San Antonio’s Josh Jung expected to make MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on Friday

San Antonio native Josh Jung is being called up to play for the Texas Rangers, media outlets covering the franchise reported Wednesday. The Rangers’ first-round draft pick in 2019 is expected to make his debut on Friday.

Jung played in high school at MacArthur in the North East Independent School District. He was a four-time all-district honoree, a three-time all-region winner and three-time all-state through the 2016 season.

With his promotion from Triple-A Round Rock to the Rangers, Jung follows two other MacArthur baseball legends into the major leagues — catchers Jerry Grote and John Gibbons.

Grote caught Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and won a World Series with the Mets in 1969. Gibbons also played for the Mets and managed the Blue Jays. Another San Antonian, Odie Davis, briefly played shortstop for the Rangers in 1980.

Armed with a powerful batting stroke and agility in the field, Jung established himself in college as one of the top infielders in the history of Texas Tech University. He hit .306, .392 and .343 in his three seasons in Lubbock, leading the Red Raiders to the College World Series as a junior in 2019.

As a result, the Rangers made him the No. 8 overall selection in the baseball draft that summer. In the minor leagues, Jung dominated at the plate with a batting average of .311, an on-base percentage of .381 and a slugging percentage of .538.

He produced 30 home runs and 118 RBIs in 153 games covering the 2019, 2021 and 2022 seasons. Baseball wasn’t played in the minors in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jung is expected to play third base and perhaps some at first with the Rangers. He’s expected to make his debut on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers will host the Blue Jays in Arlington from Friday through Sunday.

Since the end of last season, speculation swirled that Jung would be a candidate to make the major leagues at some point in 2022.

Those plans were altered slightly when he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during spring training.

His season started July 28 when he was sent to the Arizona Complex League on a rehabilitation assignment. By Aug. 9, he joined the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.

Jung has looked good at the plate in Triple-A, hitting .274, with a .317 on-base percentage. His slugging percentage was .526. He homered six times and drove in 24 runs in 31 games.

It’s been a big year for the Jung family. Earlier this summer, Josh’s younger brother, Jace Jung, was picked 12th overall on the first round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers. He is playing in the minor leagues in High Class A for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Jace Jung also played in high school at MacArthur and in college at Texas Tech. While Josh Jung hits from the right side, Jace Jung bats lefty. He, too, hits for power. Both throw right-handed.

A long dry spell for the UTSA women’s basketball program could be nearing an end

Kyra White and Jordyn Jenkins

Kyra White (left) and Jordyn Jenkins have started fall workouts with the UTSA Roadrunners after transferring from Southern Cal. White played in high school locally at Judson. Jenkins, from Kent, Wash., received all-Pac 12 honors last season. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Driving cautiously from my home to the UTSA campus one morning last week, gray clouds hung low on the horizon as I splashed through puddles on the road during the first substantial downpour in San Antonio in several months.

Surprisingly enough, when I finally reached my destination at UTSA women’s basketball practice, the precipitation continued. As soon as a spirited five-on-five session began, different players started to rain shots from all over the place.

Coach Karen Aston at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston is preaching patience as the Roadrunners to ty mesh six returning players with eight newcomers. – photo by Joe Alexander

Not all of them splashed through the nets.

But one of them, a three out of the corner, was hoisted decisively at the end of a transition play. It snapped the cords. More than a few mid-range jumpers rattled in. A big center displayed solid footwork in advance of banking in a couple from close range.

Granted, this was one practice. It was the one and only practice involving the UTSA women that I’ve seen in more than a year.

But Karen Aston acknowledged in a telephone interview on Friday that she, too, has detected a marked uptick in offensive potential since she revamped the roster for her second season as head coach.

“Definitely, I think we’re going to be able to put the ball in the basket a little more frequently than we could last year,” Aston said. “Again, last year’s team gave me (100 percent). I think we squeezed everything we could out of ‘em.

“I thought they were one of the most enjoyable teams I’ve ever coached. One of the most coachable teams I’ve ever (worked with), but we struggled to score the ball. This team will do that a little bit easier.”

