4 p.m.: PGA addresses move from Doral to Mexico; Trump speaks out; Maxwell ready to prove he's worth the investment; Heat, Marlins, UM football and baseball nuggets
4 p.m. update: The PGA confirmed that it has signed a seven-year deal to move the WGC Championships from Doral to Mexico City.
12:40 p.m. update: Donald Trump's spokesperson emailed, saying Trump wanted to share these thoughts on the PGA moving the Doral golf tournament to Mexico City:
"It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf, to have the PGA Tour consider moving the World Golf Championships, which has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico. No different than Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies, the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and charities and the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of fans who make the tournament an annual tradition. This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States."
The Wednesday buzz column is below. First, some breaking news at 9:15 a.m.: The annual PGA golf tournament at Doral, a staple of South Florida sports for 54 years, is relocating to Mexico City, the tournament’s outgoing chairman said Wednesday.
Butch Buchholz, who ran the World Golf Championships at Trump National Doral, said the PGA informed him on Tuesday night that it made the decision to leave South Florida because it couldn’t find a title sponsor to replace Cadillac.
“I believe they are sincere when they said they didn't want to leave an event with a 54 year history,” Buchholz said. "They've got an obligation to their board and they couldn't find a sponsor so they had to move. They don't have a choice. The PGA Tour didn't have a choice. If you don't have a sponsor what can you do?”
Trump foreshadowed the news in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.
“I mean, I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico as an example,” Trump said. “They’re taking it — it’s at Doral, it’s at — they used one of my places. They’re moving their tournament, it’s the Cadillac World Golf Championship. And Cadillac’s been a great sponsor, but they’re moving it to Mexico. They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance. But they’re moving it to Mexico City. And I’m saying, you know, what’s going on here? It is so sad when you look at what’s going on with our country.”
The PGA said in December that it would “explore all options regarding the event’s future” in the wake of Trump’s controversial proposal last year to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.
Buchholz said he did not know whether Trump’s comments were the primary reason why the PGA was unable to find a sponsor to replace Cadillac, which informed the tour a year ago that it would not renew.
PGA Tour officials could not immediately be reached.
“Cadillac was going to leave,” Buchholz said. “It had nothing to do with Trump. They said they're changing whole marketing strategy. The tour had almost a year to find a replacement.”
With the tennis tournament on Key Biscayne also threatening to leave because it has been blocked legally from making renovations to the facility, Buchholz – who started that tennis tournament – believes South Florida likely will lose its two spring jewels.
“We are probably going to lose tennis and golf,” he said. "It's not great for your community. They contributed greatly to our community's enjoyment and fans.”
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Byron Maxwell wants to make this very clear if there’s any doubt: “I’m definitely a No. 1 cornerback.”
The Philadelphia Eagles --- who traded him to Miami --- might not agree, but he better be, because there’s no proven alternative on the Dolphins roster.
Fact is, Maxwell stands as easily one of the team's 10 most indispensable players, when you consider he’s the only veteran starting corner on the roster, and Miami already is relying more on young corners than perhaps any other team in the league.
Here’s the good news:
1) The passer ratings have been subpar (for quarterbacks) and good for Maxwell when he has played the type of defense Miami will employ, including some zone.
Pro Football Focus noted the Bengals played the second most cover-2 in the league under Vance Joseph (now the Dolphins defensive coordinator), and as alert NFL film analyst Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report said here, “that will allow him to use his press ability without asking him to cover in-breaking routes,” which sometimes give him trouble.
Pressing, as Maxwell said Tuesday, “is one of my strengths, what I do. Looking forward to playing that."
2) He has looked good so far, albeit in shorts. “He has done a great job of getting his hands on balls, and it makes it tough on not only the receivers, but the quarterback, because that window is tight,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “When he’s covering a guy, it’s going to be a tight throw."
3) He was solid from Week 4 through Week 17 last season: one touchdown allowed, two picks and a 76.9 passer rating against. In his three years in Seattle (2012-14), he had very good passer ratings against: 52.4, 57.8 and 78.5.
The more unsettling news:
1) Because of his poor start (including being torched by Atlanta's Julio Jones, who can do that to a lot of cornerbacks), Maxwell allowed an overall 100.7 passer rating in his coverage area last season, and Pro Football Focus rated him 75th among all corners, noting “Maxwell might be an upgrade from [Miami’s] current situation at cornerback, but he’s still an average cornerback who they’ll have to pay $17 million over the next two years.” About $12 million of that is guaranteed, according to overthecap.com.
2) He had the sixth most penalties among defensive backs last season.
3) He “struggles finishing as a tackler, at times even looks lazy,” Wharton said.
