Castro atop Players after 63; McIlroy fires 66, Woods 67
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy had their best start ever Thursday in The Players Championship. It still wasn't enough to catch Roberto Castro, who had never played the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and made a debut he won't soon forget.
Castro hit shots into tap-in range on the famed 17th and 18th holes on his way to a 9-under 63 in perfect scoring conditions in the morning. He tied the course record and it gave him a three-shot lead — the largest 18-hole margin in 21 years at Sawgrass — over McIlroy and Zach Johnson.
Woods had to work a little harder in the afternoon, when a breeze arrived and the greens firmed up. Even so, he was on the cusp of his first bogey-free round in his 16 years at The Players until his 8-iron from 200 yards went over the green and he flubbed his chip. The bogey gave him a 67, which was the first time he has broken 70 in the opening round at Sawgrass. "It was a day that I felt I had to shoot something in the 60s," Woods said. Half of the players who played early broke par, a rarity at this tournament.
Antonio's homer propels Legends
Michael Antonio's seventh-inning home run broke a 1-1 tie and the Lexington Legends went on to a 2-1 victory over the West Virginia Power in front of 4,945 fans at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Christian Binford (2-2) worked the first seven innings and got the victory. Daniel Hernandez retired the side in order in the eighth, and Alec Mills did the same in the ninth. Mills earned his fifth save in as many opportunities.
The Legends have won seven of eight games, and their pitchers have given up only 11 earned runs in the eight-game stretch.
Ex-Cat Amber Smith joining Vols' staff
Former Kentucky point guard Amber Smith is joining Tennessee's coaching staff as a graduate assistant.
Smith will assist in on-campus recruiting on Lady Vols Coach Holly Warlick's staff. Smith played for Kentucky from 2008-12 and helped the Wildcats reach two regional finals despite undergoing surgeries on each of her knees.
■ Kentucky's baseball team will host No. 1 Vanderbilt in a three-game series starting Friday evening at 6:30 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Commodores own the best eight-week record in Southeastern Conference history at 21-2. UK (28-19) is 10-14 in the SEC.
Vanderbilt brings two of the top starters in college baseball. Junior southpaw Kevin Ziomek (9-2, 2.03 ERA) will start Friday and sophomore righty Tyler Beede (12-0, 1.73 ERA) will start Saturday.
■ Kentucky's women's golf team fired a 13-over-par 301 in the first round at the NCAA East Regional,. The Wildcats are in a tie for 15th in the 24-team regional played at Auburn, Ala.
■ Former Kentucky guard Larry Warford agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions, a day before the start of rookie minicamp.
Women's panel OKs 10-second backcourt
The 10-second backcourt rule will go into effect in NCAA women's basketball for the first time next season if a recommendation from the sport's rules committee is approved.
The U.S. women's college game is the only level worldwide that does not have a 10-second backcourt rule.
■ Chattanooga has hired a future hall of famer as its next women's basketball head coach. Jim Foster, 64, will be inducted in less than a month into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The former St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt and Ohio State coach has a 783-307 record and ranks 11th in NCAA history in career wins.
■ Maker's Mark will honor Louisville Coach Rick Pitino on the second in its series of commemorative bottles being sold to benefit the school's planned Academic Center of Excellence. The distiller will produce 12,600 bottles recognizing Pitino's accomplishments — including winning this season's NCAA championship and his upcoming induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
Runners stopped on course issue appeal
Runners who couldn't complete this year's Boston Marathon because of the bombs at the finish line have created an online petition asking organizers to let them into next year's race.
The petition at change.org had more than 20,000 signatures on Thursday afternoon. About 5,700 people were stopped on the course because of the explosions that killed three people and wounded hundreds more on Boylston Street on April 15. Boston Athletic Association officials say they've heard from thousands of runners since the race. B.A.A. executive director Tom Grilk said, "As we work on our plan (for 2014) and options for that group of runners which did not have the opportunity to cross the finish line of the race, we ask those runners for continued patience."
Thompson's threes carry Warriors
Klay Thompson hit eight of nine three-pointers Wednesday and Stephen Curry scored 22 points as the Golden State Warriors beat host San Antonio 100-91 to tie the second-round playoff series at a game apiece. Thompson, who finished one three-pointer shy of the NBA playoff record, had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Warriors.
■ Kobe Bryant says in a court filing in Camden, N.J., that he never gave his mother permission to sell mementos from his high school days and early professional basketball career.
Bryant is in a court battle over whether hundreds of items can be auctioned off. Pamela Bryant says the NBA star told her the memorabilia was hers. She arranged earlier this year to auction it off through Goldin Auctions and received a $450,000 advance.
Moyes to replace Ferguson for Man U.
Manchester United has replaced an abrasive and tough-minded Scotsman with ... another abrasive and tough-minded Scotsman.
Alex Ferguson and successor David Moyes were born six miles from each other in working-class Glasgow. Their fathers were employed by the same shipbuilding company. They were both decent club players but neither played for their national team. They both own a fiercely competitive work ethic. Ferguson recommended Moyes as his replacement, 15 years after he became his assistant.
■ An America's Cup sailor perished in San Francisco Bay after his team's space-age yacht capsized during a training run. Artemis Racing says Andrew "Bart" Simpson, an Olympic gold medalist from the United Kingdom, died Thursday after the boat's platform trapped him underwater for about 10 minutes around 1 p.m. PDT. Artemis says Simpson, 36, served as the Swedish team's strategist.
■ Second-ranked Roger Federer lost to Kei Nishikori 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the third round of the Madrid Open on Thursday, leaving Rafael Nadal as the clear title favorite.
The last word
A Forbes.com survey released this week called Tim Tebow America's most influential athlete. Tebow finished ahead of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. In a lecture Thursday night at Lake Michigan College, Tebow said of the honor:
"I see it as a great responsibility to be a role model for future gen erations. That's something I care about more than winning football games. If I can take the game of football and can transcend football, go to hospitals and make kids smile, I'll be doing things that matter."