Sidney Love at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love (center) was the player of the year in the San Antonio area last season at Steele High School. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Could it be that Aston’s rebuild of a historically downtrodden program is moving along at a faster pace than you might expect? Could it be that a drought of seven-straight seasons with losing records might be coming to an end?

It could be. As a team, the Roadrunners are decidedly bigger and more athletic than usual, and they also have more than a few players with offensive ability, which always helps. The coach has 14 players on her team, eight of them newcomers, including heralded Southern Cal transfer Jordyn Jenkins.

The other day, I noticed that Jenkins was hitting shots with regularity from 15 feet and in. Returning center Elyssa Coleman and wing player Queen Ulabo also looked as if they had been in the gym quite a bit this summer.

“Two things are going to help us be better,” Aston said. “The returners seem so much more comfortable right now in who they are and what we expect from them, as opposed to last year, (when) nobody knew. Also, the two kids from USC (Jenkins and Kyra White) are going to come in and give us some experience and maturity from playing at a high level.”

Jenkins, a power forward, and White, a wing player and a former a prep standout at Judson High School, should provide an instant boost to the Roadrunners.

Another local favorite could be Steele High School-ex Sidney Love, last year’s player of the year in the San Antonio area. Love leads a group of three promising freshmen point guards, which also includes Texan Madison Cockrell and Californian Siena Guttadauro.

Queen Ulabo at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Queen Ulabo has assumed a new role, moving from the post to the perimeter. Ulabo is considered one of the most improved returning players on the roster. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I think the biggest challenge for this group is the point guard situation,” Aston said. “We’ve got young kids. They’re talented, and I love how they compete. (But) they’re all freshmen with the exception of (senior) Deborah (Nwakamma) … They’re going to have their highs and lows.”

Last year, as Aston began the painstaking task of turning around a traditionally downtrodden program, the Roadrunners finished 7-23. They completed the Conference USA regular season at 3-14.

In doing so, they shot a frightful 33.2 percent from the field, which ranked last in the C-USA and 346th out of 348 teams nationally. Based on what I saw the other day, though, this team could be dramatically better on the offensive end.

It’ll all start with Jenkins, an athletic, 6-foot forward from Kent, Wash. Last year, she emerged as an all-Pac 12 Conference performer, while averaging 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Trojans.

Last week, I watched her score about five baskets in a very short period of time during five-on-five work.

“Jordyn Jenkins is really talented,” Aston said. “She can do a lot of things. She’s versatile at the forward position. And in my opinion, if she sticks this thing out, and does the things she’s capable of doing, I think she’s a pro. I think there’s potential (for her) to be a pro. No question about that.”

Returning players who have caught Aston’s eye in terms of individual improvement in their games have been Coleman, Ulabo, Nwakamma and Hailey Atwood.

“They just look so much more confident in themselves and what they’re doing,” Aston said. “Their skills are better. It’s hard for me to pick one of those returners because they’ve all improved a lot. A whole lot.”

How good can the team be?

“Obviously with eight new players it’s going to be a process,” Aston said. “I mean, it’s almost like it was last year, where chemistry will have to be built … Patience is going to be important for us.”

Elyssa Coleman at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season. Coleman produced 21 points and 11 rebounds in a C-USA tournament victory over UTEP. – Photo by Joe Alexander

All together now — UTSA hopes to build on intangibles and move past troubled times

UTSA men's basketball player Massal Diouf at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Massal Diouf, from The Netherlands, played well Wednesday afternoon in a series of informal pickup games at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Acknowledging a “bad taste” left over from a disappointing 10-win season, seventh-year UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson has expressed guarded optimism about his latest work-in-progress, a squad buoyed by senior center Jacob Germany, an infusion of backcourt talent and a feeling that the group is pulling together as one.

Steve Henson. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Seventh-year UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson says he likes the feel around his program, with everyone pulling together. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Henson didn’t mention the word redemption. But he said he hasn’t been as hungry or as excited to win since he took the UTSA job in 2016. “You have to turn the page, just move on (and) get that bad taste out of your mouth,” the coach said in an interview at his office on Tuesday.

