by Alicia Freese May 20, 2013 vtdigger.org A decade of lengthy and divisive debate ended Monday when Vermont became the first state in the US to enact legislation allowing terminally ill patients to obtain medication to help them end their lives.In a room jam-packed with lawmakers and supporters of the so-called physician-assisted death bill, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law S77, which takes effect immediately.Sen. Dick McCormack, left, and Dick Walters, president of Patients Choice Vermont, greet supporters of a bill allowing physician-assisted death in Vermont. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDiggerThe bill grants doctors civil and criminal immunity if they follow a series of required steps before prescribing a lethal dose of medication to a patient with a life expectency of fewer than six months who requests it. The steps include ascertaining that the patient is capable of making the decision and can self-administer the medicine. The requirements expire after three years, by which point lawmakers hope doctors will have developed their own guidelines.Shumlin told the crowd, ‘This bill does not compel anyone to do anything that they don’t choose in sound mind to do. All it does is give those who are facing terminal illness, are facing excruciating pain, a choice in a very carefully regulated way.’Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith praised lawmakers for positioning themselves at the vanguard of ‘patient choice.’Oregon and Washington passed similar laws through referendums and a court decision prompted a law in Montana, but Vermont is the first state to pass the measure through the legislative process.Attorney General Bill Sorrell predicted that court action could compel other states to follow in Vermont’s footsteps. ‘Quite frankly I see litigation in the future. This could be the next, or a next, big civil rights issue,’Sorrell said.Sorrell said that like race and gender orientation issues, he expects the tide of changing public opinion ‘propelled by aging baby boomers ‘will prompt the Supreme Court to act on the issue. ‘I see this being another of those civil rights where the mood in the country changes and the judiciary will follow suit.’The president of Patients Choice Vermont, Dick Walters, who spearheaded an 11-year push for the legislation, said in a statement, ‘Vermont has taken a huge step forward for the autonomy rights of terminally ill patients.’Health care systems weigh the implicationsVermont hospitals are not jumping on board just yet, however. S.77 gives health care facilities the option of prohibiting their staff from prescribing a lethal dose of medicine to patients who are staying at the facility.And most hospitals will take advantage of that option, at least in the short term, according to Jill Olson, vice president of policy and legislative affairs for the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS).Fletcher Allen ‘the state’s largest hospital ‘informed its staff Friday that it is enacting an interim policy to prohibit the practice for patients on its premises.That policy will stand until the Ethics Committee and hospital leadership has had a chance to work through the ‘unique issues from an ethical standpoint’that the legislation poses, according to chief medical officer, Dr. Stephen Leffler.Olson said the quick turnaround ‘the Legislature passed the bill on May 13, and Shumlin signed it one week later, making it effective immediately ‘is leading many hospitals to prohibit the practice.‘I’m certain that we’ll have many [hospitals and health facilities] that use the exemption because of the quick implementation time frame,’Olson said.Even two weeks, Olson said, would have allowed hospitals to consult their ethics committees ahead of time.Sen. Claire Ayer and Bob Ullrich, an active proponent of physician-assisted death, talk after Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill allowing terminally ill patients to obtain a lethal dose of medication. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDiggerBut Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, who played a key role shepherding S.77 into law, said the quick turnaround was necessary for procedural reasons. Normally, a bill has to sit in the Senate for 24 hours after passing. With S.77, the legislative session would have ended before the clock ran out. The only way to expedite the process was to have the governor to request the bill, but when he makes that sort of request, he has to sign the bill within five legislative days. Ayer said they chose not to delay the effective date within the bill itself because ‘there are people who want it now, and they’ve been here day after day hoping that when its time for them they’ll have that option.’Health Commissioner Harry Chen said he doesn’t think the hesitancy among hospitals will be a setback because it’s unlikely that hospital patients will avail themselves of this option. Chen said information from Oregon shows most people who take the prescription do so at home.Opponents