Love makes hole-in-one, ties PGA National record with 64
Davis Love III looked more like a player than a Ryder Cup captain Thursday at the Honda Classic. Love made a hole-in-one on the 197-yard fifth hole and tied the course record at PGA National with a 6-under 64, giving him a two-shot lead. He took advantage of soft and relatively calm conditions in the morning at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Rory McIlroy, needing a win this week to go to No. 1 in the world, shot a first-round 66. Tiger Woods, playing the Honda Classic for the first time as a pro, twice lost momentum with sloppy bogeys and failed to convert a routine up-and-down on the par-5 18th for a 1-over 71. He was seven shots out of the lead, right on the cut line going into Friday.
The 47-year-old Love hasn't won since Disney at the end of 2008, and the last time he was atop the leader board after one round was at Bay Hill in 2010.
"If I had not birdied the last two holes, it still would have been a good start," Love said. "It's fun to tie the course record. And it's fun to shoot low scores."
Nine other players have shot 64 at PGA National, the most recent Graeme McDowell a year ago.
Reds' spring rotation in better shape
Heading into the start of exhibition games, the Cincinnati Reds' pitching rotation is far ahead of last spring. Bronson Arroyo doesn't have mononucleosis, Johnny Cueto shows no sign of shoulder problems, Homer Bailey has put on 20 pounds for strength, and Mat Latos is in camp. Manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday that Mike Leake will pitch the exhibition opener on Saturday against Cleveland. Cueto is scheduled to start on opening day.
■ Four-time Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with the Cardinals that kicks in next season and will keep him in St. Louis through the 2017 season. The deal makes Molina the second-highest paid catcher in the majors.
■ New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says it's his goal to lower the team's payroll to $189 million over the next few years. Under baseball's new labor contract, the luxury tax threshold will be at $189 million after the 2013 season. Steinbrenner said this season's payroll is around $210 million.
■ Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a fractured right orbital bone. The right-hander injured himself on Wednesday in spring training during a bunt drill. There is no timetable for Burnett's return.
■ Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks with a back injury, the latest medical setback for a three-time All-Star who once appeared to have a sensational career ahead of him. The team said Sizemore underwent a "minimally invasive" lower back procedure Thursday.
■ Jason Varitek officially announced his retirement, bringing to an end a 15-year career with the Boston Red Sox.
Durant powers Thunder's comeback
Kevin Durant scored 38 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter, and Russell Westbrook added 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder erased a 14-point deficit to hold on to beat the host Orlando Magic 105-102 on Thursday night. The Magic had a chance to tie it in the final seconds, but Jason Richardson's long three-pointer bounced off the backboard at the buzzer. The Thunder's win was their seventh straight, matching a streak from earlier in the season. Dwight Howard had 33 points and nine rebounds for the Magic.
Simpson faces 60-day jail sentence
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson could receive a 60-day jail sentence after pleading guilty Thursday to a drug-related felony charge as part of an agreement with prosecutors, further clouding his future in the NFL. A judge will decide next month whether to accept the prosecutors' recommendation or give him a more lenient sentence. The four-year veteran is a free agent after completing his contract with the Bengals. His guilty plea could bring a suspension from the league, which would make him less attractive on the free agent market.
■ The Green Bay Packers sold more than 268,000 shares in their most recent stock offering, raising $67 million to help fund stadium improvements, the team said Thursday.
■ Gov. Mark Dayton, political leaders and the Minnesota Vikings unveiled a proposal Thursday to build a $975 million stadium for the team in downtown Minneapolis and called for quick action on the plan before the Legislature adjourns this spring. The plan would put the new building nearly on top of the current Metrodome site. It calls for $398 million from the state, $150 million from the city and $427 million from the Vikings for upfront construction costs.
Penske moving to Ford cars in 2013
Penske Racing will switch from Dodge to Ford in NASCAR competition beginning in 2013, a move the team believes will help Roger Penske finally win a Sprint Cup championship. Penske said Thursday his drivers will compete with Ford Fusions in the Sprint Cup Series, and Ford Mustangs in the Nationwide Series. He said the multiyear deal calls for Penske to field two Cup cars and two Nationwide cars, and he hopes to eventually move one of his Nationwide teams up a level to create a three-car Cup program.
WKU to play at Alabama, Kentucky
Western Kentucky released a 2012 football schedule Thursday that includes road games against defending national champion Alabama (Sept. 8) and Kentucky (Sept. 15). The Hilltoppers, who open at home against Austin Peay (Sept. 1), will also have two Thursday night games on ESPNU. WKU went 7-5 last season.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Derby Festival rosters announced
Five McDonald's All-Americans will play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic on Friday, April 6, at Freedom Hall. The roster, released Thursday, also includes Louisville point guard signee Terry Rozier and three Indiana recruits. The McDonald's All-Americans selected for the game are power forward Amile Jefferson (undecided), point guard Tyler Lewis (N.C. State), small forward TJ Warren (N.C. State), shooting guard Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and small forward Devonta Pollard (undecided).
Baseball team off to 8-0 start
The Kentucky baseball team beat Xavier 9-2 on Wednesday to improve to 8-0 for the fifth time in the program's history. The Cats also started 8-0 in 1987, 2000, 2007 and 2008. UK will host a three-game series against Illinois-Chicago starting Friday at 4 p.m.
The last word
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, after playing his first game with a sweaty mask covering his broken nose:
"I was drinking my own sweat or something. It was totally disgusting."