Perry three strokes back in Champions' first major
Mark Calcavecchia opened a three-stroke lead over Kentuckian Kenny Perry in the Regions Tradition, shooting a 7-under 65 on Friday to run his bogey-free streak to 35 holes at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. Calcavecchia birdied Nos. 10 through 12 to pull ahead and added another birdie on the par-5 17th to reach 11 under. He had a chance to get to 12 under but missed a birdie putt of a few inches on No. 18. The 13-time PGA Tour winner, seeking his first Champions Tour victory in the 50-and-over circuit's first major of the year, hasn't made a bogey since opening the tournament with a double on the first hole. Perry matched Calcavecchia with a 65 Friday. Perry, who asked swing coach Ron Green to come up from Mobile on Wednesday, actually had to get over jitters from the second straight day with big names Nick Price and Tom Watson. Birdies on two of the first three holes helped.
"That seemed to kind of take the edge off me a little bit," the Franklin resident said. "I always looked up to Tom Watson. I was nervous (Thursday) playing with Tom Watson, even though I've played a lot of golf with him."
Perry was 4 under over the final nine. He hit a 5-iron to within 20 feet on No. 17, then eagled the hole to take sole possession of second. "I need a lot more rounds like that," Perry said.
But his biggest shot might have come two holes earlier after he hit a driver through the fairway and into the woods.
"My only shot was to hit a sand wedge to the left front, and then I made about a 50-footer for birdie," he said. "It's a putt you don't even think about making, much less two-putting, and it went right in the middle, so you know it's kind of your day."
Ballesteros' condition severely worsens
Golf great Seve Ballesteros has suffered "severe deterioration" in his recovery from a cancerous brain tumor and is being cared for at home. The 54-year-old Spanish star was resting at his home in the northern Spanish town of Pedrena, where he has mostly been since undergoing four operations in late 2008, his family said Friday.
Ballesteros won three British Opens and two Masters with a game marked by spectacular improvisational play. One of the best-known personalities in Spain and the golfing world, he also won 50 times on the European Tour and is widely credited with transforming European golf.
■ Thomas Aiken shot a 4-under 69 Friday to take a one-stroke lead in the Spanish Open, overshadowed by news about Ballesteros' health. The majority of players were on the El Prat course when the news emerged. Ryder Cup partners Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez were moved to tears as they left the course, and both declined to talk to reporters.
"We tried to talk to them after their rounds, but they couldn't even speak because they were crying. They couldn't even talk," Spanish Open spokeswoman Maria Acacia Lopez-Bachiller said. "This had to be the saddest competition in terms of ambience today. I've never seen anything like it."
Mickelson climbs back into contention
Phil Mickelson provided a few more exciting moments Friday, only this time he did more than just keep his round together, which helped him move up the leader board and into contention at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.. Mickelson saved par from the water for the third time in two days and poured in six birdies for a 6-under 66. It matched his best score in 30 rounds at Quail Hollow and put him in a tie for fourth, three shots behind leader Pat Perez.
Woods will return in Players
Tiger Woods will return to competition next week at The Players Championship, the golfer announced on his Twitter page Friday.
"Looking forward to the competition next week, just committed to the Players," Woods tweeted.
Woods didn't play in the Wells Fargo Championship this week because of an injury to his left knee. He won The Players in 2001.
Vols freshman Harris stays in draft
Tennessee freshman forward Tobias Harris will remain in the NBA Draft after being projected as a first-round pick, he announced Friday. Harris was second among Volunteers with 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. He started 33 of the 34 games he played as a freshman. At 6-foot-8, 226-pounds, he has shown enough flexibility to play small forward, power forward and shooting guard. Draft analysts have projected him as high as the No. 16 selection.
Bruins sweep Flyers
Milan Lucic scored twice, Johnny Boychuk got the go-ahead goal, and the host Boston Bruins stopped any chance of another historic comeback by the Philadelphia Flyers with a 5-1 win Friday night that completed a sweep of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. In this round last year against Philadelphia, the Bruins became just the third NHL team to lose a series after winning the first three games.
■ Darren Helm scored with 1:27 left in the third period, lifting the host Detroit Red Wings to an elimination-avoiding 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series on Friday night. The Sharks will take their 3-1 series lead back home. Detroit is trying to become the fourth NHL team to win a series after trailing 3-0.
Champion drops Mendenhall
The Champion sports apparel company has ended its endorsement deal with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall over Twitter remarks the player made criticizing people for celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday that Champion "strongly disagreed" with the tweets and ended a new four-year contract the player recently signed. Mendenhall has endorsed the company's products since entering the league in 2008.
■ Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre says he might become a coach or do work as a television analyst in the future, though he has no plans to enter either field any time soon. The 41-year-old ended a 20-year playing career after an injury-plagued 2010 season with the Vikings. The former Southern Mississippi star and three-time NFL Most Valuable Player told WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg on Thursday that he was "starting a new career."
■ Vikings cornerback Chris Cook has been found not guilty of pulling a gun on a neighbor. General District Court Judge Edwin Burnette issued the ruling Friday after a 2-hour bench trial. Cook was accused of a misdemeanor count of brandishing a firearm.
Tennessee lineman receives waiver
Alex Bullard has received a hardship waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play as an offensive lineman at Tennessee during the 2011 season. Bullard, a Franklin, Tenn., native, transferred from Notre Dame to Tennessee at the start of the 2011 spring semester following the death of his father. The 6-foot-2, 309-pound sophomore was given the Vols' Harvey Robinson award for top performance by an offensive player during spring drills.
■ Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of trespassing and criminal mischief stemming from his arrest last Sunday. Alonso was sentenced Friday morning in Lane County Circuit Court in Oregon to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and alcohol treatment. Alonso, 20, was arrested after he broke into a stranger's home last weekend. Oregon Coach Chip Kelly suspended Alonso indefinitely after his arrest.
■ Kansas State agreed to settle a contract dispute with former coach Ron Prince for $1.65 million, the school announced Friday.
The last word
Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt on why he wants fourth-round draft pick Sam Acho to wear jersey No. 5:
"So we'll have an Acho-Cinco on our team."