Jordi Fernandez, Denver Nuggets assistant coach, brings worldwide experience

Long before patrolling the sideline at NBA Summer League, Jordi Fernandez examined how the effectiveness of an offensive play can be determined by the team’s behavioral patterns before a shot goes up.

That was the subject of a 11-page academic article — complete with detailed charts, tables and a diagram of a full court — co-written by Fernandez in 2009 that appears in the 41st volume of the Behavior Research Methods scientific journal. The findings, the authors hope, will provide coaches with a new model to analyze how to efficiently call as well as construct various plays.

Fernandez is one published work away from earning his PhD in sports psychology. Perhaps he’ll finish his advanced degree whenever he is fired from his current gig, he jokes. But Fernandez is already putting his research into practice as the Denver Nuggets assistant who just guided the organization’s five-game run in the Las Vegas summer league.

“I can give my opinion (on sports performance) because I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I have a feel for it,” he said.

That’s just one layer of Fernandez’s vast basketball experiences. He grew up in Spain, then studied and taught in Amsterdam and Norway. He worked his way up from coaching high-school and semi-pro teams to holding jobs in player development and with the G League affiliate with the the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, to becoming an assistant in Denver and with the Spanish national team.

Now, the 35-year-old Fernandez is regarded as an up-and-comer in his field, perhaps a future NBA head coach. There are two primary reasons why. One, he has a thirst for knowledge. And two, as one former boss said, he’s the ultimate “people coach.”

“He’s been around Hall of Famers, but he’s also been around the last guys in the G League,” said Mike Gansey, the Cavaliers’ assistant general manager. “Whoever walks through that door, he can relate to them … he’s either watched it, lived it or seen it. That’s why he’s so valuable.

“He gives more than basketball. That’s why I think our guys got so much better and people liked him so much … He could read people and knew when he had to get on them and when not (to) and how to treat them to get the most out of them.”

Learning to love the game

Fernandez’s hometown of Badalona, Spain is a basketball hotbed, the place where Rudy Fernandez (no relation) and Ricky Rubio once starred for top-level professional club team DKV Joventut before transitioning to the NBA.

Jordi Fernandez realized as a teenager that he did not have a future as a professional player, but he had a passion to teach the game. So he began coaching locally and, eventually, turned to academia.

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Fungus killing Western Slope peach trees, causing millions in losses

GRAND JUNCTION — A silent killer steadily encroaching on the most beloved of Western Slope fruit has moved into the crosshairs of peach growers and researchers.

It’s a fungus so widespread that every orchard in the valley is infected, it’s estimated to cost the local peach industry about $6 million a year and there’s no silver bullet to eradicate it.

But the good news is that researchers with Colorado State University have found promising results and have discovered a potential way to manage this devastating fungus, called cytospora. Though it has become an epidemic in western Colorado orchards, managing it could be as simple as painting trees with a special mixture to protect them and avoid spreading the infection.

This hard-to-pronounce fungus causes a disease called cytospora canker, which leaves behind a distinct calling card in orchards. The fungus spreads through spores and enters trees through wounds or cracks in the bark. Once established, it girdles trees from the inside, causing telltale dead branches and eventually killing the entire tree.

Researchers realized something needed to be done after initial surveys of orchards in 2015 revealed that every orchard in the valley had some infection, and estimated on average, 75 percent of the trees in the surveyed orchards had been infected with cytospora. Many of the orchards were fully infected, especially if their trees were old enough to be in full production.

When CSU pomology assistant professor Ioannis Minas first walked through Palisade area orchards, he noticed the oozing, the trees’ futile attempt to push the fungus out with dripping, amber-colored sap. No matter which orchard he visited, there it was, a sticky reminder of the persistent infection.

“It was this cytospora gum rain,” he said.

But the attitude he encountered at the time was one of resignation, in which peach growers had come to accept their trees wouldn’t last more than a decade after they were planted and the last few years of production would be a matter of lopping off dead limbs, milking the rest of the tree for as long as the peaches would grow for market. Other stone fruits are also susceptible to cytospora infection, including cherries, apricots and plums, but it’s most evident in peach orchards.

