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2021 RSM Classic scores, grades: Talor Gooch wins by three at Sea Island for first PGA Tour victory of career

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Talor Gooch capped both a PGA Tour year as well as a run of unbelievable play for him with a victory Sunday at the RSM Classic over Mackenzie Hughes and Sebastian Munoz.

Gooch shot a 64 on Sunday to finish at 22 under for the week and take home the last trophy of 2021 by three over Hughes and four over Munoz. It bookended the 64 he shot on Thursday and concluded a four-day event in which Gooch ranked in the top 10 in tee-to-green play as well as strokes gained around the green and with the putter.

This is not unusual for him, either. He had four top-15 finishes in his first five events of a season that started back in September and was playing the best golf of his life coming into the week at Sea Island. He was among the top-six players in the world in strokes gained since the beginning of the 2021-22 season (min. 10 rounds played).

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The most impressive part about the first win of his career is that, even though he led at the 54-hole mark, he had to take it deep on Sunday in the final to stave off Hughes and Munoz — who combined to shoot 13 under — as well as Tyler McCumber, who shot 60, and a top 10 on the final leaderboard that shot a combined 42 under in Round 4.

“Man, it was a great week,” Gooch said. “I played well all week obviously, and today being a crucial day, I had a couple opportunities where things could have taken a turn for the worse and I was able to make some clutch putts.”

The fall portion of the PGA Tour season was built for players like Gooch. Good talents in their 20s (Gooch turned 30 last Sunday) who have yet to break through with a victory. That had been the case at times this fall, but also superstar talents Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama had also won tournaments.

Gooch’s victory was emblematic of so many other breakout victory stories we’ve seen over the years and perhaps foreshadowing of what’s to come the rest of this season for him as well as potentially for the rest of his career. At the very least, it’s an exclamation point for somebody who can legitimately lay claim to being the PGA Tour’s best player this fall with the last official event in the books and the Tournament of Champions just around the corner. Grade: A+

Here are the rest of our grades for the RSM Classic.

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Mackenzie Hughes (2nd): Hughes and the next person on our grades, Webb Simpson, are the only players in this field who were better from tee to green than Gooch. Hughes is a past champion at this event and took it as deep as possible Sunday with that 62, but Gooch just kept putting distance between himself and Hughes down the stretch as he made birdie at four of the first six on the back nine. 

“I knew it was going to require a low one today and if you told me I would have shot 62 I thought I might be pretty close, but Talor obviously played  great this week and deserved to win,” Hughes said. “Looking at my own game, I feel like I’ve been getting  better with each week and just trying to get better each week and feel like my game is trending in the right direction and hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll get one of those wins.” Grade: A

Webb Simpson (T8): Simpson led the field in strokes gained from tee to green, which is incredibly encouraging going into 2022. He also led the field in strokes gained on approach shots and, if he had not been one of the worst putters in the field on Saturday and Sunday, would have truly contended for this trophy. This is just Simpson’s second top 10 since the RBC Heritage in April, and the statistical structure of it has to give him a ton of confidence going into a new calendar year. Grade: A

Scottie Scheffler (T57): After two straight top-five finishes, Scheffler came into this week as the favorite and responded with a 63 on Thursday. He faded pretty hard, though, with a 73-75 middle of his event before shooting 68 on Sunday. He played some solid golf at times, especially on Thursday with the 63, but he’ll go into 2022 the way he came into this tournament, as possibly the best player on the planet without a win on the PGA Tour. Grade: B-

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USC avoids upset vs. Oregon State after Caleb Williams connects with Jordan Addison for game-winning TD

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Oregon State pushed No. 7 USC to the brink of an upset on Saturday night before the Trojans survived for a 17-14 victory thanks to a late touchdown from a largely ineffective offense. After connecting just twice for 21 yards over the span of 58 minutes, quarterback Caleb Williams found Jordan Addison for a 21-yard score down the right sideline with 1:13 remaining. The Trojans defense, which came up huge all night, then produced a game-clinching interception — the fourth of the evening —  as Max Williams picked off Chance Nolan with 35 seconds remaining.

The touchdown connection between Williams and Addison was a rare moment of brilliance in an otherwise frustrating night for the Trojans offense. Williams finished just 16 of 36 passing for 180 yards and was held without a touchdown until his go-ahead toss to Addison, who finished with just 42 yards on receiving on three receptions.

USC started the night with a turnover on downs, a missed field goal and a punt before finally getting on the scoreboard with a 42-yarder from Denis Lynch with 5:38 left in the first half. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Trojans finally found the end zone, when Travis Dye surged in from 7 yards out to make it 10-7 with 14:18 remaining.

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The Trojans averaged 50.7 points per game in their first three wins against RiceStanford and Fresno State; Oregon State similarly entered averaging 45.7 points. Defense won the day, however, as USC’s four turnovers gives the Trojans an astonishing 14-0 turnover edge on its opponents so far this season.

