Tiger Woods’ win at Masters still has Rory McIlroy in awe

By Tom Canavan

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FARMINGDALE, N.J. _ It’s been a month since Tiger Woods stunned the golf world by overcoming four back surgeries and periods when his troubled career appeared to be over by winning the Masters for his first major in 11 years.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy was still in awe Tuesday, two days before the start of the year’s second major, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

“I still don’t think people understand what he did in April and coming back, and with everything that he’s been through,” McIlroy said. “It’s unbelievable. Whether it’s the greatest comebackin sportss, that’s probably up for debate, but from what I’ve experienced and the things that he said when I’ve been around him, to be 2 1/2 years ago from looking like maybe not playing golf again to winning the first major of the year and being the favourite going into the second major of the year, I mean, that’s unbelievable.”

Like most golf fans, McIlroy sees a transformed Woods these days.

“I think he’s grateful and thankful that his kids get to see a little bit of what he was before they were around,” the two-time PGA Championship winner said. “So I think it is different. He’s a different person. He’s in a different space in his life, and yeah, he just seems very grateful for this opportunity to do what he loves and compete.”

PADRAIG’S POSITION

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington will captain the European side at next year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. He’s got some strong ideas on how he will put together that squad to defend the title it won last year in France.

Harrington already has decided to use only three captain’s picks for the team, allowing the ninth-ranked player in the standings to automatically qualify. And he is planning to instruct candidates for those three picks to make sure they play the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth just before qualifying closes.

“I was surprised that in my change, everybody is talking about the three picks, but everybody seemed to have forgotten that the date has changed for the picks is actually the BMW Championship at Wentworth, which is only a week before the Ryder Cup,” he said. “So it’s a much later date for the picks.

“And one of the reasons that date is there is because it means anybody who wants a pick is going to have to turn up,” the Irishman said. “Nobody has an excuse not to turn up at the BMW Championship in the UK. They can’t say they’re playing another event or they’re somewhere else. If you want a pick, you’re going to have to turn up and play a big tournament with the other players who are interested in that pick so I can make a definitive decision as late as a week before the tournament.”

To Harrington, nothing compares with representing the continent in what has become the most intense event in golf. He has played in six Ryder Cups, winning it four times.

“I would be on the side of making the players jump through a few more hoops to be in the Ryder Cup team,” he said. “It is a huge deal to play in the Ryder Cup team in terms of people’s careers. Like Frankie Molinari won the Open last year, but the Ryder Cup made him, and that just sums it up for Europe. Like it really did make him as a golfer.”

DALY DRIVES

A PGA committee on the American with Disabilities Act made the decision to allow John Daly to use a cart at this week’s event, the championships director for the PGA of America said Tuesday.

It’s safe to say Tiger Woods was not impressed with the request.

“As far as J.D. taking a cart, well, I walked with a broken leg,” Woods said.

He was referring to the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which Woods played on shredded ligaments in his left knee and a double stress fracture in the leg. He played 91 holes, winning in a playoff.

Kerry Haigh, the championships director for the PGA of America, said Daly will not have access to all areas on the hilly course in the topless cart and much will depend on the golf course and the conditions, particularly if it rains.

“I will meet with John and just talk through where he can go and can’t go,” Haigh said. “Obviousl,y there’s some places on this golf course where you can’t get a golf cart to. We try and use common sense, what’s reasonable, what’s fair for the protection both of the player and those issues as well as the playing of a major championship.”

Daly has arthritis in his right knee and he requested to be allowed to use a cart because of medical issues. He will be the first player to ride in a cart at a major championship since Casey Martin in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.

WITHDRAWS

Vijay Singh became the third former champion to withdraw from the PGA Championship.

Singh, who won at Sahalee in 1998, cited a back injury for withdrawing. He was replaced by J.T. Poston, who will make his PGA debut.

Justin Thomas, who won at Quail Hollow in 2017, withdrew on Monday because a bone bruise in his right wrist hasn’t healed. He was replaced by Kelly Kraft. Last week, Davis Love III (Winged Foot in 1997) withdrew.

Thomas’ withdrawal keeps the PGA Championship from having all of the top 100 from the world ranking at Bethpage Black.

DIVOTS

Tiger Woods is the Masters champion going for the second leg of the Grand Slam at Bethpage Black. The last time the PGA Championship was held in May was in 1949, when Sam Snead won. Snead also was the reigning Masters champion. … Max Homa makes his major championship debut this week and already has a trophy. He won the Long Drive Competition with a 318-yard drive on the 16th hole. … Craig Bowden is among 13 players competing in all three majors at Bethpage Black. He qualified for the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009, and he qualified for the PGA Championship as a club pro.

Toronto Raptors’ dramatic win produces record television ratings in Canada

TORONTO _ The greatest moment in Toronto Raptors history produced the biggest television ratings in Canada for an NBA game.

