UPDATED: Tuesday, 2 p.m., with Saturday’s College World Series pairings:
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Golf: U.S. Open Championship, final round, Sunday, Channel 4, 10:30 a.m.:
Who won’t be seen around the bunker-heavy Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C. this weekend? Aside from the not-so-Congressional Anthony Weiner? Tiger Woods, of course, missing the U.S. Open for the first time in 17 years because of what he says are a “mild” left knee sprain and a “mild” sprain of his left Achilles’ tendon. Throw in a bruised ego. “This really opens up the field to a great number of players,” says ESPN golf analyst Curtis Strange. “It will certainly have somewhat of an impact on the casual fan, as we have seen throughout the years. There is no way of getting around that. There is always a buzz when Tiger plays. But there is always a buzz at the U.S. Open as well. But the way I look at it, when that first tee shot is hit Thursday morning, his name won’t be mentioned.” At least not for five minutes.
So, who will be there? Five-time runner-up Phil Mickelson. He holds the record for that distinction. Defending champ Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, the first Euro in 40 years to win the title.
But there’s also 18-year-old Patrick Cantlay (right), who just completed his freshman season at UCLA and was a finalist for the 2011 Ben Hogan Award, given to the top player in college golf. The recent NCAA tournament runner-up who finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, and qualified here as an amateur. Sam Saunders, the 23-year-old grandson of 1960 Open champ Arnold Palmer, also made it in. Add Steve Irwin, the 36-year-old son of three-time Open champ Hale Irwin, who was one of three amateurs to make it through a five-spot qualifier at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale. That’ll be nothing like the test presented at the par-71, 7,574 yard Congressional, host to the U.S. Open in 1964 and 1997, since this event is known famously as the toughest test in golf — narrowed fairways, thicker rough, firmed-up greens, and shooting par is seen as an achievement — four of the last six U.S. Opens have been won at even par or worse. “I hear so many guys say that his golf course doesn’t suit them,” says Jack Nicklaus. “It’s not supposed to. The whole idea of why they move to different places is so that you can adjust your golf game to suit the venue. And that’s the secret to the game.” If there’s a tie, we go to 18 holes on Monday. ESPN has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday (7 a.m. to noon, 2-to-4 p.m.), while NBC takes over the last two (Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). If there’s a tie, we go to 18 holes on Monday.
NHL Stanley Cup finals, Game 6: Vancouver at Boston, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
When an opponent takes at least 35 shots against him, Boston Bruins 37-year-old goaltender Tim Thomas has a 9-1 record during these Stanley Cup playoffs. Less than 35 shots, and he’s a mere 5-7 — which proved again to be the case in Vancouver’s 1-0 victory in Game 5, when the Canucks got off only 25 shots. In Games 3 and 4, both won by the Bruins, Thomas faced 79 shots. Just one got past him. With the home team winning every game of this series, the Bruins need to keep that going or else the Canucks, who have scored just six goals in the five games so far, will take their first Stanley Cup victory in their 40th year of existence. “I don’t know how to explain it,” Boston forward Milan Lucic said. “Especially in a series where you don’t have home-ice advantage, you’ve got to find a way to win at least one game on the road if you want to come out on top, and for some reason we haven’t been able to.” Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has struggled in two road games in Boston with a save percentage under .800. A Game 7 would be Wednesday back in Vancouver (5 p.m., Channel 4).
MLB: Dodgers vs. Cincinnati, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
Last sighting of Hong-Chih Kuo wasn’t pretty. The Dodgers’ reliever has been on the disabled list with performance anxiety issues. Good thing, then, that he may not be around when the team brings him back. Sort of. It’ll hand out a bobblehead in his honor for all who show up to Tuesday night’s game (7 p.m., Channel 9). The series, which begins a two-week homestand, ends Wednesday afternoon (12:10 p.m., Prime) with the half-priced food and drinks (no beer) promotion, and the new(er) throw-back Brooklyn light-blue uniforms. The Dodgers won two of three in their most recent series at Cincinnati, thanks to Matt Kemp’s bat, and the team scoring five in the eighth and four in the 11th to pull out a victory in the middle game of the set.
MLB: Angels at Seattle, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
The start of a two-week,12-game road trip takes the Angels to the Northwest, the Northeast, the Southeast, and then back to Southern California, mixing it up against the AL West, NL East and NL West. Seattle’s top two pitchers — Felix Hernandez, and rookie Michael Pineda — appear to be missing their turn in the rotation in this series, which continues Tuesday and Wednesday (7 p.m., Channel 13).
