Friday’s Sports In Brief
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Bubba Watson won the Masters two years ago with his brand of ”Bubba golf,” producing shots of raw skill and wild imagination. His strategy now is to keep it simple, and he is halfway to another green jacket.
Watson took over Augusta National in the second round of this year’s event with 75 minutes of brilliance and power. On another demanding day of crispy greens and swirling wind, he ran off five straight birdies on the back nine and wound up with a 4-under 68 for a three-shot lead over John Senden.
Watson made bogey on the 18th hole with a shot that bounced left of the green and into the gallery. He finished at 7-under 137, giving him the largest 36-hole lead at the Masters since Chad Campbell in 2006.
Senden qualified for the Masters a month ago with his win at Innisbrook. After a rugged start, he played the final 14 holes with six birdies and no bogeys for a 68 that puts him in the last group at a major on the weekend.
Adam Scott also made a late recovery with three birdies on the back nine to salvage a 72, putting him four shots back at 141, along with Thomas Bjorn (68), Jonas Blixt (71) and Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old from Texas who looked solid on the mystifying greens and shot a 70.
NEW YORK (AP) – Players’ union head Tony Clark has asked the commissioner’s office to investigate comments attributed to unidentified executives in an ESPN.com story estimating what they would offer shortstop Stephen Drew and designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who remain free agents.
The story said executives were asked if they had a need at one of those positions, what would their offers be. The range was from $3 million to $12 million.
Both players turned down $14.1 million qualifying offers from their former clubs in November. If a club signs Drew or Morales before the amateur draft in June, it would forfeit a high draft pick.
DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) – Kevin Harvick won his first career pole at Darlington Raceway as he looks to chase his first Southern 500.
Harvick came out on top in the first knockout qualifying session at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway since the circuit made the change from single-car laps. Joey Logano, the winner Monday in Texas, was second, followed by Aric Almirola.
Almirola’s teammate, Marcos Ambrose, was fourth, followed by Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch.
Points leader Jeff Gordon, a seven-time Darlington winner, will start ninth, with Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 10.
Almirola finished first in the second of three rounds of qualifying and set a track record of 184.145 mph, shattering Kurt Busch’s mark of 181.918 set last May when the Southern 500 was held on Mother’s Day weekend. It’s the sixth time in eight races this season the qualifying record fell.
But Harvick used a higher line in the final segment to lead the field.
CLEVELAND (AP) – Alex Mack was as good as gone. The Browns pulled back their Pro Bowl center in a snap.
Acting quickly after Jacksonville signed Mack to a five-year, $42 million offer sheet, Cleveland wasted little time and matched the deal for Mack, who will remain with the Browns for at least two more years.
The 28-year-old Mack will receive $26 million guaranteed in the deal, which he can void after two seasons. Also, the Browns are not allowed to tag or trade him. That’s the steep price they’ll pay for allowing another team to do their negotiating, and for letting one of their core players test the free-agent market.
ATLANTA (AP) – Dominique Wilkins hopes young fans take the time to learn about Lou Hudson.
Wilkins says they’ll discover ”Sweet Lou” was one of the best shooting guards in NBA history.
Hudson, the smooth-shooting Hawks star who averaged more than 20 points during 13 NBA seasons, died Friday. He was 69. He died in Atlanta, where he was hospitalized and listed in grave condition last month after a stroke, the Hawks said.
Hudson was a six-time All-Star while with the Hawks in St. Louis and Atlanta, often playing away from the national spotlight.
SAN DIEGO (AP) – San Diego has made the short list of venues being considered to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, port commission chairman Bob Nelson said.
If San Diego is chosen, racing would be in 62-foot catamarans on the bay. San Diego hosted the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995, with racing on the Pacific Ocean.
An America’s Cup World Series regatta in 45-foot catamarans was held on San Diego Bay in November 2011.
America’s Cup officials have cut the list of potential venues in half, but it wasn’t clear how many cities besides San Diego remain in contention to host sailing’s marquee regatta. The venue is expected to be decided by late summer.
Chicago is believed to be a strong candidate and Newport, R.I., another former home of the America’s Cup, is thought to remain in the mix. Long Beach, Calif., has been eliminated, and Hawaii’s chances of hosting the Auld Mug could be fading.
TORONTO (AP) – Brendan Shanahan will run the Toronto Maple Leafs after handing out suspensions the last three years.
Shanahan became the team president, leaving his job as NHL director of player safety. He took over the disciplinarian job from Colin Campbell and will be replaced by Stephane Quintal.
Shanahan, a Toronto native, played 1,524 NHL games in 21 seasons and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
The Leafs said Shanahan will begin in his new role immediately, and the team will hold a news conference Monday. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Tim Leiweke and Leafs vice president and general manager Dave Nonis will attend.
Nonis’ presence suggests he’s safe for now, despite another season when the Leafs failed to make the playoffs. Shanahan will have a say about coach Randy Carlyle’s future and potentially his replacement.