refocus their effortsScattered among the law’s jubilant supporters was a somewhat sparser crowd that’s also been omnipresent at the Statehouse during the debate over the bill. Opponents of the legislation, each identified by a round orange sticker, said they resented the event’s festive atmosphere given the risks that accompany the law.Mary Hahn Beerworth, a member of Vermont Right to Life, said, ‘I think they have a nerve being here today, having a party and celebrating when they have just floated vulnerable Vermonters out there at serious risk at feeling pressured into asking and requesting for a lethal dose of medication and then being bullied into taking it.’After today, supporters and opponents are both pivoting their attention away from the Legislature and toward providing the public with information.The Vermont Medical Society, which lobbied against the bill, is now focusing its efforts on telling physicians what they need to know about S.77. There are 15 steps doctors have to follow if they’re to receive civil and legal immunity, according to VMS executive director Paul Harrington.‘We are basically trying to let physicians know their responsibilities if they choose to prescribe a lethal medication,’he said.The Department of Health will also be distributing information regarding the requirements.True Dignity Vermont is taking a different tack. Carrie Handy, a board member for the anti-assisted suicide group, said they are refashioning the advocacy shop as a watchdog organization. They are launching a hotline for people to report abuse ‘opponents are concerned that vulnerable adults will be pressured to request a prescription ‘and they have plans to start a registry of ‘‘safe’doctors, nursing homes and other health care providers.’‘There are a couple of physicians who have come out strongly in favor of this legislation. Obviously they would not be on our registry. We hope to be able to get physicians on record saying they would not participate,’Handy said.Chen said one of the potential ‘silver linings’of S.77 is that it will spur conversations between patient and doctors about end-of-life decisions, and a ‘safe doctors’registry could discourage that.‘I’m not sure it really serves any purpose other than putting off having those conversations,’Chen said.On the other side of the issue, Patients Choice Vermont plans to retool itself to provide information to people interested in the option of obtaining a lethal prescription.
CARICOM and UNEP extend cooperation on environment Sep 21, 2020 Strong CARICOM participation on Day One of UN Ocean ConferenceCaribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States sent a strong signal about their commitment to saving the oceans by taking lead roles in a number of the activities on Day One of the UN Oceans conference in New York, Monday 5 June, 2017. Grenada facilitated two strongly supported events on the Blue…June 6, 2017In "Barbados"CARICOM – Strengthening regional and global networks to achieve sustainable development goalsThe Caribbean Community (CARICOM) staged its Side-Event at the UN Oceans Conference in New York, Wednesday, with a strong focus on networking and collaboration to help the region achieve its sustainable development goals. The event, titled “Ocean Governance and SIDS Sustainable Development”, was convened as a partnership involving CARICOM Member…June 8, 2017In "Barbados"CSEF VI highlights transformative role clean energy can play in CARICOMClean energy in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has to be further developed to play a transformative role in economic development, poverty alleviation, and building resilience to deal with climate change. Electricity and fuel sector regulations also must be right-sized to suit the needs of Member States, and stakeholders must find…December 12, 2018In "Belize"Share this on WhatsApp Oct 7, 2020 You may be interested in... Sep 25, 2020 CARICOM congratulates Belize on its 39th Independence… CARPHA: Leading the Caribbean’s COVID-19 Response – VIDEO Share this:PrintTwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:Like Loading... Oct 7, 2020 Standards, Quality Still Important “Belize is also the only country in the world to have developed a national multi-species system of marine tenure and zoning, locally known as managed access. This system has proven reliable as a tool to empower traditional fishers to protect their fishing area.” Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change, Belize, speaking at the United Nations Ocean Conference, Tuesday. See Minister’s presentation – VIDEO
