McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Mickelson lose early in Match Play
champion Dustin Johnson walks on the 16th hole during round-robin play at
the Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament Wednesday, March 21, in
Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Austin, Texas (AP) — Rory
McIlroy put together another flawless back nine, running off five straight
This time, it wasn't enough.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Peter
Uihlein built a 5-up lead against McIlroy and held off his late charge with
enough key shots of his own in a 2-and-1 victory, one of several surprises
Wednesday in the opening session of the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson hit
two shots out-of-bounds on the same hole, another tee shot in the hazard and
couldn't make the putts that he couldn't afford to miss on the back nine. He
wound up losing on the 17th hole to Bernd Wiesberger.
Justin Thomas also got a scare, mainly
because his opponent had to putt with a sand wedge over the last 12 holes.
McIlroy was coming off a victory in the
Arnold Palmer Invitational just three days ago, when he birdied five of his
last six holes to win by three shots.
"I felt it was going to go two
different ways," Uihlein said. "When a guy comes off a win, next week out
they're either a little flat or still as hot as can be and they're just
going to blitz it."
McIlroy was a little of both. He had a
bogey, a double bogey and no birdies as Uihlein raced out to a 5-up lead
through 10 holes. McIlroy began his run of five straight birdies on No. 12,
and it might have been enough had Uihlein not matched him with a birdie at
the 12th and another one on the 13th, when he laid up into the wind on the
short par 4 over water and stuffed a wedge into 5 feet.
"I made him earn it at least," McIlroy
said. "I just came away a little fat. I didn't really necessarily play
badly. He didn't make a bogey all day, so it was hard to sort of claw my way
McIlroy, along with Johnson, Phil
Mickelson and Tommy Fleetwood, now have to do some serious clawing to win
their groups. All of them lost the opening match in their four-man groups
and will need some help to advance to the weekend.
In the two years this round-robin
format has been used, only four players have lost on Wednesday and won their
One of them was Johnson two years ago.
The world's No. 1 player lost his first
lead by driving into the hazard, another 1-up lead with he drove
out-of-bounds twice on the par-5 sixth hole, and he was in serious trouble
when his tee shot on the par-3 11th hit off the rocks guarding the green and
into the lake, falling 2 down.
"I thought it was the easiest game I
could have," Wiesberger said. "I'm the underdog playing the defending
championship. Just go out there and see what happens."
Plenty happened on the first day as the
18-hole matches lived up to their fickle reputation.
Thomas, who had his wisdom teeth pulled
two weeks ago and now is recovering from strep throat, built a 3-up lead
that looked even larger when Luke List, whom Thomas beat in a playoff to win
the Honda Classic, swung his putter into the hedges after losing the hole at
Except those weren't hedges.
"Turned out to be a wall," List said.
It bent the grip of his putter enough
that he could no longer use the damaged club in the round. List putted with
the leading edge of his sand wedge, and he fought back to take Thomas to the
"When he started putted with the wedge,
I knew that it would hopefully make it easier on me," Thomas said. "But it
Jordan Spieth won his opening match
over Charl Schwartzel by winning three straight holes to build a 3-up lead
through 14 and holding on for a 2-and-1 victory. Spieth again missed a few
short putts early in the round when he could have seized control.
The match ended with a peculiar twist.
Schwartzel missed his birdie putt on No. 17, meaning Spieth had two putts
from 5 feet to win the match. Schwartzel made him hit both putts, the second
one from just over 2 feet.
"I missed some shorties to start the
round. I don't hold that against Charl," Spieth said. "I didn't enjoy
hitting that second putt, and that's the point."
Charles Howell III birdied the 12th and
13th holes to go 3 up on Mickelson, who made only one birdie in 16 holes.
Mickelson lost his opening match for the first time since John Cook beat him
in 2002 at La Costa.
Mickelson, McIlroy and Johnson can't
afford another loss, and even that might not be enough to reach the knockout
stage on the weekend.
Six of the matches were halved, and
three of them felt like victories.
— Zach Johnson was 4 down after 14
holes against Matt Kuchar when the two-time major champion birdied the final
four holes for a draw.
— Adam Hadwin was 1 down on the 17th
green and could only watch as Kisner stood over a 10-foot putt for the win.
Kisner missed, then missed the 4-foot par putt to lose the hole, and they
each made par on the 18th for the halve.
— Keegan Bradley was 2 up with three to
play against 2017 finalist Jon Rahm when he bogeyed two of the last three
holes in a match that ended in a tie.
— Pat Perez rallied from 3 down with
seven holes remaining to halve with Si Woo Kim.
LeBron scores 35, carries Cavaliers past Raptors 132-129
Raptors' Jakob Poeltl, left, and Pascal Siakam defend against Cleveland
Cavaliers' LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game
Wednesday, March 21, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland (AP) — LeBron James
scored 35 points and added 17 assists, his last setting up a late a
3-pointer by Kevin Love, and the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers ended
Toronto's nine-game road winning streak with a 132-129 victory over the
Eastern Conference-leading Raptors on Wednesday night.
The Cavs were missing five rotational
players and coach Tyronn Lue, who missed his second straight game because of
But they had James, who earlier in the
day said, "I'll be available, so we got a chance."
James didn't have a turnover in 40
minutes and he made three free throws in the final 7.8 seconds. He missed
one with 3.9 seconds left, giving Toronto a final shot, but DeMar DeRozan's
3-pointer — contested by James — was wide left. DeRozan and Toronto coaches
complained the All-Star was fouled to no avail.
Love, playing his second game after
missing 21 games with a broken left hand, finished with 23 points and 12
rebounds and George Hill had 22 on 10-of-11 shooting for the Cavs, who were
blown out by 34 points against Toronto in January. But that was before
Cleveland shook up its roster with four trades designed to get back to the
NBA Finals. The Cavs are third in the East and would need a collapse by
second-place Boston to improve on that position with 11 games remaining.
Kyle Lowry scored 24 and DeRozan had 21
for the Raptors, who scored 79 points in the first half and were in control
in the third quarter before James brought Cleveland back.
With the Cavs up 125-124, James drove
the lane and whipped the ball into the corner to Love, who knocked down his
1,000th career 3-pointer.
The Raptors have lost to the Cavs in
each of the past two postseasons, getting swept last year in the conference
finals. But this is a different Toronto team, deeper, more experienced and
maybe poised to dethrone Cleveland.
Not if James has anything to say about
Raptors: Tied a franchise record by
scoring 79 points in the first half. They also did it in 1997 against the
Nets. ... Coach Dwane Casey said the team's confidence has never been higher
and has given Toronto an aura it didn't have before. "It doesn't mean you're
going to go out and beat a team," he said. "But I think we go into the game
with a different mindset, more of a hunted mindset than we did last year."
... G C.J. Miles sat out with a flu bug. ... The Raptors have made at least
10 3-pointers in team-record 14 straight games.
Cavaliers: F/C Tristan Thompson (ankle)
and Rodney Hood (back) were listed as questionable but sat out. ... F Larry
Nance Jr. (hamstring) is aiming to return this weekend. He has missed four
games. ... Acting coach Larry Drew spoke with Lue on Tuesday and said the
Cavs coach reported feeling better. "He's on the right trail of recovering
and I'm really happy to hear that from him," Drew said. When he announced he
was stepping away, Lue said he has been dealing with chest pains and
insomnia for several months. Drew said he doesn't talk "basketball" with his
boss. ... Nick Gilbert, owner Dan Gilbert's son, sat in the front row next
to his dad. The younger Gilbert recently spent 38 days in the hospital
following brain surgery. He received an ovation from the crowd. ... Drew has
been keeping close tabs on Nevada's NCAA Tournament run. His son, Lindsey,
plays guard for the Wolf Pack but has been sidelined in March after
rupturing his Achilles tendon at a game his dad attended.
Raptors: Host Brooklyn on Friday.
Cavaliers: Host Phoenix on Friday.
Serena Williams loses in 1st round at Miami Open to Osaka
Williams returns to Naomi Osaka, of Japan, during the Miami Open tennis
tournament, Wednesday, March 21, in Key Biscayne, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne
Key Biscayne, Fla. (AP) — The
match ended with Serena Williams grinning at the net. She saved her worst
shot for last, and after a rare first-round defeat she had to laugh.
Still rusty in her return from
pregnancy, Williams was unable to overcome a tough opening draw at the Miami
Open and lost Wednesday to Naomi Osaka, 6-3, 6-2.
On the final point, Williams thundered
forward to attack an easy shot at eye level, whacked the ball six feet past
the baseline and responded with a sheepish smile.
Not that motherhood has mellowed
Williams. She left without talking to the media.
The 20-year-old Osaka, who earned her
first career title Sunday at Indian Wells, said she was nervous at the start
playing her idol for the first time. Osaka said her goal was to avoid
Williams winning 6-0, 6-0.
"She's the main reason I started
playing tennis," Osaka said. "I just wanted her after the match to know who
Mission accomplished. What did Williams
say when they shook hands after the match?
"She said 'good job' and stuff," Osaka
said. "I kind of blanked out, but I'm pretty good she said 'good job.'"
Osaka, who has both American and
Japanese citizenship and lives in Fort Lauderdale, raised her profile with
last week's title run and showed no signs of letup and overpowered the
erratic Williams. Osaka had the stronger serve and wore down Williams in
rallies working her from side to side.
The matchup worthy of a final came
about because both players were unseeded. Osaka is ranked a career-best
22nd, while Williams' ranking is 491st after a layoff of more than a year.
Another new mother and former No. 1,
three-time champion Victoria Azarenka, defeated Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-0.
Seeded players are in action beginning Thursday.
Williams has been eliminated in the
first round only four other times, most recently at the 2012 French Open.
The latest defeat came at a tournament she has won a record eight times and
considers her hometown event.
The match was the last for Williams at
Key Biscayne, 90 miles south of her home in Palm Beach Gardens. The
tournament is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins' stadium, where
Williams helped with the ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.
Because of Williams' ranking, she
entered the draw as a wild card, and looked the part. She needed only eight
shots to win the match's first five points, but things became much more
difficult after that.
Playing her fourth match since
returning to the tour, Williams was a step slow to balls in the corners and
often late with her swing, while she put barely half her first serves in
play. Early in the second set she resorted to her patented scream of "Come
on!", but the outburst failed to turn things around.
Osaka was heartened that she provoked
Williams to shout at herself.
"Sometimes she plays matches where she
doesn't say 'Come on!' at all," Osaka said. "That's a little bit sad,
because it's like, 'Do you think she's trying?' So I just wanted her say
'Come on!' once. I knew then maybe she would be trying a little bit."
Williams tried, but typical of her
struggle was an exchange midway through the last set. She scrambled forward
to scoop a ball back, retreated to hit an awkward, lunging overhead, and
then stood and watched helplessly as a crosscourt forehand from Osaka
whizzed past for a winner.
Osaka's serve reached 116 mph, and she
was never broken. When Williams pushed her to deuce three times in one game,
Osaka closed it out with consecutive aces, and said she drew inspiration
from her hero.
"Sometimes when I'm in a really hard
position when I'm serving, I'm like, 'What would Serena do?'" Osaka said.
That approach has served Osaka well.
She's 14-4 this year and will next face No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina as the
tournament's new player to beat.
West Indies qualify for World Cup as rain sinks Scotland
players celebrate the wicket of Scotland Batsman Mathew Cross, foreground,
during their cricket world cup qualifier match at Harare Sports Club,
Wednesday, March, 21. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) — West
Indies qualified for next year's Cricket World Cup on Wednesday, sneaking
through by beating Scotland in a match where rain stopped play with the
Scots only just short of the run rate they needed to make it.
Chasing 199 to win, and take the World
Cup place, Scotland were 125-5 in the 36th over when the rain came. Scotland
needed to be 131-5 or better to win.
It gave West Indies a five-run victory
on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
"Definitely, we are relieved," West
Indies captain Jason Holder said.
The West Indians also qualified for the
final of the ICC's qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe with the win over
Scotland. Host nation Zimbabwe can secure the last World Cup place available
with victory over United Arab Emirates on Thursday. If UAE beat Zimbabwe,
then Ireland and Afghanistan play for the place.
Scotland had extra reason to be
aggrieved in the loss to West Indies when Richie Berrington was given out
lbw four overs before rain stopped play. Replays showed the ball missing the
stumps and an umpire error, but the decision review system is not being used
at the qualifying tournament.
If Berrington was still in and Scotland
had lost just four wickets, they would have won on the Duckworth-Lewis
"We feel pretty rough about that," said
Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer. "We are feeling a little bit emotional right
now. The guys are gutted upstairs. Clearly that lbw decision didn't go down
well and it's not for the first time in this tournament. It's a big
tournament, and a big game, and it come down to that. It's hard to
comprehend after all the hard work we've done."
West Indies won the first two editions
of the Cricket World Cup in 1975 and 1979 during their former glory years,
but the team tumbled down the one-day international rankings recently,
forcing them to play in the qualifiers.
West Indies began the decisive game
against Scotland by losing Chris Gayle with the first ball of the match and
Shai Hope in the third over to be 2-2. Evin Lewis and Marlon Samuels made
half-centuries to take West Indies to 198 all out, a respectable and
ultimately winning total.
Scotland also struggled at the start of
their chase but Berrington (33) played an important role in partnerships of
42 with Calum MacLeod and 38 with George Munsey before the weather decided
WADA offer to help investigate doping ignored by Russia
Reedie, world anti-doping agency (WADA) President, delivers his speech
during the opening day of the 2018 WADA annual symposium, at the Swiss Tech
Convention Center, in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday March 21.
(Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)
Lausanne, Switzerland (AP) — The
World Anti-Doping Agency has been frustrated with trying to work with a
Russian law enforcement agency investigating cheating.
Four letters sent to Russia by WADA in
recent weeks have gone unanswered, and "it seems our offer has fallen on
deaf ears," WADA president Craig Reedie said Wednesday.
WADA officials want to join the Russian
Investigative Committee visiting the Moscow testing laboratory that was at
the heart of a state-backed doping program. Giving WADA access to samples
sealed in storage by Russia is a key point to re-accrediting the national
The agency, known as RUSADA, has been
suspended since November 2015 when WADA investigators first detailed doping
in Russian track and field. Drug testing in Russia has since been overseen
by officials sent in by WADA.
A subsequent WADA-appointed probe by
Richard McLaren detailed orchestrated doping and cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi
Reedie told a conference of anti-doping
and sports officials that WADA wants to bring Russia "back in from the
"It is just a pity it is taking so long
for Russian authorities to make it happen," the WADA president said.
