Senior leads after first round
Australia's Peter Senior shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. He had nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys at TPC Harding Park.
David Frost shot 64, missing a short putt on the 18th hole. Fred Couples was third at 65, and Mark O'Meara had a 66. Bernhard Langer, Steve Elkington and Duffy Waldorf shot 67.
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Charles Schwab Cup points leader Kenny Perry fired a 68. The Elizabethtown native entered the event 612 points ahead of second-place Langer. If Langer wins the tournament, Perry needs only to finish fifth or better take the season title and $1 million annuity.
■ With eight birdies and hardly any stress, Rory McIlroy opened the HSBC Champions on Thursday with a 7-under 65 for a two-shot lead over Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson. It was the first time since he won in Dubai last November that McIlroy has been in the outright lead after any round.
GoDaddy backing away from racy content
Don't expect to see Danica Patrick take her clothes off, kiss a girl or do anything else risque during the next Super Bowl.
GoDaddy will again feature its famed spokeswoman in its infamous Super Bowl ads, but the website domain provider said Thursday it is canning the risque innuendo. GoDaddy's advertising campaign has leaned toward sexually suggestive themes since its early days when WWE diva Candice Michelle was the company spokeswoman.
GoDaddy has purchased two 30-second spots, one for each half of the Feb. 2 game, and the company said Thursday "at least one of the two spots will feature" Patrick. The NASCAR driver has appeared in 12 Super Bowl commercials — more than any other celebrity.
"We've matured. We've evolved," GoDaddy chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman said. "Our new brand of Super Bowl commercials will make it crystal clear what we do and who we stand for. We may be changing our approach, but as we've always said, we don't care what the critics think. We are all about our customers."
■ NASCAR indefinitely suspended Richard Childress Racing crew member Adam Brown on Thursday for "throwing an object at a competitor's race truck." Brown threw a hammer at driver Kevin Harvick's truck during a race at Martinsville Speedway.
Crew chief Paul Richmond was fined $10,000 because he assumes responsibility for the entire team. Both work on Ty Dillon's truck for RCR.
Dillon spun Harvick late in Saturday's race as both were racing for position. Harvick hit Dillon's truck under caution, then drove into Dillon's pit stall as he returned to pit road. Brown then threw the hammer at the truck.
Harvick is leaving RCR at the end of the year after 13 seasons to join Stewart-Haas Racing. He said after the race his departure was because team owner Childress was too focused on the development of grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon, whom he claimed were undeserving of their advancement in the organization.
Dodgers favored to win 2014 World Series
Winning another World Series didn't automatically make the Boston Red Sox favorites to repeat next year.
Oddsmakers in Las Vegas sports books like the Los Angeles Dodgers to win it all in 2014 with most making them an 8-1 pick for the title. At the Wynn hotel-casino the Detroit Tigers are next at 9-1, followed by the Red Sox at 10-1.
"There's no real clear-cut favorite," said Johnny Avello, who runs the Wynn book. "When you see odds like that on future bets it tells you there are a lot of teams in the hunt."
The Red Sox turnaround from last in their division a year ago to World Series champions didn't exactly take oddsmakers by surprise. Most books around the city had them as 25-1 picks opening the season, with some as low as 15-1.
"It was really no bargain even with the last-to-first thing because the Red Sox always draw attention," said Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point hotel. "The only real bad one would have been the Dodgers because everyone jumped on them in June when they were as high as 75-1."
Those looking for a real long shot in 2014 need look no further than Houston, where the Astros are as much as 250-1 to win it all. Minnesota and Miami are next at 125-1.
■ The Washington Nationals will hold a news conference Friday to introduce former major-league third baseman Matt Williams as the team's fifth manager since it moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. He replaces Davey Johnson, who is retiring.
It is Williams' first job as a major-league manager. He has only brief managerial experience at any level, having spent time in the Arizona Fall League and five weeks at Double-A in the minors.
He's been the Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach the past three seasons. The 47-year-old Williams was a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove recipient during 17 years as a player for the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks.
■ The Texas Rangers have declined their $12 million contract option for Lance Berkman, making the 37-year-old switch-hitter a free agent. Berkman gets a $1 million buyout for the second year of the deal signed in January.
Berkman hit .242 with six home runs and 34 RBI in 73 games this season. He went on the disabled list July 7 with a sore right knee, and played only five games after coming back the final month of the season.
Bobcats pick up option on Kidd-Gilchrist
The Charlotte Bobcats exercised contract options on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo Thursday, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Thursday was the final day for teams to guarantee those options under the NBA's wage scale for players who were first-round picks. The players would have become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season had the deadline passed.
Kidd-Gilchrist's option is for a guaranteed $5.02 million in the 2014-2015 season. The former University of Kentucky forward averaged 9.0 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Bobcats in his rookie season. He had seven points and eight rebounds in Charlotte's season-opening 96-83 loss at Houston Wednesday.
Walker and Biyombo's options are both for a fourth season. Walker will make $3.3 million for the 2014-2015 season, while Biyombo will make $3.87 million.
Soccer Gamecocks rally against Cats
South Carolina scored two second-half goals, in the 53rd and 83rd minutes, to cap off a late comeback and down the Kentucky women's soccer team 2-1 in Columbia, S.C.
Sophomore Cara Ledman headed in a goal in the 15th minute off an assist from freshman Kaitlin Miller to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.
South Carolina senior Danielle Au drilled a penalty kick past Kayla King to tie the match. Sophomore Raina Johnson netted the go-ahead goal for the Gamecocks.
The last word
Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, has its sights set on its first NCAA berth for a men's team in school history. The football team is 7-0 and boasts a defensive end in Adham Talaat who is receiving attention from NFL scouts. Coach Chuck Goldstein has moved away from using the traditional football huddle — which was created at the school in the 1890s — in favor of openly signing plays before the snap:
"My philosophy is if you're going to take the time to learn sign language and be able to interpret what we're doing in 25 seconds, then more power to you. And interpreters are not cheap. Ninety dollars an hour — go ahead."