Sportsnet says Sunday night’s Game 7 between the Raptors and visiting Philadelphia 76ers attracted an average audience of 2.2 million viewers.

A peak audience of 3.8 million was watching when Kawhi Leonard hit the buzzer-beater to lift the Raptors to a win over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal.

The Sunday night tipoff traditionally a strong evening for TV ratings and the fact no Canadian teams are left in the NHL playoffs gave the Raptors the sporting spotlight in this country.

Sportsnet says its average audience for the four games it showed during the second-round series was 1.3 million viewers, a 113 per-cent increase over the same round for the Raptors last year.

The 2.2-million figure is a big jump over a typical Raptors game. TSN reported it attracted a regular-season Raptors record audience of 710,000 for DeMar DeRozan’s return to Toronto with the San Antonio Spurs in February.

TSN had a then-record average audience of 1.8 million for a Raptors playoff game in 2016 as Toronto beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a third-round contest.

The NBA has said viewership in the regular season was up 29 percent from last year.

Sportsnet and TSN split the Raptors broadcast schedule.

The Raptors begin the Eastern Conference final on Wednesday night in Milwaukee against the Bucks.

High school rugby cancelled across province due to safety, insurance concerns

Susan Bradley · CBC News 

He said the federation requested statistics covering the past five years about the number of injuries in different school sports. The specific statistics examined were total number of injuries and concussions or possible concussions.

For concussions or possible concussions, the numbers showed 149 in rugby, 33 in hockey, 32 in football and 26 in soccer.

“The data was quite eye-opening,” said Gallant.

For total number of injuries, the statistics showed 454 in rugby, 187 in hockey, 162 in football and 158 in soccer.

‘A difficult decision’

“It’s a significantly larger number than all the others,” said Gallant. “It’s unfortunate. It’s a difficult decision for the board and sometimes those hard decisions are. This has been in the making.”

The numbers provided don’t show how many athletes played the sports in the past five years.

Claire Avery, a rugby player at Charles P. Allen High School, said she and her teammates were shocked and devastated by the news.

She said the sport is welcoming to everybody.

“We do not make cuts in this sport for a reason — because it takes every body type, every type of person,” said Avery. “You need leaders, you need followers. Now that we are not getting to play, you have girls that are now sitting and not doing any activity.”

On Thursday afternoon, a petition titled “Bring Rugby back to NS schools” began to circulate. It has already generated more than 6,500 signatures.

Rugby Nova Scotia president Geno Carew said the group has asked to meet with the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation about the decision to cancel school rugby. (CBC)

Brooklyn Peyton, who plays rugby for Lockview High School in Fall River, hoped she would go to university on a rugby scholarship.

She said she’s blown away by the news of the cancellation.

‘I just love the team’

“I started with this team, it’s important to me, they are like family,” she said. My coach means a lot to me, he’s kind of like my second dad … I just love the team.”

She and other rugby players at Lockview plan to wear their jerseys to school Friday and play some informal games on the school field to show their support for the team.

Rugby players at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, N.S. (Submitted by Claire Avery)

Her dad, Larry Peyton, said his daughter is passionate about rugby and gets up at 4:15 a.m. to train.

“That’s the commitment and dedication level that I’ve never seen her have with anything else,” he said. “This is a sport where I don’t ever have to look at her and say, ‘You need to practice.'”

He said he hopes the federation will listen to coaches, players and parents and reverse the decision.

‘We don’t want to wrap our kids in bubble wrap’

“You can have a chance for injury if you ride to school on a school bus, buses get into accidents,” said Larry Peyton. “We don’t want to wrap our kids in bubble wrap and put a fragile sticker on them. ”

Tony Lindley, the rugby coach at Eastern Shore High School, has been involved in the sport for the past 32 years as a player, referee and coach.

“I feel very sorry for the kids. The kids are just devastated by what I’ve heard from from our athletic director at the school,” he said.

“We just can’t believe the decision. I’m just speechless actually.”

Rugby Nova Scotia president Geno Carew said the organization has received “pretty much non-stop” texts, calls and emails since the news broke.

“They want to know what they can do to get the decision reversed,” he said.

Once the group has met with the school sports federation to find out more about the cancellation, he said Rugby Nova Scotia will formulate a response.

Over lack of health insurance, resources female pro hockey players boycott all leagues

Reuters

More than 200 women‘s hockey players, including the game’s biggest names, said on Thursday they will not play in any North American league next season as part of a boycott they hope will bring about a more economically viable league.

The group, which includes Olympic gold medallists Marie-Philip Poulin of Canada and American Hilary Knight, said they cannot make a sustainable living playing in the women‘s professional game.

“Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level,” the players said in a statement released on their social media accounts.

“Because of that, together as players, we will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves.”