“Cytospora has always been here, it’s become a much bigger issue in the last 20 years,” said Bruce Talbott, who manages the Talbott Farms’ orchards.

The worsening situation is one that Talbott attributes to several factors — the planting of newer varieties of peach trees that are less resistant to the fungus, increased use of sprinkler irrigation and extreme temperature swings in the wintertime that expand and contract the tree bark and leave cracks behind.

These tiny fissures are just the sort of environment cytospora spores like, and the opportunistic fungus takes hold.

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Ribbon-cutting for new VA hospital in Aurora draw politicians, VA officials and veterans who shrug off construction delays

No one at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the $1.7 billion Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center on Saturday morning ignored the problems in getting the beleaguered facility to open. The hospital, designed for specialty care including spinal cord injuries and cancer screening, is $1 billion over budget and five years behind schedule.

Politicians, local and national Veterans Administration officials, as well as the veterans who will now get care from inside the sprawling 1.2 million-square-foot campus in Aurora, all acknowledged the well-publicized woes surrounding the hospital’s opening during the ceremony.

“I know we have shovels here for us, but I think some of you will probably grab some pitchforks instead,” Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, told the crowd of about 300.

Saturday’s ribbon cutting was purely ceremonial.  The new hospital will not offer services until July 27 to outpatients. Hospitalized veterans will be transferred starting Aug. 4.

The hospital originally was proposed in 2002 to be part of the University of Colorado hospital system, but veterans wanted a separate facility. In 2006 the VA hired a design team. Three years later, the agency estimated it could build the new hospital for $537 million and be finished by 2013.

Several investigations later showed that VA officials tried for a more grandiose design for the hospital and used a complicated contract they couldn’t fully understand. The VA was hammered for failing to oversee the hospital’s construction properly, and an angry Congress eventually tabbed the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 to oversee the project.

U.S. Representative Mike Coffman, a Marine combat veteran and a longtime critic of the VA during the hospital’s construction, was more barbed in his comments Saturday. While praising the hospital for providing state-of-the-art care for veterans of the armed forces, Coffman added, “This also represents the largest construction failure in VA history.”

The facility has too few primary care beds and workers, according to reports.

But veterans watching the ceremony Saturday offered more of a roll-with-the punches attitude toward the construction process.

“Hey, anytime anything is owned and run by the government, there is always controversy,” 28-year-old Tiffany Freeze said. Freeze served a tour in Afghanistan while the Army and is getting treated for mental health issues at the current VA facility at Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

Freeze is satisfied in her care at the present hospital and doesn’t expect anything to change much in the new place. Freeze, a dress designer, designed a paper gown for veterans to be used at the new facility. “For the most part, I had few issues at the old building, and I don’t think it will be altered much here at the new building. It’s also a beautiful place.”

It’s also convenient for Korean war veteran Van Coleman, who at 87 has a bad leg and can’t walk too far. He lives only a mile away from the facility and can drive there easily.

The VA also got him glasses to help his vision and hearing aids. “They’ve done fairly well by me, so I can’t complain too much.”

“But service is what I’m concerned about,” Coleman said. “So many times, you get at your 9 a.m. appointment and it’s 11 a.m. or noon until someone sees you. But that’s just the military I think; they make you hurry up and wait, and sometimes you get so frustrated you want to say, ‘To hell with it,’” and go home.”

Coleman said the issues surrounding the hospital’s controversies boiled down to rich people “making a mint off my tax dollars.” In fact, even after congressional outrage and multiple investigations, no one was fired from the VA or criminally charged.

Two executives targeted by investigators retired before the agency could act, and other officials were demoted or transferred.

The ceremony included talks from several members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, patriotic songs and a visit from Magissawa the bald eagle.

Many veterans and other visitors toured the facility after the ribbon-cutting and found an expansive, airy place that was designed to be more welcoming to patients, VA officials said.

Most patients will have private rooms and space for families to stay overnight. Operating rooms will have easier access to the intensive care unit as well pre- and post-operation rooms.