’The cost of freight must be cut by 50% - and then by 50% again’ was the challenge set by Lyn Fairbrother, Managing Director of the European Railway Research Institute, at its second interactive conference in Paris on February 4-5, organised in conjunction with the Association of American Railroads.The first halving could be achieved through more efficient operation, and the second through innovative technology. If Fairbrother’s tone was a little alarmist, it may reflect his impression that Europe’s railways are preoccupied with reinventing the wheel, rather than using those already available. ’We have to get rid of the idea of starting at square one - or rather square zero - each time, and in each country’, he insisted.European engineers understandably want to use their creativity to solve the problems they see. Yet in many cases answers may have already been found outside Europe. Last month we reported on progress in North America with electronic brake technology (RG 2.98 p95). ECP brakes gave such an improved response on BNSF block trains that, to management’s surprise, brake wear increased slightly - drivers being able to approach speed restrictions faster, and brake later and harder. But ECP brakes offer considerable benefits in terms of train maintenance and fuel costs.Delegates asked whether ECP braking could be adopted in Europe, what the investment case would be, and what standards should be set. There is almost too much scope among the technologies available. One choice is between a train wire - proven in service but requiring all vehicles to be equipped - or radio, with more potential for data transmission and remote control but needing more development work.Europe’s railways face unrelenting competition from road haulage, and must drive down costs ruthlessly. Although the German EBAS system offers a domestic solution for modular freight trains such as CargoSprinter, and the Train Coupling & Sharing project, for most other railways this would simply be too expensive. If technology must save the railway a quarter of its current costs, whatever is chosen will have to be cheap to buy, install and maintain, and offer long term savings. And that means a standard system and competing suppliers to keep unit costs low.Another hot topic was integrated automatic couplers to replace drawhooks and buffers. Again it was recognised that operational benefits could be diminished by the costs of a long transition period.Europe’s engineers were obviously impressed by the achievements of their North American colleagues. Their challenge is to drive down costs, and this should include imported technology where appropriate. o
Murray celebrated his 33rd birthday two months ago, and due to his advanced age and current coronavirus break, he thinks his best days in grand slam tournaments may be numbered. According to the three-time grand slam winner, the tennis player is already old. Nevertheless, he still wants to return to the courts.The Dunblane native played the last grand slam singles match at last year’s Australian Open, after which he announced that he was probably ending his career. However, the second operation of the problem hip gave him hope, after half a year he jumped into the tennis carousel again, and even celebrated the title in the hall in Antwerp.However, other health problems arose and Murray did not manage to return this year before the coronavirus break, which has lasted since March. He planned another comeback in March at the Masters in Miami, but became the second canceled event due to a coronavirus pandemic.Two days ago, the famous Wimbledon was to end, and Murray regrets that this year’s home grand slam was canceled without compensation. He himself does not know how many times he will look at grand slams as an active player. “I’m an old tennis player, so it’s not nice to lose big tournaments. You can never know how many times you’ll play the biggest tournaments. Of course I’m sorry we lost Wimbledon this year. I also miss traveling. I’ve enjoyed my whole career, getting to know different corners of the world. ”He can check what he can do in grand slams at the end of August. On the last day of August, the US Open, which it intends to attend, will begin. If he dares to play clay matches, a month later he will start the translated French Open.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the men’s singles final at the Australian Open against Croatia’s Marin Cilic in Melbourne, Australia Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)Used to be that Roger Federer simply could not win a match, let alone a championship, at major tournaments.That might be hard to imagine now that Federer owns 20 Grand Slam trophies. But you can look it up: He lost in the first round on three of his first four trips to Wimbledon, and three of his first five appearances at the French Open.ADVERTISEMENT View comments ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Source: Pistons finalizing deal to acquire Blake Griffin So let’s recall what Federer said at the All England Club on the day he collected his very first Grand Slam title, all the way back in July 2003.“I hope,” Federer said, “it’s not going to be my last.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games opening Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim It’s hard to decide what is most remarkable about Federer’s career.Cilic’s take?