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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Jaco van Zyl is a professional golfer of modest success, capturing most of his tournament titles in his homeland of South Africa, only briefly able to crack the PGA Tour.Prior to this year, van Zyl had qualified for just three major championships in a 15-year career, not making the cut in any of them.Clearly getting into the games biggest tournaments is the dream, the goal for any golfer. Those who are consistently ranked among the top 50 in the world dont have to worry about their spots in the Masters, U.S. Open, Open or PGA Championship, but the rest of the games players fight and scratch to earn those spots.And that is why a decision van Zyl made this summer was met with amazement: he skipped two major championships for which he was exempt in order to prepare for the Olympic Golf Tournament.If I had to prioritize, this was it for me, van Zyl said of playing the Olympic event. Not to take anything away from majors, but next year there are four more, the year after that there will be four more, 100 years after I retire there will be four more.This was an opportunity. Im not 21 years old anymore. I really wanted to experience it. And I havent regretted for it for one minute.Van Zyl (pronounced van-seel) is 37 and has won 14 times on the Sunshine Tour, the main pro tour in South Africa, with his biggest victory coming at the Telecom PGA Championship, one of four victories in 2009.Two years earlier he had qualified for the PGA Tour, but made just four cuts. And in 2011 he qualified for the European Tour, posting five top-10 finishes. Van Zyl still competes on both the European and Sunshine Tours and earlier this year, for the first time, moved into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.That helped him secure spots in the U.S. Open, the Open and the PGA. But after missing the cut at Oakmont, van Zyl headed to the BMW International Open in Germany where he picked up an illness. The following week at the French Open he wasnt any better.With the Open looming and the Olympic tournament not far away, he made the decision to pull out of the remaining major championships and focus on the Olympics. Prior to this week, he had not played competitively since a tie for 62nd in Paris in early July.The majors are ultimately why we play, he said. But this is just something unique. For some of us its a once in a lifetime opportunity.Van Zyls decision is even more amazing when you consider how many male players pulled out of the Olympic tournament. There were 21 eligible who declined a spot, including the top four in the world: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace also declined, opening up a place for van Zyl. Brandon Stone is the other South African golfer in the tournament.What Jaco did was an important statement for golfs future in the Olympics, said Gary Player, 80, the winner of nine major championships who is serving as an advisor for the South African golfers this week. What if he wins a gold medal after sitting out of two major championships to prepare? What a story that would be.I like to think of it as he put his country ahead of himself. He had a chance to win prize money and world ranking points at The Open and PGA Championship, but being able to say you are an Olympic athlete and potentially a medalist for your country is priceless. Hats off to him and all the other golfers in Rio, men and women.Van Zyl will need a big rally to get one of those coveted medals after opening the tournament with an even-par score of 71 and not being able to make up any ground on Friday morning after shooting 74. He is now 3 over through 36 holes.Basically for me this is a big week, van Zyl said. Id like to do well and Id like to play well. Whether a medal is there at the end of the week, I just want to walk away having played nicely. Cheap Ecco Shoes Online . LOUIS -- Theres no telling how these wacky World Series games will end. Wholesale Ecco Shoes . Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz were sent to Toronto on Saturday as the Maple Leafs traded defenceman Jesse Blacker and draft picks to the Anaheim Ducks. http://www.cheapecco.net/ .Y. -- Sabres forward Drew Stafford has witnessed plenty of turmoil during his eight seasons in Buffalo. Cheap Ecco Shoes . Defencemen Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and forward Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Canadians, who started their gold-medal defence 2-0. Goalie Roberto Luongo, getting the call in place of Game 1 starter Carey Price, was solid when needed in making 23 saves for the shutout. Cheap Ecco Shoes China . The Americans, skipped by John Shuster, seized the advantage in the eighth end by scoring five points for a 7-3 lead. The Czechs pulled two back in the ninth, but Shusters team of third Jeff Isaacson, second Jared Zezel and lead John Landsteiner ended with another point to secure the last Olympic berth on offer. MINNEAPOLIS -- Freshman Amir Coffey scored 10 points, all in the second half, and Minnesota came from behind to beat Texas-Arlington 84-67 on Monday night.Reggie Lynch, in his first year with Minnesota after transferring last season, scored 14 points. Jordan Murphy added 11 points and 12 rebounds and five Gophers in all scored in double figures.I think it just shows, we got a long way to go obviously, but this is not last years team, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. Its very evident. Its a totally different team with much more balance and depth.The Gophers (2-0) trailed the final eight minutes of the first half against the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite Mavericks (1-1).But Coffey and Lynch ignited Minnesota in the second half. Minnesota used a 22-1 run to take control as Texas-Arlington missed its first 12 shots of the half and had a scoring drought of over six minutes.We were just out there playing free and guarding the 3, which was the biggest problem in the first half, Lynch said.Jalen Jones scored 17 points and Erick Neal added 12 for Texas-Arlington. The Mavericks pulled out road wins at Ohio State and Memphis last season, and appeared primed to pull another upset against the Gophers.Texas-Arlington hit 9 of 18 3-pointers in the first half but just one in the second half.I think our guys, to be honest, it looks to me like they lost a little bit of that chip on their shoulder, grit, coach Scott Cross said. Its a learning lesson for us. I guess Id rather learn a lesson now than in conference, and hopefully our guys will be better.BIG PICTURETexas-Arlington: The Mavericks return all five starters from last season and are testing themselves with a tough nonconference schedule. When the shots were fallling, Texas-Arlington showed it can still hang with major conference opponents.dddddddddddd.Minnesota: The Gophers got the test coach Richard Pitino was seeking for his new-look squad. Coffey had eight of his points during Minnesotas second-half run and added two steals. The 6-foot-10 Lynch gives the Gophers an option down low.STAT OF THE NIGHTThe Mavericks led the nation in rebounding last year with an average of 43.71 per game. The Gophers had a 47-32 rebounding advantage on Monday and scored 22 points off offensive rebounds.Our guys have to change their mentality a little bit, Cross said. We have to get that hard-hat, blue-collar attitude that we had ... to get outrebounded the way we did is disappointing.QUICK COMPAREThe game was bogged down at times due to personal fouls, particularly in the second half. Minnesota extended its lead from the free-throw line where it made 30 of its 40 attempts. The Mavericks went to the line 22 times, hitting 13 free throws.Thats got to be our identity, Pitino said. We may not be a 10-3s-a-game team. Thats OK, we can still win in other ways.UP NEXTTexas-Arlingtons three-game road trip continues at Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday and on to another major conference foe in Arkansas on Friday. Florida Gulf Coast will be playing only its second game of the season after opening with an 80-59 loss to Florida.Minnesota remains home on Wednesday against Mount St.-Marys. Its a matchup of two schools with very different schedules. Minnesota plays its first six games at home and 12 of the first 14. Mount St. Marys starts the season with nine straight road games. ' ' '

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