The new hospital will also include mammography, PET scans for cancer, prosthetics and aquatic therapy.

A major new feature of the facility is a 30-bed Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Unit and an outdoor courtyard specially designed for patients with spinal cord injuries. However, the unit is not expected to be open until 180 days after the hospital opens. The delay is to allow for more hiring and training of personnel, hospital officials said.

An emotional Ralph Bozella, a Vietnam vet and chairman of the American Legion National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, said Saturday the new hospital is a symbol of stubborn intent. “Nobody gave up on this, not our veterans, not our congressional delegation and a lot of other people who wanted a facility like this to serve those who needed this,” Bozella said.

“This is a story,” Bozella said, “of pure perseverance.”

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Could Orioles’ Zach Britton be Rockies’ answer to shore up weak bullpen?

PHOENIX — Three weeks ago, the Rockies were in limbo and sliding toward irrelevance, at least in terms of postseason baseball.

Then they got hot. Before the all-star break, they won 13 of 16 games, including five straight before their midsummer vacation. There is a genuine feeling within the clubhouse that the National League West is winnable.

But the raw reality is that the Rockies have never won a division title, and they have never been to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. In the wake of the Dodgers acquiring shortstop Manny Machado, FanGraphs gives the Rockies only a 25.8 percent chance of winning the NL West. Yet I honestly believe Colorado could take the flag this year. To do so, the Rockies must build a sturdy bridge to the back end of their bullpen.

It’s no secret that spanning the chasm from starting pitchers to late-game relievers Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis was a disaster in the first half of the season. Entering a key weekend series against the Diamondback, Rockies pitchers owned a dreadful 6.94 ERA, 1.63 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and .303 batting average against in the seventh inning.

Over the winter, owner Dick Monfort signed off on three-year deals for Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and Davis for a combined cost of $106 million. But McGee (6.15 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) and Shaw (7.23, 1.96) have been gigantic disappointments. So has left-hander Chris Rusin (6.18, 1.50), while injured lefty Mike Dunn (9.00, 2.35) has been rendered unusable.

So what does general manager Jeff Bridich do?

He could do nothing and hold onto his prized prospects in the hopes that Shaw and McGee start performing like he expected they would. Or that improving righty Scott Oberg blossoms. Though Shaw is improving, I don’t see those options as viable solutions this summer.

Bridich could make a major trade, as the bullpen-starved Indians did Thursday when they acquired left-hander Brad Hand and right-hander Adam Cimber from San Diego. The price, however, was steep. The Indians had to give up catcher Francisco Mejia, considered their No. 1 prospect and considered by some as the No. 5 overall prospect in the minors.

With Hand off the market, two names moved to the top of the reliever list: Mets right-hander Jeurys Familia and Orioles lefty Zach Britton. On Saturday, the A’s traded for Familia. It was a smart move by Oakland, who obtained a reliever with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Familia is a proven postseason performer, posting a 2.03 ERA and a 0.638 WHIP in 13 appearances.

Because he’s a lefty, Britton still makes some sense for Colorado, but he’s risky and would be expensive. Surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles tendon kept Britton out until June. He’s pitched in only 15 games while posting a 3.68 ERA, but his velocity is ticking up and a number of teams are high on him.

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Pedestrian killed by Cheyenne Frontier Days Train in Adams County – The Denver Post

The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train struck and killed a pedestrian at the intersection of 124th Avenue and U.S. 85 in Henderson about 7:45 Saturday evening, according to a Union Pacific spokeswoman.

The train was heading south back to Denver from Cheyenne, carrying about 700 passengers. As of 9:20 p.m., no other injuries were reported. Buses were en route to pick up train passengers, according to Union Pacific.

Emergency responders along with Union Pacific Police and the Adams County Sheriff’s Department are on the scene investigating.


The Cheyenne Frontier Days Train is an annual event hosted by the Denver Post Community Foundation, that transports more than 700 passengers from Denver to Cheyenne for the day’s festivities, including the downtown parade, a barbecue at the rodeo grounds and the “Daddy of ’em All” rodeo.