Derailed by adversity, including injuries, Covid-19 disruptions, a senior starter lost to academics and issues related to key scorers who couldn’t stay on the same page with the coaches, Henson’s sixth team at UTSA finished 10-22 overall and 3-15 in Conference USA.

It was a humbling experience for the coach, who had guided the Roadrunners to winning seasons in three of the previous four years, including a 20-win season in 2017-18.

“Going back and watching some of those games (from last year, on tape), it doesn’t get any better three, four, five months later,” he said. “It was frustrating to see us play that way. So, there’s that motivating factor.”

The other primary motivation is a new collection of players that Henson really likes.

“Eight or nine weeks (in the summer) with these guys, with one week off in the middle, they’re just so enjoyable to be around,” the coach said. “They come to the office. They enjoy each other. They have a good time.

“They work. They invest. They put the time in. The energy level is terrific with this group.”

The newcomers

The Roadrunners reeled in five new players last spring, and two of them could take on starters’ roles and significant playing time when the season tips off in November.

Junior guards Japhet Medor and John Buggs III have shown promise. Medor, a 5-foot-11 Floridian with quickness and an ability to create in the paint, will compete at point guard. Buggs is a Louisiana native who can do a little of everything as a shooting guard.

UTSA men's basketball player Japhet Medor at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA newcomer Japhet Medor, a junior transfer, is expected to contend for a starter’s role at point guard. He’s known as an effective distributor, but he also displayed in informal scrimmages on Wednesday a smooth stroke on his jump shot. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Our juco guards are extremely mature,” Henson said. “They just absolutely understand how to be great teammates and leaders … We’re counting on those two to have a big impact on us in terms of minutes and roles but also in intangible things, as well.”

Another guard, 6-5 freshman DJ Richards, is from Cypress Creek High School in the Houston area. He prepped at Montverde Academy in Florida last season.

Hoping to earn playing time in the post is freshman Massal Diouf (6-9, 235) from Gouda, The Netherlands. He’s played with U-16 and U-18 Dutch national teams and attended Western Canada Prep Academy.

Seven-foot Carlton Linguard Jr., who played at Stevens High School in San Antonio, isn’t academically eligible yet. Linguard (7-0, 220) isn’t expected to play for at least the first semester. At the outset of his college career, he had one solid season at Temple Junior College and spent past two in a lesser role at Kansas State in the Big 12.

Big man returns

Germany averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last year as a junior. Even though the Roadrunners struggled, the 6-foot-11 Oklahoman emerged as one of the best offensive post players in the C-USA. Germany displayed an expanded array of skills, throwing hook shots from 10 and 12 feet while improving his scoring average by five points from his sophomore year.

Earning a scholarship

Coming off a surprisingly strong second season in the program, three-point shooting specialist Isaiah Addo-Ankrah was awarded a scholarship this summer. The 6-foot-6 Houston native broke out in January of last season by hitting three 3-pointers off the bench at UTEP and five at Rice. He is classified as a sophomore.

Getting healthy

Multi-skilled Aleu Aleu has been cleared for contact work when the team begins its initial phase of fall-semester practice on Monday, Henson said. Limited by leg injuries and missing time due to Covid-19, the 6-foot-8 wing played only 10 games for the Roadrunners last season.

Speculation

Players capable of handling point guard duties this year might include the likes of Japhet, senior Erik Czumbel and sophomore Christian Tucker. At the two-guard, look for Buggs, Czumbel and Richards. Wing forwards would include Addo-Ankrah, Aleu, Lamin Sabally and Azavier Johnson. A power forward group might be comprised of Lachlan Bofinger, Josh Farmer, Aleu and Addo-Ankrah. At center? Germany, Farmer, Diouf and Linguard.

The schedule

UTSA will host the Schreiner Mountaineers on Nov. 2 in an exhibition, according to the schedule announced on Tuesday.

UTSA men's basketball player John Buggs III at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA newcomer John Buggs III has impressed coaches with his skills and leadership. The Louisiana native averaged 15.2 points and shot 47.3 percent from three last year at Hill College. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The regular season will commence on Nov. 7 at home against Trinity. On Nov. 11, the Roadrunners will play on the road against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, who in the postseason last spring swept to the Southland Conference title en route to the NCAA tournament.

