Playoff Green Light

May 21, 2021

By: Carlos Alvarez

Happy Friday 

The PGA Championship is a doozy, but one player made it look easy in Round 1. Plus, the NBA playoffs officially have the green light. You can enjoy the weekend ahead with unlimited playoff action around the clock (NBA or NHL), and that’s the way we like it.

Letter Rip!



It’s Tight Atop the PGA Championship

Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Corey Conners (-5) Leads by 2 Strokes at Kiawah Island, But 30 Scorecards Are Red


Kiawah Island lived up to the hype. Even with ideal conditions on Thursday, massive wind gusts at the Ocean Course made life difficult for golfers in Round 1 of the PGA Championship. Canadian Corey Conners (-5) broke loose late in the day to take a two-stroke lead, but 29 other players went below par to emphasize the narrative — this thing is going to be tight.


Who Stood Out?

Brooks Koepka (-3) is among the popular names atop the leaderboard heading into Round 2, but Aaron Wise (-3) turned some heads. Wise has won just once on the PGA Tour since he turned pro in 2018, and that victory came in his rookie season. Meanwhile, Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland and a group of young up-and-comers are also at 3-under. The world’s best players (seen below) are hovering around even par.


PGA Championship Leaderboard

C. Conners (-5)

K. Bradley (-3)

V. Hovland (-3)

B. Koepka (-3)

A. Wise (-3)

S. Horsfield (-3)

C. Davis (-3)


Other Notable Scorecards: C. Morikawa (-2), P. Mickelson (-2), G. Woodland (-2), S. Im (-2), R. Fowler (-1), J. Kokrak (-1), J. Rose (E), B. DeChambeau (E), J. Rahm (E), J. Spieth (+1), P. Cantlay (+1), R. McIlroy (+3), J. Thomas (+3) Full Leaderboard


Rd. 1 Highlights | Rd. 2 Tee Times


Additional Storylines

Golf Digest: Corey Conners Rides Hot Putter to Solo Lead in Round 1

PGA: Collin Morikawa Hits Epic Drive to Within 7 Feet for Eagle

USA Today: This Player Was Hit With a Penalty After Taking 74 Seconds on One Shot



Wizards Win Their Way In

Photo: Will Newton / Getty Images

East Play-In: Wizards Blow Out Pacers (142-115) to Clinch 8-Seed, 1st-Round Matchup Against 76ers


Two nights after beating the Hornets by 27 points in the opening play-in game, the Pacers took a similar beating by the Wizards on Thursday night (142-115). Washington shot a remarkable 58-percent clip and outscored Indiana by 30 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. They also had a 70-42 advantage in the paint. Bradley Beal led the way with 25 points and Russell Westbrook added a near triple-double (18-15-8).


Watch: Wizards Stomp Pacers to Secure Their Playoff Spot


The Turnaround Wizards: Washington’s win earns them the 8-seed in the East after a tumultuous start to the season. The Wizards started 6-17 in the first two months, but they finished with the best record in the league (17-6) over the last six weeks. Now, they’re moving on to face the 1-seed 76ers. Philly swept the season series (3-0), including the game where Bradley Beal scored 60 points.


Tonight’s Schedule (West Play-In)

Grizzlies at Warriors (9:00 pm ET)


*The first round of the NBA Playoffs begins on Saturday


Additional Storylines

USA Today: Wizards Complete Season Turnaround With Blowout Against Pacers

ESPN: Donovan Mitchell Returns to Practice for Jazz, Expected to Play Sunday in Playoff Opener



Florida Flips The Script

Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Panthers Pull 3-Goal Rally to Beat Lightning (6-5, OT) & Avoid 3-0 Series Deficit


The Florida Panthers entered the postseason with high expectations, but they found themselves down 2-0 in the series and staring at a two-goal deficit (5-3) in the second period of Game 3 on Thursday. They’re not done yet. Florida tallied two goals in the third from Patrick Hornqvist and Gustav Forsling. Forsling sniped the game-tying goal with 3:08 left. In the overtime period, Ryan Lomberg lit the lamp at 5:56 on a breakaway for his first career playoff goal and a much-needed Florida win. The Panthers avoided the 3-0 hole and just made it a series in the Sunshine State.


Stanley Cup Highlights & Scores


Gm 3: Panthers def. Lightning (6-5, OT)

TBL Leads Series (2-1)


Gm 3: Penguins def. Islanders (5-4)

PIT Leads Series (2-1)


Gm 1: Canadiens def. Maple Leafs (2-1)

MTL Leads Series (1-0)


Gm 3: Golden Knights def. Wild (5-2)

LGK Leads Series (2-1)


Additional Storylines

NHL: Paul Byron Chips Shorthanded Goal From His Knees to Give Canadiens Late 2-1 Win (Video)

NBC Sports: Leafs’ John Tavares Leaves Game on Stretcher; Hospitalized After Scary Head Collision



⚾️ MLB: Slam Francisco Giants Hang 19

Thankfully there wasn’t a no-hitter for the third straight night in MLB. Instead, a run-scoring parade took over at Great American Ball Park. The Giants demolished the Reds (19-4) with the most runs scored in a single game this season. Brandon Crawford (6 RBIs) and Steven Duggar (Grand Slam) spearheaded the onslaught. The Giants also swept the Reds in the four-game series.


