Sam Burns holds his own on a tough, windy day at Riviera
LOS ANGELES — The wind stopped Sam Burns right when he was about to get started with a five-shot lead Saturday at the Genesis Invitational. Darkness stopped him right after two straight bogeys narrowed his lead to two.
Thus ended a wild afternoon at Riviera, where the wind was raging so strong that it blew Keegan Bradley’s putt off the green at No. 10 and nearly blew Max Homa’s shot into the hole at the par-5 first.
A four-hour delay didn’t make Riviera any easier.
Burns, the 24-year-old from Louisiana, went 31 consecutive holes without a bogey and kept Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and everyone else at a distance. When the streak ended on No. 8, it was the start of three inevitable bogeys over six holes.
“It’s a hard course with no wind,” Burns said.
He was at 10-under par through 13 holes, two shots ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick, who had a most bizarre round by going 10 consecutive holes without a par — six birdies, four bogeys.
Johnson, Homa and Wyndham Clark were at 7 under, with Patrick Cantlay another shot behind. The third round was set to be completed Sunday morning ahead of the final 18 holes.
Tiger Woods showed up right about the time play was halted. Woods is the tournament host who is not playing as he recovers from a fifth back surgery.
The wind was blowing golf balls on the green, and then the PGA Tour said a piece of communications equipment toppled near the 14th tee and they brought everyone in.
Not much changed with the wind when they resumed. Everyone was dropping shots and hanging on for dear life.
Krejcikova and Ram win 2nd Australian Open title in 3 years
MELBOURNE, Australia — Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram have made the perfect odd-year pairing at the Australian Open, adding the 2021 mixed doubles title to the one they shared in 2019.
For Krejcikova, it’s three in a row.
She and Ram were in control from the start in a 6-1, 6-4 win Saturday over Australian wild cards Matt Ebden and Sam Stosur.
It was a remarkable run, particularly considering Krejcikova and Ram were among the 72 players forced into a hard lockdown for at least two weeks during quarantine after passengers on their charter flights tested positive to COVID-19 after arriving in Australia.
USA Basketball ends AmeriCup prelims 6-0, tops Mexico 96-75
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — This team that USA Basketball assembled for its final two FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games knew it would be together for only about a week.
The players made the most of that time.
Ra’Shad James scored 21 points and the U.S. finished AmeriCup qualifying with a 6-0 record, beating Mexico 96-75 on Saturday. Brandon Bass scored 12 points for the Americans, who outscored the Mexicans 33-12 from 3-point range.
“Any player would want to be a part of a situation like this,” James said. “You had guys that bought into the system very quickly ... a selfless bunch of guys.”
Joe Johnson finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the U.S., William Davis added 10 points and Isaiah Thomas — looking for an NBA comeback — had nine points in 20 minutes.
AmeriCup is the championship for the nations in the FIBA Americas region; the U.S. has won it seven times in nine previous chances, and it came into its two games in San Juan knowing it already had a berth in the September 2022 tournament secured. It wound up beating the Bahamas and Mexico by a combined 37 points in those games anyway.
Edgar Garibay finished with 19 points and nine rebounds for Mexico.
It didn’t take long for the U.S. to make Saturday’s game a runaway.
Mexico was within 14-10 after the first six minutes, and that was about the last time it had any realistic upset hope. The Americans went on a 13-0 run to push the lead to 17 late in the opening quarter, Dakota Mathias made a 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the half to make it 53-24 and the outcome was never in question again.
Ben Rhodes sweeps Daytona with 2 Truck Series victories
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ben Rhodes swept a two-race stop at Daytona International Speedway, winning his second NASCAR Truck Series race in one week Friday night.
Win No. 2 came under caution in triple overtime on Daytona’s road course. It was exactly one week after Rhodes won on the Daytona’s oval in the season-opening race.
“I’ve been on cloud nine all week,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes earned his fifth career victory, all with Thorsport Racing. The team last month returned to a partnership with Toyota and Rhodes’ win was the 200th for the manufacturer in the Truck Series.
Rhodes passed Sheldon Creed after a caution in regulation and it ultimately gave him control of the race despite the three overtime challenges. Rhodes held position over Creed on two overtime restarts, and John Hunter Nemechek on the third attempt to finish the race.
Rhodes all three times executed solid restarts and put distance on the field. He was never really challenged as Rhodes led 14 total laps — including all six in overtime.