UTSA returns home to play the St. Mary’s Rattlers on Nov. 14. A homestand continues with a visit from Sun Belt regular-season champion Texas State on Nov. 17, and from Prairie View A&M on Nov. 22.

In the 210 San Antonio Shootout, UTSA hosts Grambling State on Nov. 25, Dartmouth on Nov. 27 and Incarnate Word on Nov. 28.

Hitting the road, the Roadrunners play at the University of New Mexico on Dec. 10 and at Utah on Dec. 13. The Utah game will be the only one in the regular season against a power conference program. In a final tune up before conference, UTSA hosts Bethune Cookman on Dec. 18. C-USA play starts early, on Dec. 22, with a visit from the North Texas Mean Green.

UTSA extends Hallmark’s contract for four seasons

Coach Pat Hallmark, who led the UTSA baseball team to 38 victories and the Conference USA tournament title game last season, has been rewarded with a four-year extension on his contract.

UTSA on Monday announced a four-year contract extension for baseball coach Pat Hallmark. — File photo by Joe Alexander

The new deal is scheduled to keep the coach in San Antonio through 2026, according to a UTSA news release.

In his third year at the helm of the Roadrunners’ program, Hallmark pushed his team to a 38-20 record overall and to 19-11 in the C-USA. UTSA finished 11-4 against ranked opponents and 9-3 against top 25 teams.

After opening the C-USA tournament with three straight victories, including two over No. 1 seed and tournament host Southern Miss, the Roadrunners lost 9-8 to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the title game.

UTSA, denied the C-USA’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with the loss, nevertheless returned home to San Antonio optimistic.

The Roadrunners felt they had done enough to warrant an at-large bid into the 64-team field. They even invited the media to the NCAA selection show. But in a crushing blow, they didn’t make it.

“Coach Hallmark has our baseball program moving in the right direction,” said Lisa Campos, UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. “His leadership and ability to recruit academically and athletically talented students resulted in one of the best seasons in program history this past spring.

“We’re thrilled to be able to secure him for four more years and very excited about what’s in store for the future of UTSA baseball.”

Pat Hallmark’s UTSA record

x-2020 — 10-7
2021 — 22-26, 14-17
2022 — 38-20, 19-11

x-The 2020 season was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to San Antonio on rehabilitation assignment

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to San Antonio on Saturday night, with the San Diego Padres’ star playing on an injury rehabilitation assignment. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Wichita Wind Surge scored a 5-1 victory over the San Antonio Missions on Saturday night as a big crowd at Wolff Stadium got a close-up look at San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis, Jr.

Recovering from an offseason wrist fracture, Tatis went 0-for-2 with two walks for the Missions in front of 7,438 fans. It was his first game action of the season. The San Diego Padres haven’t put a timetable on his return, according to AJ Cassavell of mlb.com.

Tatis first came to San Antonio as a highly-touted minor leaguer in the Padres’ system in 2017 and 2018. From 2019 through 2021, he emerged as one of the most exciting young players in the majors, producing a .292 batting average and a hefty .962 OPS.

In that time, he bashed 81 home runs, delivered with 195 RBIs and did it all in his first 273 games in the big leagues.

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis, who batted leadoff as the designated hitter on Saturday, is expected to play in the field for the Missions on Sunday – Photo by Joe Alexander

The offseason wasn’t kind to Tatis. He underwent surgery to repair the scaphoid bone in his left wrist on March 16, Cassavell reported.

Cassavell wrote in his story on Saturday that the Padres’ shortstop was cleared to begin a swinging progression in mid-July. Tatis reportedly is in the final step in that progression before he is cleared to return to the Padres.

Padres manager Bob Melvin noted that Tatis would see game action at both shortstop and center field during his rehabilitation stint. “We’re going to take that day to day,” Melvin told Cassavell. “He didn’t have a spring, hasn’t played in the field yet. So we’ll monitor him as we go along.”