The WADA roadmap to restoring RUSADA's
right to work also requires Russia's sports ministry and national Olympic
leaders agreeing that McLaren's findings were accurate. That has proved
unacceptable to Russia.
"It is time for this situation to
change in the interests of clean athletes, in Russia and beyond," said
Reedie, adding that "every Russian sporting victory will be questioned"
until the country does what is needed to fully return to international
Rabada's ban overturned, available for 3rd test
this March 9, 2018 file photo South African bowler Kagiso Rabada,
second right, celebrates a wicket with team mates during the second
test match between South Africa and Australia at St George's Park in
Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan, File)
Cape Town, South Africa (AP)
— South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada had his two-test ban
overturned on appeal on Tuesday, meaning he will be available for
the remainder of the series against Australia.
Rabada was banned by the
International Cricket Council for the third and fourth tests after
being found guilty of two charges of misconduct for aggressive
wicket celebrations in South Africa's series-leveling victory in the
second test in Port Elizabeth.
The first charge, of
deliberately bumping into Australia captain Steve Smith after
getting him out in the first innings in Port Elizabeth, earned
Rabada three disciplinary demerit points, took him over a threshold,
and resulted in the two-test ban.
Rabada and Cricket South Africa
appealed that finding on the basis that he didn't deliberately bump
into Smith. The appeal was upheld after an independent judicial
hearing in Cape Town on Monday.
"The key issue is whether Mr.
Rabada made 'inappropriate and deliberate physical contact' with Mr.
Smith," said judicial officer Mike Heron, who heard the appeal. "I
am not 'comfortably satisfied' that Mr. Rabada intended to make
contact and I therefore find him not guilty."
Heron released his ruling on
For the Smith incident, Rabada
was found guilty on a lesser charge but the punishment did not
constitute a ban. He had already pleaded guilty to a second charge
in Port Elizabeth, of shouting in Australia batsman David Warner's
face when he got him out. That also didn't constitute enough demerit
points for a ban.
The decision to drop the
two-test ban is a major boost for South Africa ahead of the third
test in Cape Town starting on Thursday. Rabada won the
man-of-the-match award in the second test with 11 wickets and is the
spearhead of the home team's bowling attack. He is ranked the No. 1
bowler in test cricket.
The series is level at 1-1 with
tests in Cape Town and Johannesburg to come, with South Africa
seeking a first home series win over Australia since the end of
Having cleared him of
deliberately bumping into Smith, Heron instead found the 22-year-old
Rabada guilty of the lower-level offense of "non-deliberate and
minor contact" and issued him with a one demerit point penalty and a
fine of 25 percent of his match fee.
While celebrating Smith's
wicket in the second test, Rabada went down the pitch toward his
teammates, bumping shoulders with Smith on the way. The contact was
light, but the ICC recently brought in rules to stop any kind of
physical contact between bowlers and batsmen in an effort to remove
flashpoints in games.
"I consider the conduct was
inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved
non-deliberate and minor contact," Heron said in a statement
Tuesday. "The actions contravened the principle that a dismissed
batsman should be left alone."
The ICC said it accepted the
decision of the independent judicial hearing presided over by Heron.
Gennady Golovkin thinks Canelo, De La Hoya are doping cheats
Gennady Golovkin is shown in this Sept. 13, 2017, file photo.
(AP Photo/John Locher)
Big Bear Lake, Calif. (AP) —
Gennady Golovkin plans to go ahead with his rematch against Canelo
Alvarez on May 5, even after Alvarez failed a doping test last
But Golovkin also believes
Alvarez is a cheater whose attempt to blame the test on bad meat is
a joke and a symptom of more extensive corruption in boxing.
"Again with Mexican meat? Come
on," Golovkin said on Tuesday, referencing Alvarez's attribution of
his failed test to his consumption of tainted meat in his native
"I told you, it's not Mexican
meat," Golovkin added. "This is Canelo. This is his team. This is
his promotion. ... Canelo is cheating. They're using these drugs,
and everybody is just trying to pretend it's not happening."
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) spoke
pointedly about Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) before a workout at his
high-altitude training camp in Southern California. For the first
time, the unbeaten Kazakh middleweight champion repeatedly said he
believes Alvarez has used banned substances for previous fights,
including their first bout last September.
"It was pretty obvious when
(Alvarez's) muscles were all (enlarged) ... and with the traces of
injections, which were visible," Golovkin said through a translator.
"I can talk about Oscar De La Hoya, too. He is also not clean. He's
De La Hoya is Alvarez's
longtime promoter and a former six-division champion. He retired
from boxing in 2008.
Alvarez tested positive for
clenbuterol in mid-February in the fighters' voluntary anti-doping
program, and the results were revealed two weeks ago.
Eric Gomez, the president of De
La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, responded sharply to Golovkin's
"He doesn't sound like a
confident fighter," Gomez told The Associated Press in an email.
"GGG is trying to find a way out. If he doesn't want the fight, he
should just say so. Just last week he said the exact opposite. His
remarks about needle marks, Oscar and every other lie are
outrageous, false and defamatory, and we will deal with them
"As for Canelo, he is focused
on his training," Gomez added. "He didn't need any more motivation,
but now he has it."
The Nevada Athletic Commission
still hasn't announced whether it will level any disciplinary action
against Alvarez, or even when it might hold a public hearing about
its decision. The fight is just over six weeks away at T-Mobile
Arena in Las Vegas.
Golovkin expects to be in the
ring on Cinco de Mayo until he hears otherwise from Nevada or
Alvarez, who has scarcely commented on the positive test since
Golden Boy issued a statement blaming the mistake on meat
contamination that is common in some parts of Mexico. Canelo also
moved his camp to the U.S. after his failed test, but is training
behind closed doors.
Golovkin also is still upset
about the verdict in his first bout with Alvarez. Golovkin and his
camp felt they comfortably won the bout, which was ruled a draw.
"He's always been the favorite,
always had benefits," Golovkin said. "I don't think I would have the
same amount of benefits as he has. That's why I never use any drugs,
because I know there won't be any preferences to me."
If the Nevada commission
postpones the rematch, promoter Tom Loeffler echoed Golovkin's
interest in booking a middleweight title unification bout with
Britain's Billy Joe Saunders, who holds one of the four major belts.
But Golovkin and Alvarez both
realize their biggest paydays will come in bouts against each other.
That's why Golovkin is determined to keep training to face Canelo,
even while accusing his opponent of artificial enhancement of his
"You should take a look at the
photos and ask a doctor," Golovkin said. "Ask any doctor. Let him
explain what those (muscles) are. It's better even to use the lie
detector. Then there wouldn't be any silly questions about meat or
fruits or chocolate."
Spieth, Reed drawn in same group at Match Play
Jordan Spieth. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Austin, Texas (AP) —
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed go from being partners to opponents
in match play.
Spieth and Reed, who have a
7-2-2 record as partners in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, were
drawn in the same four-man group Monday night for the Dell
Technologies Match Play.
The World Golf Championship
begins Wednesday at Austin Country Club, where Spieth played when he
was at the University of Texas.
Spieth has a 9-9-1 record in
match play as a pro, going 0-5 in his singles matches at the
Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. He is 9-4-1 in the Match Play. Reed
has an 8-6-2 record, and is best known for taking down Rory McIlroy
in the last Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Spieth and Reed won't play each
other until Friday. Also in their group are former Masters champion
Charl Schwartzel and Li Haotong of China.
Round-robin play starts
Wednesday, with the winners of 16 groups advancing to a weekend of
Dustin Johnson, the defending
champion, is the No. 1 seed for the second straight year. He has
longtime friend Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin of Canada and Bernd
Wiesberger of Austria in his group.
The opening session Wednesday
has some compelling matches.
Phil Mickelson, who hasn't
played since winning the Mexico Championship, opens against Charles
Howell III in the first round. Howell has two PGA Tour victories,
one of them in a playoff over Mickelson at Riviera.
Tommy Fleetwood faces Ian
Poulter in an all-England match. Poulter has to advance out of his
group to have any chance of moving into the top 50 and qualifying
for the Masters. This is the final week for players to earn a
Masters invitation through top 50 in the world ranking.
Poulter carried Europe to a
stunning comeback in the Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012 when he made
five straight birdies to win a fourballs match, which ultimately
swung momentum to Europe going into singles.
Poulter's lone victory in
America was the 2010 Match Play in Arizona when it was single
elimination. He was referred to as a "ninja" in match play during
"I've never gone up against a
ninja in my life," Fleetwood said, who wondered if he could find a
book called "Karate for Dummies."
He was driving to St. Andrews
for the Dunhill Cup in 2012 and remembers well Poulter's heroics at
"Hopefully, it's just a
memory," he said.
Rory McIlroy, coming of a
victory Sunday at Bay Hill, gets Peter Uihlein in the opening match.
Also in McIlroy's group are Brian Harman and Jhonattan Vegas.
Matt Kuchar will face Zach
Johnson in the opening round. They were partners one time, losing a
foursomes match in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014.
Since going to group play in
2015 at Harding Park in San Francisco, two No. 1 seeds (McIlroy and
Johnson) and a No. 2 seed (Jason Day) have won. Anything goes with
18-hole matches, though having at least three matches allows a
player to recover from a bad day.
Not that it makes it any easier
to pick a favorite.
"This is as hard to win as
trying to pick the Kentucky Derby winner," Pat Perez said. "I always
pick the wrong horse."
Among those skipping the event
are Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott,
mainly for scheduling reasons. Also missing is U.S. Open champion
Brooks Koepka as he recovers from a wrist injury.
Joost Luiten withdrew with an
injury. He was replaced by Julian Suri, the No. 64 seed, who plays
Marc Leishman in the opening round.
The groups were determined by
the top 16 seeds, and then players from the next three segments of
the world ranking were added by lottery — one from Nos. 17-32, one
from Nos. 33 to 48, and one from No. 49 to 64.
Milan, Turin discussing possible 2026 Olympic bid with CONI
view of Turin, Italy, with the main city landmark, the Mole
Antonelliana, at right, and the Alps in background. (AP
Rome (AP) — Milan and
Turin are both in discussions with the Italian Olympic Committee
about possibly bidding for the 2026 Winter Games.
Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino
sent a letter of interest to CONI on Sunday despite divisions in her
own party, the populist 5-Star Movement, on a candidacy. Milan Mayor
Giuseppe Sala met with CONI president Giovanni Malago on Monday
about his city's interest.
"I think Milan has everything
required but we won't do anything without a government and its
approval," Sala said Tuesday.
Italy awaits a new government
in the next few weeks following a national election this month that
yielded no clear majority.
The Veneto region that includes
Venice, Verona and 1956 host Cortina d'Ampezzo is also interested in
2026, with region president Luca Zaia announcing Tuesday that
interest will be formalized by next week.
Malago discussed the possible
bids during a visit with IOC president Thomas Bach in Lausanne,
Switzerland, on Tuesday.
"The IOC appreciates the
growing interest within Italy for sport and the Olympic games,"
Malago said, while also expressing apprehension considering the
state of the government.
CONI is still recovering from
its dropped Rome bid for the 2024 Summer Games, which ended
following staunch opposition from Mayor Virginia Raggi, who also
represents the 5-Star Movement.
Among the other cities which
have shown preliminary interest for 2026: Stockholm, Sweden;
Calgary, Canada; Sion, Switzerland; and Sapporo, Japan.
Turin hosted the Winter Games
in 2006. The 2026 host will be decided by the International Olympic
Committee in Milan in September 2019.
World Rugby looking into controversial referee appointment
Spain players, in yellow, clash with Romania referee Vlad
Iordachescu, after the Rugby Europe Championship match between
Belgium and Spain at the Little Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Sunday,
March 18. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Dublin (AP) — World
Rugby is looking into the appointment of a Romanian referee for a
crucial match between Spain and Belgium that determined whether
Romania qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Spain's surprising 18-10 loss
in Brussels on Sunday meant Romania advanced to the World Cup
through a second-place finish in the Rugby Europe Championship.
Spain would have qualified with a win.
The referee for the match, Vlad
Iordaschescu, had to be escorted from the field by security after
Spain players angrily confronted him. The two assistant referees
were also Romanian.
World Rugby, which does not
appoint match officials for Rugby Europe Championship qualifiers,
said Monday it has contacted Rugby Europe "to understand the context
of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on
All of Belgium's points came
from penalty kicks.
The Spanish Rugby Federation
has said it will file a complaint to tournament organizer Rugby
Europe about the refereeing, and request video of the match be
analyzed to check if decisions were "deliberately partial to favor
the interests of Romania."
The Spanish federation had
asked Rugby Europe to change the officials for the Belgium match
because all three were Romanian. The federation said Patrick Roben,
president of Rugby Europe's referees' commission, denied the request
because the match appointments were done weeks in advance.
The head of Rugby Europe is a
Romanian, Octavian Morariu.
Rugby Europe said in a
statement Monday that it is waiting for an assessment report by the
supervisor of the match officials for the Belgium-Spain game, and
will devote a "large portion" of a tournament committee meeting on
Friday to the "analysis of every stage of the Belgium v Spain game."
Oladipo helps Pacers rally past Lakers 110-100
Angeles Lakers' Isaiah Thomas (3) has the basketball stripped away
by Indiana Pacers' Al Jefferson during the first half of an NBA
basketball game, Monday, March 19, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron
Indianapolis (AP) —
Victor Oladipo sparked a decisive run and finished with 20 points,
Myles Turner had 21 points and the Indiana Pacers recovered from a
poor start for a 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on
The victory snapped Indiana's
two-game losing streak.
Los Angeles was led by Kyle
Kuzma with 27 points and Brook Lopez with 23, but the Lakers still
lost their third straight.
Oladipo and Darren Collison got
Indiana going with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third
quarter for a 77-70 lead. After a layup from Julius Randle, Collison
made a 20-footer and Lance Stephenson hit a 10-footer. When the 14-4
flurry ended, Indiana led 85-74 with 3:04 left in the third.
The Lakers never seriously
challenged after that.
It was a stark contrast to the
Lakers' fast start. Efficient shooting helped them take a 28-19 lead
in the first quarter, but when the shooters cooled off, the Pacers
charged back and used a 15-6 second-quarter run to make it 51-50
late in the period.
The Pacers still trailed 59-57
at the half — before Oladipo helped flip things in the second half.
Lakers: Have lost five straight
at Indiana but wound up with a split in the season series. ... Kuzma
was 3 of 10 on 3s, extending the franchise record for a rookie to
135. He also had eight rebounds. ... The Lakers lead the league with
52.7 points in the paint per game but only managed to match the
Pacers 46-46 in that category. ... Randle finished with 21 points
and nine rebounds. ... Lonzo Ball had eight assists.
