National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 15, 2011

Associated Press
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ó K.J. Choi made his first PGA Tour playoff experience a memorable one Sunday. He made par on the island-green 17th to win The Players Championship for his first tour win in three years.
David Toms won’t forget it, either.
Moments after Toms hit his best shot of the week from a divot in the 18th fairway and made an 18-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, he missed a 31/2-foot par putt in the playoff that cost him a chance at his first win in five years.
Choi closed with a 2-under 70 to become the fourth straight international player to win the PGA Tour’s biggest event. He had to make a par putt just inside 5 feet to get to the playoff, then watched Toms hand him the victory.
ROME ó Novak Djokovic is starting to realize what an impact he’s making on tennis with his recent domination of Rafael Nadal ó and everyone else in the game, too.
Djokovic beat the top-ranked Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in the Italian Open final Sunday to stretch his unbeaten start this year to 37 matches.
Djokovic trails only John McEnroeís 42-0 start in 1984. Overall, the Serb has won 39 consecutive matches stretching to Serbia’s Davis Cup triumph in December, sixth best in the Open era, seven behind Guillermo Vilasí record set in 1977.
ěItís an incredible honor to be a part of tennis history in some way and part of an elite group of players ó Federer, Nadal, McEnroe, (Ivan) Lendl, guys who were winning so many in a row,î Djokovic said. ěI donít know how much good it brings to tennis, but itís good that someone else is able to win other than just Federer and Nadal. It makes it more interesting.î
The second-ranked Djokovic has beaten Nadal in all four finals they’ve played this year and defeated the Spaniard for the first time on clay last week in the Madrid Open final.
This win makes Djokovic the first player to beat Nadal on clay twice in the same year, a feat that comes exactly a week before the French Open starts.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Former University of Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer says one-time Vols lineman Aaron Douglas was a ěgood person and a good sonî who appeared destined to play in Knoxville.
Fulmer told The Knoxville News Sentinel that he promised Douglasí parents that their first born son would have a scholarship to Tennessee. Fulmer kept the promise to his friends 17 years later, but never got a chance to coach Douglas. Douglasí redshirt freshman year coincided with Fulmerís last season. Douglas then transferred, ending up at Alabama.
Douglas was found dead on the second floor balcony of a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., after a party Thursday. The death remains under investigation.
COLUMBUS, Ohio ó An NCAA investigation into rules infractions by the Ohio State football program has delayed release of the team’s 2010 ěgold pantsî charms, awards that team members receive if they beat rival Michigan.
The Gold Pants Club that distributes the trinkets is waiting to see if the NCAA vacates any of last seasonís wins, President Jim Lachey, a former Ohio State All-America offensive lineman, told The Columbus Dispatch for a Sunday story. The university-licensed club pays about $50 each for the charms.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Tennessee Titans first-round pick Jake Locker says heís been studying the playbook he received during a brief visit to the team’s workout facility after the NFL draft in April.
Locker, like all players, is awaiting the end of the labor dispute between players and owners. For now, Locker told The Tennessean, heís staying in shape for when camp opens.
On Monday, Locker is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to work with former Jets quarterback Ken OíBrien, who tutored Locker leading up to the draft.
Locker has also been studying his playbook, which has some similarities to the offense he ran at Washington.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia ó Defenseman Kevin Bieksa tied it 7:02 into the third period, Henrik Sedin scored on a power play 1:19 later, and the Vancouver Canucks came back to open their first Western Conference final in 17 years with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
Maxim Lapierre scored his first of these playoffs, and Roberto Luongo made 27 saves ó and a brutal first period giveaway ó for the Canucks. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Vancouver.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored, and Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots for the Sharks, coming off an emotional, draining Game 7 victory over Detroit on Thursday night.
San Jose took a 2-1 lead into the third period thanks to a goal on its only power play, and the gift from Luongo.