Wind rattles players, suspends third round at Bob Hope Classic
When the wind knocked a big scoreboard into a lake and ripped a few trees out of the ground Saturday, Mark Wilson realized he really didn't mind if he couldn't finish his third round at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. Wilson and his fellow pros were more than happy to wait out the windstorm and just come back Sunday, when Wilson will attempt to maintain his momentum for what might be a marathon finish to the erstwhile Bob Hope Classic. Wilson held a three-stroke lead over Ben Crane at 21 under when play was suspended midway through the third round. Wind reaching 35 mph caused damage on all three courses, even interrupting former President Bill Clinton's round with Greg Norman.
"I think they made the right call," Wilson said. "You don't want to see anybody get hurt."
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The pro-am tournament will resume third-round play Sunday morning without the amateurs. They'll also attempt to finish the fourth round, which could be tough after the event's first wind delay since 1999 — the first on the PGA Tour since 2009 in Houston.
Nobody was hurt by the wind at the Humana Challenge, even after an awning collapsed in the Bob Hope Square fan area. Conditions weren't terrible on two of the tournament's three courses, but several trees were toppled at the La Quinta Country Club course, making the decision easy.
"It's really bad," said Slugger White, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competitions. "They've got a lot of trees down. It's a real mess. ... We knew (the wind) was going to be bad, but we thought it would be something we could play with, and then the bottom fell out."
La Quinta didn't even get the worst of the Coachella Valley craziness: A 66-mph gust was recorded at the Palm Springs airport.
White said he believes they can finish the four-round event Sunday "in a perfect world." None of the 142 pros finished the third round. White said the grounds crews would use chainsaws to remove the fallen trees at La Quinta.
■ Branden Grace of South Africa fell into a tie for the lead at the Volvo Golf Champions with Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium after shooting a 2-over 75 Saturday in a wet and windy third round in his home country. Grace had two double bogeys on his back nine, wasting the four-stroke lead he built after two rounds. Colsaerts shot a 69.
Last American standing, Serena rolls
Just before she walked on court, Greta Arn said she was looking forward to the "privilege" of playing her first match against Serena Williams. Some privilege. The 13-time Grand Slam champion overpowered Arn 6-1, 6-1 in 59 minutes Saturday for her 17th straight win at the Australian Open. Williams, who racked up her 501st career match win, is hoping to become the second woman over age 30 to win the Australian title in the Open era. Vania King's loss to Ana Ivanovic left Williams as the only American player left in either singles draw. John Isner lost Friday, the last American man to exit.
Dempsey gets Premier League hat trick
Clint Dempsey became the first American to score a hat trick in the Premier League in Fulham's 5-2 win over Newcastle on Saturday in London. The 28-year-old scored three goals in a 30-minute span in the second half. Dempsey scored a career-best 15 goals this season, including nine in the Premier League. On Friday, Dempsey was voted the U.S. Soccer Federation's male athlete for 2011. Fulham signed Dempsey, who is from Nacogdoches, Texas, from the New England Revolution in January 2007. Dempsey had scored his first hat trick in England on Jan. 7, against Charlton in the third round of the FA Cup.
Spurrier suspends freshman safety
South Carolina freshman safety Brison Williams has been suspended indefinitely from the Gamecocks football team. South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said in a statement Saturday that Williams was disciplined for conduct detrimental to the football team. The defensive back from Warner Robins in Georgia missed the first five games of the season with a broken arm. Williams played in the final eight contests and made 11 tackles.
■ Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey and Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne rushed for touchdowns, helping the National team beat the Americans 20-14 on Saturday in the inaugural NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif. Washington's Erik Folk kicked field goals of 26 and 45 yards for the Nationals, who jumped out to a 17-0 lead. Eastern Washington's Bo Levi Mitchell and Louisiana State's Jarrett Lee threw touchdown passes to help the American squad rally.
■ Louisiana Tech's Lennon Creer scored on a 9-yard run with 47 seconds remaining, giving the West a 24-17 victory Saturday in the 87th East-West Shrine all-star game. Quarterbacks Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois and Tyler Hansen of Colorado had short TD runs for the West, which rallied from an early 10-0 deficit at Tropicana Field. Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey was the West's third-leading rusher with 33 yards on six carries. He also caught four passes for 23 yards.
Braun touts character at MVP dinner
Milwaukee left-fielder Ryan Braun maintained his innocence, disputing allegations that he took performance-enhancing substances when accepting his National League MVP award at the Baseball Writers Awards Dinner in New York Saturday night.
"I always believed that a person's character is revealed in those moments of adversity," he said. "I have so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I've done in my career has been done with that appreciation in mind." Braun, who won the honors after hitting .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI in the regular season, also thanked the Players Association for "supporting me, especially after everything I've been through the last couple of months." Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in December. He's appealing the results this month but, if Major League Baseball deems that he was on steroids, he could face a 50-game suspension.
■ The Rockies acquired infielder Marco Scutaro from the Red Sox for right-hander Clayton Mortensen on Saturday in a surprising trade that could pave the way for top Boston prospect Jose Iglesias to take over at shortstop sooner than expected. Scutaro, 36, hit a career-high .299 for the Red Sox last season, when he had seven homers, 26 doubles, 54 RBI and a .358 on-base percentage. Boston picked up his $6 million option in October, a month after the team missed the playoffs following a record collapse down the stretch.
22 show horses killed in N.J. fire
Authorities said Saturday that a fast-moving fire destroyed a barn, killing 22 show horses owned by a noted New Jersey equestrian family and worth tens of thousands of dollars each. State Police Sgt. Brian Polite said the barn was engulfed in flames when troopers arrived about 2 a.m. Saturday in Lafayette, N.J. The blaze was soon extinguished, but all the horses inside were killed. Polite said the animals were valued at $10,000 to $60,000 apiece.
Betty Hahn, whose family owns the horses, told The Star-Ledger that no hay or fuel was stored in the barn, so she was baffled about how the blaze began. Hahn said her family has competed and won awards in equestrian competitions along the East Coast.
■ Aqueduct canceled its Saturday card because of snow in the New York area. The feature, the $75,000 Evening Attire Stakes, was rescheduled for Jan. 28. Both Aqueduct and Belmont Park remained open for simulcast wagering on out-of-town races.
The last word
Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar on the key to reaching the 300-win milestone with a victory over Stanford Saturday:
"Don't get fired."