“The passion to compete, season after season, especially at this high level,” said the man who has lost two of the last three Grand Slam finals to the Swiss maestro. “Also, being able to challenge himself, first physically and then mentally, as well, to be at the top almost every single week.”The sheer volume of it all does stand out. Federer has won exactly 10 percent of the 200 major tournaments contested in the professional era. Before Federer started collecting his 20, the most any man managed to accumulate was the 14 for Pete Sampras; he now stands No. 3, behind Federer and Rafael Nadal with 16.There’s also that constant work to evolve and improve, most notably during his recent renaissance by adding versatility to his backhand side with a flatter, more powerful shot than his long-preferred slice.ADVERTISEMENT Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Seems silly nowadays, doesn’t it?Because there he was, nearly 15 full years later, tears dotting his cheeks as he spoke to an adoring Australian Open crowd after beating 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in Sunday’s final in Melbourne. Holding his most recent prize, Federer declared, “The fairy tale continues.” PH military to look into China’s possible security threat to power grid MOST READ Federer was on his way, just like so many times before.“It’s always very, very challenging to play him,” Cilic observed.Wasn’t always that way at the very beginning, actually. Yet it very much is, all these years later.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games SEA Games: PH still winless in netball after loss to Thais Do we want to be champions or GROs? – Sotto LATEST STORIES ‘We cannot afford to fail’ as SEA Games host – Duterte And there’s the longevity, which is particularly impressive in light of the recent injury woes for the younger members of tennis’ elite: Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.At 36½, Federer is now the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era — Ken Roswell won Australia in 1972 at 37. And after going more than four years without a trophy, he’s added three in the span of four appearances at majors (he skipped last year’s French Open and sounds like someone contemplating doing so again in a few months’ time).“I don’t think age is an issue, per se. It’s just a number,” he said Sunday. “But I need to be very careful in my planning, really decide beforehand what are my goals, what are my priorities. I think that’s what’s going to dictate how successful I will be.”Federer was asked how long he thinks he can continue playing at this level.“No idea. Honest, I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve won three Slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself,” he said. “I just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen.”Take a look at the way Federer earned his sixth Australian Open championship, tying the men’s record for most in history, to go along with his unprecedented eight Wimbledons, five U.S. Opens (tied for the most in the professional era) and one French Open.After letting a lead slip away and getting outplayed by Cilic the fourth set, Federer faced some danger in the opening game of the decider in the form of two break points.“Momentum,” Cilic would say later, “was on my side.”Right when nerves would figure to be most frayed, Federer was steadier. On the initial break chance there, Cilic got a look at a 104 mph second serve and dumped a forehand return into the net. On the next, Cilic pushed a forehand return wide off a 119 mph first serve up the “T,” and Federer yelled out in Swiss German. Two points later, Federer conjured up a cross-court backhand winner that clipped the outside of a line to cap a 15-stroke exchange and grab that game.In the next, Cilic double-faulted twice and Federer took advantage, breaking en route to a 3-0 lead. And that was pretty much that. BeautyMNL open its first mall pop-up packed with freebies, discounts, and other exclusives
Man Utd boss Solskjaer: What I can teach Rashfordby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no doubts about the potential of Marcus Rashford.Solskjaer wants to teach the England striker how to become a fox in the box after he struggled for goals under predecessor Jose Mourinho. He said: “I think Marcus has got his own motivation to become the best player he can be.“He has got far more than I did in terms of his physical attributes, his pace, his strength and striking the ball from outside the box. But maybe I can give him a little bit of the nous I had inside the box. I'm talking about the little moves you make to get free, that little bit of calmness in front of goal."Marcus is only 21. He's still learning. The most important thing I can see is to just settle him down in front of goal.“I've seen him rush a few finishes. He thinks 'I've got to get a shot off early' when sometimes you just need to pass it past the keeper. I always say that the goal never moves. So I am really looking forward to working with him." About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
