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Willie McRae (right) with reporter Dick Gordon.
Carol Jackson

Pinehurst No. 2 is one of the most revered courses in the land. It was designed by Donald Ross, who called it “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” That course is the site of this week's U.S. Open.

Willie McRae knows the place about as intimately as anyone. Willie is the longest-serving caddy at the resort. He started working there when he was 10 years old, May 19, 1943. He's caddied for "the average Joe" and the world's elite.

And he has a lot of stories to tell.

Many of the best golfers in the world are in Pinehurst, North Carolina, today for the start of the U.S. Open. The match will played on the recently restored course Pinehurst No. 2.

Fifteen years ago, a golfer named Payne Stewart won the tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., but died in a plane crash just four months later.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Jeff Tiberii of WUNC reports from Pinehurst.

Michael Campbell reacts to winning the 2005 U.S. Open held at the Pinehurst Resort No. 2 Course in Pinehurst, N.C., Sunday, June 19, 2005.
John Mummert / USGA

The U.S. Open begins at the Pinehurst No. 2 golf course today. WUNC’s Jeff Tiberii is covering the event.

The 16th Hole of Pinehurst No. 2 as seen in Pinehurst, N.C. on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012.
John Mummert / USGA

The men's U.S. Open tees off Thursday morning in Pinehurst. One hundred and fifty six golfers from around the world are competing in America's version of a national championship.  Most of the golfers participating in the event practiced for a final time Wednesday. Hundreds of volunteers helped keep fans corralled throughout the historic Pinehurst No. 2 course.

Jeff Chaffin drove to the course from Suligent, Alabama (near the Mississippi border) for his first U.S. Open experience. He says his experience has been good so far.

The Seventh Hole of Pinehurst No. 2 as seen in Pinehurst, N.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.
John Mummert / USGA

The U.S. Open is back in Pinehurst, North Carolina for the third time in the last 15 years.

The first round of the tournament does not start until tomorrow, but the event has already set a few records.

A statue of Payne Stewart is next to the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2, where the 114th US Open is taking place this week. Stewart won the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst, and struck this pose after clinching the win.
Jeff Tiberii

Overlooking the 18th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 is a statue of a man. He’s standing on one leg, a putter dangling in his left hand and a right fist extended straight forward, in victory. The statue preserves a moment now 15 years-old. It’s a moment more famous than any other that this course has seen, since it opened in 1907.

In his trademark knickers, Payne Stewart won the event on that misty Father’s day with a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. He kissed his wife Tracy and celebrated his second US Open win.

A Duke Blue Devil guarding the net in a lacrosse game against Virginia.
Duke Photography

Duke Lacrosse has had to come a long way since the national attention brought on by false rape allegations in 2006. The tactic that's likely been most effective in changing the public face of the program could be considered the most difficult, but the Blue Devils have made it look easy: Winning.

The team took home their third national championship on Monday (2010, 2013, 2014) holding off Notre Dame 11-9 in Baltimore.

A member of the Pop Warner football league, the Durham Eagles (NC)
Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University

How much money does your family spend on sports? Do you spend hundreds each your on a traveling team for a middle schooler? Perhaps your child plays in more than one of these competitive leagues. How about a private conditioning coach? How much is too much?

There's an intriguing new project about the topic. It's called Contested, and it features families in Durham, NC.

>>Browse the multimedia site.

Photo: The Loyola Chicago Ramblers played against Cincinnati in the 1963 N.C.A.A. tournament title game.
Ramblers

The world of sports is a multi-billion dollar industry. And sports have a special elevated place in American culture.

A new one-hour radio documentary looks at the less-examined aspect of sports: the experience of young athletes. Contested is produced in collaboration with the radio program, State of the Re:Union, and will air Monday at noon on WUNC.

Man Versus Science

May 15, 2014
Logo for ESPN. Sport Science is an ESPN TV series
Creative Commons

    

Can an NFL running back muster the same force as a running bull? Does a nine-foot python squeeze harder than a martial arts star?

Former Brazilian Soccer Player Pelé is shirtless and being hoisted up by fans after the 1970 world cup on Cover of Fútbol! Why Soccer Matters in Latin America
http://upf.com/ / University Press of Florida

  

Sports say a lot about a city, state, or nation. Joshua Nadel’s new book explores the place of soccer in Latin America, and how it's influenced national identity in a post-colonial world. Nadel is the author of “Fútbol!: Why Soccer Matters in Latin America” (University Press of Florida; 2014) and a professor of Latin American and Caribbean History at North Carolina Central University. 

Ron Francis as a player for the Hurricanes in 2000.
Hurricane.nhl.com

Carolina Hurricane's owner Peter Karmanos announced at a press conference on Monday that Ron Francis will be taking over as the team's General Manager.

