My Friday Five: On "New" Coke Zero, Durham Bulls & Golf Experiences

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1. The Coke Zero Sugar Taste Test

Is it "New Coke" all over again? Coca-Cola announced in July that it would rebrand Coke Zero to Coke Zero Sugar and change its formula as well. This sent the Internet into a frenzy, with tons of people voicing their concerns about the switch. As an avid Coke Zero - and Coca-Cola product - drinker myself, I was very concerned that the great taste of Coke Zero was soon going to be destroyed. Coke Zero Sugar hit the shelves earlier this month and I decided to give it a try despite my concerns.

The verdict? 

Well, Coke Zero Sugar is the first Coca-Cola product I've ever poured down the sink. One sip and I'm immediately reminded of the old school TaB soda. Coca-Cola touted Coke Zero Sugar's formula as one that tastes even closer to that of a regular Coke. HA! More like the company took TaB's formula and slapped the "Coke Zero Sugar" label on it.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this, yes, this is "New Coke" all over again. For the life of me, I will never understand why companies take a product that's already fine, change it and make it worse. Don't bother with Coke Zero Sugar. Just, don't. 

2. Bulls Clinch IL South

The Durham Bulls clinched the International League (IL) South Division in front of a packed out house at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Thursday night. The Bulls needed just one more victory to clinch and did so in comeback fashion against the Gwinnett Braves on Thursday. Although it's official now, the IL South hasn't really been contentious the majority of the season, with Durham holding a 10-game of better lead for the past few months.

I'm so proud of this team. I've been involved with this organization as a fan and an employee for more than a decade. It never gets old witnessing moments like this and I'm honored to be just a small part of it!

3. North Carolina in the LLWS

The Greenville North State All-Stars team is representing the Southeast in this year's Little League World Series (LLWS) and the team isn't only just making its way through the tournament, it's making history too. The All-Stars became the first U.S. team in LLWS history to throw a no-hitter, defeating South Dakota in its opener. But that wasn't all. Greenville pitched a no-hitter in its second game against California, making history again as the first LLWS team to throw back-to-back no-hitters, per Chris Landers of MLB.com. The undefeated Greenville squad have continued to roll since, picking up a win against Texas Wednesday night to advance to the U.S. Championship on Saturday. Way to go!

4. My Adventures in Golf

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The past couple weeks have been filled with awesome golfing experiences for me. First up was the PGA Championship in Charlotte. All in all, it was a grand ol' time! I attended the Practice Round on Tuesday as well as the Final Round on Sunday. Typically, I enjoy practice rounds a tad bit better than normal rounds but I felt just the opposite about the PGA. I guess because I got to see my guy, Rickie Fowler, play well and another one of my guys, Justin Thomas, win the whole dang thing! Plus, I got to meet Rickie after his round (pictured right), without the ridiculous crowd - as what happened when I tried to meet Phil Michelson on Tuesday. After a rather grueling final round in typical North Carolina/August heat and humidity, Rickie stayed around and signed for every person that wanted his autograph. It was awesome!

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Right after that, I headed to Greensboro for the Wyndham Championship. This was my third time attending and I particularly like going to the Practice Round, here. The crowd is not bad at all and you basically have free reign around the golf course, at times getting up close and personal with your favorite golfers. Although Rickie and some of my other favorites weren't playing, I got to see some of the other guys I pull for, like Ollie Schneiderjans, Cameron Smith and Danny Lee. I was able to meet all of them on Tuesday (autographs photo, left) and even followed Ollie's group during his round on Friday. It was great to see Ollie play well during the week, finishing second behind Henrik Stenson.

It was truly a great couple weeks of golfing experiences for me. I got to meet some of my favorite golfers, snag some autographs, got a nice sun tan and have memories to last a lifetime! 

5. Wolfpack Swimmers Impress

Man, oh man. Where to begin? The World University Games (WUGS) are taking place in Taiwan this year and the alma mater is well represented. Members of N.C. State Swimming and Diving have performed very well in the games. So much so, there has been some kind of achievement each day of the games so far. From Ryan Held being Ryan Held and taking home gold in the 100 Free, to Justin Ress earning two golds and a silver medal, to Alexia Zevnik and Hannah Moore taking home silver and bronze medals, respectively. In addition, Kayla Brumbaum set a program record in the 200 Breaststroke on her way to a top-five finish.

Keep tabs on N.C State in WUGS here. Go Pack!

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