Golf: In his first tournament since his divorce, Tiger Woods finally looked like the No. 1 player in the world Thursday at the Barclays when he opened with a 6-under 65, his lowest score of the year, to share the lead with Vaughn Taylor in Paramus, N.J. It was his first time leading after any round on the PGA Tour since the Tour Championship last September.
“It’s exciting to hit the ball flush again,” Woods said. “It’s something I’ve been missing all year.”
He didn’t miss much at Ridgewood Country Club. Woods hit all but one fairway and putted for birdie on all but two holes. And while he hit his driver only twice, they were two of his best shots of the day – including on the 291-yard fifth hole, where his drive landed pin-high and settled 15 feet away.
Was it just a coincidence that his game showed up so soon after his marriage was dissolved?
“I can’t really say that’s the case,” he said. “As far as golf, it was nice to put it together.”
Woods and Taylor had a one-shot lead over Adam Scott, Brian Gay and Ryan Palmer.
Alex Prugh (Ferris) shot an even-par 71, good for a tie for 58th place.
• Defending champ rolls on at U.S. Amateur: After three rounds of match play, defending U.S. Amateur champ Byeong-Hun An has yet to play either the 17th or 18th holes at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
An’s day started with a 4 and 3 victory over Alex Shi Yup Kim in the morning. After a brief break and with the winds picking up, An beat Alabama’s Scott Strohmeyer 3 and 2.
An will next face California teammate Max Homa. An is an incoming freshman at Cal, while Homa bounced in and out of the Golden Bears lineup last year as a freshman. Reigning NCAA champ Scott Langley held off Augusta State’s Patrick Reed in the morning matches, winning in 19 holes. In the afternoon, Langley rolled past Australian Kyle McCarthy, winning 6 and 4.
Ranked by some publications as the top American amateur, Peter Uihlein edged Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo 2 up in the morning, then rallied from 2 down after nine holes to beat John Hahn in 19 holes.
• Wie leads after hole-in-one: Michelle Wie has had the second hole-in-one of her professional career on the way to a 7-under 65 and a three-shot lead after the first round of the CN Canadian Women’s Open in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wendy Ward of Edwall, Wash., opened with a 74.
Investigation into UNC expands
College football: The investigation of North Carolina’s football program has expanded into possible academic misconduct involving players and a woman who also has worked as a tutor for coach Butch Davis’ son, school officials said Thursday night.
The announcement came nine days before the No. 18 Tar Heels’ opener against No. 21 LSU in Atlanta, and roughly two months after the NCAA began an investigation into whether two key players – defensive tackle Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little – received improper benefits from agents.
• Trojans stripped of Rice: Southern California has been stripped of the 2004 Grantland Rice Trophy, which is awarded by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s top college football team. The organization said that a committee of current and former officers voted to revoke the honor after USC was penalized for NCAA violations. It did not award the trophy to another school.
• Mizzou captain suspended: Missouri tailback and team captain Derrick Washington was suspended indefinitely Thursday for unspecified disciplinary reason.
WNBA: Candice Dupree scored a career-high 32 points to lead the Phoenix Mercury to a 106-93 win over the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars in the first game of the best-of-3 Western Conference semifinals.
• Liberty beat Fever: Cappie Pondexter scored 23 of her 28 points in the first half, Essence Carson scored nine of her 17 in a big fourth-quarter run and the New York Liberty beat the visiting Indiana Fever 85-73 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
Texas knocks out Washington in LLWS
Miscellany: Pearland, Texas, overcame an early 4-0 deficit with four runs in the sixth, including Mason Van Noort’s tiebreaking blast to left, for a dramatic 7-5 win over Auburn, Wash, in South Williamsport, Pa., and a spot in the U.S. final of the Little League World Series.
Texas will play for the U.S. title Saturday against either Waipahu, Hawaii or Columbus, Ga., who will have a rematch today after Hawaii’s 7-4 win Thursday night.
The international final Saturday is already set with unbeatens Japan and Taiwan playing for the right to move on to the World Series championship game Sunday.
• Ferry back with Spurs: Danny Ferry is returning to the San Antonio Spurs.
The former general manager for the Cavaliers will be vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs. He will be reunited with coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford after leaving for Cleveland in 2005.
Ferry has a long history in San Antonio. He won a NBA championship as a player in 2003 before retiring and becoming director of basketball operations.
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