The decision comes a little over a month after the sudden demise of the six-team Canadian Women‘s Hockey League (CWHL) left the future of women‘s professional hockeyin disarray with many top players without a club team to play for.

The CWHL’s decision left the five-team National Women‘s Hockey League (NWHL), founded in 2015 and based exclusively in the United States, as the only professionalhockey option for women in North America.

The NWHL, which had an average attendance of 954 at its 46 games during the 2018-19 season, did not immediately respond when asked how the boycott could affect its operations.

While the possibility of not playing professionally in North America next season could soon become a reality the players feel the boycott is the best way to see the creation of a single, economically viable professional league.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for – our moment to come together and say we deserve more,” the players said.

“It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women‘s professional hockey in the world.”

Players, and even the commissioners, from the NWHL and now-defunct CWHL have previously said a single women‘s professional league in North America would be best for the sport.

Many pundits have suggested the ideal outcome for women‘s hockey in North America would be if the National Hockey League, home to the top men’s players, provided its infrastructure, marketing and branding to unite the two leagues.

But the NHL, which has provided financial support to women‘s hockey, has previously said it was hesitant about assuming control over either league because it does not believe in their models.

In an emailed statement to Global News, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the hockey league needs more information.

“The NWHL is an existing league with an existing organization and business plan. We do not intend to interfere with their business or their objectives,” Daly said.

“At the same time, we continue to support the objective of allowing for the opportunity of the best women hockey players in the world to play the sport at the professional level.

“We will further explore the situation privately before taking any affirmative position on next steps.”

In an emailed statement on Thursday, the NWHL said it was offering higher salaries to players and was confident in a new season.

“We are offering increased salaries and a 50-50 revenue split from league-level sponsorship and media rights deals,” the NWHL said. “Coming off an incredible 2018-19, we are confident another fantastic season is ahead”

The group of women who have come together say they feel a sense of responsibility to leave the game in better shape than when they entered it.

“While we have all accomplished so much, there is no greater accomplishment than what we have the potential to do right here and right now – not just for this generation of players, but for the generations to come,” the players’ statement read.

“With that purpose, we are coming together, not just as individual players, but as one collective voice to help navigate the future and protect the players needs.”

Interesting Insurance Policy – Potential Top Cavs Pick Zion Williamson Has Knee Sprain

By 

The Cavs and their fans have been keeping an eye on Duke standout freshman Zion Williamson all season long, but last night just 33 seconds into their huge game against North Carolina, Williamson went down with a knee injury.

It was a horrible scene, as Williamson’s went down after his left shoe ripped as he planted with the ball.

He immediately grabbed the back of his knee as he fell to the floor, and left the game and the team stated that he had a mild knee sprain.

The Cavs are ahead of the Knicks and Suns for the worst record in the NBA, so it might not matter as likely if Williamson is healthy he’s going to go to New York or Phoenix anyway.

There’s another interesting tidbit about Wiliamson, and that’s (according to Darren Rovell), he’s already taken out an eight million dollar insurance policy that would only kick in if he slips past No. 16 in the draft due to injury.

Again even with this setback that’s not likely to happen, but obviously the young freshman is getting good advice when it comes to taking out a policy….now the next question is will he continue to wear Nike shoes after Wednesday night’s injury?

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37 31 OT

By Barry Wilner

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ It’s the dead of winter, meaning the weather in New England can be brutal. And that the Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.

It took them overtime and more of Tom Brady’s brilliance to get there _ for the third straight year. While the folks back home dealt with a frigid storm, Brady blew through Kansas City’s exhausted defence on a 75-yard drive to Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard touchdown run in a 37-31 victory Sunday for the AFC championship.

The drive, during which New England (13-5) had three third-down conversions, was reminiscent of when the Patriots beat Atlanta in the only Super Bowl to go to OT two years ago.

“Overtime, on the road against a great team,” Brady said.  “They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don’t know, man, I’m tired. That was a hell of a game.”

Awaiting them in Atlanta are the Los Angeles Rams, who won 26-23 in overtime in New Orleans for the NFC championship. The Rams (15-3) last made the Super Bowl in 2002 while based in St. Louis, losing to the Patriots.

New England benefited from two critical replay reviews and made its ninth Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach.

“This is crazy,” said Brady, who was 30 of 46 for 348 yards. “What a game.”

It’s the first time both conference title games went to OT. The last time both visitors won conference championship matches was 2012; New England was 3-5 on the road this season.

“We knew what our record was, but we didn’t let that dictate us,” said defensive end Trey Flowers, who led a staunch charge on Patrick Mahomes. “Whatever happened in the regular season happened. We came out and did it when it counted.”

Several times, the Patriots appeared to have it won, only to see Kansas City (13-5) come back in spectacular fashion.