2017Cleveland1321Minnesota15011405-95 2010Denver1401San Francisco14181409-91 YEARDESIGNATED AWAYELODESIGNATED HOMEELOHARMONIC MEAN+/- AVERAGE The NFL will take over London for the 18th time — and the 11th consecutive year — this weekend when the Baltimore Ravens take on veteran overseas travelers the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The game will be the first of four set in England this season, the most that have been played in a calendar year.For the NFL, the additional game — there have been three in London each of the past three seasons — represents a concerted effort to expand the popularity and global reach of its brand.1The NFL will also return to Mexico City this season. For the British, it’s another chance to watch lousy football.It’s no secret that the teams that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has sent have been overwhelmingly bad — and we aren’t just talking about the Jaguars. According to FiveThirtyEight’s pre-game Elo ratings, the harmonic mean of both teams’ ratings — a balanced measure of matchup quality that can better detect when both teams in a game are either good or bad — has been below average in 13 of the 17 games played in London.2Compared with 1500, roughly the rating of an average NFL team. On top of that, all four games to be played in London this year will be below average, according to the team’s current Elo ratings. 2007New York Giants13Miami103✓ 2012New England1678St. Louis1393152222 2013San Francisco1642Jacksonville12461417-83 2015Detroit1432Kansas City15141472-28 2015New York Jets1478Miami14491463-37 2016Washington1509Cincinnati1525151717 2007N.Y. Giants1553Miami13581449-51 London NFL games have been consistently below averageThe harmonic mean of the Elo ratings of the teams in each matchup compared with 1500, roughly the rating of an average NFL team 2010Denver16San Francisco248✓ 2013Pittsburgh27Minnesota347✓ 2014Miami38Oakland1424 2017Arizona1529L.A. Rams14181471-29 2015New York Jets27Miami1413 2011Chicago1543Tampa Bay1527153535 2017New Orleans1460Miami15191489-11 2014Dallas31Jacksonville1714 2013San Francisco42Jacksonville1032 2009New England35Tampa Bay728 2015Buffalo1512Jacksonville13101404-96 2016New York Giants17L.A. Rams107✓ 2014Dallas1557Jacksonville12981416-84 Ten of the 17 games — or 59 percent — have been decided by one score. That might not sound so thrilling, but just 35 percent of all NFL games played since 2007 have been decided by 8 points or fewer. One of last year’s London games was so tightly matched, no one won it. (Fortunately for Cincinnati and Washington, they were playing in the one NFL location where fans are content with a tie.)Low-quality games usually lead to drops in attendance toward the end of the season. Not in London, though. All but two games have attracted a crowd of more than 80,000, with the highest NFL London crowd at 84,488 — for last year’s tie at Wembley. To put that in context, that average draw would have been the second-highest home attendance of any team in the league last season (behind only the Dallas Cowboys).As Goodell continues to push some of his most mediocre teams onto the international scene, it turns out that they’re rewarding fans with some of the league’s most competitive play. All 2017 games are based on Elo ratings before Week 3. 2014Detroit22Atlanta211✓ 2009New England1630Tampa Bay13751492-8 YEARDESIGNATED AWAYPOINTSDESIGNATED HOMEPOINTSPOINT DIFFWON BY ONE SCORE 2008San Diego32New Orleans375✓ Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 2017Baltimore1539Jacksonville13961464-36 2013Pittsburgh1448Minnesota14771462-38 2011Chicago24Tampa Bay186✓ 2015Detroit10Kansas City4535 2016Indianapolis27Jacksonville303✓ The Jaguars are a big part of this, of course. Jacksonville has played in London four times, and the Elo rating of each of those four Jaguar teams ranks in the bottom five (among all 34 teams). Joining them in that bottom five are the 2014 Oakland Raiders. And it turns out that the Raiders’ game against the Miami Dolphins that year was the worst London matchup so far based on our Elo ratings. That game was so dreary that those Raiders, who fell to 0-4 after losing to Miami, fired their coach, Dennis Allen, not long after their plane touched down in the U.S. Perhaps by no coincidence, the Dolphins coach that year, Joe Philbin, would be fired the next season after starting 1-3. Philbin’s last game would be a loss to the Jets … in London.But not every game played in London has been between NFL bottom feeders — sometimes a good team makes the trip (and, sure, plays a bottom feeder). The Brits have experienced Tom Brady and the New England Patriots twice, as well as the San Francisco 49ers the season after their latest Super Bowl appearance. But if you remove those three teams, the average London team,3Based on the harmonic mean. including this year’s Ravens and Jags, has an Elo rating of 1444. That’s roughly on par with this year’s 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals.NFL fans will generally tune in regardless of who is playing. So perhaps the NFL’s intention was that the consistently poor quality of opponents would be scratched out by competitive, exciting contests. If that’s the case, the plan is generally working. 2016Washington27Cincinnati270✓ 2008San Diego1600New Orleans1470153232 2014Detroit1541Atlanta14051470-30 2014Miami1449Oakland13271385-115 2016Indianapolis1469Jacksonville13501407-93 2016N.Y. Giants1466L.A. Rams14811473-27 2012New England45St. Louis Rams738 Blowout or bustThe point differential for regular-season NFL games played in London 2015Buffalo31Jacksonville343✓
