Johnson wins Match Play to sweep World Golf Championships

Mar 26, 2017 19

Dustin Johnson became the first player to sweep the World Golf Championships with a dominant week that included more drama that he needed in the Dell Technologies Match Play.

Johnson escaped a furious charge by Jon Rahm when the 22-year-old Spaniard failed to birdie the 18th hole.

Johnson’s 1-up victory completed a week in which he never trailed in any of his seven matches, and he led in 105 of the 112 holes he played.

It was the third straight victory for Johnson, and it stamped his position at No. 1.

Johnson never went beyond the 16th hole until Sunday, when he had to hold on to beat Hideto Tanihara in the semifinals and Rahm in the championship match.

He previously won the Mexico Championship, Bridgestone Invitational and HSBC Champions.

Germany, England, Poland stay on course in WCup qualifying

Mar 26, 2017 20

Germany, England and Poland all took another step toward World Cup qualification but the Netherlands’ failure to do the same cost national coach Danny Blind his job on Sunday.

The Dutch football association fired Blind one day after his team’s humiliating 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria in Sofia — a result that leaves the 2014 World Cup semifinalist in danger of missing out on a second successive major tournament after watching Euro 2016 at home.

The Netherlands is fourth in Group A behind France, Sweden and Bulgaria. Only the top team in each group qualifies automatically for next year’s tournament in Russia.

On the field Sunday, defending champion Germany remained on course with its fifth win from five games despite conceding its first goal in Group C. It beat Azerbaijan 4-1.

England, now the only team not to have conceded so far in European qualifying, beat Lithuania 2-0 in Group F. On an emotional day, Jermain Defoe led England out onto the pitch with a terminally ill five-year-old mascot by his side and then scored in front of him.

In Group E, Poland captain Robert Lewandowski scored again as his first-placed team beat second-placed Montenegro 2-1.

Here is a look at World Cup qualifiers in Europe on Sunday:



Germany stayed perfect in qualifying despite conceding its first goal of the campaign in a 4-1 away win over Azerbaijan. Little-used forward Andre Schuerrle scored two and set up another.

“We absolutely fulfilled our duty,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “It was like a cup game against a team from a lower division. If you don’t go in at the top of your game, you make them stronger than they are.”

Germany has scored 20 goals so far in its group and next faces last-placed San Marino, which has conceded 23 goals already.

The world champion leads by five points from Northern Ireland, which defeated Norway 2-0 in Belfast thanks to first-half goals from Jamie Ward and Conor Washington.

The Czech Republic, which racked up a 6-0 win in San Marino, is two points further back, one ahead of Azerbaijan. Two each from Antonin Barak and Vladimir Darida, and goals from Theodor Gebre Selassie and Michal Krmencik, gave the Czechs their biggest ever away win.



Poland captain Robert Lewandowski scored for the 10th straight European qualifier to set his side on its way to a 2-1 win in Montenegro to consolidate top spot.

The home side equalized through Stefan Mugosa’s first international goal but Lukasz Piszczek claimed Poland’s winner late to open up a six-point lead and leave Montenegro in a four-way scrap with Denmark, Romania and Armenia for second place.

Montenegro is level with Denmark on seven points after the Danes’ goalless draw in Romania, which is level with Armenia a point further back.

Despite starting with three straight losses, Armenia revived its hopes of a playoff spot by defeating Kazakhstan 2-0 at home for a second consecutive victory under new coach Artur Petrosyan.

Bottom side Kazakhstan had Sergey Malyy sent off with his second yellow card with less than half an hour remaining, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck nine minutes later before Aras Ozbiliz sealed the win.



Jermain Defoe made an emotional return from exile to lead England to a 2-0 win over Lithuania at Wembley Stadium.

Though Joe Hart wore the captain’s armband, Defoe led the side out onto the pitch with a terminally ill five-year-old mascot, cancer-stricken Bradley Lowery, with whom the Sunderland striker has formed a bond.

With Lowery watching on, the 34-year-old Defoe then scored his first England goal for four years, striking 21 minutes into his 56th appearance. Raheem Sterling glided through the defense and provided a sweet cross for Defoe to net his 20th international goal.

“I had to keep my emotions in the beginning with little Brad with me,” Defoe said after his first England appearance since November 2013. “It was special just to be back.”

Defoe played almost an hour before being replaced by Jamie Vardy, who scored with his first touch to wrap up the win for England to extend its lead to four points following Slovenia’s first defeat.

It was neighboring Scotland that did England the favor, beating Slovenia 1-0 thanks to Chris Martin’s late goal.