Pacers: After giving up 37
points in the first quarter, Indiana allowed only 63 the rest of the
game. ... Collison made his first start since having foot surgery.
... Backup center Domantas Sabonis missed his third straight game
with a sprained left ankle and will miss the Pacers next game as
well, coach Nate McMillan said before the game. ... Oladipo extended
his streak of consecutive games with a steal to 54, breaking a tie
with Ron Harper for No. 8 in league history. ... Thaddeus Young had
18 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Stephenson had 16
points and five rebounds.
Lakers: Visit New Orleans on
Thursday night, the second stop on a five-game road trip.
Pacers: Will try to earn a
series split at New Orleans on Wednesday night.
Navratilova 'angry' at pay gap to McEnroe for BBC work
Saturday, April 4, 2015, file photo shows former tennis star Martina
Navratilova, right, with Serena Williams. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
London (AP) — Martina
Navratilova is "angry" and feels let down by the BBC after learning
that John McEnroe gets paid at least 10 times more than her for
their broadcasting roles at Wimbledon.
In a list of the BBC's
highest-paid workers published last year, it was revealed that
McEnroe earned between 150,000-199,999 pounds ($210,000-280,000) for
working at Wimbledon.
Navratilova said she gets paid
15,000 pounds ($21,000).
Navratilova, a nine-time
singles champion at the All England Club, said she was told by the
BBC that she earns a "comparable amount, so ... we were not told the
"It's extremely unfair and it
makes me angry for the other women that I think go through this,"
Navratilova told "Panorama: Britain's Equal Pay Scandal," a program
aired on the BBC on Monday.
The BBC responded to
Navratilova's comments by saying that, as an "occasional
contributor," she appears on fewer broadcasts and is on a different
type of contract than McEnroe.
"John and Martina perform
different roles in the team, and John's role is of a different
scale, scope and time commitment," the BBC said in a statement.
"They are simply not comparable."
The corporation said that while
Navratilova is paid per appearance, has a fixed volume of work and
has no contractual commitment, McEnroe is on call for the entire 13
days of the tournament, has a larger breadth of work — including
radio and publicity — and has a contract that means he cannot work
for another British broadcaster without the BBC's permission.
"He is a defining voice within
the BBC's coverage," the BBC said. "He is widely considered to be
the best expert/commentator in the sport, highly valued by our
audiences ... His pay reflects all of this; gender isn't a factor."
Navratilova said her agent will
ask for more money in future to work for the BBC.
The gender pay gap at the BBC
has been a talking point since the salaries of top BBC talent were
revealed last year. A review commissioned by the BBC found a 6.8
percent gender pay gap, but "no evidence of gender bias in pay
Lyon risk season ban by UEFA for fan racism, disorder
Lyon's Myziane Maolida reacts after he missed a goal during the
Europa League, round of 16 second leg match against CSKA Moscow in
Decines, near Lyon, central France, Thursday March 15. (AP
Nyon, Switzerland (AP) —
Europa League final hosts Lyon are at risk of a one-season ban from
UEFA competitions after more fan disorder.
UEFA charged Lyon on Monday for
incidents including "racist behavior" and "crowd disturbances" at a
Europa League home game against CSKA Moscow last week.
The case will be judged on May
31 by UEFA's disciplinary panel which will weigh incidents that
happened within the perimeter of the stadium on Thursday.
Several police officers were
injured after clashes with Lyon fans before the last-16, second-leg
game which the French club lost 3-2. Lyon were eliminated from the
competition at the stage and lost the chance to reach the May 16
final at home.
Lyon are set to be barred from
European club competitions for one season when UEFA makes its
Last April, UEFA put the club
on two-year probation after fan disorder delayed a Europa League
quarterfinal against Besiktas.
UEFA fined Lyon 100,000 euros
($124,000) after that game and a further 49,000 euros ($61,000) when
fans disrupted the home leg of last season's semifinal against Ajax.
Lyon are fourth in the French
league, and are competing with third-place Marseille to advance to
play in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League or the group
stage of the Europa League.
The last roars are for Rory McIlroy at Bay Hill
McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, celebrates after making a birdie on
the 18th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer
Invitational golf tournament Sunday, March 18, in Orlando, Fla. (AP
Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando, Fla. (AP) — The
connection Rory McIlroy had with Arnold Palmer was strong even
before he delivered a Sunday charge that would have made the King
McIlroy first played the Arnold
Palmer Invitational three years ago, and Palmer teared up at dinner
when he asked McIlroy if there was anything he needed and received
this reply: "Mr. Palmer, thanks to you, I have everything I could
ever need in my life."
McIlroy's last victory was at
the Tour Championship on Sept. 25, 2016, the day Palmer died.
Sunday was special for so many
Tiger Woods brought Bay Hill to
life when he pulled within one shot of the lead, only for McIlroy to
respond to the endless cheers and chants for Woods by running off
five birdies over the last six holes to pull away. McIlroy closed
with a 64, just like the last time he won. And he ended his longest
drought in eight years by winning on the course and tournament that
The only thing missing was
having the King around to celebrate.
"I wish he would have been at
the top of the hill to shake my hand when I came off the 18th green
there," McIlroy said. "But hopefully, he's proud of me with the way
I played that back nine. I tried to be as aggressive as I could and
tried to take on shots when I needed to, just like he would have. So
yeah, it's come full circle since that day in September in 2016, and
just proud to be sitting up here and have my name on that trophy."
It really was the perfect
Bay Hill was rocking all
afternoon, mostly for that red shirt. Woods, who started the final
round five shot behind, made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to
start the back nine and was within a shot of the lead as everyone
behind him on the course appeared to stall.
One shot changed everything.
Woods couldn't commit to a
swing with his driver on the par-5 16th hole and sent it far and
left — way left — over a fence and out-of-bounds, sending him to a
bogey when he couldn't afford anything less than birdie.
He finished bogey-bogey-par for
a 3-under 69 and tumbled down the leaderboard into a tie for fifth.
That's about when McIlroy
The charge was vintage Palmer —
birdie putts on the 13th and 14th, a chip-in from 40 feet on the
15th, a 375-yard drive on the 16th that left him a sand wedge into
the par 5 for a two-putt birdie.
The final putt was vintage
McIlroy faced one last
challenge from Bryson DeChambeau, who had closed to within one shot
with an eagle on the 16th hole. McIlroy saw the score posted on the
leaderboard to the right of the 18th fairway, and he answered with a
7-iron over the water on the 18th to about 25 feet above the hole.
It was the type of putt the
gallery has seen Woods make to win in 2001, 2008 and 2009.
McIlroy buried it, raised both
arms in the air and turned to slam his fist as the grandstands
erupted with cheers.
"I've seen Tiger make that
enough times to know what it does," McIlroy said. "So I just wanted
to try and emulate that. ... Just to be able to create my own little
bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special."
That gave him a two-shot lead,
and he was a winner for the 22nd time worldwide when DeChambeau
failed to hole out from the fairway for eagle. DeChambeau made bogey
from the bunker on the 18th for a 68 and finished alone in second.
Justin Rose lingered all day
but was never a threat over the final hour, instead watching McIlroy
put on a stunning charge.
"Rory played incredible golf
and it was fun — great to see world class players do that," Rose
said after a 67. "It's not great to see him make putts because he
was making them against me. But when he is making putts, he's
incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play."
Stenson lost a third chance in
four years to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He led by as many
as two shots on the front nine before the putts stopped falling. Two
shots behind playing the 16th, Stenson three-putted for par and
bogeyed the final hole for a 71. He finished fourth.
Woods tied for fifth with Ryan
Moore (71), and now heads to the Masters with plenty of momentum —
just not a victory.
He finished one shot behind
last week at Innisbrook. He was one-shot behind with three holes to
play at Bay Hill, though it would have needed more than just a few
birdies the way McIlroy played.
His next stop is the Masters,
where Woods will be a favorite to win his fifth green jacket. And to
think that just over six months ago, Woods hadn't been cleared by
his doctors to hit balls after fusion surgery on his lower back, his
fourth back surgery dating to the spring of 2014.
"If you would have asked me at
the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two
golf tournaments, I would have taken that in a heartbeat," he said.
McIlroy was relieved for other
reasons. He went through an injury-plagued 2017 and failed to win
anywhere in the world. He was coming off a missed cut a week ago in
the Valspar Championship. And now he's a winner again, with the
McIlroy needs only a green
jacket to complete the career Grand Slam.
"I kept saying I didn't need a
win going into Augusta to feel like I had a chance," McIlroy said.
"I just wanted to see signs of good golf. And thankfully, I've been
able to get both today."
He ended the night wearing the
red sweater that goes to the winner, and raised a glass of Ketel One
vodka — Palmer's favorite — to toast the King.
McIlroy took a swig and said,
Just like his finish.
Del Potro edges Federer in 3 sets to win Indian Wells title
Martin del Potro, of Argentina, returns a shot to Roger Federer, of
Switzerland, during the men's final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis
tournament, Sunday, March 18, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) —
Juan Martin del Potro keeps surprising himself.
Close to quitting tennis after
four wrist surgeries in recent years, the Argentine fought to get
back to the ATP Tour even as he was reduced to hitting his backhand
with one hand instead of his usual two.
The struggle paid off Sunday,
when Del Potro staved off three match points in the third set to
beat top-ranked Roger Federer 6-4,7-6 (8), 7-6 (2) for the BNP
Paribas Open title.
The win ranks up there with Del
Potro's 2009 U.S. Open title, in which he beat Federer, and helping
Argentina win the Davis Cup in 2016.
"I cannot believe I won this
tournament, beating Roger in a great final and level of tennis," Del
Naomi Osaka of Japan won the
women's title 6-3, 6-2 over Russian Daria Kasatkina in a match-up of
20-year-old rising stars.
Del Potro and Osaka each earned
Del Potro became the first
Argentine champion in the 42-year history of the desert tournament.
He handed Federer his first loss of the year, snapping the Swiss
superstar's 17-match winning streak that was the best of his career.
"I feel frustrated that I let
an opportunity like this go by," Federer said.
Del Potro held a match point at
8-7 in the second-set tiebreaker, but he lost the final three points
on his own errors that allowed Federer to force a third set.
"It was a lot of frustration
after that match point, but then I play well," Del Potro said.
They were on serve in the third
until Federer broke for a 5-4 lead with a backhand winner off del
Federer had a chance to serve
out the match, holding two match points. But del Potro staved both
off to force deuce.
Federer's forehand went long,
giving del Potro a break point. Federer answered with a backhand
that hit del Potro at the net and then gained his third match point
on del Potro's forehand error.
Del Potro recovered to deuce
with a forehand winner. Federer mis-hit a forehand high into the air
beyond the baseline, giving del Potro another break point. The
Argentine cashed in with a well-placed forehand in the corner to tie
the set, 5-all.
In the tiebreaker, Del Potro
raced to a 6-1 lead, helped by two of Federer's double faults. He
closed out the win on his third match point when Federer's forehand
"I would like to play that
tiebreaker again because I don't know what the hell happened,"
Del Potro lost just six points
on his serve in the first set.
In the second-set tiebreaker,
Del Potro and Federer took turns arguing with chair umpire Fergus
Murphy. Del Potro was annoyed the crowd was making noise on his
serve and told the umpire he wasn't warning them enough to be quiet.
"It had no effect on the
outcome of the match," Federer said. "I was just also just trying to
pump myself up more, to get energy for me."
Del Potro survived
three-setters against countryman Leonardo Mayer in the fourth round
and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals. It was his first win
against Federer since last year's U.S. Open quarters. Del Potro
trails in their series 18-7, but owns a 4-2 advantage in finals.
Del Potro arrived at Indian
Wells having won a title in Acapulco and back in the top 10.
"I'm really enjoying playing
tennis again," he said. "I'm still surprising myself, and I want to
keep surprising the tennis tour."
Man United-Spurs, Chelsea-Southampton in FA Cup semifinals
Chelsea's Alvaro Morata scores his side's opening goal during the
English FA Cup quarterfinal match between Leicester City and
Chelsea, at the King Power stadium in Leicester, Sunday, March 18.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
London (AP) — Manchester
United will play Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinals at Spurs'
temporary Wembley Stadium home.
The draw Sunday saw last year's
finalists Chelsea face Southampton in the other semifinal.
Both matches will be played at
Wembley over the weekend of April 21-22.
Wembley is the designated
neutral ground for the semifinals — and final — but Tottenham are
well accustomed to it after taking up temporary residence at the
national stadium this season while their home at White Hart Lane is
The draw followed Sunday's
quarterfinals where Chelsea beat Leicester 2-1 thanks to Pedro's
extra time winner, and Southampton beat third-tier Wigan 2-0 in Mark
Hughes' first game in charge of the Saints.
Twelve-time FA Cup champions
Manchester United and Tottenham secured their passages to the
semifinals on Saturday. United beat Brighton 2-0, and Tottenham
defeated Swansea 3-0.
Morocco bid: $16bn for 2026 World Cup venues, infrastructure
this Friday Dec. 1, 2017 file photo, the World Cup trophy is placed
on display during the 2018 soccer World Cup draw in the Kremlin in
Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
London (AP) - Morocco
would need to spend almost $16 billion to prepare to host the 2026
World Cup, with every proposed stadium and training ground built
from scratch or renovated, the bid said Saturday.
With less than three months to
go until the FIFA vote, the north African nation presented the first
significant details of its proposal to take on the joint bid from
the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The North American bid plans to
rely on existing infrastructure, including large NFL stadiums
already hosting events.
For the first time, a high-risk
bid that does not meet FIFA's expectations on facilities and profit
can be disqualified before the governing body's congress votes on
When FIFA officials score the
bids, infrastructure — of which half relates to stadiums — will
account for 70 percent of the panel's mark. The remaining 30 percent
is based on projected costs and revenues.
For $3 billion, Morocco said it
can build nine stadiums, refurbish five others and build or renovate
130 training grounds. That is part of the $12.6 billion in public
investment that also requires hospital services being upgraded in 20
cities and transport networks improved for the World Cup after the
jump from 32 to 48 participating nations.
The bid said another $3.2
billion of private investment is required to build hotels containing
around 30,000 rooms.
Morocco's bid team told The
Associated Press the projections had been "carefully costed" but
could not provide a breakdown on how the figures were reached.
Nine new stadiums are planned,
including a 93,000-capacity home for the national team in Casablanca
that would stage the opening game and final in 2026.
