WE BEGIN TODAY WITH SAD NEWS OUT OF NORTH CAROLINA, where longtime Roanoke Times sports editor Bill Brill died Sunday at the age of 79. Doug Doughty wrote an excellent obituary — with some help from Brill himself — here. Doug and Randy King have regaled me with many Brill stories over the years of traveling together, though I can’t say I knew him well. What I can tell you is that when I started writing columns for this paper — more than a decade after Brill left it — Brill remained a favorite topic of Virginia Tech fans I ran into all over our region. “You’re not going to try to be another Bill Brill, are you?” they’d say. No chance. He was one of a kind.
WITH ABOUT FIVE HOLES TO PLAY IN YESTERDAY’S THRILLING EDITION OF THE MASTERS, I texted Randy, our resident golf expert, with a simple question: “Best Masters ever?” Replied Randy, who covered the tournament for years: “Well, it’s up there…Never had so many who had a shot to win…Ratings should be highest ever…Riveting stuff.” He went on to say that Jack Nicklaus winning at age 46 remains his favorite Masters moment because of the pure shock value. What an incredible sports moment yesterday, though, as Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to break atop a leaderboard logjam and win the tournament. Here’s the story. And, of course, the “Tiger’s back” stories are all over the Internet today after Woods’ rally fell four strokes short. I don’t know about that, but I do know that he and the rest of the leaders were a joy to watch yesterday.
AFTER TWO STRAIGHT DAYS OF RAIN, THE SALEM RED SOX FINALLY OPEN THEIR SEASON WITH A DOUBLEHEADER SPLIT AGAINST FREDERICK. Katrina Waugh has the story here. The Sox capture the nightcap with a walk-off single from Vladimir Frias. Frederick’s Steven Bumbry, a Virginia Tech alum, goes a combined 0-for-7 in his Carolina League debut. Salem is off tonight before opening a three-game home series against Lynchburg tomorrow.
MONDAY HEADLINES: UVa sees 12-game baseball winning streak snapped by Georgia Tech…Kenseth’s victory at Texas has him feeling like a contender again (story here)… Daytona 500 winner Bayne released from hospital after insect bite (story here)…Beckett shines as Red Sox take rubber game from Yankees…Heat routs Celtics in Miami…Lakers drop fifth in row.