Friday’s Sports In Brief
PHOENIX (AP) As if wishing made it so, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described his league – and himself – as having addressed missteps on difficult matters such as domestic violence and being ready to move on.
Nearing the end of a season he acknowledged was filled with ”plenty of challenges,” Goodell was asked whether he thought he deserved a pay cut – ”That’s up to the owners,” he replied.
Goodell brushed aside a question about whether there are conflict-of-interest problems with paying those who head up ”independent” investigations, such as into the league’s handling of the Ray Rice case or the ongoing look at the New England Patriots’ use of deflated footballs in the AFC title game.
On the main topic of conversation heading into Super Bowl week – the deflated footballs used by the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game – Goodell said: ”Whether a competitive advantage was actually gained or not is secondary in my mind to whether that rule was violated.”
A resolution will not come until after the Super Bowl.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Martin Laird had another 5-under 66 to take a two-shot lead in a Phoenix Open that will be without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Super Bowl weekend.
The bigger shock was Woods – not because he missed the cut, but how. Woods made bogey on his last hole for an 82, the worst score in his two decades as a pro. Mickelson played in the afternoon and wasn’t much better. He shot 76 and missed the cut by two shots.
Laird ran off three birdies in the cold rain on the back nine at TPC Scottsdale until taking his lone bogey on the last hole. He was at 10-under 132, two shots ahead of Daniel Berger, who had a 69. Justin Thomas (68) was another shot behind. A trio of Masters champions – Bubba Watson (71), Zach Johnson (70) and Angel Cabrera (69) were in the group four shots behind.
OCALA, Fla. (AP) – Lydia Ko is one round from potentially making golf history.
The 17-year-old New Zealander birdied five consecutive holes and shot a 7-under 65 in the third round of the Coates Golf Championship to take the outright lead in the LPGA Tour’s season opener.
Second-round leader Ha Na Jang was a stroke back at 13-under 203 after a 1-under 71 Friday. Fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi shot a 6-under 66 and was two back at 12 under.
American Stacy Lewis (70) was 10 under, one stroke ahead of Amy Yang (65), Jessica Korda (69) and Austin Ernst (70).
Michelle Wie and Cheyenne Woods both shot 73 in the third round and fell further back in the 77-player field at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.
ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Hawks keep finding new ways to extend the longest winning streak in franchise history. This time, Kent Bazemore was the surprise star off the bench.
Atlanta overcame 37 points by Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge to win its 18th straight game by overpowering the Trail Blazers in the final period for a 105-99 victory Friday night.
The big lead for each team was only six points. There were four ties in the fourth quarter before the Hawks took the lead for good midway through the period on a basket by Al Horford, who had 17 points.
The Hawks overcame a sudden shortage of wing players to keep their streak alive before a sellout crowd as DeMarre Carroll missed the game with a left Achilles strain. His replacement, Thabo Sefolosha, lasted only two minutes before leaving with a right calf strain.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Bill Elliott headlined the sixth class of inductees into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, a group that included three champions, the first African-American winner and a driver with movie star looks.
”Awesome Bill From Dawsonville” was NASCAR’s 1988 champion, a 44-race winner and the first driver to win the Winston Million bonus in 1985 for winning three NASCAR crown jewel races. A 16-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award, Elliott won two Daytona 500s and the Southern 500 three times.
His induction came one day after his 19-year-old son, Chase, was named by Hendrick Motorsports as the driver who will replace four-time champion Jeff Gordon in the iconic No. 24.
The sixth class was the first to be comprised of five drivers – Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott Rex White, Joe Weatherly and Elliott.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) – Craig Biggio was ”kind of speechless” after completing his pre-induction tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
”This is crazy!” Biggio said Friday, sitting in the Plaque Gallery of the hall. ”I’m kind of speechless. It’s an overwhelming feeling, incredible feeling. I don’t know what to say right now.”
That’s understandable, given it’s been less than a month since he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Perhaps it all hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
Biggio was elected Jan. 6, joining Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – Amy Van Dyken pushed herself across one of Berkeley’s busy streets in her wheelchair and up a ramp into her special broadcast booth overlooking the pool deck, beaming the whole way.
The six-time Olympic gold medal swimmer returned to work with the Pac-12 Networks on Friday, nearly eight months after an all-terrain vehicle accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Van Dyken flew into the Bay Area from Arizona to call the USC-California women’s swim meet, and she figured it was a perfect return given there would be about a dozen potential Olympians – including Missy Franklin – in the pool on a picture-perfect day.
Van Dyken is thrilled people are getting to know her in a far different way than the ultra-competitive person she was as an elite swimmer who became one of the best in the world despite her asthma.