Creed pass Nemechek on the third overtime restart but never got close enough to Rhodes before the 10th caution ended the race. Creed, the reigning series champion and last year’s winner on the Daytona road course, finished second.
Creed had no sponsorship for the race, which was noticed by Marcus Lemonis, CEO of series sponsor Camping World. Lemonis last week established both an emergency fund for truck teams but also a bonus program, and he tweeted during the race that Creed should call him.
Lemonis has also spent the first two races of the season conducting fan contests on Twitter. His engagement and involvement has boosted the profile of both Camping World and NASCAR’s third-tier series.
Clippers edge Jazz 116-112, snap Utah’s 9-game win streak
LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, reserve Lou Williams had 19 and the Los Angeles Clippers edged Utah 116-112 on Friday night, snapping the Jazz’s nine-game winning streak.
The Clippers avenged an 18-point loss to Utah two nights earlier, when starters Leonard, Paul George and Nicolas Batum were sidelined. George had 15 points in his return from a seven-game absence with an injured toe.
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 of his 35 points in the second half for the NBA-leading Jazz, who lost for just the second time in their last 22 games. Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 points, reserve Jordan Clarkson had 19 points and Rudy Gobert had 15 rebounds as Utah fell to 24-6.
The Clippers got timely 3-pointers from Marcus Morris and Patrick Beverley, who made two apiece in the fourth. Beverley’s consecutive long-range baskets pushed their lead to 107-94 and finished off a 20-10 run.
Indians ace Bieber reports to camp after COVID-19 bout
CLEVELAND — Cy Young winner Shane Bieber has reported to training camp in Arizona with the Cleveland Indians after recovering from COVID-19.
Cleveland’s ace recently tested positive with the virus. Bieber experienced only mild symptoms, but had to be isolated per MLB protocols before being medically cleared to join his teammates. The Indians’ other pitchers and catchers reported earlier this week,
The right-hander took part in drills on Saturday, a day before the Indians hold their first full-squad workout in Goodyear.
The 25-year-old Bieber was baseball’s best pitcher during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Bieber led the majors in wins, ERA and strikeouts, a rare Triple Crown for pitchers.
Bieber will be expected to carry the load again for the Indians this season. The club has one of the AL’s best starting staffs, led by Bieber, who is 34-14 in three major league seasons.
Nico Hischier returns to Devils’ lineup, is named captain
NEWARK, N.J. — Nico Hischier has been named the New Jersey Devils’ captain.
The Devils made the announcement Saturday before Hischier faced the Buffalo Sabres in his first game of the season. The Swiss center, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, missed the first 11 games with a leg injury.
The Devils have not had a captain since Andy Greene was dealt to the New York Islanders last February.
At 22 years and 47 days old, Hischier is the youngest captain currently in the NHL and the second youngest in New Jersey history after Kirk Muller (21 years, 243 days old). Hischier also becomes the second Swiss-born captain in the league, joining Roman Josi of Nashville.
Blue Jackets get green light for limited crowds
The Columbus Blue Jackets received permission from state authorities to allow a limited number of fans at games starting next week.
The city of Columbus and the Ohio Department of Health signed off on the plan to allow up to 1,953 fans -- 10% of Nationwide Arena’s capacity -- for the last 16 home games, beginning March 2 against Detroit.
Fans entering the building must complete an online check-in questionnaire and wear masks. They will be grouped in “seating pods” to maintain physical distancing. Tickets will be digital and concession stands cashless.
Fans have not been at games in Columbus this season because of COVID-19 restrictions. The last time the venue welcomed spectators was March 1, 2020, about a week before the pandemic began and shut down sports nationwide.
Mets sign Taijuan Walker, move Noah Syndergaard to 60-day IL
NEW YORK — The New York Mets have transferred right-hander Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day injured list to make room for righty Taijuan Walker, who finalized a $20 million, two-year contract Saturday.
The Mets announced the moves Saturday night, ensuring Syndergaard won’t return to the rotation until at least June as he comes back following Tommy John surgery last March.
Walker’s deal also includes a player option for 2023.
The 28-year-old Walker joins a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. New York’s need for a pitcher increased with the loss of Seth Lugo, who will miss the start of the season following elbow surgery Tuesday to remove a bone spur.
Liensberger ends Shiffrin’s gold streak in slalom
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Mikaela Shiffrin had her winning streak in slalom at world championships ended by Katharina Liensberger on Saturday as the title returned to Austria after 10 years.