The big hittersDustin Johnson (odds to win: 12-to-1): Johnson entered Augusta last season having won three consecutive tournaments. He was among the favorites to win. Then he fell down a flight of stairs.This could be the year he exorcises those what-could-have-been demons.The 33-year-old is tied for the PGA Tour lead in par-4 scoring average and leads the tour in par-5 scoring average. He’s also No. 1 in total strokes gained, a metric that measures each shot a player takes based on how much it reduces his expected score on a given hole, relative to the field average. And Johnson’s putting has been sensational; he ranks in the top 15 in strokes gained with the putter. With an ostentatious ability to drive the ball — he leads the tour in strokes gained off the tee — Johnson owns five of the tour’s 50 longest drives this season, providing ample opportunities for attendees to crow “mashed potatoes.”1Please don’t.Johnson has owned the longest holes at the Augusta National Golf Club, with a career mark of 46 under par on par-5s, according to ESPN Stats & Info. To compete this weekend, though, he’ll need to improve on par-4s, on which he’s a career 44 over par.Bubba Watson (odds to win: 16-to-1): The two-time Masters champion enters this weekend as arguably the player on tour in the best form.After going more than 40 events without a win, he has won twice in the past two months — at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Genesis Open. The same guy who was contemplating retirement last season during a rapid weight loss is now vying to become the ninth player to win the Masters at least three times.The 39-year-old’s unorthodox style feels tailor-made for rounds under the Georgia pines. The course allows him to attempt 45-yard hook shots with a pitching wedge, for example, and to uncork his 316.2-yard drives. And because he annihilates his tee shots, Watson has over his career played the par-5s at the Masters 65 under par, according to ESPN Stats & Info.The short game has traditionally held Watson back, but he has moved from outside the top 140 in strokes gained on shots approaching the green and with the putter last season to inside the top 80 in both this season.Rory McIlroy (odds to win: 12-to-1): With a roaring final-round 64, McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month, his first victory since the fall of 2016. Then came shots of vodka with the media.A win this weekend would complete the career Grand Slam for the 28-year-old. Since 2014, only Jordan Spieth has led more rounds in major tournaments than McIlroy has — and no player save for McIlroy can claim four top-10 finishes at Augusta over the past five years.After an injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign, McIlroy has surged up the leaderboard in a number of metrics, ranking in the top 25 in total strokes gained, strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained with the putter. His drives are averaging a blistering 314.1 yards, a top-five mark on tour.To win, McIlroy will have to improve on holes 10, 11 and 12, where he’s a combined 26 over par since the final round in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Info.The kidsJon Rahm (odds to win: 20-to-1): It can be easy to forget that Rahm is 23 years old — and not only because he has the face of a 35-year-old accountant. “Rahmbo” has been so good so fast that he’s the highest-ranked player to not have a major championship to his name, according to ESPN Stats & Info.Rahm’s putting has improved mightily: He’s jumped from No. 49 in strokes gained with the putter and No. 66 in putts per round last season to No. 32 and No. 13, respectively, this season.He cranks the ball 306.7 yards off the tee, which makes him No. 23 on tour. But he ranks much higher in strokes gained off the tee — second — because whether he’s blasting his driver or using another club, he’s effective in maximizing his first shots, covering 67.5 percent of hole yardage with his tee shots. Club selection is paramount at Augusta, particularly off the tee — will Rahm’s skills there and his improved putting help him notch a win?Jordan Spieth (odds to win: 10-to-1): Last weekend’s final-round 66 at the Houston Open gave Spieth’s supporters a reason to be optimistic about Augusta, where Spieth’s track record ranges from the sublime to the five-alarm tire fire.In the aggregate, though, Spieth has been dominant at the Masters: In his four starts, he hasn’t finished lower than 11th; three times, he ranked in the top 10. In 2015, he became the fifth-ever wire-to-wire winner and tied the all-time lowest winning