The 15-car steam engine train departed Denver at 6:30 a.m. and was expected to return from Cheyenne around 9 p.m., according to the Union Pacific schedule.

Spectators often turn out to take photos and video of the historic train along its route.

The Cheyenne Frontier Days Train is an event of the Denver Post Community Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit that serves to improve and enrich the lives of those in our community through support of programs benefiting arts and culture, children and youth, education and literacy, at the provision of basic human services.

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Rockies hang on to beat D-backs, winning streak reaches season-best seven games

PHOENIX — The reborn, relentless Rockies won again Saturday night, beating Arizona 6-5 at Chase Field.

The hero for this latest shootout between the two National League teams? How about catcher Tom Murphy, who launched a two-out, pinch-hit, solo home run in the eighth inning? It was Murphy’s first major-league home run since Sept. 21, 2016, against St. Louis’ Jonathan Broxton, a span of 93 at-bats, the longest drought of any current Rockies player.

Murphy hit the first pitch he saw from right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano, planting the 82.3 mph splitter deep into the left-field seats.


Colorado won its seventh consecutive game — a season high — and has now won 15 of its last 18 games. The Rockies leapfrogged the Diamondbacks into second place in the NL West and moved within one game of the Dodgers, who lost 4-2 at Milwaukee.

This game had more twists and turns than Red Mountain Pass. It ended with closer Wade Davis notching his 28th save. He struck out Nick Ahmed looking at an 89.9 mph cutter — with two D-Backs on base.

In the seventh inning, Carlos Gonzalez doubled home Gerardo Parra to put the Rockies ahead 5-4. Parra drew a one-out walk off Hirano to start the mini-rally.

But back came Arizona, tying the game on Ahmed’s two-out RBI single off reliever Scott Oberg. It could have been worse, had it not been for Oberg’s hustle and athleticism. Oberg turned a Charlie Brown moment into a highlight-reel play. Chris Owings hit a ball back to the mound so hard that it ripped off Oberg’s glove, but Oberg scrambled after the ball and threw out Owings by a half-step to end the inning.

Included in another wild game between the Rockies and D-backs was the debut of second baseman Garrett Hampson. His first hit was not only timely and productive, it showcased his speed.

After Ian Desmond led off the fifth with a triple to center, Hampson followed with a line-drive double off the left-field wall to drive in Colorado’s first run. Then Hampson scooted to third on Chris Iannetta’s groundout back to the mound and scored when Charlie Blackmon smacked a ground-rule double to left.

Starter Kyle Freeland, who has been Colorado’s most consistent starter this season, was a model of inconsistency Saturday night. He was done after five innings after giving up four runs on five hits, with three walks and a hit batter.

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Shooting suspect in standoff at LA market; 1 woman killed – The Denver Post

LOS ANGELES — A man shot his grandmother and girlfriend Saturday and then led police on a car chase that ended when he crashed into a pole and ran inside a busy supermarket as bullets from officers shattered the front doors. About three hours after he took hostages in the store, the suspect surrendered.

One woman was killed inside the supermarket, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Officers with riot gear, armed with rifles, stood along the side of the Trader Joe’s in the Silver Lake area on Saturday afternoon and used mirrors to try to look inside as hostages periodically came out the front door with the hands raised. At least one person was injured but expected to survive.

The suspect walked out with a cluster of four hostages and appeared to be already handcuffed as the group emerged through the front door. Police immediately surrounded the suspect, searched him and then brought him to a waiting ambulance. The man appeared to have blood on his left arm.

Investigators believe the suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, had shot his grandmother and girlfriend around 1:30 p.m. in South Los Angeles and then fled in a 2015 Toyota Camry, Sgt. Barry Montgomery, a Los Angeles police spokesman, said.

Officers spotted the suspect’s car near Hollywood and tried to pull him over, but the man refused to stop and led officers on a pursuit, he said. During the chase, the suspect shot “multiple rounds” at officers, though no officers were struck by the gunfire, he said.

At least one officer is believed to have returned fire, Montgomery said.

