Sports briefs: Sept. 28

September 28, 2013 

Auto racing Earnhardt Jr. takes pole

Dale Earnhardt Jr. can pick up his pursuit of Matt Kenseth from out front.

Earnhardt showed a rare burst of top qualifying speed, turning a track-record lap of 161.849 mph to win the pole Friday at Dover International Speedway before Sunday's race.

Earnhardt won his second pole of the season, the first time he has had multiple poles since 2002.

Chase for the Sprint Cup championship drivers filled the top four spots and eight of the top 12. Kenseth, the points leader and winner of the first two Chase races, joins Earnhardt on the front row. Ryan Newman is third and Carl Edwards fourth.

• Sponsor 5-Hour Energy will stick with embattled Michael Waltrip Racing and driver Clint Bowyer through the 2014 season.

The supplement company announced the decision on Friday. Company president Scott Henderson said last week at New Hampshire he wanted to finish the season before making a decision. But 5-Hour said the number of people impacted by its decision made the company move up the timetable. Bowyer will continue to drive the No. 15 with 5-Hour Energy as his primary sponsor.

NAPA Auto Parts announced last week it will end its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of MWR at the end of the year, the latest fallout from the team's attempt to manipulate a race to get Martin Truex Jr. into NASCAR's version of the playoffs.

Aaron's, sponsor of Brian Vickers for MWR, has said it remains dedicated to the organization.

Denny Hamlin is trying a new treatment on his injured back in an effort to avoid off-season surgery.

Painkiller injections in his spine the past two weeks have helped, but he won't know until the season ends if he's made enough progress to skip surgery.

"These last two weeks, I've gotten some treatment done, and I've felt as good as I did before the accident," he said. "Now, the 10 races before that, I felt horrible. I had to get out of the car at Richmond during practice because I just couldn't handle it anymore, and there's been several instances where it was really, really bad. But this is hopefully going to buy me enough time to get healthy. That's the problem, there's just not enough time in our schedule to recover fully from an injury."


Golf

Woods named PGA player of the year

Tiger Woods was voted PGA Tour player of the year for the 11th time on the strength of his five big wins and return to No. 1 in the world.

It was the third time Woods won the Jack Nicklaus Award despite not winning a major. He made up for that with two World Golf Championships and The Players Championship among his five wins. No one else won more than twice this year, and Woods won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average and the PGA Tour money title.

The PGA Tour does not release the percentage of votes won or even who finished second.

Jordan Spieth was voted rookie of the year in a race that likely was no contest. The 20-year-old Texan began the year with no status on any tour. He won the John Deere Classic, lost in a playoff at another event, reached the Tour Championship, was chosen for the Presidents Cup team and wound up 10th on the money list with nearly $4 million.

Woods was on the ballot with British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Adam Scott, FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. Mickelson also won the Phoenix Open and was runner-up in the U.S. Open for the sixth time. Mickelson, with more wins (42) and majors (five) than any player except for Woods dating to the Tom Watson generation, has never been PGA Tour player of the year, No. 1 in the world ranking or won a PGA Tour money title.

Rory McIlroy said Friday he has ended his contract with one management company and is starting his own. McIlroy said a Dublin-based legal team, A&L Goodbody, is handling "details of the termination," though a settlement does not appear imminent. It's the second time in two years that McIlroy is under new management.

Bernhard Langer birdied his first four holes and finished with a 9-under 63 to open a four-stroke lead Friday in the Champions Tour's First Tee Open. The German star, a two-time winner this year on the 50-and-over tour, had nine birdies in his bogey-free round at Del Monte Country Club. He had a 6-under 30 on the back nine — his opening nine.

Peter Uihlein narrowly missed out on shooting the first 59 on the European Tour when his eagle putt on the last hole came up just wide at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The American tapped in for birdie on Friday for a 12-under 60, equaling the course record at Kingsbarns. He was still two shots behind clubhouse leader Tom Lewis, who shot a 65 for a 15-under total of 129.


Sports in the courts

Hernandez's girlfriend indicted

The girlfriend of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on a perjury charge in connection with the killing of his friend, a Massachusetts prosecutor said Friday, bringing to the number of people facing charges in the case to five.

A grand jury indicted Shayanna Jenkins, 24, on a single count in relation to the investigation into the June 17 killing of Odin Lloyd, Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter said.

Lloyd, a 27-year-old semiprofessional football player from Boston, was found shot to death in an industrial park in North Attleborough, Mass., near Hernandez's home, where Jenkins also lives. Lloyd had been dating Jenkins' sister.


UK sports

Volleyball sweeps Auburn

Kentucky's spectacular defense led to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) sweep of host Auburn on Friday night for the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Kentucky registered 60 digs.

UK also posted 12.5 blocks to rattle Auburn into a mere 29 kills on .102 hitting percentage for the match. Senior Alexandra Morgan logged a season-best nine blocks, while junior Jackie Napper led three players in double figures with 16 digs.

• The Kentucky women's soccer team fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 3-0, on Friday night at the UK Soccer Complex.

Kentucky trailed by only one at the half despite being outshot 8-6 and not recording a shot on goal, but Arkansas doubled its lead in the 57th minute on a Kentucky own goal. The ball was played in from the right side and hit off the back of the head of a UK defender and past goalie Kayla King.

Arkansas made it 3-0 after Kentucky lost the ball in midfield.

• Game times were set for Kentucky's women's basketball games against Louisville and Duke when TV broadcasts were announced for five additional contests on Friday.

The Wildcats will play archrival Louisville at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, in Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky's "Pack the House" game against Duke in Rupp Arena was set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22.

Both games will be televised live on the UK IMG Network and by Fox Sports South.

UK also announced Friday that its games against Central Michigan (Nov. 17), East Tennessee State (Dec. 15) and South Carolina (Feb. 20) will be shown by UK IMG and Fox Sports South.

In all, Kentucky will be televised a record 17 times during the 2013-14 regular season, one more time than last season.


The last word

Steffi Graf's career ended with 22 Grand Slam singles titles at age 30 because of injuries. The tennis great doesn't see anyone stopping 32-year-old Serena Williams from becoming the career leader in major titles, if she stays healthy. Said Graf of Williams:

"She's got a lot of tennis left in her. I can easily see her pass all of our records. I don't see the competition catching up to her at all."

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