Scotland climbed to fourth place and is only two points behind Slovakia, which moved into second by beating Malta 3-1 away.

Red Wings beat reeling Wild 3-2 in OT

Mar 26, 2017 19

Andreas Athanasiou scored 1:52 into overtime and lifted the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win Sunday over the reeling Minnesota Wild.

Jimmy Howard made the game-winning goal possible by making one of his 24 saves.

Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist got the rebound and made a long pass to set up Athanasiou, who faked out Devan Dubnyk with a move before flipping the puck in the net.

The Wild have lost eight of nine and are 3-10-1 in March. They still clinched a playoff spot late Saturday night when the Los Angeles Kings lost to the New York Rangers. The Wild extended their postseason streak to five under first-year coach Bruce Boudreau.

Mike Green and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit.

Dubnyk finished with 19 saves and Eric Staal and Nate Prosser scored for Minnesota.

Danny Blind fired as coach of Dutch football team

Mar 26, 2017 16

The Dutch football association fired national coach Danny Blind on Sunday, a day after his team’s humiliating 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier in Sofia.

KNVB director Jean Paul Decossaux said in a statement that Blind was removed because of poor results under his leadership.

Blind said he believed the team was on the right path and that the Bulgaria defeat was “an incident.”

“It’s a shame it ends here,” he added.

Blind took over from veteran Guus Hiddink in 2015, with a mission to kickstart the Dutch team’s faltering European Championship qualification campaign. He failed and the Netherlands — World Cup semifinalists in Brazil in 2014 — did not qualify for the 2016 European Championship.

D.A. Points wins Puerto Rico for 3rd PGA Tour title

Mar 26, 2017 18

D.A. Points started with five straight birdies and closed with a 6-under 66 to win the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday for his third PGA Tour title.

The great start wasn’t enough for Points when he made three bogeys in a five-hole stretch around the turn. He steadied himself, protecting a one-shot lead going to the par-5 18th, and made birdie for a two-shot victory.

Points won for the first time since the 2013 Houston Open. This victory does not get him into the Masters because the Puerto Rico Open is held the same week as a World Golf Championships. Even so, it gets him into the PGA Championship and The Players Championship, and gives him a two-year exemption.

Retief Goosen, Bill Lunde and Bryson DeChambeau tied for second.

Defoe makes scoring return as England beats Lithuania 2-0

Mar 26, 2017 18

Jermain Defoe made a scoring return after more than three years out of the England team as the Group F leaders eased to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in World Cup qualifying on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Defoe, who was accompanied onto the pitch by terminally ill five-year-old mascot Bradley Lowery, netted his first England goal since March 2013 in the 21st minute at Wembley Stadium. The Sunderland striker swept in his 20th England goal on his 56th appearance after Raheem Sterling glided through the Lithuanian defense before crossing the ball sweetly to the striker’s feet.

Defoe played almost an hour before being replaced by Jamie Vardy and the forward scored with his first touch, carrying his resurgent form for Leicester into international duty. As with Sterling for the opener, the hard work came from Adam Lallana as the creator. It was the Liverpool midfielder’s flicked layoff that allowed Vardy to slot the ball low past goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus.

There was increased security in north London and a somber start to the game as Wembley paid tribute to the four people who were killed in a rampage next to the British parliament on Wednesday.

At the midway point in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England is the only team in Europe yet to concede a goal. Gareth Southgate’s side is five points clear of Slovenia, which was at Scotland later Sunday. Slovakia was also playing Malta in a later game.

Johnson, Rahm win to set up powerful title match

Mar 26, 2017 15

Dustin Johnson finally held up his end of the bargain with an error-filled 1-up victory over Hideto Tanihara in the semifinals of the Dell Technologies Match Play. That set up a championship match against Jon Rahm of Spain.

Johnson went the distance Sunday for the first time all week against Tanihara. He had to make an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole to avoid extra holes.

Rahm was in his toughest match of the week against Bill Haas. All square through 12 holes, Rahm went ahead for good with a birdie on the 13th, and he birdied his last two holes for a 3-and-2 victory.

Johnson is No. 1 in the world and needs a victory to become the first player to sweep the four World Golf Championships.

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes have a fight on with Ferrari in F1 2017

Mar 26, 2017 22

Lewis Hamilton has admitted Mercedes have “got a race on our hands” in F1 2017 after being beaten by a resurgent Ferrari at the season-opening Australian GP.

F1’s new rules era began in fascinating fashion in Melbourne as Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel claimed their first win in 28 races as the combination of superior pace and pit strategy allowed the German to leapfrog early race leader Hamilton.

