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Before bunkering in to watch the U.S. Open, enjoy our special Thursday Conversation with former NFL tight end Greg Olsen.

U.S. Open Spotlight: Garcia’s Next Glory?

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Garcia is one of golf’s most familiar faces with nearly $53 million in career earnings and a net worth of $70 million.

Not bad for a guy who’s won a single major.

The Spaniard will start his quest for his second career major victory when he takes the course for the 2021 U.S. Open on Thursday. His greatest golf accomplishment was capturing the 2017 Masters, but he’s won just once on the PGA Tour since — the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship.

The 41-year-old Garcia has won 11 PGA Tour events with 108 Top 10 finishes, including runner-up performances at the 2007 and ’14 Open Championships and the 1999 and 2008 PGA Championships.

He has the ability to tame the famous Torrey Pines South Course, which features three par-5s and plays at 7,685 yards. Garcia’s driving distance of 308.6 ranks 17th on the tour (Bryson DeChambeau is No. 1 at 322.7).

Garcia ranks 15th in shots gained from tee to green with an average of 1.132 (Collin Morikawa leads with 1.963).

Oddsmakers aren’t high on Garcia’s chances to rekindle major glory — he’s +10,000 to win in San Diego. Then again, no one gave Phil Mickelson, at age 50 and +30,000, much of a chance before he rolled to the PGA Championship.

Houston’s Rocket

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

At 5-6, 166 pounds, Jose Altuve is not your prototypical power hitter.

Yet the Astros second baseman’s 15 long balls this season lead Houston, and he blasted two more on Wednesday, making baseball history in the process.

Altuve’s leadoff dinger made him the first player to launch a leadoff homer after belting a walk-off grand slam the previous game.

Altuve has had a remarkable career trajectory, both in terms of his performance and his financial compensation.

Denied a chance to participate in an Astros tryout camp at 16 because of his size and youthful appearance, the Venezuelan eventually got an opportunity to showcase his skills as an undrafted free agent worth $15,000.

Since then, the 31-year-old has been a six-time All-Star, won the American League batting title in 2014, ’16, and ’17, and was named AL MVP in 2017.

In March of 2018, Altuve inked a five-year, $151 million contract that featured a $21 million signing bonus. He is making $29 million this season, tops on the Astros and tied for 15th in MLB.

In addition to the 15 homers, Altuve is hitting .294 with 36 RBI and an .874 OPS that ranks 24th.

Those numbers give him the 10th-best odds to win AL MVP (+4,000).

Thursday Conversation: Greg Olsen

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Olsen spent 14 seasons in the NFL with the Bears, Panthers, and Seahawks before retiring in 2021 and joining Fox Sports as a full-time broadcaster. He recently teaming up with NFLers Travis Kelce and George Kittle to form Tight End University, a summit of top tight ends that will be held June 23-25 in Nashville.

Below is an excerpt from our sitdown with Greg:

How did you get involved in Tight End U?
I was texting with Travis Kelce and George Kittle after I retired, and George said I should come down to Nashville. There are five or six NFL tight ends that live and train together. We brought Travis in and said, “Why don’t we really try to put some structure behind this and build it out?”

We’ve got over 50 guys committed to coming down for two-and-a-half days for a mix of field work, film study, conversations, and sharing perspectives. There are rookies who’ve never played a down and guys who have played 15-plus years. It’s going to be a pretty unique and fun event.

Was the decision to retire from the NFL at 35 difficult?
To be honest, it was pretty easy. Moving my family across the country to a new city in a pandemic was a tough experience. Then I got injured, and trying to adjust at that stage of my career to a new team took a lot out of me mentally and physically.

I have nothing else to prove. It was time for me to be home with my kids, time for me to be around more, to coach their sports and just be Dad for a little while.

How are you enjoying broadcasting?
The opportunity to work with Fox and their crews was just an opportunity too good to pass up. The stars kind of aligned, and I felt like this was the right year to kind of make the transition, and working with them in the past has been a joy — both doing the studio stuff and then obviously having the chance to call a couple of NFL games — and then the XFL package last year.

I’ve got some good, meaningful reps under my belt and really enjoy working with the entire group.

Read the full conversation here.

Making Headlines

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

NHL: Carey Price made 29 saves to help the Canadiens even their semifinal series with the Golden Knights at 1-1. Also: The Habs’ Marc Bergevin, the Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello, and Bill Zito of the Panthers were named finalists for GM of the year.

NBA: The Hawks and Clippers each took 3-2 series leads over the 76ers and Jazz, respectively.

Euro 2020: Italy defeated Switzerland, Denmark topped Switzerland, and Ukraine edged North Macedonia.

Tennis: Rafael Nadal announced that he is “listening to my body” and will not play in Wimbledon or the Olympic Summer Games.

What We're Watching

Nets at Bucks 

Watch: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Odds: Bucks -6 || O/U 220

Pick: Can Kevin Durant put in another herculean effort with Kyrie Irving still sidelined for the Nets? Sports Section believes Milwaukee will win, but take the Nets getting the points and lean on the under, as Brooklyn will fight to the end in an effort to wrap up the series.

Who ya got? Reply to this newsletter with your prediction of the Nets-Bucks winner, the final score, and the combined points of Durant and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nail it, and you get a mention in the next edition of Sports Section. Don’t forget to include your Twitter handle. 

Shoutout to subscriber Mike Druce (@mikedruce), who correctly predicted the Canadiens would defeat the Golden Knights and came closest to the final score (3-2). Good job, Mike!

Keep the picks coming, everyone!

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