By Bryan Cross

It was a performance eerily reminiscent of Tiger Woods a decade ago, when he blew the field away at the U.S Open. 22-year-old Rory McIlroy made Congressional Country Club look like your average municipal, splitting fairways, firing at pics, and knocking in puts on a routine basis.

In doing so, he cruised to an 8-shot victory for his first Major championship, in what was one of the most impressive four days of golf that I have ever seen.

But to crown McIlroy the next Tiger Woods? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Even Rory would agree with that.

While I can understand how this one event should rightfully be compared to that of Woods at Pebble Beach back in 2000, Tiger also has 14 other majors to his credit and over 70 wins on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy has 2 wins on the PGA Tour. But he looks to be well on his way to winning many more PGA titles and Major Championships should he continue to play anything like he did this week at Congressional.

Now, all that I look forward to and hope for, is that Tiger gets back to being healthy, however long that takes, and comes back to play well and challenge these young players, for there is a wave of them.

In fact, 23-year-old Jason Day’s total of 8-under par would have been good enough to win all but three U.S Opens in history.

It just so happens Rory happened to be playing out of his mind. And perhaps more impressive is that he did it after completely falling apart on the back-nine in the final round at the Masters just two months ago in April.

Now, I very much look forward to the British Open in July, for which I hope Tiger returns. But I honestly think that Rory is going to take this Major championship as well, and then move onto the PGA Championship in August as the winner of the last two major championships, and maybe even the No.1 ranked player in the world at the time.

By Bryan Cross

The 2011 U.S Open is almost at the midway point at Congressional Country Club, and I have to say if Rory McIlroy doesn’t go on to win this, it might effect him for the rest of his career.

Currently McIlroy is 6 shots in front, and that is likely to increase as Y.E Yang still has the very difficult back nine to play at Congressional.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that McIlroy has a 6-shot lead going into tomorrow and shoots even par. He will likely have a multiple shot lead heading into Sunday, a familiar spot like he was in at the Masters in April.

He went on to shoot an 80.

Of course, that’s not the first time that he has shot 80 before after leading a major. Last year at the Birtish Open, McIlroy fired a 63 in the first round at St. Andrews, and followed that up with an 80 after holding the over night. That is almost one shot per hole more.

But with each passing tournament, McIlroy continues to put himself in position to win golf tournament, in particular majors, and that counts for a lot.

Because one of these times, the young 22-year-old will hold on to win one of these things, and that could pave the way for a bunch more major championship victories.

If he is to win this week, we could be looking at the future No.1 player in the world very soon, and with Tiger Woods’ future uncertain with injury, McIlroy could be atop the world for quite a while. Golf is looking for that next super star after Woods, and this player looks like he has it.

He has a flawless, picturesque golf swing, and once he gets over the hump with a major championship, I say that the sky is the limit.

36 holes from now I might have a different view should he not go on to win, but I think that this time, the third time, it will be the charm.

By Bryan Cross

When the Miami Heat formed the dream team down in South Beach last summer, this is not where they envisioned themselves ending up in the end, losing to the Dallas Mavericks almost embarrassingly in the 2011 NBA Finals on Sunday night.

And on their home court nonetheless, where once again, LeBron James failed to produce much of anything in the fourth quarter.

In fact, James scored just 18 total points in the fourth quarter in six games in the Finals.

That lack of production, combined with Dirk Nowitzki scoring almost at will down the stretch in games, led the the Mavericks winning their first championship in team history.

Now, the summer of the Heat being criticized will likely begin, and question of what players will go where as far as the supporting cast down in Miami will be interesting to see.

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be there, that’s for sure.

But then there are players like Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslim, Mike Bibby and more, who all have the potential of being dealt in a trade in the off season.

But I think that this is a team that can win the championship and it was in no way the supporting players fault.

It is on Wade, Bosh and James.

And it’s on James the most.

As arguably the best player in the NBA, James was looked to by his teammates to make plays late in games, and never did. In fact, he was very passive on the offensive end of the floor, as he passed the ball to his teammates, looking as if he had no interest in trying to drive to the lane.

Now, one of the most compelling NBA season’s of all-time has come to an end, and the team at the forefront of that came up short of their goal.

The fact of the matter is that this team is not a work in progress. They were built to win, and they were built to win now. And they didn’t.

By Bryan Cross

The Miami Heat are in a world of trouble, coming back down 3-2 in their NBA Finals series with the Dallas Mavericks after losing back-to-back games for the the first time this post-season.

But the real question is…..where is LeBron James?

James referred to Game 5 against the Mavs as the most important game in his career. And once again in the fourth quarter he flopped.

Sure, he had a triple-double, but it might have been the weakest triple-double in the history of the NBA playoffs.