Stadiums would also be built in
Oujda (45,600) and Tetouan (45,600), organizers said. New arenas to
fit around 46,000 fans are planned in Casablanca, Marrakech, El
Jadida, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate with the intention of
downsizing them to unspecified capacities after the World Cup.
The five existing stadiums that
need upgrading are in Marrakech (95,565), Agadir (46,048), Fez
(46,092), Rabat (46,500) and Tangier (65,000).
Morocco has mounted four
unsuccessful World Cup bids, most recently for the 2010 tournament,
while the United States was host in 1994 and was beaten in the vote
for the 2022 event.
The North American bid included
23 cities , including 17 in the United States, in documents
submitted to FIFA on Friday.
Sixty games would be played in
the U.S. under the bid plan, including all from the quarterfinals
on. Three cities were included from Mexico and Canada, who would
stage 10 games each.
Although the U.S. has a
substantial stock of existing stadiums, the bid's plans were rocked
last week by three cities dropping out citing burdensome financial
demands by FIFA.
Vancouver was rejected as a
Canadian option because it refused to comply with FIFA's
requirements that include tax waivers and putting agreements under
Del Potro, Raonic advance to semifinals at Indian Wells
Martin del Potro, of Argentina, returns a shot against Philipp
Kohlschreiber, of Germany, during the quarterfinals at the BNP
Paribas Open tennis tournament, Friday, March 16, in Indian Wells,
Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) —
Wrist, hip, foot and leg injuries. Juan Martin del Potro and Milos
Raonic have endured all of them in recent years. Now the surgically
repaired veterans are into the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open.
Del Potro defeated No. 31 seed
Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Raonic beat
18th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on Friday to reach
the semis for the third straight year.
In the women's semis on Friday
night, Venus Williams was to meet Daria Kasatkina of Russia and
top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania faced Naomi Osaka of Japan.
Del Potro has twice won the ATP
Tour's comeback player of the year award, having fought back from
left wrist surgeries in 2014 and 2015 (twice) and another one on his
right wrist in 2010. He was likely on a first-name basis at the Mayo
Clinic, where he was operated on.
The sixth-seeded Argentine came
close to quitting the sport.
"I couldn't fix the problem. I
got depressed at home for a long while, and I wasn't happy doing the
effort to (rehab) my wrist," he said. "But thanks God I'm here and
healthy, and I'm playing tennis again. I'm in the top 10 again. I
have too much love from the crowd, for my fans, and I'm doing this
because I love it."
Raonic had right hip surgery in
2011, right foot surgery in 2015 and left wrist surgery last year.
He also struggled with a right leg injury for much of last year,
missing a stretch of tournaments including the U.S. Open. He's
plunged from a career-high No. 3 to No. 38 in the rankings.
"It's been a catastrophe," he
said, adding in a knee injury that kept him from playing for six
weeks last November.
Raonic didn't resume training
until just before the Australian Open in January, and then lost in
the first round.
He's regained his form in his
seventh appearance in Indian Wells, where he has a 19-6 career
"I just have a personal calm at
this event maybe compared to others," he said. "It's a little bit
quieter here. It's easier to be around the tennis. You don't have to
fight through traffic to get here. You get here with ease."
Raonic survived an up-and-down
match against Querrey, who controlled the first nine games. The
American was up a break and serving for the first set at 5-4, but he
missed a backhand volley and Raonic won three straight games to
close out the set.
Querrey rallied to take the
second set, but he fell behind in the third. Raonic had 17 aces in
Del Potro and 32nd-seeded
Raonic play each other on Saturday. The other semifinal is between
top-ranked Roger Federer and Borna Coric of Croatia.
Stenson, DeChambeau tied for Bay Hill lead with Woods 7 back
Henrik Stenson, of Sweden, watches his tee shot on the 18th hole
during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf
tournament Friday, March 16, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M.
Orlando, Fla. (AP) —
Henrik Stenson gave himself another chance to win at Bay Hill, and
he made it a little bit tougher on Tiger Woods.
Stenson made three big par
saves at the turn to keep the round from getting away from him, ran
off three straight birdies on his back nine and posted a 3-under 69
that gave him a share of the 36-hole lead Friday with Bryson
DeChambeau in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The chilly weather warmed in
the afternoon, just not enough for Woods to do the same. He didn't
make a birdie until the 12th hole, never had a birdie putt inside 12
feet except for the par 5s on the back nine, and did well to scrap
it around for a 72 to go into the weekend seven shots behind.
"I didn't hit the ball close, I
didn't hit the ball well," Woods said. "But I was just hanging in
there ... just try not to shoot myself out of the tournament."
DeChambeau finished strong with
an 8-iron into 7 feet for eagle on the par-5 16th and an approach to
4 feet for birdie on the 18th, giving him a 66 and his third time
with a share of the 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour.
"I think every week I'm good
enough to win or play my best," he said. "It's just sometimes a kick
here, a break here and that's just what happens."
Stenson and DeChambeau were at
11-under 133, two shots clear of PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch (70).
Stenson had a two-shot lead
going into the final round in 2015 at Bay Hill and stumbled at the
end after getting put on the clock. Two years ago, he was tied for
the lead with five holes to play until two bogeys over the next
His putting carried him to a 64
in the opening round, and it saved him again on Friday.
"I made some great par putts
and a bunker up-and-down, so that was really key today to keep the
round going," Stenson said. "I didn't drop a shot, where I could
have easily dropped three shots on those holes. So that was
Temperatures were around 50
when he teed off, and it was clear Stenson has been gone from Sweden
too long, living in Dubai and more recently in Orlando. If not for
the tournament, he described this as a day to sit in the clubhouse
with hot chocolate and wait for it to get warm.
"I might be Swedish, but I've
gone soft ," he said. "I lived in a nice climate for too many
He was strong when it mattered.
Stenson shanked a fairway bunker shot short and right of the green
on the 16th and pitched some 70 feet long, from where he had to make
an 8-footer to escape with par. He found the front bunker on the
par-3 17th, hit out to 15 feet and made that one, and then saved par
from the bunker left of the 18th green down the slope toward the
green, holing a 5-foot putt.
Stenson settled down from there
and ran off three straight birdies, two from close range, the last
one from 20 feet on the fringe.
Ten players were separated by
five shots going into the weekend, a group that includes Rickie
Fowler (71) and Patrick Reed (70). Rory McIlroy was slowed again,
this time with a pair of bogeys to start his back nine, though he
could accept a 70. McIlroy was six shots back, which felt like a
little bit more considering the way Stenson is playing.
Stenson is renowned for his
ball striking, and 12 birdies over 36 holes would suggest he's
dialed in this week.
"Henrik has played great,"
McIlroy said. "I'm going to have to play very, very good golf on the
weekend to catch him, but I'm in a better position this Friday than
I was last Friday, so I'll take anything I can get."
Woods walked off the course
early Thursday afternoon just one shot out of the lead, and the
margin keeps getting wider — four shots back by the end of the
opening round, now seven shots back going into the weekend.
It was clear early that this
would be a struggle, especially when he ran a putt off the green and
onto the fringe at No. 9 for this second bogey. He at least managed
to birdie the par 5s on the back, and had a tough par save on the
15th. With his ball plugged near the side of the slip, he swung a
little harder to make sure the shaft didn't get stuck banging into
the side of the turf and holed a 20-foot par putt.
The disappointment was his
wedge play. He never got anything particularly close.
"Today was just a bad day," he
Woods, coming off a runner-up
finish last week at Innisbrook, is an eight-time winner at Bay Hill,
most recently in 2013 when he last played the Arnold Palmer
Invitational. He trailed after 36 holes in four of those victories,
including a seven-shot deficit to Vijay Singh in 2008.
"There's a lot of guys between
myself and the lead," said Woods, who was tied for 17th. "And if it
gets warm like it's supposed to get on the weekend, then we're going
to make some birdies."
Real Madrid face Juventus in Champions League quarterfinals
UEFA Champions League trophy is pictured during the quarterfinal
draw of the tournament at the UEFA Headquarters, in Nyon,
Switzerland, Friday, March 16. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via
Nyon, Switzerland (AP) —
In a rematch of last season's Champions League final, title holders
Real Madrid were paired with Juventus in the quarterfinals draw on
Madrid will travel to Turin for
the first leg on April 3 against the Italian champions they beat 4-1
in the 2017 final at Cardiff.
Liverpool were drawn to host
Manchester City first on April 4 in an all-English clash. After all
five English clubs advanced from the group stage to the round of 16,
only one will now be in the semifinals.
"It's always common in a draw
that you'll get your neighbor, more or less, but to be honest I
don't mind," Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said in comments to the
Also Friday, five-time
champions Barcelona and Bayern Munich were paired with teams who
have never won the tournament.
Barcelona are at home first
against Roma on April 4, and Bayern face Sevilla in the first leg in
Spain on April 3. All return games are played the following week.
Madrid will likely start
favorites against Juventus in pursuit of a record-extending 13th
European title and a first hat trick since Bayern won their third
title in a row in 1976.
Cristiano Ronaldo's 12 goals in
the competition this season is more than the entire Juventus team,
which has scored just 11 times in eight games.
Still, Juventus did in the
round of 16 what Madrid could not do in the group stage — beat
Tottenham. They advanced with an impressive 2-1 second-leg win at
"It says a lot about the
winning mentality (of Juventus), and their personality and
experience to play these kind of matches," Madrid director Emilio
The draw set up both English
clubs for an intense week, with city derbies in the Premier League
sandwiched between the quarterfinal games.
On the Saturday between the two
legs against five-time champions Liverpool, City host rivals
Manchester United and could seal the league title that day.
On the Sunday, Liverpool play
at Everton barely 48 hours before the second-leg game in Manchester.
Man City travel for the first
leg to Anfield where they have won only once in their last 30
visits. Pep Guardiola's team lost 4-3 at Liverpool two months ago
for their only league loss this season, though they won 5-0 at home
Barcelona will be expected to
advance from their 11th straight appearance in the quarterfinals,
with Lionel Messi in attack and the competition's best defensive
record of just two goals conceded.
The final is on May 26 at the
Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine.
Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup
Jockey Richard Johnson and horse Native River celebrate winning the
Cheltenham Gold Cup, during the 2018 Cheltenham Festival at
Cheltenham Racecourse, in Cheltenham, England, Friday March 16. (Tim
Goode/PA via AP)
Cheltenham, England (AP) —
Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast
favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold
Cup, Britain's most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.
Ridden by champion jockey
Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the
start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2
furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.
After they jumped the last
fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson
got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill
finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths — a year after
finishing third in the race.
For Johnson, it was a second
victory in the Gold Cup — 18 years after his first on Looks Like
"It's been a long 18 years,"
Johnson said. "To be honest, I was a passenger.
"The more I asked from him, the
better he jumped."
Might Bite's handler, Nicky
Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the
Cheltenham Festival's three signature races in the same year — the
Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.
It was Might Bite's first
defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn't do the
horse any favors — especially against a rival who is a past winner
of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup
"It was the right thing to
track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had
to be in the right place," Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.
"On better ground, stamina
wouldn't have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so
much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason
I've never won that race is because I can't find horses that go in
Native River won his owners
369,822 pounds ($515,000).
Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was
Stenson bounces back and leads Bay Hill
Henrik Stenson, of Sweden, lines up a putt on the 17th green during
the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament
Thursday, March 15, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando, Fla. (AP) —
Henrik Stenson had a hot putter, a much quieter crowd and a one-shot
lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
One week after Stenson returned
from his winter break and spent two days with Tiger Woods and his
raucous crowds, he made birdie on half of the holes at Bay Hill for
an 8-under 64, his lowest round ever on the course the King built.
PGA Tour rookies Aaron Wise and
Talor Gooch each had 65. Wise missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the
Woods again brought out big
crowds in the unseasonable chill Thursday morning and gave them
quite a show. He hit a tee shot that was out-of-bounds by inches. He
atoned for that with a 70-foot birdie putt. And he wound up with a
68, his best opening round since he returned this year from a fourth
"I feel like I'm not really
thinking as much around the golf course," Woods said. "I can just
see and feel it and go."
Each week is a little better
for Woods, and Stenson saw the progress last week. The 41-year-old
Swede typically takes a month off between the Middle East swing and
the Florida swing, and he returned last week to a grouping of Woods
and Jordan Spieth. That didn't bother him as much as his poor
Bay Hill provided a change in
"It's great to see him back
competing, but it was a little loud out there last week," Stenson
said. "But that comes with the excitement of having him back and
seeing him play well, so I thought it was great. ... I guess it's
nice to get a little bit of a breather at times, though."
It really helps to be putting
well, especially on pure greens at Bay Hill that already had a
yellow hue to them. He spent the weekend at home in Orlando working
with Phil Kenyon, his putting coach, and it seemed to help. Stenson
took only 20 putts, tying his personal best for fewest putts in a
round on the PGA Tour.
He ran off five straight
birdies around the turn, and he followed his lone bogey at the par-3
14th with two birdies and a 10-foot par save.
Woods had no complaints, and
about the only thing that went wrong — except for the tee shot on
No. 3 that went OB — was his prediction before he left Bay Hill. He
was happy with anything in the 60s and said, "There won't be a lot
of rounds out there that will be in the 60s. The golf course is
There were 13 more rounds in
the 60s in the afternoon, including Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy at
Only one of them was pleased
with it. Els, who has gone more than a year since his last finish in
the top 30, dropped only one shot, on the opening hole. McIlroy had
five birdies through 10 holes and then hit out-of-bounds on the 18th
hole for a double bogey.
Coming off a runner-up finish
at the Valspar Championship that raised expectations of a victory
being closer than ever, Woods started and finished strong, with one
mishap in the middle.
His drive on No. 3, his 12th
hole of the round, sailed to the right and went off a cart path and
toward the houses. Only when he reached the ball did Woods find it
had rolled into the bottom of a mesh fence. It looked like it was in
play, except the poles on the waist-high fence were the boundaries,
and his ball was inches outside of them.
He went back to the tee,
sprayed the next tee shot under a tree and made double bogey.
And then came the big finish —
two birdies on the par 5s, including a bold flop shot from a tight
lie over a bunker at No. 6, and the 70-foot putt he was hoping would
be close. Woods immediately pressed his hand down, asking for the
ball to slow down, and then watched it drop for a most unlikely
"I was trying to lag it down
there and just make my par and get out of here," he said. "It had to
crash at the hole — which I'm not complaining — and it went in."
He closed with a 12-foot putt
to save par from the bunker.
Former PGA champion Jimmy
Walker, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau were at 67.
