Other Sports

Sports briefs: April 18

Golf

Furyk going strong with the pressure finally off

Jim Furyk says he's done putting pressure on himself.

That's good, because about two dozen players plan to give the sixth-ranked Furyk all he can handle in the final round of the Verizon Heritage.

Furyk shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to reach 11 under, good for a one-stroke lead over Brian Davis (66) at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C. Two strokes behind Furyk were two-time Verizon champ Boo Weekley (68), Stephen Ames (65), Briny Baird (66), Ricky Barnes (66), Luke Donald (67), Woody Austin (67) and Heath Slocum (67).

Right behind them was a group that included Camilo Villegas (67) and 2006 winner Aaron Baddeley.

In all, 23 players were within five strokes.

At other times in his career, Furyk might've obsessed about success and driven himself nuts if he didn't follow a third-round lead with a victory.

Now, less than a month away from 40 — and with a victory earlier this season at the Transitions Championship that ended a nearly three-year drought — Furyk is content to focus on what's good about his game instead of what's not.

"I felt like I had to be perfect and I had to hit every shot just right. I put undue pressure on myself," Furyk said. "And I'm finding myself now going out there and enjoying that back nine, getting in the heat of battle."

That was apparent Saturday when Furyk shook off a slow start while chasers who started the round behind him moved past.

Nick O'Hern, who teed off five hours ahead of the final group, gave an early indication of Saturday's free-for-all with a 64 that put him atop the leader board before 36-hole leaders Furyk, Charles Howell III and Greg Owen were done with lunch.

"By the time I teed off I was in about fourth place, then I played a couple of holes and I was already dropping," Furyk said.

At 2:45 p.m., 10 players were tied for first, all on a course where Brian Gay set tournament records in 2009 with a 10-shot victory and 20-under score.

When Baird asked where the leaders were and was told he was on top, he quipped, "Yeah, me and eight other guys."

Almost, Briny, almost.

Langer leads by one on Champions Tour

Bernhard Langer shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Mark O'Meara and Mike Reid in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in Lutz, Fla. Langer, the German star who won the Allianz Championship in February in Boca Raton for his ninth Champions Tour title, had a 9-under 133 total at TPC Tampa Bay.

"My game plan seems to be working so far, so I'll play the same way I have the past two days," Langer said.

Fred Couples, trying to match the tour record for victories in consecutive starts of four set by Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987, followed his opening 71 — his only score higher than 68 in 14 senior rounds — with a 67 to move into a tie for 12th at 4 under.

NHL

Capitals salvage Game 2 in overtime

Don't count out the Washington Capitals, no matter how big the deficit, no matter how dire the circumstances. Nicklas Backstrom completed a hat trick by scoring only 31 seconds into overtime, helping the top-seeded Capitals finish a wild comeback to beat the visiting Canadiens 6-5 Saturday night and even their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at a game apiece.

Montreal led 2-0 after its first two shots, prompting Washington to yank goalie Jose Theodore, and then went ahead 4-1. But with Alex Ovechkin producing a goal and three assists, the Capitals kept rallying. Rookie defenseman John Carlson tied it at 5-all with 1:21 left in regulation, and Backstrom's wrister past Jaroslav Halak won it.

Bruins even series with Buffalo

For once, Michael Ryder and the Boston Bruins avoided questions about their sputtering offense.

In cracking the Buffalo Sabres' third-period lockdown, Ryder and Zdeno Chara scored two minutes apart and led the visiting Bruins to a 5-3 comeback victory on Saturday that tied the first-round, Eastern Conference playoff series at one game apiece.

Ryder and Chara each scored two goals in a big turnaround for the Bruins, who finished 29th in the NHL in scoring during the regular season. This victory came on the heels of Boston's 39-shot output in a 2-1 loss to the Sabres on Thursday.

"It's definitely a big boost," Ryder said. "We've had struggles all year scoring goals. It's a good time for us to start finding the back of the net."

Tennis

Nadal on verge of sixth Monte Carlo win

Rafael Nadal drew within one victory of a sixth straight Monte Carlo Masters title after beating Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 Saturday. Nadal, seeded second, will play sixth-seeded Fernando Verdasco in an all-Spanish final Sunday. Verdasco defeated top-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-2 in the other semifinal, depriving the Serb of a chance to avenge his defeat to Nadal in last year's final.

"Tactically, I played really good all match," Verdasco said. "I am so happy to be in (a Masters) final for the first time, and to beat a player like Djokovic with a score like it was today."

NFL

Portis cleared for Skins' minicamp

Redskins running back Clinton Portis can participate at minicamp after missing the second half of last season because of a concussion. Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said Saturday, the second day of the minicamp, that the Redskins had "some of the best medical experts across the country" analyze Portis, who was hurt in a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game on Nov. 8 and struggled with vision problems and dizziness. Allen said: "He's been cleared for practice."

beach volleyball

May-Treanor victorious in return

Misty May-Treanor's return to the AVP Tour got off to a perfect start Saturday. She and new partner Nicole Branagh won four matches and advanced to Sunday's semifinals of the AVP's Fort Lauderdale Open. The final is also Sunday. May-Treanor tore her Achilles tendon and calf muscle while competing on Dancing With The Stars in October 2008.

Gymnastics

Sooner wins third straight title

Steven Legendre of Oklahoma said it's getting harder each year to defend his NCAA floor exercise title but he continues to find a way each time. Legendre won the event for the third consecutive year, and tied a school record with his sixth individual collegiate title on Saturday night.

"I've done a ton of routines on the floor," Legendre said. "It's gotten to the point where I can do it pretty much every single time. I am just fortunate and honored to win it for one more year."

Legendre, the runner-up in Friday's all-around competition, posted a score of 16.100 on floor. He failed to defend his vaulting title, leaving the junior tied with U.S. Olympian Jonathan Horton for the most NCAA titles in Oklahoma history

The last word

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter on the team's slow start:

"Sometimes you're the bug. Sometimes, you're the windshield. We've been the bug."

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