Brady, at 41 already the oldest quarterback to have played in a Super Bowl, drove New England 65 yards in 1:24 to Burkhead’s go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left in regulation. That was enough, though, for his far younger counterpart, the 23-year-old All-Pro Mahomes, to take the Chiefs 48 yards to Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to force overtime.

It was a sizzling offensive showing in the fourth quarter after defence had been in charge most of the way. Indeed, the Chiefs were blanked in the opening half for the first time all season.

And they never saw the ball in overtime, which along with the two replay decisions might call into play NFL rules and officiating.

“I thought if we got the chance,” Mahomes said,  “we’d score.”

Mahomes finished 16 of 31 for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

New England became the third franchise to reach three Super Bowls in a row. And Belichick now has 30 postseason victories, more than Bill Walsh and Don Shula combined. That Hall of Fame coaching duo also won five Super Bowls; Belichick shoots for No. 6 in two weeks.

An apparent muff by the usually reliable Julian Edelman on a fourth-quarter punt return was overturned by a lengthy video review, prompting raucous booing and some demonstrative arguing from the usually laid-back Andy Reid. Edelman definitely touched his next try when Brady’s pass deflected off his hands directly to safety Daniel Sorensen. His 22-yard return set up Kansas City at the Patriots 23, and Damien Williams, who scored three times, had no defender near him down the left sideline for the score that made it 21-17, KC’s first lead.

Back came Brady, engineering a 75-yard march on which Chris Hogan’s diving one-handed catch on third down appeared to touch the ground. Reid challenged _ and lost.

Minutes later, rookie Sony Michel scored from the 10, his second TD of the night.

With 3 1/2 minutes remaining, there was plenty of time for more points. Williams’ 2-yard run gave the Chiefs a 28-24 edge that New England took up most of the remaining time overcoming. The Patriots were helped by an offside call on linebacker Dee Ford that negated an interception which would have clinched a KC victory.

Butker’s field goal sent it to overtime.

“We put ourselves in position to win the game, that’s what makes it so tough,” Reid said.  “If it’s a rout, you chalk it up to experience. But this one right here, where you’re in it to win it, that’s a tough deal. We gave ourselves every opportunity to do it, and they got us in overtime.”

The Chiefs hadn’t been blanked in any half this season, but they barely were a presence in the first 30 minutes, when they had the ball for 8:53. Mahomes was sacked three times for 43 yards; Kansas City’s record-setting attack ran only 16 plays and gained a mere 32 yards.

The zero disappeared quickly in the third quarter. Finally given solid protection, Mahomes unleashed a 54-yard completion to Sammy Watkins over All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He then hit another All-Pro, tight end Travis Kelce, on a slant to make it 14-7 _ and awaken the slumbering crowd.

But one of several bad decisions further damaged Kansas City when Tyreek Hill, the All-Pro flex player, retreated deep in Chiefs territory returning a punt. Eventually, KC had to punt and the Patriots had excellent field position, setting up a 47-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Not one to be shy about innovation, Mahomes completely sidearmed a throw to Watkins for 10 yards on a third down, then a dump-off to Williams covered 33. Kelce drew a pass interference call on J.C. Jackson in the end zone, and Mahomes threw a strike to Williams for the score.

Although the Chiefs were on their heels much of the night, they were down only 17-14.

LOPSIDED FIRST HALF

Just as they did last week in manhandling the Chargers early and cruising, the Patriots delivered a message _ and a touchdown on their first series. It was a classic, covering 80 yards in 15 plays and using up more than eight minutes. Michel, who had 113 yards rushing, scored from the 1.

But Brady made a rare mistake on the next dominant drive. His third-down pass from the 1 for Rob Gronkowski was short and Reggie Ragland picked it off.

Brady had never thrown an interception from the 1.

When the Chiefs finally got a trademark big play on Mahomes’ 42-yard completion to Hill, it went for naught. Mahomes overthrew a wide-open Williams near the end zone, then took a 14-yard sack to send KC out of field goal range.

Big mistake.

The Patriots kept dominating the line of scrimmage, Brady took them 90 yards and connected with Phillip Dorsett over sloppy coverage by Steven Nelson to make it 14-0 with 27 seconds left in the half.

STATS

In Week 6, the Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in a game featuring 946 yards total offence. This one had 814. … New England has played in eight straight AFC title games, but this is its first road playoff win since the 2006 season vs. San Diego. … Brady matched former Patriots K Adam Vinatieri, now with the Colts, for the most wins in NFL history (236). … Kansas City’s defence tied for first in the NFL with 52 sacks, but had none on Sunday. New England had four.

COIN TOSS

Reid’s decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss proved unwise as New England had 22 plays in the opening period, and Kansas City had seven. Then, the Chiefs lost the more important toss before overtime. Less than five minutes later, they were headed to the off-season.

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