Shiffrin had to settle for bronze after earning slalom gold at a record four straight worlds since Marlies Raich — competing under her maiden name Schild — won it in 2011.
This time, Shiffrin finished 1.98 seconds behind Liensberger, who posted the fastest times in both runs. Petra Vlhova, the overall and slalom World Cup leader from Slovakia, was one second behind the Austrian for silver.
After her triumph in Tuesday’s parallel event, Liensberger became a double world champion but has yet to win on the World Cup circuit.
“I really gave it all today,” Liensberger said. “I worked so hard for it, every single day in preparation. It’s amazing that it all comes back. If you really want something, the whole universe, it’s just happening for you.”
Shiffrin earlier won gold in the combined event and took silver in giant slalom after opening the worlds with bronze in super-G. It made her only the fifth female skier to win four medals at one worlds, and first since Swedish standout Anja Pårson achieved the feat 14 years ago.
Defender Ryan Shawcross signs with Beckham’s Inter Miami
MIAMI — Ryan Shawcross signed with David Beckham’s Inter Miami in Major League Soccer on Saturday, a day after leaving the English club Stoke after 14 years.
Miami said it acquired the central defender on a free transfer, pending a successful physical, an international transfer certificate and a P-1 U.S. visa.
Shawcross has seen limited playing time since breaking a leg during a preseason game against Leicester in July 2019.
The 33-year-old had been Stoke’s captain since before the 2009-10 season. He scored 25 goals in 453 appearances, including 401 games in the Premier League and second-tier League Championship.
Everton’s 1st Anfield win since 1999 adds to Liverpool woes
LIVERPOOL, England — Everton deepened Liverpool’s Premier League title defense woes by winning at Anfield for the first time since 1999 on Saturday, a 2-0 triumph that consigned the champions to a fourth successive home loss.
It’s Liverpool’s worst run at home since 1923 and leaves Jürgen Klopp’s side 16 points behind leader Manchester City and with Everton only behind on goal difference with a game in hand.
Everton hadn’t even beaten Liverpool anywhere since 2010. The only disappointment for Carlo Ancelotti’s side will have been not having any fans allowed into the home of its greatest rival, due to the pandemic, to see the landmark triumph.
Everton’s intention was clear from the start to get the ball forward and put the inexperienced Liverpool central defensive partnership of Jordan Henderson and Ozan Kabak under pressure.
Pau Gasol denies reports of deal with Barcelona
MADRID — Pau Gasol denied Spanish media reports on Saturday that he has reached a deal to return to Spain to play for Barcelona.
Gasol said on Twitter he remains “focused on my recovery and I am not ready to get back to competing just yet.”
Media reports in Spain said he had chosen to return to the team where he began his career in the late 1990s.
The 40-year-old Gasol has been trying to regain his fitness to be ready to play in his fifth Olympic Games. He said last year that he needed to be playing this season to give himself a chance of making it to Tokyo.
Former NHL coach Babcock takes over at U of Saskatchewan
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Mike Babcock, who coached the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup title and the Canadian men’s team to two Olympic medals, is taking over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s team.
The Huskies announced Saturday that Babcock will lead the team on a full-time volunteer basis for the next two seasons.
Babcock, a Saskatoon native and former Huskies player, replaces Dave Adolph, who announced his retirement on Dec. 7 after 27 years coaching Saskatchewan.
Babcock joins the Huskies after spending the past 17 seasons in the NHL, including guiding the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup championship in 2008.
He also coached Anaheim and Toronto. Babcock was fired 23 games into the 2019-20 season, his fifth with the Maple Leafs.
Babcock coached Canada to Olympic gold medals in men’s hockey in 2010 and 2014, and was also behind the bench for Canada’s 1997 world junior championship and world title in 2004.
“I am excited to work with Huskie athletes, back in my hometown, at the university where I had the opportunity to play under legendary coach Dave King,” Babcock said in a statement.
Lazio moves 4th in Italy with 1-0 win over Sampdoria
ROME — Luis Alberto scored the only goal as Lazio moved fourth in the Italian league with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Saturday.
The midfielder struck in the 24th minute, assisted by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
Lazio has 43 points from 23 games and trails leader Inter Milan by seven points. Inter plays second-place AC Milan on Sunday in the highly charged city derby.
Fifth-place Juventus can leapfrog Lazio when it hosts last-place Crotone on Monday.
Mid-table Sampdoria has 30 points.