Golf: Henrik Stenson looked like he couldn’t miss Thursday in the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Tiger Woods, on the other hand, didn’t make a thing.
Stenson ran off five birdies over a six-hole stretch on the front nine at East Lake. His last birdie, a 5-iron from 223 yards to 4 feet on the par-3 18th hole, gave him a 6-under 64 and a one-shot lead over Masters champion Adam Scott.
Scott made six birdies in seven holes for a 29 on the back nine.
There were birdies galore on a warm, relatively calm afternoon at East Lake – except for Woods.
Woods missed a short birdie putt on his opening hole that set the tone for the day. He was the only player in the 30-man field to go without a birdie.
It was only the seventh time in his PGA Tour career – and third time at East Lake – that he went an entire round without a birdie. Woods shot a 73, matching his highest opening round of the year on the PGA Tour. He walked past reporters without comment.
Stenson, the No. 2 seed and the hottest player in golf over the last three months, and Scott (No. 3) only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize.
Steve Stricker rallied late with three straight birdies for a 66, tied with Billy Horschel.
Woods wasn’t alone in his struggles. Phil Mickelson switched to the claw grip midway through his round and nothing seemed to help. He had a 71. Nick Watney, coming off a runner-up finish in Chicago just to get into the Tour Championship, had a 72. PGA champion Jason Dufner was in last place at 74.
Oracle stays afloat in America’s Cup
Sailing: Oracle Team USA remains alive in an America’s Cup that continues to plod along because of a convergence of wind, tide and safety concerns.
Jimmy Spithill and defending champion Oracle Team USA sped around San Francisco Bay to win Race 12 by 31 seconds and prevent Emirates Team New Zealand from sailing off with the America’s Cup.
With the Kiwis at match point, Oracle Team USA responded with a dominating performance to pull to 8-2. Oracle Team USA needs seven victories to keep the oldest trophy in international sports at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Race 13 was delayed because the wind kept popping above the limit of 20 knots. Organizers will try to get in Race 13 – and a Race 14, if necessary – today.
Croatia, Lithuania reach Euro semis
Basketball: Croatia reached the semifinals of the European basketball championship for the first time in 18 years by defeating Ukraine 84-72 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Croatia will play Lithuania, which edged Italy 81-77.
France and two-time defending champion Spain will play the other semifinal today.
Croatia has won eight straight games since losing its opening-round game to Spain by 28 points.
Earlier, Slovenia earned a place in next year’s World Cup by beating Serbia 92-74.
Slovenia will play for fifth place and Serbia for seventh on Saturday. Ukraine and Italy will decide today which of them will meet Slovenia.
Seventh place will earn a spot at the World Cup because host Spain is a direct qualifier and already in the European semifinals.
CBA set to expire before playoffs end
WNBA: The WNBA’s current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire before the end of the WNBA’s playoffs setting up an unusual situation.
The deal ends Sept. 30 with the finals starting a week later.
It’s uncommon for a major sports league to play without a CBA. Baseball’s CBA ended in 1993 and the players went on strike in August that season after playing the first few months. That strike wiped out the 1994 World Series.
WNBA league officials aren’t concerned that there would be any interruption once the contract expires.
In the past the CBA always expired after the season ended. When the current CBA was signed in 2008 a Sept. 30 date was set. There was never an expectation that the postseason would end later than that.
• Parker awarded MVP: Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker won the WNBA MVP, making her the fifth player in league history to receive the award twice.
Parker, who was also rewarded $15,000, edged out Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne in one of the closest ballots in league history. Parker finished with 234 points, Moore had 218 and Delle Donne 189. Parker and Moore each received 10 first-place votes from the 39-member national media panel.
• Mystics take Game 1 over Dream: Ivory Latta scored 14 points, and Kia Vaughn and Crystal Langhorne each had 12 as the Mystics beat the Dream 71-56 in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinals series in Atlanta.
Washington, which has won four straight and six of eight, can clinch the best-of-3series with a win at home on Saturday.
• Mercury take advantage over Sparks: Diana Taurasi scored 30 points and the Phoenix Mercury rallied in the second half to beat the Sparks 86-75 in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series in Los Angeles.
Newly crowned WNBA MVP Candace Parker led the Sparks with 28 points, and Lindsey Harding added 16. The Sparks were 15-2 at home during the regular season, tied for the best mark in the league.
Game 2 in the best-of-3 series is Saturday at Phoenix.
U.S. volleyball team advances to semis
Miscellany: The U.S. women’s national volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the Continental Championships after defeating Cuba 25-9, 25-13, 25-12 at Ralston Arena in Omaha, Neb.
The U.S. team (2-0) won Pool B, and the Dominican Republic (2-0) also advanced.
The Americans will play in the semifinals tonight against an opponent to be determined.
• Gustavian claims Lonesome Glory win: Gustavian edged All Together by a nose to win the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase at Belmont Park in New York.
Paddy Young was aboard the 7-year-old gelding for trainer Leslie Young. The winning time was 4:35.92 for the 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf.
Gustavian paid $9.70, $6.60 and $3.80.
• NAPA drops Michael Waltrip Racing: NAPA Auto Parts is leaving Michael Waltrip Racing after the team’s attempt to manipulate a Sept. 7 race at Richmond, Va., to get Martin Truex Jr. into NASCAR’s 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
Truex’s primary sponsor was in the first year of a three-year extension that was to run through the 2015 season.
Playing on the road in the Northwest League is never easy.
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