Yahoo Sports AM: The PGA Tour's billion-dollar investment

In today's edition: The PGA Tour's huge cash infusion, "Behind the Lens" with Getty Images, the man coaching two teams at once and more.

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🚨 Headlines

⚽️ The "Last Dance" is off: Cristiano Ronaldo (calf injury) will miss Al-Nassr's friendly against Inter Miami and Lionel Messi today in Saudi Arabia, which was being marketed as the final meeting between the two legends. If that's the end, what a rivalry it was.

🏈 Seattle's new head coach: The Seahawks are hiring Ravens DC Mike Macdonald. At 36, he'll be the NFL's youngest head coach and is half the age of the man he's replacing, Pete Carroll.

🏀 NBA draft expands: The 2024 NBA draft will expand to two nights (from the traditional one-night event), with Round 1 on Wednesday, June 26 and Round 2 on Thursday, June 27.

⚾️ O's ownership update: Cal Ripken Jr., Grant Hill, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who went to Johns Hopkins) and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke are part of the investor group that has agreed to buy the Orioles.

🏀 NBA returns: Damian Lillard received a raucous standing ovation in his return to Portland, and Kevin Durant got a video tribute (that he specifically said he didn't want) in his return to Brooklyn.

⛳️ The PGA Tour's huge new investment

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan (L) and Red Sox owner John Henry shake hands on Wednesday after signing an agreement to launch PGA Tour Enterprises. (Chris Condon/PGA Tour via Getty Images)
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan (L) and Red Sox owner John Henry shake hands on Wednesday after signing an agreement to launch PGA Tour Enterprises. (Chris Condon/PGA Tour via Getty Images)

The PGA Tour has secured up to a $3 billion investment from a consortium of American sports titans — a move that could signal its intention to back away from the unpopular merger with LIV Golf, Jeff writes.

Details: Strategic Sports Group, which includes the owners of the Mets (Steve Cohen), Red Sox (John Henry), Falcons (Arthur Blank) and Celtics (Wyc Grousbeck), among others, is behind the investment, which will begin at $1.5 billion and could eventually increase to as much as $3 billion.

  • The deal will give SSG a minority stake in PGA Tour Enterprises, a new for-profit entity that will manage the commercial interests of the Tour, which operates as a nonprofit.

  • Players have also been promised an equity stake in this new venture, which would be a first among major U.S. sports leagues, notes the Washington Post.

Of note: The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund is not involved — at least not yet. The SSG deal reportedly allows for the PIF (the money behind LIV) to become co-investors in the future.

The backdrop: The seeds of this deal were technically sown during last summer's bombshell merger between the PIF and PGA Tour, which decided to join forces with its rival's backer after acknowledging it couldn't compete financially with them.

  • But that merger received immediate backlash, not the least of which came from lawmakers concerned with potential antitrust violations, and the two sides have already blown past their initially agreed-upon timeframe to finalize the deal (Dec. 31).

  • Now, this infusion of American cash at the very least gives the PGA Tour leverage in its negotiations with the Saudis, and could ultimately result in them backing out of the merger entirely. "I don’t think it's needed," Jordan Spieth told reporters on Wednesday.

What to watch: PGA Tour purses have already exploded in an effort to keep players from going to LIV. With this influx of capital, $20 million marquee events could become the norm. But will that be enough to stem the tide of LIV defectors chasing higher guaranteed paydays?

Coming up: The PGA Tour is in Northern California this week for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, while LIV is in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for the first event of the season.

📸 Behind the lens

(Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Each week, we go "Behind the Lens" with Getty Images to get the backstory on the best photographs in sports.

This week's photo: Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore dunks against the Nets during their game at Barclays Center on January 27.

  • Photographer: Al Bello

  • Location: Brooklyn

Behind the lens: My first question when I saw this photo was, "How?" Here's Al's answer…

For this photo, I was looking for an angle that was different from floor level, so I decided to hang a remote camera in the roof of the building overlooking one of the baskets. I used a Canon 1DX Mark III combined with a 400 mm lens.

The camera was double clamped with safety cables and support straps, and I framed it before the game and focused manually. I added a radio receiver, allowing me to trigger the camera from my floor position during the game. The camera was set to fire whenever I pressed the button.

🏀 Meet the man coaching two teams at once

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)
(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

LSU Shreveport's Kyle Blankenship has both the men's and women's basketball teams in postseason contention.

From Yahoo Sports' Jeff Eisenberg:

Only a few months ago, LSU Shreveport athletic director Lucas Morgan approached his men's basketball coach with an audacious plea. Morgan asked Kyle Blankenship if he'd be willing to take on the challenge of also coaching the school's women's basketball team this season.