Jam Griffin scored from 18 yards out with 4:41 remaining to give the Beavers a 14-10 lead. Then, with its back against the wall, the Trojans delivered their response to improve to 4-0 in coach Lincoln Riley’s first season.



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Bowl projections: Clemson jumps into College Football Playoff as Kansas State upsets Oklahoma

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Despite a season that has already been filled with upsets, change finally comes to the College Football Playoff projection for the first time following Week 4 action. Falling 41-34 to Kansas State on Saturday night, Oklahoma has been bounced from the field of four and replaced by Clemson.

While the Sooners’ loss to the Wildcats for the third time in four seasons does not put them out of the running for the Big 12 championship, the Tigers are now far more likely to end their regular season as an undefeated conference champion out of the ACC. Clemson beat Wake Forest 51-45 Saturday afternoon and looks to only have one ranked opponent remaining on its schedule, which it gets at home (NC State next week).

Michigan beat Maryland 34-27 this week and was the first team out of the last projection; however, it still has top-15 programs Penn State at home and Ohio State on the road over the second half of the season.

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The other top-four teams held serve Saturday. Georgia was not as impressive as usual despite a 39-22 win over Kent State, Ohio State blasted Wisconsin 52-21, and Alabama routed Vanderbilt 55-3.

Check back Sunday for Jerry Palm’s complete bowl projections after Week 4.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 9

National Championship
Inglewood, Calif.

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 31

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Peach Bowl
Atlanta

Semifinal

(1) Georgia vs. (4) Clemson

Dec. 31

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Alabama

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Stampeders beat Lions, both teams lock up playoff spots

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VANCOUVER — The Calgary Stampeders avoided a season sweep at the hands of the B.C. Lions with a defensively impressive 25-11 win at B.C. Place on Saturday.

The win ensures the Stampeders will go to the playoffs for the 17th year in a row.

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A spectacular 54-yard catch by rookie Jalen Philpot of Delta, B.C., set up the only major score of the first half, landing the Stampeders (9-5) on B.C.’s three-yard-line for a touchdown conversion by Ka’Deem Carey.

Calgary failed on its two-point convert attempt. Peyton Logan added a 19-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, and Dominique Rhymes caught B.C.’s lone touchdown pass from Antonio Pipkin with 29 seconds remaining. Pipkin carried the ball across the one-yard-line for a successful two-point convert.

Calgary’s field-goal kicker Rene Paredes was good on four-of-five attempts, from 39, 33, 31 and 33 yards. He added a convert for 13 total points.

For the Lions (9-4), Sean Whyte extended his CFL field-goal streak to 13 with a 34-yard kick to get his club on the scoreboard with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.

Paredes kicked wide to the right on his first field-goal attempt of the game. That came just 2:08 into the contest — the Stampeders had marched down to the B.C. 41-yard line after opening the first quarter by recovering Paredes’ 11-yard onside kick.

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One week after grabbing a 31-29 overtime win over the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium, the Lions could not find a spark to ignite their offence.

In his first home start at B.C. Place after being acquired in a trade with the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 19, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was 12-for-24 in the air for 151 yards. He added 11 yards on the ground. Anthony Pipkin stepped in under centre late in the fourth quarter, going 4-for-6 for 66 yards and one touchdown throw.

Kicker Stefan Flintoft had a busy night for the Lions, punting for 417 yards.

The Lions also came out on the wrong side of the penalty tally. After last week’s thriller at McMahon Stadium included 215 yards in total penalties, B.C. was whistled for six penalties for 65 yards on Saturday. That included a critical major foul on Jordan Williams which gave Calgary good position near centre field before Philpot’s monster catch shortly before halftime.

A major foul for roughing the passer also negated an interception by T.J. Lee with just over three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.

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As Calgary’s defence kept the Lions pinned in their own half of the field for most of the game, quarterback Jake Maier had a strong outing. He completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 294 yards and added 14 rushing yards. The Stampeders finished with five penalties for 36 yards.

With the win, combined with losses this week by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks, Calgary clinched its 17th-consecutive CFL post-season berth on the night Dave Dickenson coached his 100th career game with the Stampeders, improving his record to 70-28-2.

After the Lions won both matchups at McMahon Stadium for the first time since 2010, the Stampeders extended a winning record at B.C. Place that stretches back to 2016.

Despite the loss, B.C. also clinched its first playoff spot since 2018.

FOOT NOTES: Stampeders’ veteran offensive lineman Derek Dennis was taken off the field on a cart late in the first quarter after suffering a leg injury …Injured B.C. wide receiver Josh Pearson led the crowd in the singing of `O Canada’ before the game … The B.C. Football Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2022 before Saturday’s game … The Lions also held their Salute to Amateur Football … Next week, the Lions will host the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday, while the Stampeders will be back at McMahon Stadium to take on the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.

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