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis walked in his first two at bats, both on four pitches. He struck out on his third try and popped up to third base in his final plate appearance. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Smith rallies to win The Open, and validation, at St. Andrews

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

In the last 48 hours, Cameron Smith’s emotions have ranged from guarded optimism, to cringe-inducing despair and, finally, to sheer joy and slight disbelief.

It was a ride he’ll always remember.

Smith, a 28-year-old Florida resident from Australia, claimed his first major golf title in stunning fashion Sunday, rallying past one of the biggest names in the sport to win the 150th anniversary of The Open at St. Andrews.

Trailing by four shots entering the last round, Smith drained a number of long putts and produced a 64 on the legendary, par-72 Old Course to claim the Claret Jug trophy.

He joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning The Open in Scotland at St. Andrews, which is considered the home of golf for its history as a place where people first played the game.

“It’s just unreal,” he told NBC television. “This place is so cool. To have the 150th Open here, and to walk away with the win, is something that I’ve dreamt of. I didn’t know (if I’d ever) get this far, and, it’s just awesome.”

Smith fashioned an eight-birdie, zero-bogey final round to finish at 20 under par, beating playing partner Cameron Young (-19) and rallying past crowd favorite and third-round leader Rory McIlroy (-18).

Entering the final round, McIlroy was tied for the lead at minus 16, but the four-time, major winner failed to generate much momentum. Trailing by two on the par-four 18th, McIlroy needed an eagle to tie and force a playoff.

But a second-shot iron from the fairway rolled well past the pin, eliminating him from contention.

“I had a great opportunity today to add to that major (championship) tally, and I didn’t quite get it done,” McIlroy told NBC sports. “I didn’t feel like I did many things wrong, but the putter just sort of went cold on me.”

At the end, on the 18th fairway, a stunning development came when Young hit a tee shot to the green and into eagle territory. Later, the 25-year-old from New York sank the putt and reached 19 under.

Smith was forced to make birdie to break the tie, and he did, tapping in for the one-stroke lead. From there, Smith and Young walked into the clubhouse, waiting for McIlroy to finish.

As McIlroy misfired on his approach to 18, the championship was decided, and the TV cameras went to Smith, who was hugging people. He was the winner.

In a couple of interviews with NBC, he thanked a group of fans from Australia who showed up to support him.

Grinning, Smith also suggested that his victory might prompt a celebration in which the Claret Jug might be employed to hoist a few beers.

For Smith, the tournament had its twists and turns.

He opened with a 67 on Thursday and followed with a 64 on Friday. Coming into Saturday with a two-stroke lead, he endured a tough round in which he double-bogeyed a hole on the back nine and shot 73.

Pain was etched on his face during — and after — the double bogey on the 13th hole.

Coming to the course on Sunday, he told NBC that he just wanted to play it smart off the tee.

“Where we could get on the fairway and give myself a look at birdie,” Smith said. “The putter felt good all week. They didn’t quite all go in yesterday, and today, they were all going in.”

Entering the tournament week, much of the talk centered on Tiger Woods’ return to the Old Course. Could he win again?

Others mentioned as potential favorites included Masters winner Scottie Scheffler and McIlroy, the Nos. 1-2 players in the world rankings. Xander Schauffele had two two straight tournaments and was one of the darkhorses.

There wasn’t much discussion at all about Smith, the No. 6 player in the world who finished tied for third at the Masters, 13th at the PGA and missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

In the end, the winner of the Players Championship earlier this year found validation, and some other intangibles, as well.

“To win it here,” Smith said. “is pretty special.”

Preparing for Sunday’s drama at St. Andrews on the Old Course

The Old Course at St. Andrews is hosting the 150th Open Championship, with the final round set for Sunday. Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland were tied at 16 under par after Saturday. — Photo by Tom Reiter, special to The JB Replay.

By Tom Reiter
Special to The JB Replay

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — A rainy morning will soon become a cloudy, muggy day but nothing can diminish the excitement for the Rory/Viktor battle. Sitting in my favorite seat as the first group came to No. 2. The leaders will be by in about seven hours.