The Briton finished 10 seconds behind as Mercedes had to settle for second and third, with the world champions losing a race win for just the ninth time in the last 60 grands prix.

Hamilton had installed Ferrari, winter testing’s pacesetters, as the favourites for Melbourne, and although some had claimed it represented kidology from the triple champion, he insists he only called it as he saw it.

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“I don’t lie and I’m not very good at bluffing,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I didn’t know how quick they would be in the race but their pace from testing was true and their first stint on the ultrasofts was fantastic. My real strength wasn’t until right at the end by which time it was far too late.”

Hamilton added: “We’ve got a race on our hands.”

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Dave Steele, 42, killed in sprint car crash at Desoto Speedway

Mar 26, 2017 24

Dave Steele was killed in a sprint car racing crash at Desoto Speedway in Florida Saturday night. He was 42.

Steele was competing in the Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series at the 3/8-mile paved oval.

Speed Sport reports that Steele tangled with lapped traffic, sending his No. 33 machine into an incident.

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Steele made starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the Verizon IndyCar Series in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but had since returned to his short track roots where he had enjoyed a variety of success in Silver Crown, sprint car and midget car racing. Steele was a two-time Silver Crown champion and was attempting to win his 100th Florida race Saturday night.

Desoto Speedway shared the following post to their Facebook page:

Many racing drivers and fans are taking to social media to share their memories of Dave Steele and offer condolences to his family and friends.

This article originally appeared on

March Madness: Final Four spots to be decided in rematches

Mar 26, 2017 18

The most entertaining college basketball game of the regular season came in December.

Malik Monk set a record for a Kentucky freshman with 47 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer taken against his coach’s wishes, to lift the Wildcats to a 103-100 win over North Carolina.

Are these two ready for an encore?

Of course they are — though it’s a valid argument to say this rematch might be better suited for next weekend in the Final Four than Sunday in the Elite Eight.

“I remember watching them play and I’m thinking, ‘Please don’t put them in our bracket,'” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “And there they are in our bracket.”

Indeed, the South bracket in which Kentucky and Carolina reside was pegged as the toughest on Selection Sunday. The top four seeds made it to the Sweet 16, and the Wildcats and Tar Heels moved within a game of the Final Four with double-digit wins.

North Carolina is a 2 1/2-point favorite in Sunday’s game, which will fill out a Final Four that already includes Gonzaga and Oregon, both of which won Saturday. The first meeting between the Heels and Cats — the late half of a made-for-TV doubleheader in Las Vegas three months ago — now feels like a distant memory.

“I don’t think we’re freshmen anymore,” Monk said. “You can’t use that term anymore because it’s in the tournament now. Nobody looks at that.”

Kentucky trailed 100-98 and Calipari was imploring his young freshman to drive the ball to the hoop in transition. Instead, he pulled up and made the 3 to put the Wildcats ahead for good with 16 seconds left.

“Heck of a college basketball game if you don’t care who won,” Carolina coach Roy Williams said afterward. “But I do care who wins.”

If North Carolina turns the tables, it will give the Tar Heels a return trip to the Final Four after their heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the final last year — on a buzzer-beating 3 by Kris Jenkins. It will also mark a festive send-off for Justin Jackson, who leads Carolina with 18.2 points a game and is expected to call this, his junior year, his last in college.

Kentucky’s list of probable one-and-doners includes Monk, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox.

“I’m not worried about that,” Fox said. “We’re still playing basketball, so I’m not thinking about leaving. If things go as planned, we still have three games left, so that’s not in my mind right now.”

SPEAKING OF REMATCHES: Sunday’s first game pits familiar foes in an unexpected setting. Florida and South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference will meet at Madison Square Garden for a trip to the Final Four.

“We’re playing a team we know,” said coach Frank Martin, who has led the Gamecocks further through the NCAA bracket than they have ever been. “We’re not playing the moment. We’re not playing a building. We’re not playing the NCAA Tournament. We’re playing the Florida Gators. And our focus should be playing a team that we have played twice.”

In many ways, it was the first meeting — a 57-53 South Carolina win on Jan. 18 — that set the stage for where both teams are today.

The Gators failed to sink a 3-pointer for the first time in 850 games — a streak that began in 1992 and lasted the entire Billy Donovan era. Another loss, three days later, prompted a two-hour team meeting that triggered a nine-game winning streak, including the rematch with the Gamecocks.

But South Carolina’s win over Florida also announced the Gamecocks as a force. It was their third win over a Top 25 team this season, and when it was over, senior Sindarius Thornwell said this: “Before the game, I was saying these are the games you prepare for in your backyard growing up.”

They certainly are. And this next one, too.