The suspect eventually crashed his car outside of the Trader Joe’s supermarket and then ran into the store. An Associated Press employee who lives in the area reported seeing a car crashed into a utility pole outside the store.

Don Kohles, 91, was walking into the supermarket when he saw a car being chased police crash into a pole just outside. Police fired at the driver, shattering the store’s glass doors and Kohles and others inside took cover and laid on the floor as the suspect ran into the store, he said.

He could hear others around him sobbing as the man ran toward the back of the store and yell at people, but Kohles said he never heard any more gunshots. After about 30 minutes, police came inside and rushed some of the customers out, he said.

People frantically tried to flee from the store and some were seen climbing through windows, jumping down about 8 feet (2.44 meters), and others darted through the back door.

Christian Dunlop, a real estate agent and actor who lives nearby, said he was watching from the corner when he saw four people flee out the front of the store. An employee was dragging an injured woman by the hands out the front door, he said.

One woman who was injured was taken to the hospital in stable condition, according to David Ortiz, a fire department spokesman, though it was unclear how she was injured. Officials said they had 18 ambulances and 100 firefighters staged at the scene.

Montgomery said the situation was still unfolding and hostages were still inside the store.

Officers are “trying to get the suspect to surrender and bring this to a peaceful conclusion,” he said.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is “Watching Los Angeles possible hostage situation very closely” and that Los Angeles police officers were working with federal law enforcement.

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From literacy to diversity, ideas bloom at romance writers conference – The Denver Post

Clutching the book in one hand and her phone in the other, a fan approached author Alyssa Cole’s table at the Romance Writers of America literacy signing with a giddy look on her face.

“Can you sign this for me?” she asked. “My friend’s in the Netherlands right now, and she couldn’t make it.”

Immediately behind her, a book blogger eagerly awaited her turn.

“This is my first stalker stop,” she joked as Cole signed her book.

Saturday afternoon the Romance Writers of America association closed out its annual conference with the 28th annual Readers for Life book signing at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Denver. Hosting more than 300 authors and 100 percent donated books, the public signing raised funds for the national nonprofit ProLiteracy and Colorado nonprofit Literacy Coalition of Colorado, each of whom promote and support adult literacy education.

To date, the event has donated more than $1 million to ProLiteracy and local literacy organizations. In 2017 the signing raised $45,000 to help supply reading materials, fund adult literacy classes and provide training for reading tutors.

“What I love about the literacy signing is the positive vibes,” newly published author and Romance Writers of America board member Priscilla Oliveras said. “Whether you’re a New York Times best seller with 60 books or a debut author, there’s room for you.”

The conference brings together a combined 2,000 romance authors, agents and publishers for panel discussions, networking and a love of the craft. This year’s theme: Rethink. Revitalize. Renew.

Panel discussion topics included writing tips, managing the struggles of a writer’s life and business advice. Authors also had the opportunity to meet with literary agents and publishers to pitch their story ideas — a rarity in a business that has become largely mediated by virtual communication.

“In this business professional networking is huge,” said Liz Pelletier, a publisher for the Fort Collins-based company Entangled. “Authors are telling human stories, and I think it’s wonderful to have that human element in every part of the relationship.”

Another unofficial topic of this year’s conference was diversity, a somewhat controversial subject that seems to be penetrating every industry these days.

Oliveras, a Latina author who specializes in Latino characters, believes the association has acknowledged its past shortcomings and is making a greater effort to facilitate discussion and open the genre to more authors of color. Pelletier is not convinced its enough.

“There’s always something more people can do,” she said. “It’s not a complicated subject — it’s a complex one. It’s going to take everyone being committed to change.”

The association’s promotion for inclusion is merely the first step, according to Pelletier. For the industry and genre to diversify its authorship, it’s going to have to depend on agents and publishers as well.

With nearly 10,000 members internationally, Romance Writers of America is one of the largest writers associations in the country. Based in Houston, its mission is to promote and facilitate writers’ business interests to help ensure that authors can make a living and full-time career out of writing romance novels.

The summer 2019 conference will be in New York City.

