Rose surprises himself with first-round 63 at Cog Hill
Feeling as though he had nothing to lose, Justin Rose put himself in position for a big gain with his best round of the year Thursday in the BMW championship. Rose made birdie on half of his holes at Cog Hill, a tough course that played even longer in chilly conditions, giving him an 8-under 63 and a two-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Mark Wilson.
"Didn't expect that going out there today," Rose said. "I looked to the weather, looked at the temperature, and I thought today was going to be a day to hang in there. Little did I know I was about to play so well."
Since a solid spring through the Masters, the 31-year-old player from England lost his way and went 10 straight tournaments without a top-10 finish. He is No. 34 in the FedEx Cup, and because only the top 30 advance to the Tour Championship and a shot at the $10 million bonus, Rose figured he might as well give it his best shot.
It was better than he imagined. He didn't miss a single fairway and only twice had to scramble for par.
Dustin Johnson, the defending champion at Cog Hill, sputtered at the start and then stumbled at the turn, making five bogeys for a 40 on his back nine for a 76. Jason Day had a 77, while Bubba Watson was wild off the tee and didn't make a single birdie in his round of 78.
Phil Mickelson nearly joined them. He took double bogey on the par-3 second hole when his flop shot from the other side of the green only went one-third of the way toward the hole and stayed in the collar of the rough. Another towering flop shot wound up 12 feet by the hole. Lefty was 4 over through five holes, but ran off four birdies and salvaged a 72.
■ Jennifer Johnson shot a career-best, 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead over teenager Lexi Thompson in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala. Johnson was 6 under on the back nine on the Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Trail's Capitol Hill complex. The 16-year-old Thompson is one stroke back after a 6-under 66, with Becky Morgan and Alison Walshe another shot behind.
Gordon suspicious of RCR's tactics
Jeff Gordon alleged Thursday that Richard Childress Racing intentionally caused a caution at Richmond last week that helped Kevin Harvick win the race. Gordon was leading Harvick in Saturday night's race when RCR driver Paul Menard spun with 16 laps to go. The drivers pitted, Harvick was first off pit road and pulled away on the restart four laps later to win his fourth race of the season, which tied him with Kyle Busch for the top seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. It was a big swing for Gordon, who was denied his fourth victory and trails the leaders by three points for Sunday's opening Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway.
"If any of that is true of what's being speculated right now, all I can say is I've lost a lot of respect for Paul Menard if that's the case," Gordon said. "I don't want to blame him for any of that if it's not true. He might have just lost it off of turn four and the caution came out. But when you listen to the radio, and I've had other people translate it to me, it sounds a little fishy."
Radio chatter between Menard and his team that was played this week on Speed Channel indicated there was a moment the group switched to an encrypted frequency before Menard spun.
Parker, Noah lift France to Europe semis
Tony Parker scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as France rallied to beat Greece 64-56 Thursday and line up a semifinal against Russia at the European basketball championship in Lithuania. Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls had a key steal late in the game to send the French into the next round against Russia, which beat Serbia 77-67. Spain and Macedonia will play in the other semifinal on Friday.
TRACK AND FIELD
Bolt eyes fastest 100 of year
Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who was disqualified from the 100 meters at the world championships because of a false start, will look to beat Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell's world-leading time of 9.78 seconds at the Van Damme Memorial on Friday. Three years ago at the fast Brussels track, Bolt ran 9.77 seconds into a strong headwind. "This track has been wonderful," Bolt said. "I'm looking forward to going out there and doing my best." Justin Gatlin of the United States will also face Bolt in the 100.
Armstrong to compete in Utah event
Six days after celebrating his 40th birthday, seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong will be back on the bike competing in the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Ski Resort in Utah. Armstrong confirmed Thursday he will compete Sept. 24 in the XTERRA event that covers a 1-mile swim, 20-mile mountain bike ride and 6-mile trail run. "I'll go out there and have a good time and see how it goes," said Armstrong, who added it has been 23 years since he's done any type of triathlon.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Crittenton back in Atlanta to face charge
The Fulton County sheriff's office says former Washington Wizards basketball player Javaris Crittenton has been returned to Atlanta from Los Angeles to face a murder charge. Authorities say Crittenton will face the charge in the death of 22-year-old Julian Jones, a mother of four who was hit by gunfire during a drive-by shooting. Police said the shots were aimed at someone walking with her. Crittenton denies involvement.
The last word
Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe, downplaying the significance of the history between Miami and Ohio State, the Hurricanes' opponent Saturday.
"It means nothing. These kids were in sixth grade. It means absolutely nothing to these kids. I don't think they even know some of the players who were around, most of them. To me, you're playing Ohio State. What needs to be said? If you wake me up in 3011, is Ohio State going to be bad? They're good. They're good and we'd better be ready."