Sports briefs: March 10

March 10, 2014 

Golf Reed follows Woods' Sunday script in winning WGC event

He wore black pants and a red shirt, his Sunday colors. He took a lead into the final round, quickly expanded it with a pair of birdies and then relied on his short game to keep everyone chasing him. He even played it safe off the 18th tee, caring more about the trophy than the final score. That wasn't Tiger Woods, though. It was Patrick Reed replacing Woods as the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship event.

"The best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants, a red shirt," Reed said after closing with an even-par 72 for a one-shot victory at Doral in Florida. "I was growing up watching him. I always thought, 'You know, it would be cool to wear black and red coming down on Sunday.

"Just happens to be that we both wear it on Sunday now."

Even with Woods and his red shirt only three shots behind and in the group directly in front of him, the 23-year-old Reed stretched his lead to four shots at one point until making a pair of bogeys in the final hour. He held off Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson for the victory.

Woods, in his best chance this year to win a tournament, said his back flared up after an awkward shot out of the bunker on the sixth hole. He failed to make a birdie in the final round for the first time in his PGA Tour career, and his 78 was his worst Sunday score ever.

"Just let me get through this day, get some treatment and we'll assess it as time goes on," Woods said about his back. He withdrew from the Honda Classic after 13 holes of the final round last week because of back spasms.

Reed has three wins in 14 starts and should move to No. 20 in the world. He feels his ranking should be even better. Reed cited an amateur career that includes going 6-0 in matches to lead Augusta State to two NCAA titles, followed by three PGA Tour wins in seven months.

"I don't see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game," Reed said. "I believe in myself, especially with how hard I've worked. I'm one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I've proven myself."

He joined some exclusive company. Since 1990, only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia had three PGA Tour wins before turning 24.

Chesson Hadley won the Puerto Rico Open for his first PGA Tour victory, holding off Danny Lee by two strokes in wind gusting to 25 mph. Making his 13th PGA Tour start, the 26-year-old Hadley birdied the final two holes at Trump International for a 5-under 67. He's the first rookie winner since Jordan Spieth in July in the John Deere Classic.

Ex-Card Hadwin gets 1st Web.com victory

Canadian Adam Hadwin won the Chile Classic on Sunday for his first Web.com Tour title, birdieing the final two holes for a one-stroke victory over Alistair Presnell. The 26-year-old Hadwin, who starred at the University of Louisville, shot a 3-under 69 at Prince of Wales Country Club for a 16-under 272 total. He earned $117,000.

"I don't know what to say," Hadwin said. "I really don't know what to feel, what to think. It's amazing. I battled all day and to finish birdie-birdie and to make the putts I did on the last two holes gives me so much confidence. I couldn't be happier."

Presnell had three eagles, the last an 18-footer on the par-5 18th for a 68.

"I heard roars, but I didn't know what happened," Hadwin said. "I knew it was going to be close. I said to my caddie (on the 17th tee) that, 'If I make two birdies, they can't catch us.'"

Hadwin got up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the 308-yard, par-4 17th to tie Presnell for the lead. From 230 yards on the 18th, he hit a 4-iron that missed the green, then chipped to 4 feet and made the putt.

"It was an awkward number. I wanted to hit 5-iron and didn't think I could clear the water if I missed it a little, so I went with 4," Hadwin said. "I guess I gave up on it a little and luckily it cleared the water. It was a fairly easy chip across the green and was able to get up and down for the victory."

UK sports Softball team shuts out Mississippi State

Kentucky softball's Kelsey Nunley threw her second consecutive shutout and Krystal Smith hit a three-run home run in the Cats' 5-0 victory at Mississippi State. Nikki Sagermann had home run and two RBI. The win for UK (18-3, 2-1 SEC) continues the team's best start in school history.

■ The 22nd-ranked Kentucky women's tennis team earned their first Southeastern Conference road win, 4-2, at Missouri. The Cats' Nadia Ravita defeated Cierra Gaytan-Leach 6-4, 6-4 in No. 1 singles.

Major League Baseball Cueto bounces back, but Reds lose 3-1

Johnny Cueto rebounded from a rough outing with four scoreless innings for the Cincinnati Reds in their 3-1 loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels. Cueto, coming off an injury-plagued season, allowed two hits and struck out two. It was a big improvement over his second spring start, when he gave up six runs and seven hits to Kansas City in 22⁄3 innings.

"He was terrific," Reds Manager Bryan Price said.

A 19-game winner in 2012, Cueto struggled with a strained muscle on the right side of his back last year and was sidelined for 2½ months. He finished 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 11 starts.

NFL Mendenhall retiring; Jets cut Cromartie

Running back Rashard Mendenhall is retiring from the NFL at the age of 26. Agent Mike McCartney confirmed via Twitter that Mendenhall had decided to end his playing career after six NFL seasons, all but one of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round draft pick and 23rd overall selection out of Illinois in 2008, gained 4,326 career yards, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

After signing a free-agent contract with Arizona, he was hampered by a toe injury much of last season and was most effective down the stretch. Mendenhall finished with a team-high 687 yards in 217 carries.

■ The New York Jets cut ties with their top cornerback — and saved millions of dollars under their salary cap. Antonio Cromartie, who was entering the final season of his four-year deal, was released Sunday. He was scheduled to cost the Jets' cap $14.98 million this season, including a $5 million roster bonus that would have kicked in later this month.

With the move, which was expected, New York created about $9.5 million in cap space. There's a chance the Jets could bring back Cromartie at a lesser salary, unless the three-time Pro Bowl selection chooses to explore free agency. The NFL's free agency period begins Tuesday.

The last word

Former tennis star Yannick Noah logged almost as much screen time as his son, Joakim, during Sunday afternoon's national telecast. That's saying something when the younger Noah stuffed the box score with 20 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks in the Bulls' 95-88 overtime victory against the Heat. Joakim said:

"I can't wait to celebrate this win with him. I don't get to see him a lot. My father has always been there for me my whole life. To be able to share these moments with him, I'll cherish this forever. I know he's a nervous wreck during games. I always tell him to drink a brewski and just chill."

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