Editor’s note: Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and the leaders have teed off at St. Andrew’s. Tied at 16 under par after the third round, the two have separated slightly. McIlroy has assumed a two-shot lead on Hovland and Cameron Young through six holes. Cameron Smith is three off the pace.

McIlroy, Hovland set for a title duel at St. Andrews

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Former Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland took charge on Saturday at the 150th Open Championship, finishing their third rounds with sizzling 66s on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

They’ll try to match the intensity on Sunday, with the coveted Claret Jug trophy and a major championship hanging in the balance. Both will enter the final 18 holes of the tournament tied for first at 16 under par.

Still clinging to championship hopes, Cameron Young and Cameron Smith (both -12) remain in the title picture, as do Scottie Scheffler and Si Woo Kim (-11).

Because of McIlroy and Hovland’s position atop the leaderboard, both will be paired together, just as they were on a memorable Saturday.

“It’s nice I get to play with Viktor again,” McIlroy told NBC news. “It’s a comfortable pairing for both of us, and I’m looking forward to that. But, yeah, I’ve kind of been knocking on the door for awhile (in major championships).”

The pressure would seem to be more pronounced for McIlroy, 33, a legendary name in the game from Northern Ireland, who is playing in front of a crowd that has been chanting for him all week.

Hovland, 25, a native of Norway who played at Oklahoma State University, is trying to win his first major.

This would seem to give the edge to McIlroy, who has been in pressure situations more often.

Then again, he hasn’t won in one of golf’s four majors since 2014 when he claimed titles at both The Open, formerly known as the British Open, and the PGA.

“This is the best chance I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said on NBC’s afternoon telecast. “I just need to stay in my own little world for one more day and hopefully I can play the sort of golf that’s good enough to win.”

A teammate of Hovland on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team, McIlroy authored the shot of the day. It came after he made a potentially disastrous mistake and sent a ball into a green-side bunker.

But from the sand, McIlroy blasted out brilliantly with a shot that took a few bounces on the green and rolled into the cup for eagle.

“As soon as I hit the bunker shot I knew it was going to be close,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t imagine it was going to go in. Sometimes you need little bits of luck like that to go on and win these types of tournaments.

“That was a real bonus. I played well from there on in. Definitely the highlight of the day.”

Hovland started to get extremely hot on the front nine when he birdied four holes in a row. But after McIlroy seized momentum with the eagle on 10, the former Big 12 Player of the Year at Oklahoma State responded with a birdie on the same hole to tie.

Playing with confidence and feeding off the crowd, McIlroy kept applying pressure, taking a one-shot lead with another birdie on No. 14.

“It kind of felt like match play,” Hovland told NBC. “I didn’t try to think of it that way. You know, regardless of whether he made his putt or missed his putt.

“That wasn’t going to change what I was doing. I knew I just needed to play good golf and I was really happy that I was able to shoot a bogey-free round today.”

McIlroy made his biggest mistake of the day on No. 17, the famous road hole, when he hooked into the rough off the tee.

From there, he hit a ball that bounced on the fairway, and kept bouncing until it hit a wall short and way to the right of the green.

While Hovland made par, McIlroy notched his only bogey of the day to fall back into a tie for first.

On No. 18, it stayed tied way as both birdied to put them at six under for the day. Hovland vowed that he’d take an aggressive approach to the last round.

“I’m going up against one of the best players in the world,” he said. “Certainly not going to hold back, because I know he’s definitely not. I’ll probably need to play more like I did today and, yeah, hopefully that gets the job done.”

Before golf, a morning stroll through St. Andrews

An image of the St. Andrews Cathedral site on a sunny, Saturday morning in Scotland — Photo by Tom Reiter, special to The JB Replay.

What is a trip to Scotland without taking a look at some really old buildings? On a walk through town before the third round of the Open Championship, one of golf’s major tournaments, Tom Reiter found one of the oldest. This is St. Andrews Cathedral, a ruined chancel dating back to the mid-12th century, according to historyhit.com.

According to the website, the structure was built originally in the year 1158. It was part of the medieval Catholic Church in Scotland, the seat of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews. It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, historian Luke Tomes wrote.