Francis is a Hall-of-Famer who both began and ended his career with the organization (first in Hartford, and then later after the franchise moved to Raleigh in 1997). He remains the team leader in many offensive categories.

In recent years he's joined the team in management roles - climbing the ladder from assistant head coach to Vice President of Hockey Operations.

Runners left shoes to memorialize the dead and injured in Boston.
Mark Wood, TTNHD Productions / Flickr/Creative Commons

Today marks the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon. Last year an explosion took the lives of three people. Hundreds were injured, many losing limbs. 6,000 runners were unable to complete the marathon due to the death and destruction.

Richard Smith is Triangle based marathon runner, and a statistician. He was approached with an unusual request from race organizers.  Could he, somehow, figure out official finish times for the runners who could not complete the race?

Jabari Parker
goduke.com

Duke freshman basketball star Jabari Parker has decided to enter this year's NBA Draft.   A video on The Blue Devils' athletic website confirmed speculation that Parker would give up his final three years of eligibility. 

He led the team in scoring and rebounding this season.  Parker was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and to several national All-America teams.  Parker says making his decision took time because there were a lot of people offering him advice.
 

Race organizers say two people have died at the inaugural Raleigh Rock and Roll Marathon. Neither the names nor the causes of the deaths have been released. Both runners were participating in the half-marathon portion of the event.

In a statement, Dr. P.Z. Pearce, the medical director for the Marathon, said: "We are greatly saddened by these tragic losses and our prayers go out to the each of the runner's family and friends. We have spoken with each of the families and they have asked everyone to kindly respect their privacy during this most difficult of times."

South Building and the Old Well, UNC Chapel Hill
Dave DeWitt

An independent review is discrediting the findings of a whistleblower at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Mary Willingham is an academic advisor at UNC-Chapel Hill who first blew the whistle on no-show classes two years ago. More recently she claimed that one-fourth of all Carolina athletes were reading at our below a fourth-grade level.

UNC-Chapel Hill officials disputed the methods she used in making that assertion. The school hired three professors at other institutions to review Willingham’s data.

Wikipedia

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. - Terrance Mann, Field of Dreams

Allisha Gray
UNC Athletic Communications

North Carolina's run in the NCAA Women's Tournament is over.   The fourth-seeded Lady Tar Heels fell to second-seed Stanford 74-65 in the West Regional final.  UNC wound up just one game short of reaching the Women's Final Four for the fourth time.

UNC was led by freshman guard Allisha Gray with 19 points and nine rebounds.   ACC Rookie of the Year Diamond DeShields added 13 points for North Carolina which finished its season 27-10

UNC Athletics

Sylvia Hatchell still watches practice. The school has a satellite link that feeds to her iPad.

She still gives the post-game talks. Two minutes after the Lady Heels beat South Carolina on Sunday, she was on speaker phone in the locker room.

The player text her photos from the road. She says she works two to five hours every day, a lot of which is with Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder, who's been in charge since Hatchell took a step back the year to undergo treatment for Leukemia.

Diamond DeShields
goheels.com

The UNC women's basketball team is one win away from its first trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four in seven years. 

Brett Farmiloe / Creative Commons/Flickr

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford announced on Thursday that the league's men's basketball tournament will come back to North Carolina after a few years away:

  • Charlotte will host the tournament in 2019. 
  • Greensboro will see the event return in 2020. 

(Earlier, the ACC announced it will take the men's tournament to Brooklyn's Barclays Center for two years.)  

Swofford says new membership has mandated a broader reach.

Lady TarHeels advance to sweet sixteen over Michigan St. 2014
University of North Carolina Athletics

This photo from Carolina Athletics says it all:

The photo was first shared on Facebook with a caption that reads: "How sweet it is! Carolina got the win over Michigan State and is headed to the Sweet 16!"

More about the game and the NCAA championship here. Or follow the team's journey in the tourney on Facebook.

LeVelle Moton
LeVelle Moton via Twitter

Updated Saturday March 22, 2014:

LeVelle Moton's Twitter profile says it all:

"Basketball is what I do, not who I am. Child of God, Hattie Mac's Baby boy. Head Coach At North Carolina Central University."

Moton seemed destined to be the head coach at NCCU. He grew up in Raleigh, and lived with his mother in a housing project. He was a McDonald's All American Nominee at Enloe High School, was Wake County Player of the Year, and was selected for All State.

Merge Records

Merge Records is celebrating their 25th anniversary this weekend.

Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan of the band Superchunk founded the label. "When I see pictures about what we looked like and what the bands that we worked with looked like then it feels like a long time," says Mac. "But it did go by quickly. It's gone by fast."

Superchunk is still releasing new stuff. They debuted"I Hate Music" last year.

TJ Warren
gopack.com

N.C. State lives to play another game in this year's NCAA Tournament.  

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