THE AFC SOUTH REPORT

Foles injury proves costly as AFC South gets off to mixed start

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A look at how Week 1 shaped up for the AFC South:

1.) Chargers 30 Colts 24

Jacoby Brissett is exactly what I thought he would be in his first game starting for the Colts. Nothing special, will not be asked to do too much, and it will be a wait and see situation as we go along in the season. Even though they lose the first game of the season to the Chargers, there were a few positive signs. First and foremost there was not a drop in production from TY Hilton. He had 8 catches for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was by far the most important thing to watch as a Texans fan from this game because TY has given the Texans fits over the past few years. My second and biggest observation is the running game looks very legitimate. Marlon Mack followed up his impressive year last season with a strong first game, piling up 174 yards on the ground on 25 carries. While they definitely do take a drop-offwithout Andrew Luck this season, I think there are a lot of things to be scared of about this team as a Texans fan.As for the Chargers, this is a very solid win to start the season. Offensively this team is a machine at times and I still thin that Phillip Rivers is one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. They will be a very serious threat in the AFC this season.

2.) Chiefs 40 at Jaguars 26

I came into this season questioning who would be the second biggest threat to the Texans this season. Would it be the Colts or the Jaguars? Jacksonville finally has a quality quarterback who has shown consistency over the course of his career and has also proven to be a very clutch quarterback when it matters. The Nick Foles injury stinks for Jags fans. It just sucks. There's no other way to put it because the defense is back and healthy and there were high hopes that this team could get back to where they were two years ago. This is a big win for Texans fans, but it still stinks whenever a player gets hurt. If anybody was wondering if the Chiefs would take a step back after a masterful first year from Patrick Mahomes, those doubts should be tossed aside. This team is great and Mahomes is going to be something special to watch for years to come. My big key to watch in this game would be if the Jaguars front seven could fluster Mahomes. The answer was no, and Mahomes had just eight incomplete passes on the day. LeSean McCoy looks to be an excellent addition to the team, and it makes sense as he has played for Andy Reid when he was with the Eagles.

3.) Titans 43 at Browns 13


Tennessee I gave no shot to win the AFC South this year. I will not overreact to Sunday's win over the Browns, but there certainly were plenty of positive signs to look at if you are a Titans fan. Any time you put up 43 points that is something everybody is going to look at. With a new offensive coordinator, Marcus Mariotta looked more comfortable in play design and statistically he fired three touchdown passes, which is a category he had been lacking in for his entire career. My biggest problem with Tennesse is their lack of weapons and playmakers. Did Derrick Henry pile up a good chunk of rushing yards (84 plus a touchdown), Yes. But will we see this kind of effort from this team on a game to game basis? That is still left to be determined, and I am a doubter. I think the bigger story from this game is Cleveland. Under a new head coach (whom many people believed to be underqualified for the job to begin with) this team committed 15 penalties. Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions as well. The lesson to be learned from this game is let's pump the breaks on what we think we know. Tennesse may be better than we thought initially and the Browns may not be Super Bowl contenders or even playoff ready at this very moment. On paper this team is solid and flashy, but it takes a working system for success to occur.


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Dustin Johnson already committed to play in the Houston Open. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Golfers around the world have been able to enjoy playing 18 holes despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as golf has been deemed a "social-distancing" sport. Houston golfers have been rewarded this year with a newly renovated Memorial Park course that is already being spruced up in preparation for the upcoming Houston Open.

The PGA's adjusted schedule has the tour coming to Houston November 2-8, a week before the Masters.

Current hope is for the Houston Open being played in front of cheering fans, according to tournament director, Colby Callaway. Callaway recently talked with SportsMap about what fans and players can expect when the Houston Open returns to Memorial Park for the first time since 1963.

SportsMap: What is the Houston Open's current position in regard to fans in attendance?

Colby Callaway: Currently we are working on a number of contingency plans and exploring all sorts of options. I wish we could say 'this is our plan' right now, and put that thing in concrete, but I just can't. 2020 is causing all of us grief in all sorts of imaginative ways, and it's certainly creating some chaos when it comes to putting a plan together for us. We're all committed to being as flexible in our planning as possible and will adjust as need be. We do think we'll have an idea very soon, and hope to announce some sort of plan over the next couple of weeks.

SM: What can Houstonians look forward to with the new course at Memorial Park?

CC: Well it's a really fun course. Players can absolutely bomb drives. The key will be their approach shots and how they navigate the sticky rough and very tricky green complexes. Several holes were re-routed and in doing so it provided some great spectator viewing areas. There is a fantastic spot where the Par 3 2nd hole, the Par 5 3rdHole, and the Par 3 7th all come together. It'll be a great area to sit and watch golf all day long. The Par 3 9th will be a great viewing spot for spectators as well. On the backside, lots of risk and reward comes into play on 15, 16 and 17. Water becomes a big factor on all 3 holes so a sense of caution is created, but the temptation to do something spectacular is there as well. It's going to be a very exciting stretch.

