Sports briefs: July 1

July 1, 2013 

Golf

Park wins U.S. Women's Open for her third straight major

Inbee Park set many golfing goals. Etching her name alongside Babe Zaharias was never one of them. Yet now they're the only two players to win the first three majors of the year. Park became the first to accomplish the feat in the modern era Sunday in Southampton, N.Y., with her second U.S. Women's Open title.

"Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much," Park said. "I would think I would never get there; it's somewhere that I've never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I'm there."

The world's top-ranked player finished at 8 under to win by four strokes. Her 2-over 74 in the final round was more than enough, with Sebonack's trying conditions keeping any rivals from making a run. Only three players were under par for the tournament.

Fellow South Korean I.K. Kim also shot 74 for her second runner-up finish at a major.

Zaharias won the year's first three majors in 1950 — back when there were only three. Now there are five, so Grand Slam might not quite be the right term if Park wins all of them.

Ahead by four strokes at the start of the round, Park birdied the ninth and 10th holes to extend her lead. She has won six times already this year, including three straight tournaments. Park added to another historic U.S. Women's Open victory in 2008, when she became the event's youngest champion at age 19.

"I didn't know what was going on at that time," Park said. "I played very good golf then, but I didn't know what I was playing for, and that was just my first win. It was a great championship then, but now I think I really appreciate more and I really know what this means."

Haas pulls away to win at Congressional

Bill Haas won the PGA Tour's AT&T National and joined some distinguished company. Haas pulled away from a crowd of contenders with three straight birdies, two key pars and one good hop out of the rough. It led to a 5-under 66 on a muggy day at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., and a three-shot win over Roberto Castro.

As many as six players had a share of the lead at some point until Haas rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8. Worried about a splotch of mud on his ball, he hit his approach to just inside 12 feet for birdie on the par-5 ninth, and then hit a 5-iron to 10 feet for another birdie on the 10th. Haas led by at least two shots the entire back nine, though he never allowed himself to think about winning until he stood over a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole and realized he had three putts to win.

"I just kept the ball in front of me," Haas said. "Nothing too crazy."

Haas has won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last four years, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. And with a half-dozen players trying to win for the first time on tour, Haas kept a high pedigree of winner at the AT&T National. In the seven-year history of the tournament, Rose was the lowest-ranked player to win. He was at No. 35 in 2010 at Aronimink.

"As many times as I've choked and hit bad shots and I've been nervous and it hasn't worked out — I was feeling all those things today — and to hit good, quality golf shots down the stretch is such a good feeling," Haas said. "I wish I could explain it. It's amazing."

Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas who needs a win to become a PGA Tour member and be eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs, started his day by holing out from a fairway bunker for eagle and chipping in for birdie to tie for the lead. He dropped a shot at No. 11 — the hardest hole at Congressional — about the time Haas was on his critical run of birdies. Spieth had a 69 and finished sixth.

Paul Casey made a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole and won the European Tour's Irish Open by three strokes. The 35-year-old Englishman trailed by four shots entering the final round. He closed with a 5-under 67 that featured a stretch of five birdies in six holes from No. 8 to No. 13. "I've never holed a putt like that to win a tournament," Casey said. "I've always felt so at home here, so winning today is like a home victory."


NHL

Son of Popeye Jones picked 4th in draft

Seth Jones won't be going home to Colorado when his NHL career begins, however he will be heading to his famous father's home state as a member of the Nashville Predators. After being rated No. 1 among North American skaters in pre-draft rankings, Jones was bypassed by Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay before being chosen by the Predators at No. 4 in Sunday's NHL Draft. The son of former NBA player and Murray State standout Popeye Jones seemed happy in his bright yellow Nashville jersey, and will be able to learn about playing NHL defense from new teammate Shea Weber.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about going to those teams, but at the same time I'm excited to be a Predator, and obviously Shea Weber is there," he said Sunday about slipping a few spots. "He's a great player, and they have a lot of other great players, and I'm happy to be a part of the organization."

Popeye Jones is friends with one of the Predators scouts, and he said he was told that his son wouldn't fall past Nashville at No. 4.

"I know he was probably sitting up there thinking, 'Oh wow' because somebody said you may go one, you may go two," he said. "When I got drafted in '92, I didn't get to come to the draft. I was just glad to be drafted. I knew how nerve-racking it was watching it at home when I went 41. I am sure it was nerve-racking, but I'm sure he tried to stay calm and cool to see where he was going to go."

■ The Avalanche selected center Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick. The 17-year-old MacKinnon, a 6-foot, 182-pound center from Quebec, is a solid two-way presence with strong hands and stick-handling and skating skills. He is considered a natural scorer and a very good puck distributor. The Florida Panthers made center Aleksander Barkov, the top-ranked European skater, the second overall pick. Tampa Bay took forward Jonathan Drouin third.


Horse racing

Ramseys finish meet with another win

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Awesome Flower took the lead approaching the stretch of the Matt Winn Turf Course, kicked away to lead by as many as four lengths and was hand-ridden inside the sixteenth-pole to win the $46,871 feature at Churchill Downs by 2½ lengths Sunday on closing day of the 38-day Spring Meet.

The Ramseys, winners of a single-season record 32 races at the meet, collected their record-extending 19th leading owners' title.

Shaun Bridgmohan led jockeys in wins with 53 for his first Spring Meet title. He finished in a tie with Calvin Borel for the lead at the 2006 Fall Meet. Rosie Napravnik's runner-up finish in the jockey standings was the highest for a female rider at Churchill Downs.

The race for leading trainer came down to the final race of the Spring Meet and 4-5 favorite Buzzin At Midnight won for Mike Maker to give him a share of the title with Steve Asmussen at 35 wins apiece.


Etc. Brazil beats Spain in Confed Cup finals

Fred scored two goals and Neymar added another as host Brazil defeated world champion Spain 3-0 to win the Confederations Cup on Sunday. Fred put Brazil on the board less than two minutes into the match, Neymar added to the lead just before halftime and Fred netted his fifth goal in five matches early in the second half.

■ The Lexington Legends defeated host Hagerstown 11-1 in the completion of a game that had been suspended because of rain Saturday. The Suns battled back to win the regularly scheduled contest 2-1. Mark Threlkeld had three of the Legends' 14 hits in the opener.


The last word

The intended order of play for the round of 16 at Wimbledon on Monday doesn't include seven-time champion Roger Federer and two-time champion Rafael Nadal. World No. 3 Maria Sharapova and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka are missing, too. A run of first-week injuries and upsets turned Wimbledon on its ear and ushered out those stars and several other headliners. Only five of the top 12 women's seeds remain. The same is true for the men. American Sloane Stephens, seeded 17th and scheduled to play Monica Puig on Monday, said:

"We had Wimblegeddon. People were dropping like flies."

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