Woods extends his lead to 4
With one last birdie putt that never looked like it was going anywhere but in the hole, Tiger Woods walked off the Blue Monster in a familiar position. He had a four-shot lead over Graeme McDowell in the Cadillac Championship, the 17th time on the PGA Tour that he has led by at least four shots going into the final round. Woods has never lost when leading by that much on tour.
Saturday at Doral, Fla., was a reminder, however, how quickly it all can change.
Woods knocked in a short birdie putt on the 15th hole to put six shots between him and McDowell. Two holes later, after McDowell chipped in for eagle and Woods found himself staring some 20 feet in the air at his golf ball lodged in a palm tree to the right of the 17th fairway, the lead was cut in half.
Woods saved his best for the final hole.
He drilled a tee shot into the fairway, hit 9-iron to 15 feet and made his 24th birdie of the tournament for a 5-under 67, putting him on the cusp of another World Golf Championship and a big step toward returning to No. 1 in the world.
"After I made birdie on 15, I was looking pretty good with a six-shot lead, and with a drivable par 4," Woods said. "Two holes later, it's now cut down to three. I piped a tee shot down there, hit a little 9-iron there and was able to pour that putt in there."
The ball never came down from the tree, which was about the only thing that didn't fall his way.
The 24 birdies and 74 putts are personal records for Woods. More importantly, it put him in great position to win his 17th WGC title, and his first since 2009.
"He controlled every part of his game very well, very few loose shots," said McDowell, who did well to two-putt for par from 85 feet on the last hole for a 69 that at least kept him in final group for Sunday.
"You know, 17 was a really bad break for him. But in true Tiger fashion that we've become very accustomed to over the years, to come back and birdie the last, he was fantastic today," he said.
■ Fabian Gomez opened with six birdies on the front nine for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Scott Brown going into the final round of the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open. Brown, who tied for fifth in the Puerto Rico a year ago, shot a 67.
Jordan Spieth made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole and shot a 66, putting him in a group four shots back.
Rifle team finishes second in NCAAs
West Virginia won its 15th national rifle championship, defeating Kentucky 4,679-4,670 on Saturday at Columbus, Ohio. The Mountaineers' Petra Zublasing followed up the smallbore title she won Friday with another in air rifle. The Cats' Connor Davis was fourth in air rifle.
"I'm very proud of the performance that we gave throughout the whole weekend," UK Coach Harry Mullins said. "The match was so close, all the way to the finish with it being decided in the last air rifle relay by some great shooters."
■ Kentucky's Cally Macumber finished third in the women's 3,000-meter run at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at Fayetteville, Ark. Macumber finished in 9:07.33. Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino won in 9:01.08. The Cats' Chelsea Oswald was ninth in 9:13.65.
Keith Hayes was seventh in the men's 60-meter hurdles in 7.74 seconds. Florida's Eddie Lovett won in 7.50.
■ Freshman Maisie Steed started the game with her fourth home run of the year and Kelsey Nunley, another freshman, finished the game with four hitless innings in relief as the 15th-ranked Kentucky softball team defeated Mississippi 5-2 on Saturday to even their weekend series at a game apiece. The Cats improved to 17-4 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
■ Kentucky's gymnastics team topped 196 for the third consecutive meet in a 196.375-192.7 victory against Bowling Green in Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. Kayla Hartley (Woodford County) clinched the second-highest team score in school history with a nearly-flawless floor exercise routine, which scored 9.9.
Steelers release Harrison in cap move
James Harrison's snarling tenacity has made the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker one of the NFL's most intimidating players for nearly a decade. The five-time Pro Bowler's outlaw image made him beloved in Pittsburgh but reviled elsewhere. But his onerous contract no longer worked for a team with serious salary cap issues. The Steelers released the former Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday when the two sides could not agree on a more cap-friendly deal.
"It's been a great run but all good things must come to a end," Harrison posted on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon. "Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!"
Pittsburgh General Manager Kevin Colbert and Harrison's agent Bill Parise had spent the last few days trying to iron out a new deal but couldn't reach any common ground. Harrison was entering the final two years of a $51-million extension he signed in 2009 and was scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013.
Instead, Harrison — who turns 35 in May — will find himself looking for work for the first time since he became a fixture on the right side of Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense in 2006.
Former Buffalo Bills star Saimes dies
George Saimes, regarded as one of the American Football League's best safeties, died Friday night after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 71.
Selected by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 1963 draft, Saimes spent seven seasons with the Bills, where he helped the team win back-to-back AFL championships in 1964-65. He was then reunited in Denver with his former Bills coach, Lou Saban, in playing three more seasons with the Broncos.
Saimes was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and, in 1970, was selected to the all-time AFL defensive team. He was known as a hard-hitting tackler, who finished with 22 interceptions in 121 career games.
Davis' near 20-20 not enough for Hornets
Mike Conley scored 22 points, seven Memphis players finished in double figures and the Grizzlies won their fourth straight with a 96-85 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night. Tayshaun Prince added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Anthony Davis led the Hornets with 20 points and 18 rebounds. New Orleans lost its third straight and has dropped five of six.
■ The Washington Wizards, one of the few NBA teams who can actually call the Charlotte Bobcats a nemesis, did their bit to rectify that notion, with Trevor Ariza scoring a season-high 26 points in a 104-87 victory. The Wizards never trailed and shot 50 percent as they handed the league-worst Bobcats their 10th straight loss.
■ Amare Stoudemire needs surgery on his right knee and is expected to miss six weeks, a stunning blow to the New York Knicks as they chase the Atlantic Division title. Stoudemire, who had been playing well off the bench, will have the procedure to remove tissue within the week, the Knicks said Saturday before their game against the Utah Jazz.
The last word
Fellow drivers had mixed feelings after Denny Hamlin's criticism of the new car drew heavy attention and a hefty fine from NASCAR last week. While Jeff Burton and other drivers suggested NASCAR had overreacted in fining Hamlin, Jeff Gordon said:
"It's been an interesting story for somebody to challenge that authority. That's fine, but at the end of the day, I know whose sandbox I'm playing in. I like the sandbox. I like to play in it, and I want to have the best opportunity to have the most fun in that sandbox. Sometimes while you don't always like it, you have to bite your tongue and just go out there and race."