score (270, -18). Since 2015, Spieth has been 20 shots or better than any other player at majors, according to ESPN Stats & Info.But Spieth has fallen off a cliff with his putter. In each of the past three seasons, he ranked 42nd or better in strokes gained with the putter. In 2018, he’s No. 185. But that hasn’t stopped him from attacking the longer holes on tour; he ranks in the top 20 in par-4 and par-5 scoring average. With a win, Spieth would be just the third player to claim four majors before his 25th birthday (the other two are Woods and Young Tom Morris). He turns 25 in July.Justin Thomas (odds to win: 10-to-1): Had he turned in a stronger performance last month, Thomas could have entered this weekend as the top player in the world. Should he win this weekend, few would question his place atop the global leaderboard.The 24-year-old has won an astonishing seven times since the start of the 2016 season, more than any player on tour. But the occasionally profane Kentucky native has struggled in his two previous appearances at Augusta, where he’s never shot in the 60s or finished in the top 20.However, Thomas comes into the tournament with much more momentum this time around. He has jumped from a No. 45 ranking a season ago to No. 5 this season in percentage of yardage covered by tee shots, largely because his drives are averaging 312.5 yards, the longest average distance he’s posted since he turned pro.The Europeans (and one Canadian)Paul Casey (odds to win: 20-to-1): The 40-year-old is one of the the least-discussed veterans in this year’s field, and though he has repeatedly demonstrated his poise at majors, he’s never quite managed a win.Casey has finished in the top 10 at each of the last three Masters, and he has logged top-10 marks at every major at least once in his career.This season, only Sergio Garcia, Johnson and Casey rank in the top five in both strokes gained tee to green and total strokes gained. The Englishman has also notched a win stateside this year at the Valspar Championship, though it’s possible his victory was overshadowed when a certain someone on a comeback tour finished tied for second.Alex Noren (odds to win: 40-to-1): The Swede hasn’t finished outside the top 36 all season, racking up three top-10 finishes. In search of his first major victory, Noren has come to the right place. Eight of the last 11 Masters winners had never won a major before taking home the green jacket, according to ESPN Stats & Info.Noren cut his teeth on the European Tour, where he won five times between July 2016 and May 2017. He enters this weekend ranked in the top 20 in total strokes gained and in strokes gained with the putter, on approach, and from tee to green.Justin Rose (odds to win: 12-to-1): Rose has been a perennial contender at Augusta, and this could be the year he finally breaks through and wins a green jacket. He has finished in the top 10 in the tournament each of the last three years, twice coming in second, and over the last three Masters combined, he has the best score relative to par of anyone on the tour. Rose has ended up in the top 25 in 10 of his 12 starts at the Masters, which is an absurd success rate. Among players with at least five starts at the tournament, only Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan have made the top 25 more consistently.Adam Hadwin (odds to win: 150-to-1): A Canadian made the list! Hadwin has finished among the top 20 in every tournament he’s played in since early February. If he can withstand inconsistencies off the tee (he ranks No. 129 in strokes gained off the tee) and on the green (No. 131 in strokes gained with the putter), his approach game can do most of the work (No. 22 in strokes gained on shots approaching the green, No. 7 in strokes gained around the green). This year also marks the 15th anniversary of Mike Weir’s improbable victory at Augusta to become the first Canadian man to win a major. Hadwin has finished in the top 10 three times so far this season, and like Weir, he’s deft with the short game. It’s Masters week, which means that it’s time to cancel your weekend plans, turn the dulcet tones of Jim Nantz’s voice up as loud as your television and neighbors will allow, and watch — in its piano-saturated glory — golf’s most popular event.The 82nd installment of the Masters will be the smallest field since the mid-1990s, and it will be the most competitive in at least the past decade. There are 10 players with shorter than 20-to-1 odds to win the tournament (two more are at 20-to-1 exactly), according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Tuesday. That’s the most of any Masters since at least 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group.Tiger Woods, a golfer you might have heard of, is in that group, as is another familiar name: Phil Mickelson. But they aren’t the only players worth paying attention to. Below, I’ve highlighted the other marquee players you should look out for, as well as the under-the-radar players who could find themselves in a green jacket by Sunday night.