Walker was on the other side of
the golf course finishing up at the same time as Woods. He holed a
wedge from 132 yards on the 18th for an eagle, matching his best
score at Bay Hill. It was especially gratifying because he wasn't
even planning to play this week.
He had a trip to Augusta
National planned with some friends and club members and thought it
was this weekend. Instead, it was meant to be Monday and Tuesday.
Walker's wife, Erin, has a horse-jumping show in West Palm Beach.
The kids are with their grandparents skiing in Utah.
"I figured I might as well
play," Walker said.
He had two days at Augusta
National, didn't have a practice round at Bay Hill and felt right at
"It's just golf," he shrugged.
"Just hit the shots. I've done so many Monday qualifiers earlier in
my career where you never see the golf course. Sometimes it helps
because you're not overdoing it."
Hamilton "super relaxed" amid contract talks with Mercedes
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.
(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Turin, Italy (AP) —
Lewis Hamilton is "super relaxed" amid ongoing contract negotiations
with Mercedes and the four-time world champion hinted it could be
his last deal as a Formula One driver.
Hamilton is entering the final
season of his three-year contract but talks are underway about a new
deal with Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff.
The British driver had said
last month he hoped to get it done before the new season gets
underway but he acknowledged Wednesday that it's now unlikely to
happen before the first race in Melbourne on March 25.
"We started talking about it
over the winter and I was like I'll come back to it and then we
picked it up again and I was like I'll come back to it. It's not
really my priority at the moment," Hamilton told The Associated
Press in an interview.
"I'm really super relaxed, I
don't feel pressure from the team, I don't feel pressure within
myself. I want to continue racing so I'll have to do a contract at
some stage but I'm definitely not going to do it when people want me
to do it. I'll do it when it's ready."
If he does sign a new deal with
Mercedes, it's expected to be for another three-year span. But while
he feels he could stay at the top of his game for seven more years,
the 33-year-old is not sure he'll stay that long in the sport.
"I don't want to stop early, I
don't want to stop premature that's for sure but I really don't know
what my time is," Hamilton said. "I could probably stay until I'm 40
if I wanted to but I don't think I'm going to do that.
"I could stay one or two more
years but in two years' time will I still have the excitement that I
have now of going into another season? I really can't tell you."
Relaxed is exactly how Hamilton
appeared as he basked in the sunshine at an event for Mercedes'
sponsors in Turin.
A jovial Hamilton laughed and
cracked jokes as he responded to questions on the balcony of
Petronas' new $60 million research and technology center.
But while he was calm and
collected, he was also visibly excited to get back to racing.
"I don't really like practice,"
he said. "I'm super competitive and that's never ever going to
change. Even when I'm 80 years old I'll be competitive and hopefully
I'll have grandchildren or something by then, still going to be
wanting to beat them if I'm walking with my blooming zimmer
(walking) frame. It's just how I'm built."
It's that drive and motivation
which could see Hamilton become only the third driver to win more
than four world championships — after seven-time winner Michael
Schumacher and five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
Hamilton said he's hasn't even
contemplated that happening and doesn't know how it would feel to be
in such illustrious company.
"People always asked me what
would it mean if you got the third, the fourth. You just have no
idea," he said before adding with a laugh: "It's like saying 'how
would it feel if you won the lottery?' I'm sure you'd feel good but
you don't really know how you're going to feel. It would probably
feel good for a second and then you'd be overwhelmed with people
trying to steal your money."
Dominant Daria: Kasatkina routs Kerber at Indian Wells
Borna Coric, of Croatia, celebrates after winning a game against
Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, during the quarterfinals at the BNP
Paribas Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 15, in Indian Wells,
Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) —
Daria Kasatkina kept her focus for all of 58 minutes.
That's how long it took to
dispatch former No. 1 Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals
of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Russian hasn't
dropped a set in four matches at Indian Wells, knocking out U.S.
Open champion Sloane Stephens and No. 2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki
along the way.
"Maybe, yeah, from the side or
with the score it looks like it was simple, but of course it's not,"
Kasatkina said. "I knew that in one moment if I will lose focus just
for a second, they will come back and then the big battle, five
hours again, will start."
No chance against Kerber.
The German never managed a
break point against Kasatkina's serve. The Russian connected on 82
percent of her first serves, winning 22 of 32 first-serve points.
"This one I will try to forget
as fast as possible," Kerber said.
In the men's quarterfinals,
Borna Coric of Croatia upset No. 7 seed Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6
(3) for his first win in four tries against the South African.
Coric next faces either No. 1
Roger Federer or Chung Hyeon of South Korea, who were to meet
Besides Stephens and Australian
Open winner Wozniacki, Kasatkina has beaten the other current Grand
Slam titleholders in the past year: French Open winner Jelena
Ostapenko and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.
That's part of the reason for
her impressive rise in the rankings over the last three years, and
she's guaranteed to make her highest move yet as a result of her
deep run in the desert. She came into the tournament at No. 19, two
spots lower than her career-best. She could move to 15th or 16th,
and has a shot at the top 10 if she would win the title.
But that's more than she cared
to consider, especially against Kerber.
"Actually, my head was quite
empty," she said, smiling.
Whenever she can get away,
Kasatkina can be found in Barcelona. Her favorite soccer team is
there, and she loves the architecture, the seaside location, and the
food, with paella and tapas her top choices. And a little bit of
wine, too, even though she's not 21.
"In Europe it doesn't matter,"
she said. "With good company, of course, you can have a glass or
Kasatkina will play either No.
8 seed Venus Williams or 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain
in the semis.
Regardless of the opponent, she
wants to play at night.
"I just want to be on the
central court, prime time," she said, smiling. "In the evening,
something special is coming from here, from the heart."
The other women's semifinal is
already set: No. 1 Simona Halep against Japan's Naomi Osaka, another
20-year-old making a huge run through the draw. Osaka's victims have
included Maria Sharapova, No. 31 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5
Southgate says England should go to World Cup in Russia
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May
stands outside The Mill pub, as she views the area where former
Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found
critically ill, in Salisbury, England, Thursday, March 15. (Toby
Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
London (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate says his
team should go to the World Cup despite Russia being blamed for
poisoning a former spy in Britain.
British Prime Minister Theresa
May has ordered politicians and royals not to attend the World Cup
after former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were
found unconscious after being exposed to a nerve agent.
But the government has not
ordered the national soccer team to boycott the June 14-July 15
Southgate says it's a "serious
matter" and "developing very quickly." But based on the briefings he
has received, he says "we are preparing to go to the World Cup.
There is no doubt in my mind that is what we should be doing."
England's World Cup campaign
opens against Tunisia on June 18 in Volgograd.
Messi reaches 100 CL goals, Barcelona beat Chelsea 3-0
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's third
goal during the Champions League round of sixteen second leg match
between FC Barcelona and Chelsea at the Camp Nou stadium in
Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 14. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Barcelona, Spain (AP) —
Lionel Messi joined Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League's
100-goal club after scoring twice to lead Barcelona past Chelsea and
into the Champions League quarterfinals for an 11th straight season
Messi also set up Ousmane
Dembele in a 3-0 win at Camp Nou after he had scored Barcelona's
goal in the opening-leg 1-1 draw in London.
Messi beat Thibaut Courtois
with two strikes between the Chelsea goalkeeper's legs from very
tight angles on the side of the box. He struck the opener three
minutes into the match and took Barcelona's third goal in the 63rd.
Ronaldo, with 117 goals, is the
only other player to reach the century-mark in Europe's elite club
competition. Messi reached his 100th goal in 123 matches, while Real
Madrid's star needed 144 games.
But the most dazzling moment
from the Argentina forward, who returned from missing one match for
the birth of his third son on Saturday, came when he helped Dembele
score his first goal for Barcelona after he stole the ball from
former Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas and darted past two would-be
tacklers in the 20th.
While Chelsea coach Antonio
Conte lamented his players' near misses — they hit the woodwork four
times over the two legs — he lavished praise on Messi, whom he
congratulated on the pitch following the final whistle.
"I think when you have the
opportunity to make a great compliment to Messi, it is right to
recognize a super, super, super top player," Conte said. "We are
talking about an extraordinary player. The best in the world. This
type of player is born once in 50 years."
Barcelona remained unbeaten in
25 straight Champions League matches at Camp Nou, a run that dates
back to 2013. The hosts also stayed in contention for a rare treble
of titles. They lead the Spanish league and have reached the final
of the Copa del Rey.
Chelsea will now have to focus
on finishing in the top four in the Premier League to return to the
tournament. They are currently in fifth place.
Conte looked to repeat the
team's relative success at frustrating Barcelona's attack from the
first leg with a back line of five defenders.
But Messi needed very little to
poke a hole in Chelsea's wall.
Barcelona's all-time leading
scorer started an attack with a pass meant for Dembele that was
twice deflected before Luis Suarez deftly flicked it back to Messi.
The Argentine forward targeted
the only gap available: the slot in-between the legs of Courtois.
"We know that we can always
count on him," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "It goes with
his character and the responsibility he feels for the team."
That ability to know exactly
what his teammates need was clear when Messi swooped in to steal the
ball from Fabregas in midfield and charged toward the box. Instead
of passing to Suarez, he let the striker draw the remaining
defenders to him, and then passed across for the unmarked Dembele to
drive a rising shot over Courtois.
It was Dembele's first goal for
Barcelona in his 12th appearance for the club and could represent a
breakthrough for the 20-year-old France winger, who had been
hesitant and error-prone in his previous games after recovering from
two injuries since his move from Borussia Dortmund that could reach
147 million euros (about $173 million).
Despite getting nothing from
striker Olivier Giroud, Chelsea continued to press for a goal and
came closest near the end of the first half.
Willian and Eden Hazard both
drew saves from goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Marcos Alonso
then sent a free kick off the post in injury time.
Dembele also contributed in
defense when he hustled back to make a clean tackle on Alonso when
he was preparing to shoot from close early in the second half.
Messi made sure of the victory
when he received a pass from Suarez and sped around a group of three
defenders before humbling Courtois with a second strike between the
Antonio Rudiger came closest to
a consolation goal for Chelsea, but his header hit the crossbar in
the 90th minute, adding more near misses to Willian's two shots off
the woodwork from the first leg.
Bayern beat Besiktas 3-1 to reach Champions League quarters
Bayern's Rafinha, left, and Besiktas'
Jeremain Lens challenge for the ball during their Champions League,
round of 16, second leg, match at Vodafone Arena stadium in
Istanbul, Wednesday, March 14. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Istanbul (AP) —
Bayern Munich easily advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals
for the seventh straight year with a 3-1 win at Besiktas on
Thiago Alcantara, Gokhan
Gonul's own goal and Sandro Wagner gave Bayern an 8-1 win on
aggregate following the side's 5-0 victory in the first leg of the
That result left Besiktas in
need of the biggest comeback in the competition's history, and coach
Senol Gunes reacted with seven changes to the side that lost in
Munich. Only Caner Erkin, Gary Medel, Ricardo Quaresma and Vagner
Love kept their places.
Despite the huge advantage,
Bayern's Jupp Heynckes sent arguably his strongest side out as the
72-year-old became the first coach to claim 11 consecutive wins in
the Champions League.
The team selection paid off as
Thomas Mueller crossed for Thiago to kill off any Besiktas hopes of
a huge upset in the 18th minute.
Bayern's away goal meant
Besiktas needed seven in response to progress. The visitors' level
consequently dropped and Besiktas improved toward the end of the
Gonul started the second half
with an own goal, minutes before a cat on the sideline caused
referee Michael Oliver to halt the game briefly. It resumed after
the cat jumped back over the advertising hoarding.
Love got the fans cheering
again when Gonul pounced on a mistake from David Alaba to set the
Brazilian up for Besiktas' consolation goal before the hour-mark.
Alaba atoned by setting up
Wagner for Bayern's third in the final minutes.
"We completed the job and now
we'll look ahead to the next round," Mueller said.
The only concern for Bayern was
an apparent foot injury for Thiago, who was visibly frustrated as he
went off in the 35th for James Rodriguez.
"I don't think it's too
serious," Heynckes said.
The home fans spent the last 15
minutes celebrating their side, singing and waving their flags in
recognition of the team's campaign. Besiktas were playing in the
knockout stages for the first time after topping its group ahead of
Porto, Monaco and Leipzig.
Bayern fans are hoping for a
repeat of Heynckes' treble from his previous stint in 2013. Their
side can wrap up the league title this weekend, while a cup
semifinal against Schalke also awaits.
Federer wins at Indian Wells, sets up rematch with Chung
Roger Federer, of Switzerland, returns a
shot to Jeremy Chardy, of France, during the BNP Paribas Open tennis
tournament Wednesday, March 14, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP
Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) —
Roger Federer defeated Jeremy Chardy of France 7-5, 6-4 in the
fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, and at 15-0 the
world's top-ranked men's player is off to his best start since 2006.
The 36-year-old Swiss superstar
can equal his season-best start of 16-0 with a win in the
quarterfinals, where he will meet Chung Hyeon of South Korea in a
rematch of their Australian Open semifinal.
Federer advanced to the final
in Melbourne when Chung retired in the second set trailing 6-1, 5-2,
and went on to win a five-set final against Marin Cilic.
Chung, seeded 23rd at Indian
Wells, beat 30th-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-1, 6-3.
Since his Grand Slam
breakthrough Down Under, Chung has been on a roll. He's reached the
quarterfinals or better in four of five tournaments and improved to
15-5 this year.
Federer is chasing a record
sixth title in the desert.
"Just playing really fast and
good serve, good baseline," Chung said of Federer. "He play
everything good, so I'm just trying to enjoy on the court."
Against Federer, Chardy played
a tough first set in windy conditions that persisted throughout the
day. Federer earned the only break in the 11th game and then served
a love game to take the set.
Federer again took the only
break in the second set to go up 5-4. His forehand pulled Chardy
completely off the court and Federer hit a crosscourt backhand
winner off Chardy's return. Federer served his fifth love game of
the match to close it out.
Chardy committed 46 unforced
errors to 29 for Federer, who won 90 percent of his total service
Against Cuevas, Chung dominated
in racing to a 6-1, 5-0 lead before Cuevas fought off seven match
points to break back in the sixth game. Cuevas then broke Chung
again to close to 5-3, but the Korean closed out the win.
"It was a really tough match
against Pablo," Chung said. "I have few match points but start
(getting) windy and he playing good. Not easy to play with the wind,
but I'm just trying to focus all the time."
Simona Halep also fought the
wind and a pesky opponent to reach the semifinals.