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Jordan Spieth part of 3-way tie at The Open as Tiger Woods lurks – The Denver Post

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in the British Open and a big edge in experience. Still only 24, he already has won three majors and his name is the last one etched on the base of the silver claret jug.

One name in the mix makes it all feel so new.

“I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger. Who hasn’t?” Spieth said after seizing upon a calm Carnoustie for a 6-under 65 to tie for the lead with Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele. “It’s kind of a dream come true just to have the opportunity.”

Woods feels the same way.

Never in the mix at the Masters, gone by the weekend at the U.S. Open, the 14-time major champion surged into contention Saturday with a 66, his lowest round on weekend at a major in eight years.

He didn’t have the best score. He was four shots behind.

But he’s Tiger Woods, and it felt like that again to thousands of fans who crammed along the fairways and beind the greens as Woods ran off three straight birdies around the turn and then two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th to work his way into a tie for the lead, even if that lasted for only 20 minutes.

“I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year,” Woods said. “Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again. But here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to be fun.”

It was every bit of that on Saturday, a rare day when Carnoustie had little defense.

Justin Rose, who made the cut on the number with a birdie on his final hole, matched the Carnoustie record for the Open with a 64. Spieth set the tone in the afternoon when he decided on the way to the first tee to hit driver on the 396-yard hole. He sent it bouncing and rolling along the firm turf, down a hill and onto the green to about 10 feet away for an eagle.

Moments later, Woods began his charge to get into contention at a major for the first time in five years.

It never stopped. Seven players had a share of the lead at one point. Kisner, who started the third round tied for the lead, was never far away but had to work hard to stay there. He made a tough par save on the 17th, and then got up-and-down from behind the 18th green for a 68.

Schauffele, the PGA Tour rookie of the year last season, holed a 30-foot putt from behind the 18th green for a 67.

They were at 9-under 204.

“We’ve got pretty much a new tournament tomorrow,” Spieth said.

A dozen players were separated by four shots, which is nothing considering that the last two British Open champions at Carnoustie rallied from 10 shots (Paul Lawrie) and six shots (Padraig Harrington) on the final day.

The wind is expected to be the strongest it has been all week. And then there’s the presence of Woods, playing in the third-to-last group.

Woods started quietly enough with a few birdies through eight holes. He started his move with a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 9, followed with short birdie putts on the next two holes and with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 14th, he put his name atop the leaderboard.

It was there for only 20 minutes. But it was there.

A bogey on the 16th and a par save from short of the Barry Burn on the 18th gave him a 66. He figured it would at least keep him in range. He wound up as close to the lead as he has been in a major since he was two behind at Muirfield in the 2013 British Open.

“I’m right there,” he said. “I’ve got a chance at this, which is great.”

And he has company.

Kevin Chappell, who spent most of his round watching Spieth put on a show, birdied the 18th for a 67 and was two shots behind.

Francesco Molinari had a 66 and will play in the third-to-last group with Woods. They were last together three weeks ago when Woods presented him the trophy at the Quicken Loans National after Molinari shot 62 for an eight-shot victory.

Twelve players were separated by four shots, a group that includes Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Zach Johnson. They all dropped shots on a day when there was no time to be going backward. McIlroy was within two shots of the lead until bogeys on two of his last three holes for a 70 left him four behind.

Johnson, staying in the same house as Kisner, Spieth and four other Americans, hooked his approach on No. 12 and three-putted for a double bogey. He shot 72 and was in the group four behind. Joining them was Tommy Fleetwood, who dropped three shots in two holes on the back nine on his way to a 71.

Of the five players separated by three shots, only Spieth has experience winning a major. He will try to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win golf’s oldest championship in consecutive years.

His move started with a sudden decision.

The opening hole is 396 yards on the card, with the fairway getting narrow between two bunkers. Spieth, who spent Saturday morning watching the Open on television, asked caddie Michael Greller on the practice range, “Do we like driver?”

Greller told him no. Play short and it’s a wedge to a front pin, easy birdie chance.

Spieth walked to the tee with coach Cameron McCormick and asked him, “How about I just send it on No. 1?”