That wasn't a request Morgan ever expected to make, but these were desperate circumstances. LSU Shreveport's previous women's basketball coach had just abruptly resigned a little over two weeks before the team's Oct. 27 season opener to tend to a family situation.

Morgan didn't think he had time to conduct an external search for a replacement, nor did he feel the team's 27-year-old assistant coach was ready to take over. As a result, he turned to Blankenship, the trusted men's coach who had guided LSU Shreveport to the NAIA national tournament in each of his first 11 seasons.

At first, Blankenship was hesitant. He wanted to help the women's players whose coach had just abandoned them, but he worried that he'd miss too many practices and games as a result of scheduling conflicts. He didn't see how he could coach two teams at the same time without leaving at least one feeling shortchanged.

Blankenship began to reconsider after Morgan returned with printouts of both teams' 2023-24 schedules. Morgan showed him there was only one day when the men's and women's teams played simultaneously in different states and an assistant would have to coach the women in Blankenship's absence.

Blankenship, 40, called his wife Alexis to get her opinion. "Let's do it," she told him. "I trust you, and I know you're capable."

The three-and-a-half months since Blankenship took on double duty have been some of the most taxing yet rewarding of his coaching career. Fueled by a mix of stubborn determination, encouragement from loved ones and excessive caffeine, Blankenship is thriving in a dual role few other college coaches have ever attempted.

The results so far: The women's team is 17-2 and sits atop the Red River Athletic Conference. The men's team is 15-4 and one of four teams still in striking distance of an RRAC title.

What he's saying: "I had a lot of people tell me I was crazy when I did this, and I would say they're probably right," Blankenship told Yahoo Sports. "But any challenge that is put in front of me, I want to always try to do my best, have fun while I'm doing it and never quit. That's the mindset I've tried to take."

Read the full story.

⚽️ Reyna to Nottingham

Reyna during a match in December. (Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)
Reyna during a match in December. (Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna is headed to Nottingham Forest on loan from German club Borussia Dortmund, Jeff writes.

Americans in England: Reyna is the third USMNT player on Nottingham Forest and the eighth in the Premier League.

  1. Reyna, M (Nottingham Forest)

  2. Matt Turner, GK (Nottingham Forest)

  3. Ethan Horvath, GK (Nottingham Forest)

  4. Antonee Robinson, D (Fulham)

  5. Tim Ream, D (Fulham)

  6. Chris Richards, D (Crystal Palace)

  7. Auston Trusty, D (Sheffield United)

  8. Tyler Adams, M (Bournemouth)

Elsewhere: 17 other USMNT players are on top-flight clubs across Europe…

  • 🇩🇪 Germany (5): Joe Scally, D (Borussia Mönchengladbach); Lennard Maloney, M (Heidenheim); Paxten Aaronson, M (Eintracht Frankfurt); Brenden Aaronson, F (Union Berlin); Kevin Paredes, F (Wolfsburg)

  • 🇮🇹 Italy (4): Christian Pulisic, F (AC Milan); Yunus Musah, M (AC Milan); Weston McKennie, M (Juventus); Timothy Weah, F (Juventus)

  • 🇳🇱 Netherlands (3): Sergiño Dest, D (PSV Eindhoven); Malik Tillman, M (PSV Eindhoven); Ricardo Pepi, F (PSV Eindhoven)

  • 🇪🇸 Spain (2): Johnny Cardoso, M (Real Betis); Luca de la Torre, M (Celta Vigo)

  • 🇫🇷 France: Folarin Balogun, F (Monaco)

  • 🇧🇪 Belgium: Gabriel Slonina, GK (K.A.S. Eupen)

  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland: Cameron Carter-Vickers, D (Celtic)

Captain America shoutout: Pulisic, the USMNT's best player, is also having the best club season of the bunch, with seven goals and five assists in 28 matches for Milan.

🇺🇸 America in photos

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Evanston, Illinois — Fans packed into a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday to see one person: Caitlin Clark. The Iowa superstar delivered, scoring 35 points to lead the Hawkeyes to a 110-73 win over Northwestern and move to No. 2 on the all-time scoring list.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Lexington, Kentucky — Florida beat No. 10 Kentucky, 94-91 (OT), on Tuesday to hand the Wildcats their second loss in three games. If the Gators end up making the NCAA Tournament as a bubble team, this will be the game that gets them in.

(Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Detroit — The Senators beat the Red Wings, 3-2 (OT), on the final night of NHL action before the All-Star break. Photo of the night? Ottawa's Mathieu Joseph giving a puck to a young Red Wings fan during warm ups. You love to see it.

(Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)
(Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

Mobile, Alabama — Practices are underway ahead of Saturday's Senior Bowl. Some notable QBs playing in the annual showcase: Washington's Michael Penix Jr., Oregon's Bo Nix, Notre Dame's Sam Hartman, South Carolina's Spencer Rattler and Tennessee's Joe Milton.

📆 Feb. 1, 2004: The wardrobe malfunction

(Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images)
(Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images)

20 years ago today, Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson's nipple at the end of their Super Bowl Halftime Show performance in the most infamous wardrobe malfunction since "The Emperor's New Clothes," Jeff writes.

What happened: Jackson and her stylist allegedly came up with a costume stunt wherein Timberlake would rip off her shirt to reveal a lacy red bustier. But with no time to rehearse, they ended up flashing nearly 150 million people instead.

More on this day:

  • 🏀 1995: John Stockton passed Magic Johnson to become the NBA's all-time assists leader. Three decades later, he's still No. 1 by a wide margin*.

  • 🏈 2015: The Patriots beat the Seahawks, 28-24, in Super Bowl XLIX after Seattle opted to pass instead of hand it off to Marshawn Lynch, which resulted in Malcolm Butler intercepting Russell Wilson at the goal line.

*All-time assist leaders: 1. Stockton (15,806), 2. Jason Kidd (12,091), 3. Chris Paul (11,731), 4. LeBron James (10,759), 5. Steve Nash (10,335)

📺 Watchlist: The 300th meeting

The Celtics beat the Lakers, 126-115, on Christmas. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
The Celtics beat the Lakers, 126-115, on Christmas. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Celtics host the Lakers tonight (7:30pm ET, TNT) in the 300th regular-season meeting between the NBA's two winningest teams, Jeff writes.

By the numbers: Boston holds a sizable 166-133 advantage in the all-time series and they've won three straight, including their Christmas Day matchup earlier this season.

More to watch:

  • 🏈 Pro Bowl Games: Skills Showdown (7pm, ESPN)

  • 🏀 NBA: 76ers at Jazz (10pm, TNT)

  • 🏀 NCAAW: No. 24 UNC at No. 5 NC State (8pm, ACC); No. 12 Texas at No. 13 Baylor (8:30pm, ESPN)

  • 🏀 NCAAM: No. 6 Wisconsin at Nebraska (8:30pm, BTN)

  • ⛳️ PGA: Pebble Beach Pro-Am (11:45am, ESPN+; 3pm, Golf/Peacock) … The 80-player event now has a $20 million purse and fewer celebrities*.

  • ⚾️ Caribbean Series: Day 1 (10:30am-8:30pm, ESPN+) … The 66th edition of the annual tournament is being held in Miami for the first time.

*Among the celebs… Eight current and former athletes will be teeing it up at Pebble: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Josh Allen, Larry Fitzgerald, Alex Smith, Buster Posey and Pau Gasol.

⚾️ Baseball trivia

Fans wave a Dominican flag at last year's Caribbean Series. (Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images)
Fans wave a Dominican flag at last year's Caribbean Series. (Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images)

The Dominican Republic has produced by far the most MLB players (717) among the seven nations competing in the Caribbean Series, which begins today.

Question: Which of the other six countries has produced the second-most big leaguers?

  • Puerto Rico

  • Panama

  • Curaçao

  • Venezuela

  • Mexico

  • Nicaragua

Answer at the bottom.

🏈 The Pro Bowl Games are here

Amon-Ra St. Brown won last year's
Amon-Ra St. Brown won last year's "Best Catch" competition. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Pro Bowl Games begin tonight in Orlando, with AFC and NFC players facing off in the Skills Showdown ahead of Sunday's championship flag football game, Jeff writes.

This year's events:

  • Precision Passing: QBs aim for a variety of stationary and moving targets.

  • Best Catch: Receivers show off their creativity as they attempt to make the most impressive catch possible.

  • Closest to the Pin: Just what it sounds like. Players will tee it up at a nearby golf course.

  • High Stakes: Players must catch punts from a JUGS machine while already holding one football.

  • Dodgeball: The AFC offense vs. the NFC defense and vice versa.

  • Kick-Tac-Toe: The kickers face off in a giant game of tic-tac-toe.

  • Snap Shots: Like precision passing, but with centers and long snappers.

  • Gridiron Gauntlet: A relay race through an obstacle course.

  • Tug-of-War: Above a foam pit.

  • Move the Chains: Teams of five linemen move 3,000 pounds of weights and a 2,000-pound wall across the finish line.

  • Madden NFL 24: AFC vs. NFC in the video game, using this year's roster.

Full rosters.

Trivia answer: Venezuela (382 players). The rest: Puerto Rico (264), Mexico (125), Panama (60), Curaçao (15), Nicaragua (14).

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Yahoo Sports AM, our daily newsletter that keeps you up to date on all things sports. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.