National Sports Briefs
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. ó Tiger Woods lost his three-shot margin with every shot that looked good until the wind decided otherwise. He lost his lead Saturday in the Chevron World Challenge because of something that was really out of his control.
Zach Johnson was 163 yards away in the 18th fairway, one shot behind and hopeful of getting his 7-iron onto the top shelf to make par as easy as possible. Imagine his surprise when it landed near the hole and hopped back into the cup for an eagle that put him atop the leaderboard.
ěI would have been happy with a 4, let alone a 3,î Johnson said. ěA 2 is a steal.î
That eagle gave him a 4-under 68, allowing him to make up a four-shot deficit on Woods and take a one-shot lead into the final round of the final official event this year in America.
Woods had three bogeys on the par 5s and didnít feel as though he did much wrong. On two of them, he hit wedges that looked good until the cool, gusting wind shifted directions and sent the ball much farther than he imagined. On the other par 5, his fairway metal hit a gust and dropped into a hazard.
The result was a 1-over 73. The prognosis wasnít nearly as bad.
ěEven though I made three bogeys on par 5s, I had two three-putts, but I played well,î Woods said. ěI hit a lot of good shots that ended up in bad spots because I had bad gusts. So be it. Thatís the way it goes.
ěIím right there with a chance going into tomorrow.î
NEW YORK ó Oklahoma City will host Orlando before Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers visit Golden State on Christmas night, running the NBA’s planned opening-day schedule to five games.
Those games were added Friday to the three that were already set when the 2011-12 schedule was unveiled: Boston at New York, Miami at Dallas, and Chicago at the Los Angeles Lakers.
BOSTON ó The most intriguing part of Bobby Valentine’s first news conference as the Boston Red Sox manager: The possibility of making Bill Buckner his hitting coach.
Valentine and Buckner were college roommates who played together in the Dodgers’ system. The new Boston skipper said he would consider the former Red Sox first baseman for his staff.
Despite a 21-year career in which he amassed 2,715 hits, Buckner was best remembered in Boston for his ninth-inning error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that helped the New York Mets come from behind and win. The sting of that loss wasn’t diminished until the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought in 2004.
Valentine said he watched Buckner’s kids grow up and, “I respect his every opinion, in baseball and worldy matters.”
But he says it’s not about friendship. It’s about who’s best for the job.
KENNESAW, Ga. ó Mollie Pathman scored two second-half goals and Duke beat Wake Forest 4-1 to advance to the women’s College Cup final.
Midfielder Kim DeCesare and Kaitlyn Kerr also scored for the Blue Devils (22-3-1), who will face top-ranked Stanford today in the title game.
RALEIGH óBackup goalie Brent Johnson came up big during the defensive stand that thwarted Carolinaís three-man advantage and helped the surging POittsburgh Penguins beat the slumping Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday.
Sidney Crosby added an assist for the Penguins. Theyíve won five of seven games since Crosbyís return, and he has two goals and 10 assists in that span.
Jamie McBain had two goals and Brian Boucher had 37 saves for the íCanes.
Canandiens 2, Kings 1
LOS ANGELES ó Carey Price made 26 saves, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn scored, ending a four-game losing streak.
Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 1
BOSTON ó Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and the Boston Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night to start December the same way they finished November.
Rangers 4, Lightning 2
TAMPA, Fla. ó Derek Stepan had a tiebreaking goal and added an assist, helping the Rangers extend their winning streak to five with a 4-2 victory.
Jets 4, Devils 2
WINNIPEG, Manitobaó Evander Kane scored a pair of goals to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Saturday night.
Kane scored the Jets’ first goal and added an empty-netter with 32 seconds left, Alexander Burmistrov and Mark Stuart also scored.