Soccer: U.S. vs. Guadelope, CONCACAF Gold Cup, 6 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:
No tainted beef on the American’s menu, but they still must feel queezy after losing to Panama last week. They smell an easier path to the tournament’s finale after five players from the Mexican squad were sent home for testing positive for a banned substance. The quarterfinals for the U.S. will most likely be Sunday at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.
MLB: Texas at N.Y. Yankees, 4 p.m., ESPN:
The Rangers’ scheduled starter, 24-year-old Derek Holland (5-1), suffered his only loss on April 16.
MLB: Boston at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., MLB Network:
The Rays took two from the Red Sox in their only previous meeting this season, including a 16-5 decision on April 11 against Daisuke Matsuzaka.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Houston, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
Once upon a time, the Dodgers used to sell these aprons that apparently those who were tired of housework could wear to proclaim they were heading out to see a baseball game instead (this one hangs in Gary Cypres’ Sports Museum of Los Angeles). For this series that concludes with a Father’s Day game on Sunday (1 p.m., Prime), the team is giving away these more standard aprons for dad to use while on the grill. A bit more politically correct, and sponsored by Farmer John. So while the other 28 MLB teams are involved in interactive interleague play, these two stay on the NL schedule, reunited a month after the Astros somehow took two of three in Houston. J.R. Towles’s walk-off single in the bottom of ninth clinched the series finale, 2-1. The middle game of this set is Saturday (7 p.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels at New York Mets, 4:10 p.m., FSW:
Once upon a time, Terry Collins was in line to succeed Jim Tracy as the Dodgers manager, but that plan came apart when Paul DePodesta was pushed out as general manager during the managerial interview process. A year ago, DePodesta joined general manager Sandy Alderson’s staff with the New York Mets as vice president of player development and amateur scouting — and was probably responsible for pushing for hiring Collins as the Mets manager this last off season.
The 62-year-old Collins, whose last big-league job before this was managing the Angels from 1997 to 1999, hasn’t had all that joyous a time in New York so far, and his fiery approach has come under some scrutiny. “I am who I am,” Collins told The New York Times. “I think I’ve matured through the years in being able to control things a little better. But make no mistake about it, if we play Ping-Pong, I’m going to try to kick your butt. That competitiveness is still there, my desire to win, what I expect of my teams, is still there. That fire still burns inside, or I wouldn’t be here.” The series continues Saturday (4:10 p.m.) and Sunday (10:10 a.m.) on FSW.
Baseball: College World Series, at Omaha, Neb.: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina, 11 a.m., ESPN; Texas vs. Florida, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Five Pac-10 teams had a shot of making the final eight, but only Cal survived the super regionals, over Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State, not to mention UC Irvine. The tournament continues with the other four teams playing Sunday — Cal vs. Virginia, 11 a.m. on ESPN, and Texas A&M vs. defending champion South Carolina, 4 p.m. on ESPN2 — leading up to the final two in the double-elimination bracket playing in a best-of-three starting Monday, June 27.
MLS: Galaxy at Colorado, 6 p.m. (delayed on FSW at 8 p.m.); Chivas vs. FC Dallas, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:
The Rapids ended an MLS-record streak of six consecutive draws with a 1-0 win in extra time at Portland, but they’ve also got a nine-game unbeaten streak, going back to the end of April. Meanwhile, Dallas just had a nine-game unbeaten streak snapped with a loss last weekend to Kansas City.
NASCAR: Sprint Cup Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Brooklyn, Mich., 10 a.m., TNT:
What ever dad craves on Father’s Day: A sour cream dip that’s so good, he’s almost cursing.
IndyCar: Milwaukee 225, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who has been on “Late Night with David Letterman” and the Country Music Awards since his latest achievement on Memorial Day weekend, still doesn’t have a ride for the rest of the season. He could be hanging out in the pits here, pounding down some Old Milwaukee, waiting for someone to call him in as a last-minute sub.
WNBA: Sparks vs. Seattle, Staples Center, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, Swin Cash and the defending WNBA champs, who started last year’s post-season title run with a sweep of the Sparks (who had knocked them out of the playoffs every time they previously met), storm back into L.A.