The world's top-ranked woman
outlasted Petra Martic of Croatia 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3 and improved to
18-1 in matches this year.
Winds gusting to 15 mph made
shots tricky. Trailing 4-2 in the first set, Martic closed to 5-4
before Halep served it out.
Martic controlled the second
set, taking a 5-2 lead before Halep forced the tiebreaker. The
Romanian tied it 5-all before Martic won the final two points to
force a third set. Halep rallied from a 2-1 deficit to tie it 3-all
before winning the last three games.
"I was a little bit frustrated
about the game today because the wind didn't give us the rhythm,"
Halep said in an on-court interview. "That's maybe why I'm here
because I refuse to lose."
Halep next plays the winner of
a quarterfinal between No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech
Republic and Naomi Osaka of Japan.
In other fourth-round men's
matches, Borna Coric of Croatia outlasted American Taylor Fritz 6-2,
6-7 (8), 6-4 and No. 31 Phillipp Kohlschreiber of Germany beat
Pierre-Hughes Herbert of France 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Coric next plays No. 7 Kevin
Anderson of South Africa, who beat No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta of
Spain 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8).
Fritz had a chance to serve out
the second set at 5-4 and couldn't do it, but he saved a match point
down 6-5 in the tiebreaker before trying it up and letting out a
Fritz broke in the first game
of the third set, but Coric tied it in the fourth game. He then
saved a break point in the ninth game before breaking Fritz to
clinch the match in the next game on his fourth match point overall.
"I stayed calm. It was very,
very tough second set," Coric said. "It was ups and downs and set
points, the tiebreak. I could already be in my room watching Netflix
and I was out there playing on that wind and that sun."
America's Cup skipper Spithill joins Italy's Luna Rossa
In this June 16, 2017,
file photo, Oracle Team USA skipper and helmsman Jimmy Spithill stands
alongside the America's Cup trophy before a news conference in Hamilton,
Bermuda. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
San Diego (AP) — America's
Cup star Jimmy Spithill is headed to the Italian syndicate Luna Rossa,
leaving the future of Oracle Team USA in doubt.
Luna Rossa, backed by the Prada
fashion house, announced this week that Spithill, an Australian, has
rejoined the syndicate after 11 years away. He was helmsman in the 2007
challenger trials, when Luna Rossa reached the finals before losing to
Emirates Team New Zealand.
Spithill's signing with Luna Rossa,
which is the Challenger of Record for the 2021 America's Cup, raises
questions about whether Oracle Team USA's owner, tech billionaire Larry
Ellison, is finished with the America's Cup.
Spithill skippered Oracle Team USA
to consecutive landmark America's Cup victories.
As a 30-year-old in 2010, Spithill
became the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup when he steered
Oracle Team USA to victory over a Swiss crew in a one-off showdown that
was the result of a bitter court fight.
In 2013, he led Oracle Team USA to
one of the biggest comebacks in sports. After Oracle fell behind 8-1, he
steered the American-based boat to eight straight victories against
Emirates Team New Zealand on San Francisco Bay to retain the Auld Mug.
His third go-round with Oracle ended with a lopsided loss to the Kiwis
in June in Bermuda.
Ellison reportedly is interested in
putting together a series that will be contested in the 50-foot
catamarans used in the 2017 America's Cup. The 2021 America's Cup will
be sailed in radical foiling monohulls.
Sevilla oust Man United from Champions League with 2-1 win
Manchester United's Nemanja Matic reacts after Sevilla scored their
second goal of the game during the Champions League round of 16 second
leg match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Tuesday, March 13. (AP
Manchester, England (AP) —
Frustrated and feeling increasingly uneasy, Manchester United fans
unleashed a loud cry of "attack, attack, attack" with their team's
Champions League fate hanging in the balance against Sevilla.
It was the Spanish side who
answered the call.
Within eight minutes, Sevilla had
scored two goals and were heading into the quarterfinals of Europe's top
competition for the first time in 60 years.
In the biggest surprise of the last
16, Sevilla eliminated United by winning the second leg 2-1 at Old
Trafford on Tuesday, thanks to two goals in the space of four minutes by
substitute Wissam Ben Yedder. In the night's other match, Roma advanced
after Edin Dzeko scored early in the second half to secure a 1-0 home
win over Shakhtar Donetsk, overturning a 2-1 first-leg defeat to advance
on away goals.
It was a historic night for Sevilla
and an embarrassing one for United, who managed only four shots on
target in 180 minutes against one of the weakest defenses left in the
"I don't want to make a drama out
of it," United manager Jose Mourinho said, struggling for an explanation
for his team's feeble performance. "That's football. It's not the end of
United were lucky to escape from
the first leg with a 0-0 draw and it always felt a dangerous score line
The longer it went scoreless, the
more nervy it got inside Old Trafford. The "attack, attack, attack"
chant — made famous during the glory years under Alex Ferguson — came
after 70 minutes, and Sevilla's response was to throw on Ben Yedder two
The French striker, a former
international futsal player, gave the visitors a cutting edge the man he
replaced — Luis Muriel — didn't offer. Another two minutes later, he ran
onto Pablo Sarabia's precise through-ball, got half a meter on marker
Eric Bailly and drove a low shot inside the post.
De Gea had no chance with that
goal, but could have done more about the second. A Sevilla corner was
flicked onto the back post where Ben Yedder stooped to send in a header
that De Gea tried to palm over the bar but only succeeded in diverting
it into his own net.
Ben Yedder moved onto eight goals
in this season's competition and he missed a chance for a hat trick as
United's defense fell apart in the latter stages. Only Real Madrid's
Cristiano Ronaldo — with 12 goals — has more.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for
United from close range in the 84th but a late rally couldn't prevent
United slipping out of the competition in meek fashion.
"I sat in this chair twice in the
Champions League," Mourinho told reporters after the match. "I knock out
Manchester United at home at Old Trafford. I sit in this chair with
Porto (in 2004), Man United out. I sit in this chair with Real Madrid,
Man United out. I don't think it's something new for the club."
But unlike in those victories,
Mourinho might have got his tactics wrong this time.
By starting Marouane Fellaini for
the first time since Nov. 22, United manager Jose Mourinho ceded some of
the midfield control that was a standout feature of his team's 2-1 win
over Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.
There was space in front of
United's back four, with holding midfielder Nemanja Matic isolated as
Fellaini roamed, and a team with more incisiveness than Sevilla would
have capitalized earlier than it did.
As it was, Sevilla couldn't find
the target with a slew of efforts from distance in the first half but,
with Steven Nzonzi and Evert Banega controlling the midfield, United
were not finding it easy.
After halftime, United looked more
threatening — Jesse Lingard's low shot brought a good save from
goalkeeper Sergio Rico — but were thankful for a last-gasp tackle by
Bailly to deny Joaquin Correa just as the Sevilla forward was about to
Mourinho chose to bring Paul Pogba
on for Fellaini on the hour mark to bring some variety to the team's
attacking moves. But it was the introduction of Ben Yedder that had the
Woods, Els named captains of Presidents Cup in Australia
is shown in this Feb. 16, 2018, file photo.
(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Orlando, Fla. (AP) — Ernie Els
was always the logical choice to be the International team's next captain in
the Presidents Cup.
Tiger Woods at first thought it might
be soon for him.
That changed a couple of months ago
when Woods asked PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan about the U.S. captain
for next year's matches in Australia, and the usual suspects were mentioned.
Monahan asked if anyone had been left out, and Woods added another name to
the short list.
Woods and Els, who both played eight
times in the Presidents Cup and were involved in a high-stakes playoff that
ended in a tie, were introduced as captains on Tuesday. The 2019 matches
will be Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne, the latest the event has been held.
Woods was an assistant captain when the
American won for the seventh straight time, 19-11, last year at Liberty
National. In early discussions about the next one, Woods said he was more
comfortable serving as an assistant.
"But then after a little bit of thought
I said, 'You know what? That sounds like something I really want to do,'"
Woods said. "I called Jay up and said, 'Might you be interested in me
possibly being the captain in 2019?' Silence. And he said, 'Yeah, we might
be able to work that out.' So here I am."
Still to be determined is whether Woods
Coming off his fourth back surgery,
Woods took a big step in his comeback last week when he finished one shot
behind at the Valspar Championship.
"I would like to get to a point where I
would have to make that decision, get to where I'm playing well enough where
I could make the team on points," Woods said. "But I wouldn't want to have
the conversation and go, 'Self.' And so let's just see how it progresses."
Hale Irwin was the only player-captain
in the Presidents Cup in 1994, the first event, and he had Paul Azinger
handle the captaincy when Irwin was playing.
Woods and Els are forever linked in the
Presidents Cup. The matches ended 17-all in 2003 in South Africa, and the
rules then required captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to put one name
in an envelope for a sudden-death playoff in case of a tie.
Both made par on the 18th hole in the
playoff. Els had to make a 12-footer to stay alive on the second hole. As
darkness fell, Woods had to make a double-breaking putt from 15 feet for
par. Els followed with a 6-foot par putt. Nicklaus and Player agreed the cup
should end in a tie.
"We couldn't believe the amount of
pressure we felt, and we both had won major championships," Woods said. "But
nothing felt like that."
The International team has won only one
time, in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, when the matches were played Dec. 10-13.
The American team had most of their fun in the casinos or Christmas shopping
online. The second time at Royal Melbourne was Nov. 17-20 in 2011, and Woods
holed the clinching putt in a 19-15 victory.
Next year's matches will present a few
changes in qualifying and format.
Both teams will get four captain's
picks instead of two, and qualifying will end after the Tour Championship,
which is expected to be early September. The picks will be closer to the
matches. Also, teams must use players at least once (previously it was
twice) before the singles matches.
Woods also was an assistant captain at
the Ryder Cup in 2016, and he will be an assistant for this year's Ryder Cup
"It was just a natural progression to
one day become a captain," Woods said.
He will be 43 when the matches are
played, making him the youngest captain in Presidents Cup history.
Greek prosecutor to probe armed PAOK soccer club owner
owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, second from left, approaches AEK
Athens' Manager Operation Department Vassilis Dimitriadis, center, as
his bodyguard and PAOK's players Fernando Varela, second from right, and
Djalma Campos, right, try to stop him during a Greek League soccer match
between PAOK and AEK Athens in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki,
Sunday, March 11. (InTime Sports via AP)
Thessaloniki, Greece (AP) —
A prosecutor ordered a judicial investigation Tuesday after the
gun-toting owner of PAOK Thessaloniki marched onto the field following a
disputed goal in a Greek league match.
The incident prompted condemnation
from FIFA and an indefinite suspension of league play.
The probe by prosecutors in
Thessaloniki will also investigate why police allegedly ignored
instructions to arrest Ivan Savvidis on the spot, issued by a prosecutor
on duty at Sunday's game against AEK Athens.
Savvidis entered the field
accompanied by bodyguards, apparently carrying a pistol in a waist
holster. He made no visible move to use the weapon, for which he has a
Fernando Varela had just scored in
the 90th minute, putting PAOK ahead 1-0. The referee signaled a goal but
then seemed to disallow it for offside. The match was abandoned.
Savvidis apologized Tuesday for
what he called an "emotional reaction" to the referee's decision and
"the general negative condition in Greek soccer."
In a statement on the club's
website, Savvidis said his only intention had been "to protect tens of
thousands of PAOK fans from provocations and clashes (with) victims."
Savvidis' behavior provoked PAOK's
suspension Tuesday from the 230-member group of Europe's most
influential clubs. The European Club Association said its board voted
unanimously to suspend PAOK until a March 27 members' assembly in Rome.
2 horses die on opening day of Cheltenham Festival
winner Buveur D'Air ridden by Barry Geraghty, foreground, clears the
last hurdle alongside Melon, ridden by Paul Townend, as they race to
finish-line in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham
England Tuesday March 13. (David Davies/PA via AP)
Cheltenham, England (AP) —
The opening day of the prestigious Cheltenham Festival was marred by the
death of a horse in each of the final two races on Tuesday.
Mossback had to be put down after
suffering a shoulder injury in a fall during the National Hunt Chase.
Report To Base was put down after falling in the Close Brothers Novices'
Four horses died in last year's
festival. Seven died in 2016.
Buveur D'Air became the first horse
since 2005 to retain the Champion Hurdle title by winning by a head in
the feature race on Day 1.
The 4-6 favorite gave trainer Nicky
Henderson a record seventh victory in the race, but only after battling
back after being passed by 7-1 shot Melon on the uphill finish.
Buveur D'Air is the sixth horse to
win the Champion Hurdle more than once. The last to win two straight was
Hardy Eustace in 2005.
Willie Mullins, Melon's trainer,
was denied in that race but finished the opening day with three winners,
including Rathvinden — ridden by his son, Patrick — in the National Hunt
The four-day festival is the
highlight of the jumps season in British horse racing, culminating in
the Gold Cup on Friday.
USGA, R&A announce new set of modern rules for golf
June 19, 2016, file photo, Dustin Johnson, right, talks to a rules official
on the fifth green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament
at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
St. Andrews, Scotland (AP) -
Golf now has a modern set of rules for the Royal & Ancient game, an
extensive overhaul that took six years and is aimed at making the rules
easier to understand.
The R&A and USGA announced the final
version of modernized rules on Monday. They take effect in 2019.
"This was out of recognition that in
trying to make the rules more fair, they became too complicated," said
Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules and amateur status. "With
30-plus years of tinkering, they got complicated, and that wasn't good for
Among the changes will be how to take
penalty drops — from knee-high length starting next year, instead of from
shoulder height. There no longer will be penalties if a golf ball
accidentally moves on the green, if a club touches the ground in a hazard or
if the ball hits a flagstick that is not being tended on the green.
Also, caddies can no longer line up
their players while they are setting up over a shot.
This is the most comprehensive change
to the rules since the first set was published in 1744, only in this case,
the book got smaller. There now are 24 rules instead of 34, and "The
Official Guide to the Rules of Golf" replaces about 1,300 examples in the
"With revised rules being easier to
understand, we think committees will be able to reach the right conclusion
without having 1,300 fact sets," Pagel said.
The modernization project began with a
meeting at St. Andrews in April 2012 among the R&A, USGA, PGA Tour and
European Tour. They introduced a proposed draft a year ago and during six
months of public feedback received some 30,000 comments from 102 countries
through surveys, social media and phone calls.
The original proposal was for players
to drop the ball 2 inches from the ground. Pagel said there were concerns
that it was too close to the ground. The idea was to get the ball back in
play, and knee-high length was determined to keep the ball from bouncing
away from the right area and keep some randomness to how it lies.