OSU senior guard Cait Craft (13) defends a Purdue player in a game on Jan. 17 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 90-70. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Asst. Sports EditorAway contests for the Ohio State women’s basketball team have been problematic, as it has lost three of its five matches as the visitor this season.Now, after a convincing 90-70 victory Sunday afternoon over the Purdue Boilermakers, No. 7 OSU (13-4, 5-1) plans to carry over the energy it exposed in that game against Michigan (11-6, 3-3) Thursday evening. The Buckeyes and Wolverines are set to tip off at 6 p.m. in the Crisler Center.The main problem for the Buckeyes on the road revolves around their focus on the court. There have been times throughout the season where they haven’t honed in on what they had to do to get the job done, hurting them by the time the fourth quarter came around.“When we are not at home we have to make sure we have a lot of focus and stay together,” sophomore guard Asia Doss said. “The breakdowns mostly come on the defensive end, then (our opponents) get in transition and we don’t get back.”Doss returned to the starting lineup against Purdue, marking just her second start of the year. She contributed seven points and four assists in the 31 minutes that she saw the hardwood. Doss mentioned how it was a different experience starting rather than coming off the bench, specifically not being able to have those few minutes to analyze what is going on in the game prior to checking in.Although on paper the Scarlet and Gray have the clear advantage, the Wolverines have a roster that is littered with complete players. Despite the fact that the rivalry between OSU and Michigan is typically referred to when talking about the gridiron, there is still tension between the two regardless of what the sport may be.The last time these two faced off in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a year ago on Jan. 11. The game extended into overtime, where the Wolverines eventually came out on top, 100-94. Just like the team that hit the century mark last year, Michigan is a high-scoring team, and the Buckeyes said they need to bring lockdown defense if they want to come out victorious.“I think our defense has to be really good,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “They really make you pay. They shoot the ball so well, and that’s what happened last year.”Scoring, contrary to focus for road games, has not been a problem for the Buckeyes, as they lead the conference in that category, dropping 86.4 points per game. Having two prolific scorers in senior guard Ameryst Alston and sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell — both ranking in the top 10 in scoring for the conference — does not hurt OSU’s chances of putting the rock in the basket.Handling Thome and ThompsonThe Buckeyes have a tough task at hand stopping the talents of junior guard Siera Thompson and freshman center Hallie Thome. Both players have different types of games but can be lethal if they are able to get the shots they are looking for.OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) dribbles the ball in a game against Purdue on Jan. 17 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 90-70. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Asst. Sports EditorThompson is a crafty guard who is known for her speed and getting to the basket. OSU’s backcourt will need to pressure her but also stay in front to not allow her to get penetration toward the basket. When Thompson is able to find a hole in the defense, she not only is able to create her own shots, but she can use her impressive court vision to distribute the ball to the open teammate, evident by the 4.7 assists she averages on the season.The 6-foot-5 freshman Thome is a skilled post player who originates from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland. In her last outing against Penn State, Thome grabbed five boards while shooting 8-of-9 from the field to finish with 18 points. Growing up nearby Buckeye Nation, one could expect Thome to bring her best play to the Crisler Center on Thursday.Switching up the starting fiveMcGuff and his coaching staff have yet to stick with one starting lineup, and it doesn’t look like there will be one solidified any time soon. With the lineup constantly changing, it could be difficult for a team to find chemistry and understand each other’s tendencies. Despite such concern, it hasn’t affected the Buckeyes quite yet, as they have been able to adjust to whatever fivesome McGuff decides to put on the floor.“Our kids have done a really good job right now, for the most part,” McGuff said about the flip-flopping of the lineups. “We are playing with different combinations and playing around with the lineup a little bit just because I was never really tied to anything in that regard.”Like many coaches, McGuff said he notices hard work, and if the players continue to work hard in practice and in the games, then they will be earning their playing time. What’s nextFollowing the Wolverines, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, for their second clash of the season with Rutgers (12-7, 3-4) on Sunday. On Jan. 10 when the Scarlet Knights visited Columbus, OSU had no problem overcoming them in a 90-78 win.Tipoff for the rematch is slated for 3 p.m.