SM: What changes to the golf course will Memorial Park golfers find following the tournament?

CC: Two things in particular will benefit Memorial Park golfers. First the range will be fully functional by then. It's been open awhile now, but limited in spots to what you could hit club wise. By the time the event rolls around we'll have expanded the range so you can bring and hit any club in your bag. Yes, the big dog (driver) will now be able to hunt!

The other nice addition is an oversized putting green and chipping area that was created adjacent to the 1st tee and 18th green. It's a much-needed improvement. The finished product will be a great spot for the casual golfer to roll some putts and work on his or her short game.

SM: When will Memorial Park Golf Course be closed to the public before the tournament?

CC: The plan is to close it down sometime during the week before the tournament. We'll be working around golfers for approximately 20 days leading up to the event building our operational needs. As a casual golfer it's a fun time to play. There is definitely a little more activity in and around the course, but it's a lot of fun to watch the progress of the build.

SM: What special COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place during the tournament?

CC: We'll have a plan above and beyond what is required per the rules and guidelines we are given. We are currently working with our operational partners to make sure we're all on the same page when it some to these regulations. I can promise we'll error on the side of caution, and make sure our patrons feel safe when they enter the grounds. The positive is we have over 250 acres of green grass and fresh air to socially distance on. A golf course truly does have its advantages.

SM: Are you under any pressure to bring fans to the tournament because of its placement a week before the Masters?

CC: I don't think so. Speaking for our team, I know they don't feel any pressure. Maybe if this was a different year, and we didn't have all of the uncertainty swirling around, there would be some. It's just not something we are going to put any energy into worrying about this fall. We have enough on our plate.

SM: In prior years, Golf Club of Houston made efforts to replicate conditions at Augusta National. Will you be doing the same?

CC: No. Honestly even if we wanted to we couldn't. With the time of year we are in it's really impossible to over-seed, and that's the only way to create those iconic Masters-like conditions. Now we'll do everything asked of us by the TOUR to make it the best 2020 Houston Open course condition wise. They ultimately put the competition plan together. That plan includes among other things: required rough height, green speeds, and tee to green yardages. I know Jason Harsh, Director of Golf for the Houston Parks and Rec Department, will have his team prepare the course to the best of their abilities. One plus when you are a course that hosts a PGA TOUR event is you receive year-long plans and assistance from the PGA TOUR Agronomy Department. That's big for the event, but also a nice plus for all of us who enjoy playing Memorial year around. Following these plans course conditions will continue to get better and better each year.

SM: You have a lot of experience managing golf tournaments, most recently serving as the tournament director of AT&T's PGA Tour Champions event in San Antonio. How will your experiences help you to execute a successful Houston Open?

CC: It's crazy to think this is my 20th year being a part of a team that manages professional golf events. Even crazier to think that less than a year ago I felt like I had seen it all when it comes to things that could affect golf tournaments. I've worked events since 2000 that have experienced tornadoes, floods, hail, high winds, sleet, drought, dead greens, etc… but no one ever said we'd deal with a pandemic. Good Lord, maybe I've stayed in the business a little too long!

Kidding aside, fortunately I've spent most of those 20 years working for and with some of the best in the business. I've kept my eyes and ears open, and maybe most importantly learned to adapt to the situation at hand. Concrete plans do not exist in the professional golf world as Mother Nature will always have the last say. You put a plan together, but always must remain fluid and have contingency plans in your back pocket. Of course, this is unlike anything I've ever had to deal with. We will, however, figure this out and do our best to put on a really successful, and safe, Houston Open.

SM: The Astros Foundation is well known to support youth baseball and softball programs, how will the new partnership between the Foundation and the Houston Open bring more opportunities to junior golf in Houston?

CC: Junior golfers will benefit greatly from the Houston Open moving to Memorial Park. The Astros Golf Foundation is finishing up a par 3 course, which sits adjacent to the 1st fairway and 18th fairway, that will allow participants in the First Tee program an opportunity to hone their skills year around.

The Astros Golf Foundation will continue to support the First Tee financially as well with a yearly donation of $500K. The First Tee is an incredible program and I know our team loves being a part of their growth.

Also via a generous partnership with Chevron, the Astros Golf Foundation is building the Chevron Center for Education & Kids. This classroom style space will be housed in the new Astros Golf Foundation building currently under construction behind the 9th green at Memorial Park. This center will be open year around and will host students from all over the Houston area teaching them skills within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) academic disciplines.

The best way to receive information about the event is to follow socially. Our social handles are located below.

www.houstonopengolf.com

@houopengolf on Twitter / Instagram

Houston Open on Facebook

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