One rule is only for recreational golf.
Starting next year, a local rule will let golfers simply drop a ball that
goes out-of-bounds in the vicinity of where it went out — even if that means
the fairway — with an additional two-shot penalty.
That was done for pace of play and will
not be applied in professional golf and other elite competitions.
Other changes include:
— Eliminating penalties for
accidentally moving a ball in the green or while searching for a lost ball.
— Players will have only three minutes
to search for a lost ball instead of five minutes.
— Players now can repair spike marks or
shoe prints on the putting green. Some players expressed concern that this
might slow the pace if players spent too much time grooming the putting
surface. Pagel said pace-of-play policies would keep that from happening,
and it was a rule change that was needed for competition. No one wants to
see a tournament decided by a spike mark in the line of a putt.
"It's the skill we're testing," he
said. "We're not testing whether you can navigate around a shoe print.
Really it allows for great equity across the field."
— Eliminating the penalty for removing
loose impediments in a bunker and the general touching of sand with the hand
or club (without grounding the club next to the ball). Also, players can
declare a ball to be unplayable in a bunker, take a two-shot penalty and
play from outside the bunker.
The modern rules are available at
www.usga.org/rules or at www.RandA.org .
The tours are likely to provide
training packages or seminars to get players up to speed before the new
rules go into effect next year.
Star bowler Rabada banned for rest of SA-Australia series
this photo taken Friday March 9, South Africa's Kagiso Rabada celebrates
taking a wicket on the first day of the second cricket test between
South Africa and Australia at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth, South
Africa. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan)
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
(AP) — Star South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was banned for
the rest of the series against Australia on Monday after being found
guilty of two charges of misconduct for aggressive wicket celebrations
in the second test in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada's first offense, of
intentionally bumping into Australia captain Steve Smith after
dismissing him in the first innings, earned the young quick three
demerit points and took him over a disciplinary threshold. That led to
an automatic two-test ban.
Because of that, Rabada will miss
the decisive tests in Cape Town and Johannesburg having won the
man-of-the-match award for his 11 wickets in South Africa's
series-leveling win in the second match in Port Elizabeth.
The decision by the International
Cricket Council was announced just hours after Rabada was the star of
the show in the second test at St. George's Park.
"I've let myself down and let the
team down," Rabada said. "I have to see it as a learning curve. I'm not
happy about it, (but) time moves on."
Rabada contested the first charge,
claiming the contact with Smith, who he brushed past as he celebrated
the wicket, was unintentional. ICC rules brought in recently are aimed
at stopping any physical contact at all between bowlers and batsmen,
though, in an attempt to crack down on incidents that might cause
flashpoints in games.
Rabada pleaded guilty to the second
charge of provoking Australia batsman David Warner when he screamed in
Warner's face after dismissing him in the second innings.
The South African team said it was
considering whether to appeal Rabada's ban. It has 48 hours to decide on
a possible appeal, the team said, although captain Faf du Plessis
admitted he was not confident an appeal would be successful.
The punishment for Rabada, one of
the most exciting young bowlers in cricket and recently ranked No. 1 in
tests, is the latest in a series of disciplinary problems for him over
the last 12 months.
The 22-year-old Rabada was banned
for one test in England last year, and also received disciplinary
demerit points for over-the-top celebrations in games against Sri Lanka
and India. Those demerit points added to the points he received for the
Smith incident in Port Elizabeth, meaning he reached a threshold and was
"I take no pleasure in seeing a
player suspended, particularly a young player of Kagiso's talent, but he
has now breached the ICC code of conduct on a number of occasions,"
match referee Jeff Crowe of New Zealand said.
The decision robs South Africa of
their best bowler in a series they have just fought their way back into.
Rabada is one of the most popular
cricketers in South Africa, mainly for his major talent but also because
he is a young black player in a sport focusing on bringing black players
through to the national team to erase the legacy of apartheid.
Rabada does not come from hardship,
though. His father is a doctor and his mother a lawyer and he went to a
well-known private school in Johannesburg, one of the most expensive in
He represented South Africa at
schoolboy level and at under-19, and won the under-19 World Cup in 2014.
He was picked for stardom while still a teenager.
Before his punishment was confirmed
on Monday, Rabada himself appeared to concede that he was likely out of
the rest of the series.
"I would love to be playing,"
Rabada said, but "it doesn't look good."
Australia allrounder Mitchell Marsh
was also found guilty of swearing at Rabada during the fourth day's play
on Monday and received a demerit point.
Marsh was the fifth player after
South Africa's Rabada and Quinton de Kock and Australia's Warner and
Nathan Lyon to be found guilty of misconduct in an ill-tempered series
that is only halfway through.
South Africa clinched the series
leveling win on Monday by chasing down the meager target of 101 before
tea on the fourth day. It wasn't straightforward, with Australia
removing Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers in quick succession to have the
South Africans 81-4.
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis
took control to see his team home with Theunis de Bruyn.
Federer moves on, Stephens loses again at Indian Wells
Federer returns a shot to Filip Krajinovic during the third round of the
BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in
Indian Wells, Calif., Monday, March 12. (AP Photo/Crystal Chatham)
Indian Wells, Calif. (AP) —
Roger Federer rolled past No. 25 seed Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-1 in
pursuit of a record sixth BNP Paribas Open title on Monday, while Sloane
Stephens remained mired in her post-U.S. Open slump.
Federer improved to 65-5 since
returning from a left knee injury last year with his third-round victory
in a rare day match. The Swiss star's young son, Lenny, watched from a
box wearing a Superman cap.
What he saw was his 36-year-old
father overcome a shaky first set in which there were four breaks of
serve. Federer hit a running forehand passing shot to break at love and
take the set 6-2. Federer cruised to a 3-0 lead in the second and closed
out the win in 58 minutes.
"I was playing aggressive and
feeling like he was not loving my slice," said Federer, who owns the No.
1 ranking. "I was able to mix up my game nicely, make it difficult for
Serena and Venus Williams were to
resume their rivalry in a third-round night match, the sisters' earliest
meeting since Venus won in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.
Serena owns a 17-11 advantage overall and has won eight of their last
Stephens lost to Daria Kasatkina of
Russia 6-4, 6-3, and fell to 2-4 in matches this year.
"I mean, not going to be too down
about it," Stephens said. "There's always next week and the week after."
Kasatkina has beaten all four of
the current Grand Slam champions in the last year: French Open winner
Jelena Ostapenko, Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, Wimbledon
winner Garbine Muguruza and now Stephens.
Stephens, who won her first major
at Flushing Meadows last fall, lost in the first rounds at the
Australian Open and in Sydney before reaching the quarterfinals at
Wozniacki outlasted Aliaksandra
Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 for her 31st career match win at
Indian Wells, where she has played 12 straight years. She won in the
desert in 2011 and has been runner-up twice.
In other third-round matches, No. 7
Carolina Garcia of France beat 26th-seeded Daria Gavrilova of Australia
7-5, 6-4; No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated No. 24 Elena
Vesnina of Russia 7-5, 6-2; and American Danielle Collins continued her
run with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow wild card Sofya Zhuk of Russia.
"It definitely feels like a big
deal because I have never gone this far in a tournament," Collins said.
On the men's side, Borna Coric of
Croatia upset No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-1, 6-3; Jeremy
Chardy beat No. 20 Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in an all-French
matchup; and No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain defeated Daniil
Medvedev of Russia 6-1, 7-5.
Alex Ovechkin joins NHL's exclusive 600-goal club
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin celebrates his goal in the
second period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Monday,
March 12, in Washington. It was Ovechkin's 600th career goal. (AP
Washington (AP) — Alex
Ovechkin put back a rebound and skated into the spotlight as the latest
member of the NHL's 600-goal club.
The captain of the Washington
Capitals scored twice Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets to reach
the milestone in his 990th regular-season game. Ovechkin became the
fourth-fastest player in NHL history to 600 behind only Wayne Gretzky,
Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull.
"Pretty amazing feeling, pretty
cool feeling," Ovechkin said after the second period. "My wife is here.
She just got back from Moscow. She said, 'I have a feeling you're gonna
score 600 tonight.'"
Ovechkin's rebound goal past Connor
Hellebuyck 3:53 into the second period was his 42nd of the season as he
tries to hit 50 for the eighth time. His first goal 4:35 into the first
period came on a 5-on-3 power play as the Russian winger looked
determined to reach 600 after several games on the doorstep.
Capitals fans who have watched
Ovechkin shine as the most productive goal scorer of the past
decade-plus gave him a standing ovation for almost a minute after he
reached the mark. Chants of "Ovi! Ovi!" continued as he waved from the
bench in the moments after and during a video montage at the next
After scoring 33 goals in 2016-17,
his second-lowest total in a non-lockout-shortened season, the
32-year-old Ovechkin's resurgence made his climb to 600 all the more
impressive. No player 32 or older has led the NHL in goals since Phil
Esposito in 1974-75.
"He probably is the best goal
scorer of our generation," said Tom Wilson, who had the primary assist
on Ovechkin's 600th. "It's pretty fun when every time you get him the
puck there's a good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net."
Ovechkin recaptured sole possession
of the NHL lead against Jets winger Patrik Laine, who had tied him after
idolizing the star forward growing up. Even while hoping Ovechkin
wouldn't score No. 600 against Winnipeg, Laine can't help but appreciate
the scoring pace.
"That's pretty amazing to reach
that," Laine said Monday morning. "Six-hundred goals in under 1,000
games, it's pretty unreal."
Two former Capitals teammates, Matt
Hendricks and Mathieu Perreault, were watching from the Jets' side when
Ovechkin reached his latest round number in a career full of
"When I played here, it's funny,
you always want to get the puck on his stick," said Hendricks, who was
in the penalty box for Ovechkin's first goal. "He has that ability to
change games just like that. ... Ovi's a terrific talent."
Perreault, who played with 684-goal
scorer Teemu Selanne in Anaheim, said Ovechkin reaching 600 so quickly
"The way he can shoot the puck and
score goals is beyond what you can even think about," Perreault said. "I
can tell my grandkids, my kids, I played with Ovechkin. He's going to be
a legend of the game."
Ovechkin has been an impressive
scorer for a long time, but had to adapt his game several years ago when
opponents figured out how to stop some of his usual moves. Barry Trotz
taking over as Capitals coach helped Ovechkin round out his overall game
and avoid the kind of lull that goal-scorers typically hit when they
The growth in Ovechkin's game isn't
lost on players and coaches around the league who have watched his
"When he came in (he was) a hitter
almost — a shooter and a hitter," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "He
was a very physical player, covered an awful lot of ice during the
games. And he's matured into kind of picking his spots, he's still a
hard guy to play against, physically very, very strong.
"But he uses the people around him
better, maybe. And that's true of all players. But his game has really
changed. He's really grown and matured."
Sky suspends former Liverpool player Carragher for spitting
TV soccer pundit Jamie Carragher is shown in this Feb. 24, 2009
file photo. (AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez)
London (AP) — Former
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was suspended as a soccer analyst by
the Sky television network on Monday after being filmed spitting in the
direction of a 14-year-old girl through his car window.
Carragher said that while his
future at the broadcaster "remains to be seen," he had not offered his
resignation. Britain's sports minister called Carragher's behavior
The incident happened on Saturday
after Carragher left Old Trafford, where the former England
international was working for Sky Sports at Manchester United's game
In a video of the incident, the
teenager's father repeatedly mentioned Saturday's score — Liverpool lost
2-1 — before Carragher spat.
"Sky takes this matter extremely
seriously and strongly condemns Jamie's actions," Sky said in a
statement. "We have made that clear to him in person today and suspended
him from his duties. It falls well below the standards we expect of our
During an appearance on Sky News,
after the spitting footage was aired on a big screen, Carragher called
the incident a "moment of madness."
"My biggest regret is for the
14-year-old girl to be caught in the middle of it," Carragher said.
"That devastates me more than anything. I've got a daughter exactly the
same age and I can't say how I'd react if someone did that to her."
Carragher joined Sky after retiring
from playing in 2013 and has won plaudits for his tactical analysis on
the flagship "Monday Night Football" show and other Premier League
"I have brought shame on the name
of football," Carragher said. "I was a role model, people looked up to
A lively on-air partnership has
been formed with former Manchester United rival Gary Neville, who backed
Carragher to keep his job.
"No excuses he's made a big
mistake," Neville wrote on Twitter. "He's massively passionate about
football and he's overstepped the mark and shouldn't have reacted. I've
been on TV for 3 years with him and imo (in my opinion) this isolated
incident shouldn't stop us working together."
The government welcomed Sky's
decision to suspend Carragher.
"He's right to apologize," sports
minister Tracey Crouch said. "It was absolutely disgusting."
The swift decision by Sky to
suspend Carragher comes with the European pay TV broadcaster targeted
for a takeover and under scrutiny from British regulators.
Comcast, the owner of NBC and
Universal Pictures, launched a bid last month to rival an offer by media
mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. It comes as The Walt Disney Co.
tries to buy Fox for $52.4 billion on the assumption that Fox would buy
out the rest of Sky.
Tottenham keep EPL top-4 hopes on track despite Kane injury
Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-Min scores his side's second goal of
the game against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth,
Sunday March 11. (John Walton/PA via AP)
London (AP) — A goal down
and Harry Kane injured, Tottenham's campaign for a third consecutive
Premier League top-four finish looked to be taking a serious hit.
But Mauricio Pochettino's team had
other ideas, delivering a stirring comeback to defeat Bournemouth 4-1 on
Dele Alli equalized, before Son
Heung-min struck twice and Serge Aurier nodded in to show Tottenham are
far more than the "Harry Kane team," as they were described by
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola earlier this season.
"Sometimes it looks that in
football only the 11 players that play every week are important,"
Pochettino said. "But for me it's so important the squad, because with a
greater squad, with everyone fighting for the same objective, you can
achieve all that you want."
Spurs moved into third, a point
above Liverpool, and five points clear of fifth-place Chelsea. Eight
rounds remain in the race for the four Champions League spots.
Earlier Sunday, Arsenal defeated
Watford 3-0 as Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper to reach 200
Premier League clean sheets.
The former Chelsea 'keeper saved
Troy Deeney's penalty as goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ensured the Gunners ended a run of
three straight league defeats.
Despite the victory, Arsenal are 12
points adrift of fourth place and Arsene Wenger's team selection
suggested his attention is now firmly focused on the Gunners's Europa
While Tottenham's win keeps them in
a strong position for now, they will desperately hope that Kane is fit
to return for their next league game, against Chelsea in three weeks'
"I am concerned, until he has a
scan tomorrow we cannot say nothing more," Pochettino said. "We hope
it's not a massive issue for him and for the team and as soon as
possible he can recover again and be available."
