Smith, Sahm battle at Triple Play

Morgan Sahm hits a shot onto the green Sunday during the Western Slope Triple Play golf tournament at The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. Sahm won the event with a three-day total of 202.

Jessica Smith smiled and mingled with the more than 90 women who just finished the final round of the Western Slope Triple Play golf tournament.

On Smith’s hip bounced the reason why this was her first competitive tournament in a decade.

“I haven’t played tournament golf since college, so this is my first golf tournament in 10 years. I’m pretty happy,” she said.

Nine-month-old McKaylan was happy and content in her mother’s arms, just like Smith was happy and content with her second-place finish in the championship flight in the tournament that has grown into a fiercely competitive three days of golf with high-caliber players.

“I’ve just been playing a little bit more since having the baby,” said Smith, a 2004 Fruita Monument graduate.

The tournament, which wrapped up on Sunday at The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, quickly became a one-woman show in the final round.

As Smith, Kim Eaton and Savannah Cooper battled for second place, Morgan Sahm played a nearly flawless final round, shooting 66 to pull away for an eight-shot victory.

It was Sahm’s second straight Western Slope Triple Play title. She finished with a three-day total of 202, which included a round of 65 on Saturday at Tiara Rado Golf Course. She finished the tournament, which started Friday at Bookcliff Country Club, at 12-under par.

“It started off fine (on Sunday), I was only 1-under on the front (nine), and I was like ‘that’s fine, I’m going to keep making pars and hitting greens,’ ” she said.

The 19-year-old University of Northern Colorado sophomore, who came into the final day with a two-shot lead over Smith and four shots over Eaton, heated up on the back nine.

And so did the other three players in her foursome. All total, the four made 14 birdies and one eagle on the back nine.

“It’s great having tough competition to help push you, and I’m pushing them, and everyone played great,” Sahm said. “I just felt relaxed, I was just having a good time out there.”

Sahm won last year’s tournament after a one-hole playoff against Eaton.

Eaton regrouped after a tough start on Sunday to finish with a 2-under 70 to tie with Smith for second place. Eaton and Smith finished the tournament at 210. Cooper was fourth at 219.

“Today, I started out really bad,” Eaton said.

Then she talked about some deja vu from last year. On Sunday she hit her tee shot into the water on No. 2 and then found another pond on a later hole, which was exactly what she did last year on the Redlands course.

“It’s not my best course and I started thinking I never want to come back here,” she said, smiling. “But I did redeem myself on the back nine. I’m happy with second place after the way I started.”

Eaton, 58, from Mesa, Arizona, jokingly said that maybe it’s time to quit competing against the younger players.

“Those kids just wear me out,” she said with a grin.

Smith, 31, said there was no doubt that Sahm was in complete control on the final day.

“Morgan played lights out today and that was fun to see,” she said.

Smith also had to rally for some redemption after a horrible start.

“It was a grind, I was 5-over after 10 holes, so to come back and shoot even par (72) was pretty crazy,” she said.

The new mom drained five birdies, then drilled a nice shot at the pin on No. 18, to give her a chance to lock up second place all to herself.

“Then I missed my five-foot putt for birdie on 18. I needed that,” she said with a laugh.

Smith joked about how her game has come around since she returned to the links.

“Somehow I figured out how to putt, I really don’t know how that happened,” she said with another laugh.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — “Pudge” Rodriguez stared out at his father, wiping away tears as he spoke.

“I love you with all of my heart,” Rodriguez said. “If I’m a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer — double.”

Those words punctuated Rodriguez’s speech as he was inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, along with former commissioner Bud Selig and front-office guru John Schuerholz also were enshrined on a picture-perfect summer day in front of over 27,000 fans.

“It’s always emotional when you see the fans cheering for you, and my whole family in front of me,” Bagwell said. “I’m an emotional person. It’s a dream just to be part of this beautiful group. Now I have that plaque forever. It’s unbelievable.”

Before he started, Rodriguez received a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, many wearing red-and-white jerseys with Puerto Rico emblazoned on the front, and proceeded to give half his speech in Spanish.

“This is such an incredible honor for me,” Rodriguez said. “A little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream. Never let them take your dream away from you.”

The 45-year-old Rodriguez holds major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He hit 311 homers and batted .296 in his career. He’s also only the second catcher elected on the first ballot, following in the footsteps of his childhood idol, Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Bench, who was seated on the dais behind him.

Bagwell, who played his entire 15-year career in Houston, took the dais to an extended applause from the Astros fans who made the trip.

“You know I don’t like attention,” Bagwell said with a tinge of nervousness. “I’m so humbled to be here. I’m just really trying to figure out what’s going on.”

The 48-year-old Bagwell was one-third of the famed “Killer B’s” of the Astros, along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman. Together they helped transform the Astros from a last-place team to the World Series in 2005, the first team from Texas to do so. Elected in his seventh year on the ballot, Bagwell is the only first baseman in history with 400 career home runs and 200 stolen bases.

Bagwell ended his career with 449 home runs and from 1996-2001 had at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs per season, only the sixth player in major league history to reach those marks in at least six straight years.

Raines was greeted by scores of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses. He thanked his mom and dad, who were seated in the front row and later focused on Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, his teammate with the Montreal Expos when he first broke into the major leagues in the early 1980s.

“Without Andre Dawson there’s no telling where I’d be,” said Raines, who fought cocaine problems early in his career. “I wanted to kind of be like you and he finally accepted and I followed. Thank you so much for making me the player I became.”


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