4) He hasn’t had big interception numbers recently – two each of the past two years. Brent Grimes, now with Tampa, had nine over those two years for Miami.
Maxwell feels like he has “something to prove” because “you are the new guy. Everyone is looking at you like, 'What can you do?' They watch football. The season I had, the beginning of the season, just wasn’t....” He didn't finish that thought today, but everyone knew where he was going.
“It’s Year 6," he said. "Way more stuff to prove.”
Strangest thing for Maxwell so far? Has to be the fact that Gase, who also calls the plays, has been trash-talking him and the other corners.
“You would hope head coaches don’t have a side,” Maxwell said, smiling. “He clearly has a side, which is cool. When he’s trash talking me, I say I can’t let DeVante Parker beat me because I’m going to hear Gase in my ear. It’s fun out there. He gets me going.”
Of being the only established veteran in the cornerback room (aside from on-the-bubble corners Tyler Patmon and Chimdi Chekwa), Maxwell said: "It’s a responsibility. It has to be accepted, regardless if I like it or not. But it’s one of those things where you get these young guys, you can mold them, you could create something like how we had in Seattle.”
• For more Dolphins nuggets from today, including one interesting starting battle, please click here.
• Jose Fernandez --- who threw seven scoreless innings tonight (allowing three hits) and moved to 8-2 with a 3-1 win against Pittsburgh --- entered Tuesday’s start on a pace to throw 196 innings, and the Marlins want to keep him “in the 180 range,” Don Mattingly said Monday.
That likely will mean skipping him a start or two, though Mattingly declined to make that official, saying only “We have a plan.”... As Mattingly noted tonight, "It's almost like [Jose] is getting better every time."...
According to Elias, Fernandez, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez are the only pitchers since 1893 to go 6-0 with 50 plus strikeouts in any May....
For Marlins pitching roster news today, please click here.
• Marcell Ozuna, the most pleasant surprise of this Marlins’ season, credits his renaissance (.333, 10 homers) to hitting coach Barry Bonds (“he has kept me focused all the time”) and Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (who spent time with him in the Dominican Republic last winter and implored him to be a more patient hitter).
The Boston Globe reported during the offseason that Mattingly and Bonds lobbied for the Marlins not to trade Ozuna, who would have been dealt if Cincinnati or Texas met high asking prices.
Mattingly told me this week that he indeed advocated keeping Ozuna last winter but said he couldn’t speak for Bonds.
“I was a supporter of Marcell, seeing on film and the across the field and knowing what happens one year to the next [with a young player],” Mattingly said. “If [the production] was there once, it’s there again. Even last year, really bad [for him] was .260. It wasn’t .200. He wasn’t swinging at strikes before.”
Now he’s more selective, with a .386 on-base average that's well above last year’s .308.
• One more reason why Justise Winslow needs to develop more consistency and confidence in his three-point shot, as Raptors guard Terrence Ross explained:
“He doesn't shoot a lot of them," Ross said. "I don't know if it's that he can't make them. But he doesn't shoot a lot of them. He's working against himself with not shooting it, so people are kind of sagging off."
On the positive side, "He plays physical," Ross said. "He's really strong. He can guard one through four. He works hard. It's a challenge [with him defending you]. He's good.”
• South Florida’s rating for Game 7 of Thunder-Warriors (15.4) was barely below an average Dolphins game last season (15.8), with Miami’s Western Finals ratings consistently ranking in the top 10 in the country, including sixth overall for Game 7. We've become one of the NBA's best markets, from a TV ratings standpoint, since the Big Three era.... For some major network football broadcast news today, please click here.
• Biggest surprises on this UM baseball team that hopes to begin a long NCAA Tournament run on Friday? Coach Jim Morris points to Michael Mediavilla (10-1, 3.23 ERA; “gone from being a set-up guy to a No. 1 starter”) and shortstop Brandon Lopez, who entered this season with a .258 career batting average but is hitting .388 this year, has finally matured and become a legit pro prospect after four suspensions in four years.
Morris marveled at how he has transformed himself from a No. 8 hitter to a capable cleanup hitter.
• UM has made it to the College World Series each of the previous six years it was named a national seed. It's a national seed again this year.
• One of the intriguing position battles this August will be impressive freshman Mike Pinckney against Darrion Owens at weakside linebacker. Owens, coming off a serious knee injury, hasn't been cleared for team drills. "I'm close to 100 (percent), I feel good," Owens told Canesport. "There are days I feel sore, but that comes with the injury. Once that all goes away I'll be back."... Meanwhile, Trent Harris said he's happy to be back at defensive end and is more comfortable there after being forced into action at middle linebacker last year. Middle linebacker should be covered for the next few years, with spring revelation Shaquille Quarterman.