Holmes' albatross highlights third round of Wells Fargo
Jonathan Byrd ran off a blistering stretch of birdies in the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday for a 5-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead as he goes for his third win in seven months. And former Kentucky standout J.B. Holmes holed a 5-iron on the 15th for an albatross, the rarest score in golf.
Byrd was in the mix with a half-dozen other players who were trying to keep in range of Pat Perez when Byrd ran off five birdies in six holes to start the back nine at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.
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Perez had a hard-fought 70. Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (69) and former British Open champion Stewart Cink (68) were three shots back.
Holmes didn't see his second shot on the par-5 15th go in, and the television cameras didn't catch it, either. But the thunderous cheer around the green gave it away. "Usually when it gets that loud you figure it went in," Holmes said. "Still, from that distance it's hard to get that ball in that little hole."
The first 2 on a par 5 in the Wells Fargo Championship's nine-year history was part of Holmes' 7-under 65. It allowed him to jump within six shots of the leader entering the final round.
"That's the first one I've ever made," said Holmes, who has had two holes-in-one. "It was nice to come in tournament play. Those are a lot harder to get than holes-in-one."
The long-hitting Holmes ripped his tee shot more than 340 yards over the trees on 15, playing as the easiest hole on the course this week. With an uphill lie from 215 yards, he asked for a 5-iron.
"We were talking about just trying to stay a little short of the hole," Holmes said. "I put a really good swing on it, hit it right where I wanted to. It started just a touch left of the flag and cut back about 2 yards. It looked great the whole way.
"When you hit one like that you're just hoping for it to be up there around 4 or 5 feet. I saw it bounce, and I thought when it hit the ground it could be a little bit long. But then everybody started cheering and I was like, 'Did it really go in?'"
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson was in range until he flubbed a bunker shot on the 14th to lose an easy chance at birdie. He then hit tee shots into the water on the par-5 15th (bogey) and the par-3 17th (double bogey) on his way to a 74. Mickelson has hit five balls in the water this week.
■ Mark Calcavecchia gave away nearly all of his big lead in the Regions Tradition, setting up a tight final round at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. Calcavecchia shot a 1-under 71 in the Champions Tour major, faltering with a double bogey and two bogeys on the final eight holes. He has a one-stroke lead over Jay Haas, who shot a 68. Tom Pernice Jr. three-putted the final hole from about three feet for double bogey to drop two shots back, along with Tom Lehman. Both shot 68s.
■ Thomas Aiken, seeking his first European Tour win, maintained his lead after a somber third day of the Spanish Open overshadowed by the death of golf great Seve Ballesteros. The South African shot par 72 on Saturday for an 8-under total of 208, two shots ahead of a group of four players. First-round leader Scott Jamieson, Andres Hansen, Romain Wattel, and Pablo Larrazabal are tied for second place. After a moment of silence was held for Ballesteros, Spanish golfers Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez embraced in tears, mourning the loss of their countryman.
Vols' Hopson says he's turning pro
Tennessee guard and former UHA standout Scotty Hopson told the Knoxville New Sentinel "the timing is right" for him to leave school after his junior season and make himself eligible for the NBA Draft. "I've pretty much been leaning toward leaving,'' Hopson said. "With Coach (Bruce) Pearl gone, that played a lot into my decision." Freshman All-American Tobias Harris announced Friday he, too, will not return to Tennessee and will enter the NBA Draft.
■ Pitt junior guard Ashton Gibbs will withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration, and return to Coach Jamie Dixon's program. Gibbs retained the option to withdraw from the draft per NCAA rules, as he did not sign with an agent. The early-entry withdrawal deadline is Sunday.
Huggins picks up LaSalle transfer
West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins says former LaSalle center Aaric Murray is headed to Morgantown. Huggins said the 6-foot-10 Murray signed a grant-in-aid to attend WVU. The Philadelphia native has two years of eligibility left but will have to sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules. As a sophomore, Murray led LaSalle in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
Michigan receiver suspended
Michigan receiver Darryl Stonum was suspended indefinitely, Coach Brady Hoke said in a statement Saturday. "Darryl made a poor decision that is unacceptable and won't be tolerated," Hoke said. Hoke didn't say what Stonum did to get suspended or how he would be disciplined other than being suspended indefinitely from team activities. Stonum started 12 games as a junior last season and ranked second on the team in receptions and yards receiving.
■ As part of his punishment for not revealing his knowledge of his players' NCAA violations, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel will attend a five-day compliance seminar in June in Tampa, Fla. One of the topics of the compliance seminar is "Division I Major Infractions." Meanwhile, Ohio State's director of compliance is reviewing at least 50 car sales to Buckeyes athletes and relatives to see if they met NCAA rules, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.
Nadal gets emotional win over Federer
Rafael Nadal cried for countryman Seve Ballesteros, then went out and extended his dominance on clay to beat rival Roger Federer in front of the Spanish fans. The top-ranked Nadal rallied to reach his third straight Madrid Open finals with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory Saturday. The surging Novak Djokovic awaits after the Serb rallied to beat unseeded Thomaz Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The first match got off to a somber start, with Nadal tearing up during an homage to the golf great, who died earlier Saturday. Nadal went on to win his 37th straight match on clay and extend his record to 11-2 against Federer on the surface. Djokovic is 31-0 this season, equaling Bjorn Borg's streak in 1980 and behind only John McEnroe's 42 straight victories in 1984.
Roach to assist U.S. Olympic team
USA Boxing announced Saturday that Freddie Roach will work with the top American amateur fighters in preparation for the London Olympics in 2012. Roach, Manny Pacquiao's celebrated trainer, isn't replacing national team coach Joe Zanders, but he's hoping to hone the top amateur fighters' skills during training sessions at his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. The U.S. team won just one bronze medal at the Beijing Games, their worst showing in Olympic history.
Roach is widely considered the top trainer in professional boxing for his 10-year relationship with Pacquiao, the eight-division world titlist and pound-for-pound champion heading into his meeting later Saturday night with Sugar Shane Mosley.
The last word
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier recently surpassed Zach Wheat's 29-game hitting streak for the second-longest in club history. Wheat's streak was from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16, 1916, when the team played in Brooklyn.
"Someone asked me who Zach Wheat was. I thought he was another minor-leaguer we had. I thought he was being called up."