Loran Smith's blog

Larry Nelson’s last PGA

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JOHNS CREEK – The 93rd PGA Championship was Larry Nelson’s last major. It would have been fitting for him to have made the cut, but at age 63 you tip your hat to a man who scored 78-75 for 153. Not bad for one two years away from drawing Social Security.

Nelson’s entire career has been one of serendipity when you consider that he went from learning the game at a driving range to claiming three major championships, but a professional who always toiled in the background, often in anonymity. Read More»

The Griffins Head

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CHILLENDEN, England – The Griffins Head is a country pub that is anchored in the village of Chillenden — which is near Wingham, which is near Littlebourne, which is near Canterbury.

Naturally, everybody knows where Canterbury is, and if you live close by, you know your way out in the country to The Griffins Head, which in reality is near grain fields of barley, wheat, and rape. And a ewe or two. Read More»

Dan Magill and the Braves

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As men get older, they are afflicted with change. Some become ornery, some insufferable. Others lose the zest for living a full and active life, which is why the model for coping with the inevitable, brought about by the aging process, is the lifestyle of the incomparable Dan Magill.

This past Sunday was an unforgettable day for him. He threw out the first pitch to start a forgettable game between the Braves and the Marlins in searing heat, which makes you appreciate the fact that Magill was excited about being there in the first place. Read More»

Denis LaLanne and the pain that can’t be spoken of

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BIARRITZ, France – For the first time in almost three decades of a warm and uplifting friendship, Denis LaLanne greeted me with sad eyes. The reason is readily understood, but first, it is appropriate to recall the good times. There were many. Read More»

A visit with Coach Mickey Matthews

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HARRISONBURG, Va. – A man can pull up roots and become reestablished, especially if he is a football coach and finds peace in the valley which is the way it is for Mickey Matthews, a West Texan who is surrounded by more trees in his comfortable neighborhood here than there were in the entire county where he grew up. Read More»

A little soccer match

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It was a sunny spring morning, and the Tigers were playing the Sparks in a soccer match for those who are yet to be enrolled in kindergarten.

The Tigers wore navy blue and were coached by Chris Martin. Coaching the Sparks was Jay Erickson. The teams were coed, a fact which went happily unnoticed by the young players. There are no issues at kiddie soccer matches.

The length of time for the quarters is left up to the coaches. They usually start with five-minute quarters, but as disinterest sets in, they become shorter. Read More»

Remembering Jesse Outlar: He loved life and a good laugh

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PEACHTREE CITY – When a life is over, we gather together and remember the good days and the good times, and we toast treasured memories.

When family and friends congregated here last week to say goodbye to Jesse Outlar, longtime sports editor and columnist of the Atlanta Constitution, most of the remembrances were spiced with humor. Read More»

Masters brings back memories of past champions

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AUGUSTA – Last week was one for reminiscing about milestone victories — principally, Jack Nicklaus winning his sixth Green Jacket here in 1986 and Gary Player becoming the first international winner fifty years ago.

In the last 25 years — since Nicklaus won his 18th major — all Masters, except 1997 when Tiger Woods won by 12 strokes over Tom Kite (270 to 282), have been decided by five strokes or fewer. There have been eight playoffs during this time, and more often than not only one or two strokes separated the competitors who finished first and second. Read More»

Spring training travels: The ghosts of Dodgertown remain . . .

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VERO BEACH, Fla. – Dodgertown is still here, but there are no Dodgers. No fresh-faced rookies who would give their birthright to make the team, no graying veterans trying to stretch one more season out of aging legs.

While that is hard to imagine, what depresses us all is that there remains a street sign that says Vin Scullly Way, a thoroughfare named for the incomparable Dodger announcer and streets named for Tommy Lasorda and Sandy Koufax who are still with us. Read More»

Bobby Cox, out of the spotlight, but not out of place

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – You see Bobby Cox moving about the Braves’ spring training complex with the same soft smile, the same bad-knees-gait and accommodating demeanor as in the past. It’s just that he is not in uniform.

If you were to turn up at the Los Angeles Dodger training facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., it would not come as a surprise to see Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the Dodgers, cavorting about in his familiar No. 2. Lasorda once said: “I love doubleheaders. That way I get to keep my uniform on longer.” Read More»

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