Tiger Woods caps off amazing comeback with a win
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
Monday, September 24
ATLANTA (AP) — Tiger Woods, in his Sunday red shirt, both arms raised in victory on the 18th green.
For so many years, the scene was familiar.
This time, it was surreal.
“I can’t believe I pulled this off,” Woods said Sunday during the trophy presentation at the Tour Championship, where he gave thousands of delirious fans at East Lake, and millions more around the world, what they wanted to see, and what they thought they might never see again.
And at that moment, Woods was overcome with emotion and paused.
After two back surgeries six weeks apart, he couldn’t lie down, sit or walk without pain. Golf was the least of his concerns, so much that he once said anything else he achieved would be “gravy.”
One year ago, while recovering from a fourth back surgery, he still had no idea if he could come back to the highest level of golf.
“Just to be able to compete and play again this year, that’s a hell of a comeback,” he said.
Woods delivered the perfect ending to his amazing return from back surgeries with a performance out of the past. He left the competition feeling hopeless as he built a five-shot lead early and then hung on for a 1-over 71 and a two-shot victory over Billy Horschel.
It was the 80th victory of his PGA Tour, two short of the career record held by Sam Snead that is now very much in play. And it was his first victory in more than five years, dating to the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational.
And that brought a new version of Tigermania.
After he hit his second shot to the par-5 18th safely in a bunker in front of the green, the crowd came through the ropes and followed behind in a chaotic celebration. It was like that when he walked from the left side of the 18th fairway at the 1997 Masters he won by 12. It was reminiscent of that walk up the 18th fairway later that summer at the Western Open in Chicago.
This was pure pandemonium. Fans chased after any inch of grass they could find to watch the ending.
“I didn’t want to get run over,” Woods said with a laugh.
This felt just as big as a major, maybe better considering where Woods had been.
Several players, from Zach Johnson to Rickie Fowler to Horschel, waited to greet him. It was Johnson who unveiled red shirts at the Ryder Cup two years ago in the team room that said, “Make Tiger Great Again.”
“They knew what I was struggling with,” Woods said. “It was special to see them.”
Woods played only one PGA Tour event over two seasons because of his back. Off the golf course, he had to overcome the embarrassment of a DUI arrest in the early morning of Memorial Day in 2017 when he was found asleep at the wheel, later found to have a concoction of pain medication in his system.
He was becoming a legend on in video highlights.
And then he brought it back to life this year, especially the last four days at East Lake. The players who have turns at No. 1 during his absence caught the full brunt of Woods in control. McIlroy faded early. Justin Rose faded late.
All that was left was the 42-year-old Woods in that red shirt, blazing brighter than ever, and a smile he couldn’t shake walking up the 18th to collect another trophy.
“The 80 mark is a big number,” he said. “It’s a pretty damned good feeling.”
He finished at 11-under 269 and won $1.62 million, along with a $3 million bonus for finishing second in the FedEx Cup.
The only disappointment — a minor one under the circumstances — was realizing as he came down the 18th that Rose had made birdie to finish in a three-way tie for fourth, which gave him the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus.
Without that birdie, Woods would have won his third FedEx Cup title after starting at No. 20 going into the Tour Championship.
“Congrats, Rosie,” Woods told him. “World No. 1, hell of a season.”
Actually, former world No. 1 for Rose. His four bogeys over the last 10 holes cost him the No. 1 ranking back to Dustin Johnson, who shot 67 and finished third.
But this wasn’t about the FedEx Cup or even the world ranking.
This is Tiger’s big day, and nothing was going to change it.
Woods had never lost when leading by three shots or more going into the final round. That was when he was regularly winning multiple times every season, compiling trophies at a rate never before seen in golf.
Was anything different having gone more than five years without winning?
Rose had said it was a bit more unknown, and “there’s a lot on it for him” as well as everyone else.
But this was still Woods’ arena. The walk from the putting green snakes some 80 yards across the road and through a gallery, and everyone could hear him coming from the procession of cheering. And within the opening hour, the Tour Championship had that inevitable feeling.
No one brings excitement like Woods, even when he plays so good and so smart that he eliminates any potential for drama.
The buzz was endless. A couple of teenagers climbed into a tree to see him made a 10-foot birdie on the first hole. When the putt dropped and cheers died, there was a wild sprint some 200 yards up the hill as fans tried to get into position for the next shot. He tapped in for par, and another stampede ensued to line the third fairway.
On and on it went. No one wanted to miss a shot.
A year ago, there was no guarantee anyone would see much of Woods, much less Woods winning.
He’s back again. This victory, his first since the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in August 2013 — 1,876 days, to be exact — brought him to No. 13 in the world. Not bad for a 42-year-old with four back surgeries who returned to competition in December at No. 1,199 in the world.
