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Time Out For Sports: Recapping The Masters; Carolina Panthers Add A QB And High School Playoffs Preview

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2021 Masters Winner Hideki Matsuyama

A golfer with North Carolina collegiate ties makes a valiant run in Augusta at the Masters Golf Tournament; the Carolina Panthers close a deal on a quarterback and a preview of the high school football playoffs. With "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk sports is Langston Wertz, Jr. a longtime sportswriter with the Charlotte Observer.

Langston Wertz Jr, a longtime sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer.
Langston Wertz Jr.

(Music)

Glenn: That's the Masters' Golf Tournament theme called "Augusta." It was written 40 years ago by Dave Loggins, cousin of singer Kenny Loggins. The Masters ended on Sunday with Hideki Matsuyama becoming the first Japanese golfer to win the Masters, taking the green jacket from last year's winner, Dustin Johnson of South Carolina.

Wertz: Yeah, Dustin was trying to become the first back-to-back winner since Tiger Woods. He bogeyed three of his last four holes on Friday. And when he really looked like he had a chance to make the cut, but he blamed his putter. He just couldn't putt, he had four three-putts in the second round in a three-four weekend. Hideki had a four-stroke lead going into Sunday, built it up to six, Gwen, so it looked like he was going to run away with the thing. Then Hideki bogeyed three of his final four holes, probably a little nervous, but he got it done. He won. It was a great win for him and I'm very happy for him.

Glenn: That sound in the background is a former Wake Forest golfer, Will Zalatoris hitting in round four of the Masters. Langston, he did well and was on Matsuyama's heels for a lot of the tournament. Tell us about him and how he fared.

Wertz: He was the best ball-striker all week. He qualified for the tournament because he had done so well on the developmental tour. He had 11 top-10 finishes in 20 events. And so he went to the U.S. Open and finished sixth. And then he comes to Augusta and he finishes second. He's the first rookie to finish second at Augusta since Jordan Spieth. This kid is going to be a star.

Glenn: Now Langston, there were no Black players in this year's Masters, but the tournament opened with a tribute to Lee Elder, the first Black man to play in the Masters.

Announcer: Lee Elder blazed a trail that will inspire the game of golf and future generations of players. Today, Lee Elder will inspire us with his presence, strength and character.

Glenn: And for another bit of history, Charlie Clifford of Charlotte was the first African American to join the PGA Tour in 1961. Langston, moving on to the NFL, the Carolina Panthers made a trade deal that will bring quarterback Sam Darnold from the New York Jets to Charlotte. Do you think Darnold will be a good fit for the Panthers?

Wertz: Gwen, he hasn't been good in the NFL. He was 13-25 in his career. He's got 45 touchdowns, 39 interceptions. He's only completed about 60% of his passes. He's never been higher than 26th in quarterback rating. So that's the negative. The positive is he's 23 years old, he's a top-five pick. He's got a big arm in the draft and he'll have more weapons and a much, much, much, much, much, much better organization to play for under the Carolina Panthers.

Glenn: The Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego has been coming out strong for guard LaMelo Ball, who's still recuperating from a wrist injury to be named Rookie of the Year.

James Borrego: To me, LaMelo is clearly the Rookie of the Year. His numbers are elite when you stack them up not only this year but over the history of the NBA. To do what he’s done as far as numbers speaks for itself.

Wertz: Yeah, I mean, LaMelo has played 41 games and the season is 72. So I think he's going to have to play more games to win the award. I think he's definitely a front-runner — 16 points a game, six assists, 5.9 rebounds. He was clearly a runaway at the time he got hurt. The Observer sent out a questionnaire to several NBA reporters, nine of 12 that returned it said that they would give LaMelo the award.

Glenn: And at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Hubert Davis was named the men's head basketball coach. Langston tell us more about Davis, who worked really hard in order to play at Chapel Hill and for the NBA.

Wertz: Yeah, there's a famous story that Dean Smith and Roy Williams went to his house in Virginia and they had a talk and Dean basically told him that "I don't think you're good enough to play at North Carolina." You know, Hubert said, "Give me a chance, Coach." You know, "I'll prove you wrong." basically. Dean left, did not offer a scholarship.

On the way back to Chapel Hill, Roy and Dean talked and Roy said, you know, I think you ought to give this guy a shot. They gave him a shot. He came in. He was a starter, he had 35 points his senior year against Duke. He scored 1,600 points at Carolina, he played 12 years in the NBA. You know, he was an overachiever, as Roy Williams said.

Glenn: Now, over the weekend, the Tar Heels got a commitment from former University of Virginia power forward, Justin McKoy, a native of Cary, North Carolina. I'm sure he's working on other players. And this is what Davis had to say about his recruiting philosophy.

Hubert Davis: Sometimes kids are making decisions based on where they think it’s the best place to serve them. And I’m the exact opposite, picking a place where you think that you can serve. I want everybody to have the same experience that I had at Carolina.

Wertz: I think it's too early to talk about his recruiting style. I mean, we have to give him more time. We'll have to see over the first couple of years when we get into the high school recruiting cycles what his philosophy is going to be and how he's going to put his stamp as he continually says, this is going to be my way onto the Carolina basketball program.

Glenn: And finally, Langston, the high school playoff brackets were revealed over the weekend. Tell us about a few of the matchups fans can look forward to this year.

Wertz: Oh, gosh, Gwen there's so many great matchups. But the biggest story in high school football playoffs is who didn't make it. Teams like Lake Norman that only lost to Vance, which is the state champions and Hough, which beat Vance, which has a chance to win this year's state champion. Or in Union County, Cuthberson, which lost to two state champions Charlotte Catholic and Weddington. And neither one of those teams is even going to the playoffs.

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