“I felt good about the range session. And he’s like, ‘I put my chips behind anything you decide, always.’ And that kind of gave me that little extra boost,” Spieth said.

He stuffed his approach to 2 feet on No. 4 and made two short birdie putts until he came to the par-3 16th, when his 5-iron settled 12 feet away for his longest putt of the day.

This is the 16th time he has been in at least a share of the lead in the majors in the five years he has been playing them on a regular basis. And it’s the first time he has had to look over his shoulder at Woods.

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Tiger Woods has a chance at Carnoustie, but don’t get too excited – The Denver Post

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — They crowded 15 deep against the metal railings down the left side of the 18th fairway, beers put aside and phones pulled out for the moment at hand. All day long they had heard the cheers rolling across the links of Carnoustie and, finally, he was here.

This was their chance to help bring Tiger Woods home.

“Tigah,” they shouted as Woods hacked out of the rough and then stuck a wedge to 3 feet on the final hole. “Go on Tigah!”

If it wasn’t exactly Tigermania, it was close. On this day Zach Johnson didn’t matter to most of the crowd at the British Open, and neither did Kevin Kisner.

Even defending champion Jordan Spieth seemed ordinary, in a round where he was doing some extraordinary things.

On a British Open leaderboard full of big names, there was only one star.

And that could lead to a lot of disappointed golf fans in the final round when it really matters.

For Woods, Saturdays have been the easiest part of his latest comeback. The real test comes Sunday, when he’ll have to find a way to come from behind and actually win the Open — something he didn’t do even in his prime.

He’s four shots back of Spieth and two others after a sparkling 5-under 66. It’s the closest he’s been to the lead in a major championship since he was two back at Muirfield in 2013.

But there are five players between him and the outright lead — and what amounts to two threesomes tied with him.

At the age of 42, finding a way to win is going to be a tall task.

“It would be, as you said, better on Sunday,” Woods said in response to a question afterward. “But I’m right there. I’ve got a chance at this, which is great.”

Woods isn’t the only one who thinks so. The possibility of him vying for the lead on Sunday is as tantalizing for at least one of his competitors as it is for golf fans.

And therein lies another problem for Woods.

The players of yesterday used to roll over for him. The players of today want to mix it up with him.

“I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger,” Spieth said. “Who hasn’t? It’s kind of a dream come true just to have the opportunity.”

Spieth believes there will be a much different golf course in front of players Sunday than there was in the third round, when the greens were holding, the wind was nonexistent and the temperature as warm as it gets this time of the year in Scotland.

That will make it more difficult on the opening stretch of holes for everyone in the later groups, including Spieth who hit a driver onto the first green and made eagle on his way to a 65 that tied him with Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

It could also lead to early players leapfrogging over the group of players — and there are seven in all — tied with Woods for sixth place and making it even more difficult to move up the leaderboard.

“That’s certainly doable with hopefully the weather that comes in tomorrow,” Woods said of his chances. “If it doesn’t come in and we get conditions like this, then we know we’re going to have to shoot between 6-, 7-, 8-under par tomorrow to have a chance.”

For Woods, there’s an added burden. He not only hasn’t won in his latest comeback, but has made crucial mistakes on the few occasions he was able to sniff a leaderboard.

He surely hasn’t forgotten how to win, but he hasn’t been able to will himself to a win as he might have in the past. And the fact remains it’s been 10 years since he last won a major championship, no matter how much he still excites a crowd.

Still, on Saturday he did his best imitation yet of Tiger Woods in his prime. Woods pulled driver out of the bag six times — after using it only four times in his first two rounds combined — and for the most part hit it straight and long.

His putts were also spot on, and it could be argued he ran enough of them around the hole that his round should have been even lower. For 20 or so glorious minutes he even had a share of the lead, before a 3-putt on 16 and a surge from those playing behind him toppled Woods from the top.

Best yet, he’s feeling a bit like the Tiger of old.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve felt like this,” Woods said.

He’s got 18 holes to make a move, 18 holes to make a statement.

Eighteen holes where he will have to believe just as much as the fans.

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