Owner)Michael Bidwill is doing everything he can to put us in a position to win. That’s where my mindset is at. What I’m doing next year is of no importance. This is the year. And I want to make sure we make it great.”

Fitzgerald also passed Torry Holt for 14th place on the NFL’s all-time reception list. He finished the season opener with eight catches for  81 yards and two touchdowns.