Woods among pack in lead; McIlroy still trying to break par
Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world's best golfers Thursday in the Cadillac Championship in Doral, Fla.
Except for the world's No. 1 player.
Woods made nine birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral for a 6-under 66 that put him in a five-way share of the lead with Masters champion Bubba Watson, former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia and Freddie Jacobson.
This World Golf Championship lived up to its name with Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan among those one shot behind. But it was another rough day for Rory McIlroy.
He hit only three fairways and made six bogeys on a perfect day for scoring. Despite making a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 first and lacing a 5-iron over the water for another eagle try on the par-5 eighth that narrowly missed, the best he could manage was a 73.
McIlroy has yet to break par this year. "It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest," McIlroy said. "Hit some good shots. Hit some not-so-good shots. As I've been saying all week, this is a work in progress and I'm working at it and I'm staying patient."
■ Andres Romero made two late bogeys to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65. Romero had an eagle and seven birdies on his first 15 holes to reach 9 under, then fell back with bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.
Legendary Colt Saturday to retire
Jeff Saturday retired as an Indianapolis Colts player Thursday and immediately started a new life in the organization that brought him into the league. After starting his 14-year career as an undrafted free agent, Saturday went on to play in two Super Bowls, winning one with the Colts, and teamed with Peyton Manning to set an NFL record for games played between a quarterback and center. The two played 170 games together.
■ The Bengals have agreed to a two-year deal with running back Cedric Peerman, a special teams standout who could have become a free agent next week. Peerman had two long runs off fake punts last season. He also carried 34 times for 178 yards.
■ The Broncos are asking defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut so they can create more salary cap room for free agency.
Dumervil signed a six-year, $61.5 million contract in 2010 when Josh McDaniels was coaching the team and before John Elway joined the Denver front office. The seven-year veteran is scheduled to make $12 million in 2013.
■ The San Diego Chargers have released linebacker Takeo Spikes in their first major move under new general manager Tom Telesco. The 36-year-old Spikes has played 15 NFL seasons, including the last two with San Diego. Spikes has never been on a playoff team. He earlier played with Cincinnati, Buffalo, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
■ Financing terms have been reached for the Falcons' proposal to build a new $1 billion stadium, keeping the team's home games in downtown Atlanta. The city council must now vote on the proposal.
Jordan applies for marriage license
Basketball legend Michael Jordan appears ready to get married again. The former NBA star and Charlotte Bobcats owner and his fiancée appeared at the main Palm Beach County (Fla.) courthouse Thursday to apply for a marriage license. That's according to Kathy Burstein, a spokeswoman for the clerk's office. Jordan got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Cuban-American model Yvette Prieto, in December 2011. They have until May 9 to use their marriage license.
It will be the second marriage for No. 23. He married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989, and they divorced in 2006.
■ Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat probably is out for the season after spraining his foot during Wednesday's loss to Toronto.
Rivera reportedly to say 2013 his last
The great Mariano Rivera is getting set to close his career.
The New York Yankees' reliever plans to announce this weekend that he will retire after the 2013 season, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The 43-year-old closer is baseball's saves leader with 608. He is regarded as one of the best clutch pitchers in history, posting a record 42 post-season saves with an 0.70 ERA while helping the Yankees win five World Series championships.
Rivera missed most of last season after he tore a ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls during batting practice.
■ St. Louis shortstop Rafael Furcal will undergo ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and expects to miss the 2013 season. Furcal strained the elbow ligament near the end of last season, keeping him out of the final few weeks and the Cardinals' playoff run. There was a concern then that he'd have to undergo offseason Tommy John surgery, but Furcal chose to try rehab instead.
■ Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is back at spring training after a scorpion sting landed him in a Phoenix hospital.
Rifle team one of eight vying for title
The Kentucky rifle team, one of eight teams in the hunt for the national title, will compete in the NCAA Championships Friday and Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.
The field features the top eight ranked teams in the country: Alaska-Fairbanks, Air Force, Army, Jacksonville State, Kentucky, Nebraska, TCU and West Virginia. "The field is tough. You've got TCU and West Virginia, those two teams have religiously broken 4,700," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "The NCAAs does funny things with your brain. It's going to be very close. It's going to be one of the better matches of the NCAA Championships in the past 10 or 15 years."
■ The No. 15 University of Kentucky softball team (16-3), which started the season on a 19-game road swing, will open the home portion of its schedule Friday at 5 p.m. when it begins Southeastern Conference play with a weekend series against Mississippi. Admission to all three games is free. The new UK Softball Complex is still undergoing construction but nearing completion.
Tennis federation to beef up drug tests
The International Tennis Federation announced Thursday that it would stiffen the sport's drug testing this year by adopting the biological passport program, which tracks an athlete's blood profile over time, and increasing the number of blood tests and out-of-competition tests. The move by the federation followed increased pressure by some of its own players, most notably Roger Federer and Andy Murray, to improve its anti-doping program. The system will go into effect this year on the men's and women's tours.
■ The NHL moved a step closer to realignment as the players' association approved a plan that is set to go into effect next season. No details of the changes have been released, but it is widely believed Detroit and Columbus will be put into more travel-friendly divisions in the Eastern time zone, and the Winnipeg Jets — formerly the Atlanta Thrashers — will leave the Southeast Division for a spot in the Western Conference.
The last word
Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 by NASCAR on Thursday for criticizing the new Gen-6 race car after last week's race at Phoenix. Hamlin compared the new race car unfavorably to last year's car after his third-place finish. Said Hamlin on Thursday:
"Ultimately, I'm not OK with (the fine). This is the most upset and angry I've been in a really, really long time about anything that relates to NASCAR. The truth is what the truth is. ... I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me at this point."