The anxiety over Kane's condition,
after an apparent injury to his right ankle, won't be limited to
Tottenham. The Premier League's joint top scorer — tied with Liverpool's
Mohamed Salah on 24 goals this season — is expected to lead the attack
for England at this summer's World Cup in Russia.
England's opening game is against
Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18th.
Casey wins at Innisbrook as Woods come up short by a putt
Paul Casey holds up the champion's trophy after winning the
Valspar Championship golf tournament, Sunday, March 11, in Palm Harbor,
Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Palm Harbor, Fla. (AP) —
Right when Paul Casey felt he was a winner in the Valspar Championship,
he looked up at the TV and saw a scene that was all too familiar.
Tiger Woods, red shirt blazing on
Sunday, holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at Innisbrook that
pulled him to within one shot of Casey's lead. Moments later, Woods
settled over a birdie putt from just inside 40 feet that would have
forced a playoff.
"I loved his putt on 17. That was
amazing," Casey said. "I thought he was going to hole the one on 18."
Not this time.
A long victory drought on the PGA
Tour ended Sunday, just not the one most people — Casey included — were
Casey rallied from five shots
behind. He ran off three straight birdies early on the back nine, closed
with a 6-under 65 and won by one shot when Patrick Reed had a 45-foot
putt roll back to his feet on the 18th hole, and Woods came up a few
feet short of a birdie putt on the final hole.
After Woods signed for a 1-under 70
— his first time since August 2013 that he tied for second with all four
rounds under par — he worked his way toward Casey to congratulate him on
his first PGA Tour title since the Houston Open in 2009, a span of 132
"It's the only time he's
congratulated me immediately after a victory," Casey said. "Normally,
it's the other way around. That's something special. Just really cool.
I'm sure he was disappointed he didn't get the victory. I actually
thought he was going to win today before the round started. I thought it
was just teed up beautifully for him. I said a couple times, 'If I don't
win this thing, I actually want Tiger to win it.'
"I'm glad it's this way."
Woods opened with a two-putt birdie
to briefly tie for the lead. That was his last birdie until he revved up
the raucous crowd with his long birdie on the 17th, giving him his best
chance to win since his back problems began not long after his most
recent victory, the Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013.
This was his fourth PGA Tour event
since returning from his fourth back surgery. He is getting better with
each tournament, though he didn't feel sharp with his irons on Sunday
and played too often to the fat of the greens.
"I had a good shot at winning this
golf tournament," Woods said. "A couple putts here and there, it could
have been a different story."
Two shots behind going to the back
nine, with Casey running out of birdie chances, Woods failed to birdie
both par 5s. He pulled a wedge into the left rough on No. 11 and
three-putted from 80 feet on No. 14. He failed to make a pair of birdie
putts from the 15-foot range.
And then he showed up with one big
putt, looking very much like the Woods of old who lingers long enough to
make his opponents worry.
Casey, who finished at 10-under
274, goes up to No. 12 in the world with what he called one of the most
rewarding of his 16 victories worldwide.
"Probably more satisfying, the fact
that it was on a week where Tiger played some good golf and got to see
some amazing stuff and hear the roars and it just was a great week — the
buzz, everything about it," Casey said.
Reed, who closed with a 68, had a
better chance at winning than Woods, and the disappointment was clear.
He tied for the lead with a birdie
on the par-5 14th, and he hammered a tee shot on the uphill 18th that
left him a wedge to the green. He thought he flushed it. He twirled his
club. But the ball came down the slope, leaving him about 45 feet away
up the ridge.
The first putt, which had to travel
across a section of the fringe, was so short that it rolled all the way
back to his feet. Reed used a wedge for the next one and came close,
though it was never on line.
"It happened to be unfortunate it
got around the corner of the green where I was on the green, had to go
over the fringe, through about 7 feet of fringe and back on the green,
and I thought I could putt it," Reed said. "I gave it extra because I
knew it was going to either pop or come out slow. I just didn't hit it
Woods played conservatively with an
iron off the 442-yard, uphill closing hole on the Copperhead course.
From 185 yards, his 7-iron came up some 40 feet short, and his birdie
putt to force a playoff was 2 feet short.
Next up for Woods is the Arnold
Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill next week, which he hasn't played since
winning five years ago. He is an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, and the
euphoria over his return is sure to reach even higher decibels.
"I felt very comfortable. My game
was quite solid this entire week," Woods said. "As a whole I felt very
good about what I did this week."
Corey Conners, the Canadian rookie
who started the final round with a one-shot lead, fell back quickly
after opening with a bogey on the easiest hole at Innisbrook. He shot 77
and tied for 16th. Justin Rose, among six players who had a share of the
lead at some point in the final round, had back-to-back bogeys on the
back nine and never atoned for his mistakes. He closed with a 72 and
finished three shots behind.
That left Casey the winner,
Woods has to wait at least another
week, with the next stop at a golf course Arnold Palmer built and Woods
used to own.
Rabada gets in Warner's face as SAfrica control 2nd test
Australia's David Warner ducks under a bouncer on the third day of
the second test between South Africa and Australia at St. George's Park
in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Sunday, March 11. (AP Photo/Michael
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
(AP) — David Warner was in the midst of the action once again, this
time on the receiving end of another over-the-top celebration from fast
bowler Kagiso Rabada, as Australia fought to stay in the second test in
South Africa on Sunday.
Speedster Rabada bowled Warner for
13 for the first breakthrough, then let loose a scream right in the face
of the high-profile Australia batsman, as South Africa started to take a
stranglehold on the match on Day 3 in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada took two more wickets,
including a crucial late breakthrough to get Usman Khawaja out for 75
seven minutes before the end of the day. That left Australia 180-5 at
stumps and with a small lead of 41 runs with just five wickets left.
Fellow pacer Lungi Ngidi and
spinner Keshav Maharaj chipped in with a wicket each.
The four-test series is at a key
point, with Australia 1-0 up but facing a South African fightback at St.
Khawaja led Australia's resistance
and nearly saw out the day, while Mitchell Marsh also fought bravely to
make 39 not out while still recovering from a stomach bug he had on the
first day of the game.
Sunday began with AB de Villiers
making a 22nd test century, with his 126 not out helping South Africa to
382 all out and a 139-run first-innings lead. De Villiers' century, set
up on Day 2 and completed on Day 3, took South Africa to a position of
He was the anchor in late
partnerships of 44 with Quinton de Kock, 84 with Vernon Philander (36)
and 58 off just 43 balls with Maharaj (30) to keep South Africa going.
Rabada followed up South Africa's
success with the bat to take 3-38 and improve his match haul to eight
But his excessive send-off of
Warner was another contentious moment in an ill-tempered series so far,
and the second time this test that the 22-year-old fast bowler has come
under scrutiny for the way he celebrates his wickets.
Warner was at the center of an
aggressive fielding display by the Australians in the first test in
Durban, where his on-field verbal battle with South Africa's Quinton de
Kock boiled over with an ugly confrontation between the players on a
staircase near the dressing rooms.
Three players — Warner, teammate
Nathan Lyon and de Kock — were charged with misconduct and sanctioned
for their misbehavior in the first game.
Rabada, crucial to South Africa's
cause, could be suspended for the rest of the series.
He is already facing a disciplinary
hearing at this game for bumping into Australia captain Smith after
dismissing him in the first innings. Rabada faces a two-test ban if he
is found guilty on making contact with Smith intentionally. He says it
Rabada, recently ranked the No. 1
bowler in test cricket, has also previously been disciplined three times
for his actions after dismissing batsmen and served a one-test ban in
England last year.
South Africa's best batsman set up
the winning position.
The 34-year-old de Villiers, one of
the best players of his generation, is nearing the end of his test
career and there's speculation that this might even be his last series.
He hit 20 fours and a six in his
century, going to 100 with a boundary down to third man. He reached 100
off just 117 balls, a free-flowing innings that made batting look much
easier than it really was, especially with the ball reverse swinging on
De Villiers also passed 8,500 test
runs during the innings, the fourth South African after Jacques Kallis,
Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla to do that. This was de Villiers' first
test century since January 2015 having taken nearly two years out of
test cricket in an effort to prolong his career. He returned to tests
late last year.
Dean Elgar and Amla made
half-centuries on the second day to contribute to South Africa's total.
Pat Cummins was Australia's best bowler with 3-79.
Wales beat Italy 38-14 to go 2nd in Six Nations
Wales' Hadleigh Parkes goes over the line to score a try during the Six
Nations rugby union match against Italy at the Principality Stadium in
Cardiff, Wales, Sunday, March 11. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Cardiff, Wales (AP) —
Wales rose to second in the Six Nations after a mixture of new faces and
returning veterans combined to give the hosts a convincing 38-14 victory
over Italy on Sunday.
Warren Gatland was rewarded for his
decision to freshen up a Welsh side that had experienced successive
narrow defeats to England and Ireland.
Despite 10 changes to the starting
lineup, a cohesive Wales had two tries in the opening six minutes to
take control against Italy, who have now lost 16 consecutive Six Nations
George North scored two tries,
while Hadleigh Parkes, Cory Hill and Justin Tipuric also went over at
the Principality Stadium. Matteo Minozzi and Mattia Bellini got Italy's
A yellow card for Wales either side
of halftime perhaps prevented an even greater margin of victory, but
Gatland now has tough choices to make ahead of next week's tournament
finale against France, which could decide second place.
"It's job done," Gatland said.
"It's what we wanted. To make that many changes and win comfortably was
pleasing. Some elements were frustrating and we'll work on that. But we
achieved what we wanted to do and we have our destiny in our own hands
Ireland beat Scotland 28-8 and were
crowned champion on Saturday after title rivals England were beaten by
Wales made a flying start as Parkes
took advantage of some dismal Italian tackling to touch down under the
posts after just four minutes.
A second try came just two minutes
later as center Owen Watkin, making his first Six Nations start,
intercepted a pass in the midfield before finding returning wing North
outside of him. Gareth Anscombe, in a new starting position at fly half,
took care of both conversions to give the Welsh a 14-0 lead.
Italy refused to be disheartened
and were back in the game in the 10th minute when Minozzi produced a
moment of individual brilliance. The full back received the ball on the
wing before evading three Welsh defenders with some silky footwork to go
over in the corner.
Tommaso Allan converted a tough
kick to bring Italy within seven points, but failed to further dent the
Welsh lead when he missed a straight forward penalty opportunity in the
Anscombe made no such mistake
minutes later as he made it 17-7, but halftime was made less comfortable
for the home team when Liam Williams was shown a yellow card just before
the break for a high tackle on Minnozi.
"The yellow card was fair. We had
no problems with a yellow card," said Gatland. "I was disappointed.
Whether he had to make the tackle, did he need to go that high?"
However, Wales quickly made light
of the man-disadvantage as they extended the lead just three minutes
into the second half.
Second row Hill went over from
close range to get his first international try, before Anscombe
maintained his perfect kicking display to make it 24-7.
Wales were momentarily reduced to
13 men as Gareth Davies joined Williams in the sin bin after an
intentional knock-on, but defended stoutly to maintain their lead and
took advantage once they were back to full strength.
North grabbed his second try in the
66th after replacement Rhys Patchell's smart offload and the young fly
half was involved once more as Tipuric went over in the corner shortly
after. With Anscombe having gone off, Leigh Halfpenny stepped in to
convert on both occasions, stretching the lead 31 points.
Italy did have the final say, as a
turnover led to winger Bellini finishing off a slick move.
Greek game abandoned after 'armed' owner protests decision
PAOK owner, businessman Ivan Savvidis, second right, approaches AEK
Athens' Manager Operation Department Vassilis Dimitriadis, second left, as
his bodyguard and PAOK's player Fernando Varela from Portugal, center, try
to stop him during a Greek League soccer match in Thessaloniki, Sunday,
March 11. (AP Photo)
Athens, Greece (AP) — A disputed
goal at the end of a Greek league match on Sunday between leaders AEK and
title rivals PAOK led to a pitch invasion by one of the team owners, who
appeared to be carrying a gun.
Fernando Varela scored in the 90th
minute, putting hosts PAOK ahead 1-0 in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
The referee signaled a goal but then seemed to disallow it for offside.
PAOK's owner, businessman Ivan
Savvidis, came on the field twice and was accompanied by bodyguards. On the
second occasion, without the overcoat he was wearing before, Savvidis
appeared to be carrying a pistol which was in its holder. Savvidis made no
move to use the weapon at any time.
AEK officials claimed Savvidis
threatened the referee during his first foray onto the pitch, before being
pulled away. They claim he also threatened AEK's operations manager,
Vassilis Dimitriadis. AEK said they will file a complaint with FIFA and
UEFA, the world and European soccer governing bodies.
PAOK said in a statement: "After what
happened today, PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis is preparing all necessary
procedures to protect the team and all his collaborators from the threats
and attacks they have been subjected to. There will be relevant
announcements on the issue soon."
The game was finally abandoned after
more than two hours and the stadium emptied of fans. Adding to the
widespread confusion, there were claims that the referee, Giorgos Kominis,
had actually allowed the goal. The score at the time of abandonment remains
uncertain — 0-0 or 1-0 to PAOK — with the referee's report still to come.
AEK claimed that the atmosphere had
become too threatening for the game to resume, while the referee was
reportedly in favor of resuming.
Earlier, AEK coach Manolo Jimenez had
been sent to the stands, in the 83rd minute, for constantly complaining.
PAOK's previous home game — against
another title rival, Olympiakos — never started after Olympiakos coach Oscar
Garcia was hit in the face by a cash register paper roll.
The latest incident has thrown the
outcome of the season into further disarray.
"Images of team owners invading the
pitch armed are setting back soccer for years," Deputy Culture Minister for
Sports Giorgos Vasileiadis said in a statement after the game. After
claiming that the current season was the "cleanest and most exciting"
because of the government's attempt to clean up the game, Vasileiadis said
"we will not allow anyone to divert us from our task, even if we have to, in
consultation with UEFA, to take difficult decisions." That has been widely
interpreted as a threat to suspend the entire league.
After the non-starter against
Olympiakos, PAOK were fined and deducted three points, the game was declared
a 3-0 victory for Olympiakos and PAOK were due to have played their next two
home games in front of empty stands. But an appeals panel decided early
Sunday morning to void the points deduction and to allow PAOK to play inside
a full stadium, although the result remained in Olympiakos' favor.
PAOK say they will appeal again,
demanding that the game with Olympiakos takes place.