🏀 WNBA: Storm Come Roaring Back

The Seattle Storm are the defending WNBA champions for a reason, and they proved it on Thursday. They trailed the Minnesota Lynx by as many as 19 in the 2nd, 15 in the 3rd, and 14 in the 4th, and still won by double digits (90-78). Seattle outscored Minnesota 37-15 in the final quarter thanks to a 17-0 run in a touch over three minutes. Jewell Lloyd (23), Sue Bird (21) and Breanna Stewart (13) combined for 57 in the come-from-behind win.



⚾ Out Of Touch: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules

The moment the Chicago White Sox announced that they had hired 76-year-old Tony La Russa to be their manager, eyes rolled and heads shook wondering what they were thinking. La Russa basically justified the critics in the past week going old school on his thoughts concerning swinging at 3-0 pitches. (USA Today)


🏀 Flopping Swung the Game of the Year

The NBA had what may have been its game of the year Wednesday when the Los Angeles Lakers rode a desperation heave from LeBron James to beat the Golden State Warriors 103-100 in the 7-8 play-in… But three crucial foul calls on Draymond Green in the fourth quarter are sure to stick with plenty of viewers. (Bleacher Report)


🏎 The Most Glamorous Race on the Circuit

The Monaco Grand Prix typically kicks off 1,262 miles of racing with the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 to follow on Memorial Day weekend. The historic race was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the most glamorous race on the Formula 1 circuit is back. (Yahoo! Sports)



PGA Championship Picks ⛳

Yesterday, we asked: Who are you taking this weekend at the PGA Championship?


As expected, The Sportsletter team likes the field, but Jordan Spieth got the nod among the three leaders in the eyes of oddsmakers. Spieth (+1) leads both McIlroy (+3) and Thomas (+3) after Round 1.


The Field (48.7%)

Jordan Spieth (29.2%)

Justin Thomas (12.4%)

Rory McIlroy (9.7%)



The Must-Watch List

Twenty-one playoff games in the NBA and NHL pop off this weekend alongside the PGA Championship. The Monaco Grand Prix takes center stage in the racing world, and a mixed bag of spring sports continue regular season action. We’ll have everything and more in Monday’s rundown. Enjoy the weekend!


PGA Championship

Rounds 2-4 (Friday-Sunday)


NBA Playoffs

Play-In: #9 Grizzlies at #8 Warriors (Fri. 9:00 pm)

Gm 1: #6 Heat at #3 Bucks (Sat. 2:00 pm)

Gm 1: #5 Mavericks at #4 Clippers (Sat. 4:30 pm)

Gm 1: #7 Celtics at #2 Nets (Sat. 8:00 pm)

Gm 1: #6 Blazers at #3 Nuggets (Sat. 10:30 pm)

Gm 1: #8 Wizards at #1 76ers (Sun.1:00 pm)

Gm 1: #5 Hawks at #4 Knicks (Sun. 7:00 pm)

Gm 1: #7 Lakers at #2 Suns (Sun. 3:30 pm)

Gm 1: Warriors/Grizzlies at #1 Jazz (Sun. 9:30 pm)


NHL Playoffs

Gm 4: #2 Capitals at #3 Bruins (Fri. 6:30 pm)

Gm 3: #1 Hurricanes at #4 Predators (Fri. 7:00 pm)

Gm 2: #3 Jets at #2 Oilers (Fri. 9:00 pm)

Gm 3: #1 Avalanche at #4 Blues (Fri. 9:30 pm)

Gm 4: #2 Panthers at #3 Lightning (Sat. 12:30 pm)

Gm 4: #1 Penguins at #4 Islanders (Sat. 3:00 pm)

Gm 2: #4 Canadiens at #1 Maple Leafs (Sat. 7:00 pm)

Gm 4: #4 Golden Knights at #3 Wild (Sat. 8:00 pm)

Gm 4: #1 Hurricanes at #4 Predators (Sun. 2:30 pm)

Gm 4: #1 Avalanche at #4 Blues (Sun. 5:00 pm)

Gm 5: #3 Bruins at #2 Capitals (Sun. 7:00 pm)

Gm 3: #2 Oilers at #3 Jets (Sun. 7:30 pm)


Formula 1

Monaco Grand Prix (Sun. 9:00 am)



Dodgers—Giants Series

Red Sox—Phillies Series

Yankees—White Sox Series

Full MLB Schedule


Other Sports Schedules

MLS Schedule

NWSL Schedule

Premier League Schedule

WNBA Schedule

Geneva Open Schedule


*All Times Eastern