Ex-Cat Holmes trails Mickelson by one shot in Los Angeles
Four days after his big win at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson keeps right on rolling. Mickelson hit driver off the deck from just under 300 yards on the par-5 11th that led to a two-putt birdie, and he ended a gorgeous afternoon Thursday at Riviera by chipping in from 35 feet for birdie. That gave him a 5-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.
Dating to the back nine of his second round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Mickelson has made birdie or eagle on one-third of the holes he has played. And his streak of consecutive holes without a bogey finally ended at 49 on the par-3 16th.
Kentuckian J.B. Holmes, in his fourth tournament since returning from brain surgery in September, played his final six holes without a par. His round ended with a 315-yard tee shot — a big drive in the cool air of Los Angeles in February — and an approach to 8 feet for birdie at No. 9, the second-toughest hole at Riviera.
That gave him a 4-under 67. He was tied with Hunter Mahan, whose 35-foot birdie at No. 5 sent him on a string of four straight birdies.
Holmes was the first player to reach 5 under, and that's where his fun began — consecutive bogeys when he failed to get up-and-down from just short of the green; a tap-in birdie at the par-3 sixth, with the pin below the bunker in the middle of the green; an 18-foot birdie on the seventh, a three-putt double bogey on the eighth and the birdie at the end.
He has struggled with a slight loss of power since his brain surgery, and he even topped a shot in Phoenix a few weeks ago. But it's all starting to come together.
"I feel like each week my swing has definitely gotten a little bit better and improved a little bit," Holmes said. "My swing speed has slowly come back a little bit being out here and playing this much."
Daly shoots 79, tweets elbow 'snapped'
John Daly says he may have torn ligaments in his right elbow during the first round at the Avantha Masters in New Delhi. The American said on Twitter his "elbow snapped" when he played a shot Thursday on the ninth hole. He finished at 7-over 79. Daly posted a photo on Twitter with his right arm in a cast, saying "no bones are broken, possible torn ligaments according to European Tour Docs--getting home for X-rays!" His management company, Wasserman Media Group, said it was unaware Daly had withdrawn from the tournament. Alejandro Canizares of Spain and Peter Whiteford of Scotland each shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to share the lead after the first round.
■ Ai Miyazato shot a 5-under 67 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the LPGA Thailand. Karrie Webb and four others were one shot behind. Paula Creamer had a hole-in-one on the 146-yard 12th hole, hitting a 7-iron that one-hopped into the cup. That helped her salvage a 72 that was good for a tie for 26th.
■ Injured Paul Casey will not return for the Match Play championship. His spot in the 64-man field next week in Arizona will be taken by George Coetzee. Casey injured his shoulder while snowboarding over the holidays. Phil Mickelson already said he won't be playing in Match Play because his kids are out of school and he's going on a family vacation. He won at Pebble Beach last weekend.
Spurrier to appear before NCAA panel
It's South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier's time in the NCAA crosshairs on Friday. Spurrier and 10 other university coaches, leaders and officials will be in Los Angeles this weekend to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The NCAA says the school received $55,000 in improper benefits for athletes — mostly football players — who stayed at a hotel for a reduced rate and for South Carolina's involvement with a mentoring group in Delaware. South Carolina agreed in its response to the NCAA in December that major rules violations did take place. "Sometimes crap happens," Spurrier said bluntly earlier this month. "You just have to deal with it." Spurrier was not named in the NCAA's list of allegations. This will be his first time before the NCAA panel since 1990 when he was Florida's new coach and the program dealt with infractions that occurred before Spurrier's arrival. Spurrier said the hearing would help "find out who was at fault or if anybody was at fault, that's what we're trying to search for."
■ Authorities say Florida freshman tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested on a simple domestic battery charge. Gainesville police say the 20-year-old got into an argument with his girlfriend Wednesday night. According to a police report, Leonard shoved the woman to the ground, causing her to hit her head on a dog cage. She told police Leonard had told her to leave the apartment they shared.
Celebrities coming to Vegas for Ali
Dozens of celebrities from the sports, film and TV realms plan to fete boxing icon Muhammad Ali and raise money for brain research during a tribute in Las Vegas to be aired later on ABC. The Saturday gala to celebrate Ali's 70th birthday at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip will double as a fund-raiser, with the money going to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Ali turned 70 last month, and had a party honoring him in Kentucky. One of Ali's daughters, Rasheda Ali, said the gala is another chance for her father to use his celebrity to help others and to further causes he cares about. The gala is expected to include performances and tributes from Stevie Wonder, David Beckham, Larry King, Quincy Jones and others.
Source: Bills, Johnson exchange offers
A person familiar with discussions has told The Associated Press that the Buffalo Bills and potential free-agent receiver Stevie Johnson have exchanged contract offers and plan to meet again at the NFL combine in Indianapolis next week. The Buffalo News first reported the development, citing an unnamed league source, on its Web site on Thursday. In completing the final year of his contract, Johnson, a former Kentucky star, led the Bills in receiving for a second straight season with 76 catches for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns.
The last word
Charlotte Bobcats guard Matt Carroll is trying everything he can to help end the team's losing streak that began Jan. 16.
"I switched shoes a couple of times. I've worn two socks on each foot. I've worn socks two days in a row, which I've never done before... but nothing has worked. I'll keep trying."