Sports briefs: March 24

March 24, 2013 

Golf

Tiger takes over at Bay Hill

The shot looked daunting to Tiger Woods, and so did the view from the bunker behind the eighth green at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla. Across a small lake was a large scoreboard that showed Justin Rose off to such a hot start that Woods was five shots behind and trying not to lose ground.

Two shots and two putts changed everything Saturday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Woods hit what he called his best shot of the third round, a 6-iron from 196 yards that settled 12 feet below the hole on No. 15 to set up a birdie. Minutes later, he hit another 6-iron from 183 yards to 20 feet and slammed his fist toward the hole when he made eagle, his third in three days.

Just like that, Woods was atop the leader board, a familiar spot for him on this golf course. He finished off his round of 6-under 66 with two pars, and when Rose lost energy and stumbled over the final hour, Woods had a two-shot lead.

Woods is 41-2 on the PGA Tour when he has the outright lead going into the final round.

Woods was at 11-under 205, two shots ahead of Rickie Fowler (67), John Huh (71) and Rose, who through four holes Saturday was six shots ahead of Woods. Rose had a 39 on the back nine and wound up with a 72.

Corey Pavin birdied the first six holes in a blistering start Saturday in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Saucier, Miss.

The rest of his day wasn't as impressive, but the 53-year-old Pavin still walked off the 18th green with a smile on his face. He wasn't about to complain about the 5-under 67 that put him in contention for his first Champions Tour victory of the season.

Instead, he focused on the six straight birdies as a good omen for the final round. Pavin has only made six straight birdies in a tournament one other time — at the PGA Tour's 2006 U.S. Bank Championship — and he finished that weekend with a victory.

"It's fun to do," Pavin said. "That's my longest string of birdies in a tournament ever. I got a little frisky on seven, trying to break my own record and I three-putted. But still, it was a good day and obviously a great start."

Beatriz Recari drove the green on the 285-yard 16th hole to set up a 4-foot eagle putt and finished with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke lead in the Kia Classic at Carlsbad, Calif.


Horse racing

Baffert's Sky Kingdom wins at Santa Anita

Sky Kingdom won the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup by 3¾ lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert at Santa Anita on Saturday. The son of Empire Maker assumed the lead with a quarter mile to go in the Grade III race. "I let my horse break on his own and just cruised around," jockey Martin Garcia said. "He relaxed perfectly, and when I kicked in he just took off. My plan was to let somebody go to the lead and let my horse sit on the outside and stay comfortable, and that is exactly the way it went."

Last Gunfighter extended his winning streak to five, rallying up the rail in deep stretch to beat Mordi's Miracle by two lengths in the $150,000 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old colt, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, is 5-for-5 since joining the Chad Brown stable last fall. This was the biggest victory of his nine-race career.


UK Sports

Softball sweeps pair vs. Mississippi St.

Kentucky's softball team, ranked 21st in the nation, hit five home runs Saturday, including a two-homer game from freshman Maisie Steed in Game 2, to claim both games of the doubleheader against Mississippi State at the UK Softball Complex. UK won the first game 3-2 before the offense exploded for a 7-0 victory in the second.

The Cats took early leads in both games, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first game on the seventh home run of the season from Griffin Joiner. Nikki Sagerman hit a solo shot in the fourth.

Steed started the second game with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. She hit a two-run shot in the third.

■ The 19th-ranked Kentucky gymnastics team finished eighth with a 194.6 team score at the SEC Championship on Saturday at Little Rock, Ark. Florida won the title with a 198.0. The Cats ended the regular season with a school-record regional qualifying score of 196.06. The field will be announced at 3 p.m. Monday.


Baseball

Votto, Frazier homer in Reds' loss

Yu Darvish gave up homers to Joey Votto and Todd Frazier but showed no problems with a stiff neck that forced him to be scratched from his previous start, and the Texas Rangers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 on Saturday. Darvish gave up three hits in five innings, including the two homers. He had to miss his scheduled start last Monday. Votto's homer was his third of spring training. He didn't hit one last season after returning from a knee injury that cost him 48 games. Robbie Ross pitched two shutout innings of relief for the Rangers. He had three strikeouts.

Edwin Jackson pitched five uneven innings but also got two hits as the Chicago Cubs beat a split squad of Los Angeles Angels 7-6. Jackson allowed five runs and eight hits. Angels starter Joe Blanton allowed two runs in six-plus innings. He struck out five.

Julio Teheran struck out 10 in six hitless innings and Dan Uggla homered as a split squad of Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros 3-2. Teheran, who won the job as the Braves' fifth starter this spring, walked three and has 1.04 ERA in six starts.


Auto racing

Kyle Busch extends Gibbs' Fontana streak

Another Nationwide Series race at Fontana, Calif., another victory for Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch earned JGR's ninth consecutive Nationwide victory at Fontana on Saturday, comfortably beating Sam Hornish Jr. for his third win in five races this season. Gibbs' Toyotas haven't lost a Nationwide race on their unofficial home track since 2007, with Busch, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart navigating the wide, bumpy track with unmatched ease.

Will Power won the pole for the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla. The Penske Racing driver earned the top starting spot for Sunday's race on his final lap of the qualifying session. Takuma Sato qualified second and was followed by Simona de Silvestro in the highest qualifying effort of her career.


Etc.

Bengals sign backup QB Josh Johnson

The Cincinnati Bengals signed a quarterback, giving former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Josh Johnson a chance to back up Andy Dalton. Johnson was Tampa Bay's fifth-round pick in 2008 and played four seasons there, starting five games. He signed with San Francisco last year but was released before the season opener. He signed with Cleveland for the final game last season. Johnson knows Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden from their time together at Tampa Bay.

■ Penn State's Quentin Wright upset top-seeded Dustin Kilgore of Kent State to give the Nittany Lions their third straight team title Saturday night in the NCAA wrestling championships at Des Moines, Iowa. Wright beat Kilgore 8-6 at 197 pounds, giving the Nittany Lions an insurmountable lead over Oklahoma State.

■ Georgia pulled away to dethrone two-time defending champion California at the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships at Indianapolis. The Bulldogs won their first title since 2005 by scoring 477 points. Cal settled for second with 393 points.


The last word

Danica Patrick was talking about racing at Martinsville Speedway next month when a reporter asked whether she also would eat one of the Virginia track's famous hot dogs. The diminutive driver said:

"I will at least have half of a hot dog. I'm a half person. I have half of a cookie, half of a brownie, half of a hot dog."

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