James has not stepped up to the plate, and when his teammates looked for him to come up with some big plays while Dwyane Wade was in the locker room with an injured hip, James was busy passing the ball, and being passive all in the same.

He didnt drive to the hoop, he didn’t create space, and he didn’t draw fouls. Instead he settled for long jumpers, which is not his strong suit.

Now, the Heat must win Game 6 and Game 7 at home to win the NBA title, while the Mavericks have to be coming in with all of the confidence in the world, behind Dirk Nowitzki.

To compare, James has scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in the series, while Nowitzki has racked up 52 points in the five final periods.

The bottom line is that James needs to step it up, of the Heat will go from looking like they were guaranteed a championship, to losing and being criticised forever.

By Bryan Cross

The Ohio State Buckeyes have been the focal point of the college football landscape over the course of the last several weeks, amid the resignations of head coach Jim Tressel, and the new investigation into quarterback Terrelle Pryor and other players for various NCAA violations.

My first reaction was ‘shame on you’ Ohio State, and I laughed because I don’t care for the team or school.

As an SEC fan, I don’t really respect Ohio State and believe that the majority of their so-called ‘championship game runs’ in to the BCS title game was phony. The Buckeyes did not deserve several of the championship games invites, and it was proven by them getting their ass kicked up and down the field by the SEC.

But now I feel sorry for them.

I feel sorry for them because I know they are not the only school and football program in division I football that does this under the table dealing not in code with the NCAA.

It’s just that they got caught.

I can all but guarantee you that this happens in the majority of big-time football programs across the country.

But at the same time I’m okay with it website. Why shouldn’t football players or athletes get special deals or discounts because they are football players when every other student who is not an athlete can?

The NCAA is handcuffing these kids to being students and athletes and nothing else. Basically, the NCAA is saying it is okay to make money off of their jersey sales, but the student cannot get a free meal, or sell stuff given to them?

Give me a break.

I think the NCAA needs to take a few steps back and realize that these violations by the Ohio State players, while in violation currently, maybe in the future should not.

What isn’t condoned however, and the reason Tressel lost his job ( yes he was fired don’t get it wrong) is that cover up.

And that is why my you go back to the golden rule….the cover up is always worse than the crime.

By Bryan Cross

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh have taken all the criticism, and are one step from throwing back in everyone’s faces who doubted, chastised, hated and cried about the trio uniting in South Beach in effort to form a dynasty.

I thought this moment would come, but I didn’t think it would come this soon.

The Heat ousted the Bulls in the east finals, and will meet the Mavericks in the NBA Finals beginning next Tuesday.

But the more I think about it, i think the less and less people should be surprised about this happening this fast. The Heat are in the finals in their first season together like this. It’s pretty incredible to put these superstars together to mesh this well against frankly some very very good teams like the bulls.

But then again, why should i be surprised?

They have the best player in the NBA, and arguably two of the top-10 from there.

Who can beat these guys 4 times in a series?

I can tell you one thing, it will not be the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat are going to be a big favorite in this NBA Finals series, and rightfully so. The Chicago Bulls will be the best team that the Heat beat these playoffs and the Mavericks are in for quite the surprise.

This team is not the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sure, the Mavs are veterans and rely on that leadership, but the Heat have that championship and playoff experience as well. Wade and Haslem have both won titles, coincidentally against Dallas in 2006. An LeBron has been to the Finals with basically no supporting cast.

Forget penciling in the Miami Heat for the title. We can already ink it. The only question now is how will the Mavericks push them. Will they lose in 5 games or perhaps push it to 6.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the series go 6 and watch Miami celebrate on their home floor.

It should perhaps be a site we get used to, it’s going to happen often.

By Bryan Cross-

Today officially marks 100 days until we get some college football in our lives. That much, is guaranteed.

We cannot say that about the NFL.

With the NFL still caught up in the court system and the lingering lockout continually in the headlines, the season remains up in the air. But come fall, college football will be here, and I for one am quite excited.

So with 100 days left until we get some college football in our lives, let’s take a minute to discuss the looming year among the NCAA ranks.

At the top of the list are the Oklahoma Sooners, who come in as a consensus No.1 preseason team, and will likely hold that ranking to begin the year. With quarterback Landry Jones coming back and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Broyles comes in as arguably the best returning receiver in the nation and will wreak havoc on the opposing secondaries.

The Sooners will be tested just three weeks into the season when they visit the Florida State Seminoles on the road.

That could be an early game that vaults either to the top of the list when it comes to the talk of the national championship. The Noles are being highly touted right now, and with the talent they have on both sides of the ball, FSU could be poised for a title run in 2011.

Of course, a myriad of teams have this chance, just like Auburn did last season. The Tigers began the season ranked No.22 in the country prior to the start of the season, working their way up the ranks into the No.1 spot and an eventual BCS Title.

