Leader Bradley playing for tourney, player titles
PGA champion Keegan Bradley flew halfway around the world with the intention of winning a World Golf Championship, not any kind of an award. Whatever the case, he sure made this PGA Tour player of the year discussion a lot more interesting Thursday.
Bradley did most of his damage on the par 5s at Sheshan International with three birdies and an eagle, which carried him to a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead after the first round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Bo Van Pelt, coming off a six-shot win in Malaysia last week, had a 67 and was tied for second with the Swedish duo of Alexander Noren and Fredrik Jacobson.
The PGA Tour felt it should wait until after the HSBC Champions to send out its postseason awards ballot because this tournament counts as official if a PGA Tour member were to win. If there was one player considered a threat to Luke Donald as player of the year, it would be Bradley. Winning in Shanghai would give him a tour-leading three victories, including a major and a World Golf Championship. The award is determined by the players.
Bradley only laughed when asked if his opening 65 was enough to make Donald nervous.
"Maybe," he said. "You know, all I'm trying to do is win this golf tournament. I know there's a lot on the line, and there's some awards to be won. I'm sure Luke is not very interested in this tournament. I'm sure he's sleeping. But I hope to keep playing well."
Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, has the money title and Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average. However, he was kept from playing the HSBC Champions because his wife is expecting their second child any day.
David Toms holed out a wedge on the 16th hole for eagle and Justin Rose had two eagles to join the group at 68. Lee Westwood and Adam Scott were each at 69.
Woods says his play is improving
Tiger Woods believes he's ready to return to top form after shaking off injuries that have undermined his performance for the last two years. The former world No. 1 says that he has been practicing frequently and getting his playing instincts back. "The last couple of years, I haven't really played as well as I'd like," Woods said Thursday during a one-day stopover in Singapore. "I made some changes in my swing and I've obviously been hurt and that kind of added to it. Now I'm healthy, playing again, playing more and playing consistently." Woods, who hasn't won a tournament since 2009, is scheduled to play in the Australian Open Nov. 10-13.
Red Sox, Cubs to interview Maddux
Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux has been given permission to interview for the manager openings with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said Thursday the Cubs and Red Sox both requested to interview Maddux, who has been in Texas for three seasons. Before joining the Rangers and helping them reach the last two World Series, Maddux, the older brother of four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux, was Milwaukee's pitching coach for six seasons. "Unbelievable to hear those two teams have interest," Maddux said. "Both storied franchises, full of tradition." New Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein fired manager Mike Quade on Wednesday. Terry Francona resigned after Boston's September collapse.
Ex-Giant Matty Alou dies at 72
Matty Alou, once part of an all-Alou outfield for the San Francisco Giants with brothers Felipe and Jesus, has died in his native Dominican Republic. He was 72. His former Dominican team, Leones del Escogido, said Alou died Thursday of complications related to diabetes. The Giants said Alou had been sick for several years with a variety of health issues. The 1966 National League batting champion with Pittsburgh, Alou was a career .307 hitter with 31 home runs in 15 major-league seasons. His unorthodox style wasn't pretty — Alou choked up on a heavier bat and often hit off his front foot, flicking his wrists and flaring many balls to left field. Hall of Famer Ted Williams told the Sporting News that Alou "violates every hitting principle I ever taught," and Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton once called Alou "the worst .300 hitter I've ever seen."
Hodges, Santo on Hall's Veterans ballot
Former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges and General Manager Buzzie Bavasi and former Athletics owner Charlie Finley are among 10 candidates for the baseball Hall of Fame who will be on the Veterans Committee ballot next month. Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Allie Reynolds, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant also will be on the Golden Era ballot, which will be voted on by the 16-member committee on Dec. 5 at the winter meetings in Dallas. This year's committee will consider candidates from the so-called "Golden Era," from 1947-72. Candidates must receive votes on 75 percent of the ballot to be elected.
Players' union denies reports of rift
NBA players and owners will start negotiating again Saturday, and the union's leaders say they're unified as they seek to resolve the four-month lockout. President Derek Fisher, executive director Billy Hunter and executive committee members said after meeting for about three hours Thursday that there was no truth to reports of a rift among them. "Derek and I have an excellent relationship. We've had no problems, and that's the reality," Hunter said. Milwaukee Bucks guard Keyon Dooling said, "Derek Fisher's the best president our union has ever seen." The character testimonials became necessary after a FoxSports.com report alleging that Fisher had attempted to broker a private deal with commissioner David Stern without the union's knowledge. The report, which cited an unnamed source, accused Fisher of making that deal for personal gain: the possibility of a future job in the league.
Fisher called the report "libelous and defamatory" and demanded a retraction. On Thursday, he was asked directly whether he had, as reported, promised Stern that he could get the union to agree to a 50-50 split of league revenues. "No, I did not," Fisher said.
Shaq sues ex-employee over emails
Shaquille O'Neal is suing a former information technology employee the former NBA great claims invaded his privacy by selling personal emails that damaged his reputation. The lawsuit was filed against Shawn Darling in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. It seeks an injunction barring Darling from providing O'Neal's emails to anyone, unspecified damages and the return of all O'Neal's private electronic messages.
Waltrip team drops Reutimann
Michael Waltrip Racing says David Reutimann will not be back with the team next season. MWR has a news conference scheduled Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, and is expected to announce Mark Martin will take over the No. 00 Toyota next year. Reutimann has been with the team since its inaugural 2007 season, and gave MWR its first victory in 2009. In 168 Sprint Cup Series starts, Reutimann has two wins, 25 top-10s and four poles. Martin is not expected to run a full season. He could share the seat with Waltrip, who has made seven starts the last two years.
The last word
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, expressing his hope that the referees keep the flags in their pockets during Sunday night's game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers:
"Let us play football. Let us all go in the room and lock the door."