Who will be this year’s Cam Newton?

It’s hard to say looking at 100 days out, but it’s still fun to project. A variety of teams look good and there are no teams that everyone is getting on as head-and-shoulders above the rest.

The Sooners hold the top odds to win the 2012 BCS Championship on Bodog Sportsbook.

By Bryan Cross

The Miami Heat look like they are in a world of trouble against the Chicago Bulls through just one game of their 2011 Eastern Conference Finals match up.

The Bulls out-played, out-hustled, crashed the boards and did everything they needed to do en route to a 103-82 victory to take an early 1-0 series lead.

But if Miami doesn’t make adjustments, that deficit could quickly grow into something that they might not be able to recover from, even if they do have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

For some inexplicable reason, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra decided to sit Zydrunas Ilgauskas in Game 1 of the series, which proved at least from all outward appearances to be costly.

The Heat were out-rebounded 45-33, giving up 19 of those boards on the offensive side of the court for Chicago.

It was the second-chance scoring that did Miami in, and the ‘big three’ will be home soon if they don’t get their act together.

On the other side of the court at the same token, it went about as well as possible for Chicago in the second half of that Game 1, as the Bulls played exactly how they were comfortable playing. Their front court on the inside was dominant, and Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were effective.

Not to mention Taj Gibson has two of the most awesome dunks you might ever see.

Game 2 should be interesting to see.

Interesting to see how Miami responds, and if Chicago has the killer instinct to go up 2-0 in the series before the shift to Miami.

NBA Betting Lines continue to favor Miami to win the Championship, but Props Lines favor a Chicago/Dallas Mavericks Finals.

By Bryan Cross

The last couple of blogs have been about Tiger Woods, and to save anyone from guessing about what this one will be about, it follows the same theme.

But he is in the news, and him withdrawing from the 2011 Players if quite significant for golf, and the future of who I think is the greatest golfer who ever lived.

Woods withdrew after nine holes in his opening round on Thursday due to an injury to his knee, calf and Achilles tendon. It was clearly effecting his play and walking to his ball, noticeable with a limp. The 6-over par 42 on thefront nine also likely aided in Woods hanging it up, but one thing has come to light more so now then I think ever before.

Tiger Woods is might be done.

I don’t even like writing that, and I don’t want to believe it, but unless Woods shuts it down for a while to get healthy, he won’t do himself any good by trying to play more this year.

The fact of the matter is, he has had four operations on this knee, and combined with the Achilles injury and the cramping of the calf, his swing simply cannot hold up. And if that is the case, Woods will not be able to win if he is not healthy enough to play.

The one thing though that Woods has going for him, is that unlike Football, or Basketball, golf has a lengthy career in which players can go well into their 40’s and even 50’s and still remain competitive on the PGA Tour.

Therefore, I believe he should take some significant time off to get healthy before returning to competition.

Do I think he will do this? Doubtful.

In fact I expect him to be at Congressional in a month for the 2011 U.S Open, and the then the British and PGA to subsequently follow.

I choose to continue to be hopeful that golf’s greatest player in history is not finished, but I’m coming to the conclusion that his best golf is probably behind him. And while it actually brings me down a bit that that in fact might be the truth, I still count myself lucky that I saw Tiger Woods play many times in person when he was at his peak, and saw some of the most amazing achievements in the history of sport.

By Bryan Cross

Tiger Woods has fallen in the World Golf Rankings once again, and if I’m being honest when looking ahead this week at the 2011 Players Championship, I don’t see that really improving anytime soon.

Woods has not played since the Masters back in April, and was scheduled to play this past week at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship. That event was won by Lucas Glover, with Woods noticeably absent from the competition citing a strained MCL.

As a result, Woods will now tee it up for the first time since the Masters this week at TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship, a place where he has found little success since winning 10 years ago back in 2001.

For whatever reason, TPC Sawgrass is a course that has never seemed to suit Woods, and a course that he has never really been excited to play. It is The Players Championship, considered the fifth major and one of the most prestigious tournaments to win on Tour.

But Woods has struggled there, and as big of a supporter as I am of his, I don’t see that changing here this week.

While Golf Betting Lines will list him as the favorite to win prior to the start of the tournament, his ranking should be an indication of what is likely going to happen.

Woods will not be a factor this week.

Sure, he might string together a solid round or two, but he doesn’t like this course. He might not admit it, but he doesnot like this golf course. It simply does not fit his game.

Several prop betting lines are circulating around Woods this year, from the Number of major championship me maywin, to him re-claiming the No.1 ranking in the world this calendar year.

While the answer to both of those question may in fact be yes, I do not see him making a leap towards that this week at the Players Championship.

He might as well look towards the U.S Open in June.