The next stop for Woods is to board a plane with the rest of his U.S. teammates for France and the Ryder Cup.
There’s no telling.
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Iowa State honors slain golfer before Akron football game
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, September 22
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State honored slain golf star Celia Barquin Arozamena with an elaborate ceremony ahead of the Cyclones’ game against Akron on Saturday.
Iowa State’s band used a formation that spelled out Barquin’s initials, and both teams wore a decal on their helmets in her memory.
A tribute to Barquin played on a video screen before a moment of silence, and fans were asked to wear yellow, one of Iowa State’s main colors and a nod to Barquin’s Spanish roots. Most of the roughly 60,000 fans in attendance complied with yellow and with golf shirts on a chilly morning in central Iowa.
Barquin, 22 and a native of Puente San Miguel, Spain, was killed on Monday while she played at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, a course that sits less than a mile east of Jack Trice Stadium.
Before her death, Iowa State had planned to honor Barquin on the field to celebrate her being chosen the school’s female athlete of the year.
“I think it’s fantastic. The tribute is amazing. But ultimately, it would have been perfect if she could have been here for her tribute, which was going to happen anyway.” said Ed Hamilton, a retired police officer from nearby Ankeny, Iowa.
Barquin, the Cyclones’ first Big 12 champion in 25 years, was finishing her degree at Iowa State and working toward her ultimate goal of becoming a professional golfer.
Barquin competed in the U.S Women’s Open earlier this summer, and coach Christie Martens said she was approaching “the pinnacle of her career.”
“Iowa State fans are very loyal. We haven’t had too many winning football teams over the years. Yet the fans turn out. There’s a great loyalty here — but it spills into other sports as well,” said Iowa State fan Kent Hollrah of Denison, Iowa.
Collin Richards, also 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in Barquin’s death. Police said Richards stabbed Barquin and left her body in a pond on the course, where it was found after other golfers noticed her abandoned bag.
Cyclones coach Matt Campbell wore an Iowa State golf hat on the sideline Saturday to show solidarity with his colleagues. Iowa State beat Akron 26-13.
“Be with all of us today Celia, your legacy will forever live on & we are forever grateful for your impact. Much love from your Cyclonitas,” Iowa State linebacker Willie Harvey tweeted earlier Saturday, using the nickname that Barquin had for her teammates.
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Jeter’s Marlins finish as poorest home draw since 2004 Expos
Sunday, September 23
MIAMI (AP) — The 25th anniversary of the Marlins franchise was seen by the fewest fans at home in team history.
The Marlins became the first major league team to draw fewer than 1 million fans at home since the 2004 Montreal Expos, beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-0 Sunday before 13,595 to complete the Miami portion of their schedule in Derek Jeter’s first season as chief executive officer.
“Obviously we would like to fill it up every day, but I know it’s the first year of what we’re doing and a lot of new people and a lot of new things we’re doing at the ballpark, so it’s hard for me to assess,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
After trading star slugger Giancarlo Stanton to Jeter’s former team, the New York Yankees, during an offseason payroll purge, the Marlins went 38-43 at home and drew 811,104 for an average of 10,014.
Miami’s previous low was 813,118 in 2002.
The Marlins are last in the NL East at 62-93 overall, their eighth consecutive losing season. The Marlins have not reached the playoffs since beating the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.
Miami’s attendance is the lowest for a big league team since the Expos drew 749,550 in 2004, their last season before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals. Miami is finishing its seventh season at Marlins Park, built with a retractable roof to encourage attendance in Florida’s summer heat and humidty.
“I think you’re going to have low numbers just about anywhere at certain points in the season with the weather and atmosphere, it’s going to happen,” Marlins rookie Brian Anderson said. “It can be tough sometimes, but that’s just how a big league season is. It’s a grind, but we made it through it this year.”
The only other team under 1.4 million at home this year is cross-state rival Tampa Bay, which has drawn 1,091,863 with a week of home games remaining.
“Hopefully we’re playing good enough to where fans want to see it and they want to support us,” Anderson said. “We do have a good fan base down here in Miami and I think we’ve seen that especially this weekend.”
Despite the low season turnout, the Marlins turned in the second-largest weekend draw of the season at 37,625, including 13,595 on Sunday.
“The fans showed up today,” said Trevor Richards, who pitched seven innings and struck out nine. “You could hear them. It was a pretty good crowd. It fun today.”
Rookie catcher Chad Wallach hit his first big league home run, a three-run drive in a four-run third off Michael Lorenzen (3-2), who allowed nine hits in four innings. Wallach and Anderson each had three hits.
“In the big moments and we’re putting runs across, the fans are getting into it, it’s a good time and you see what it can be like it here and how much fun it can be,” Anderson said. “We look forward to more of that next year and hopefully getting more fans and getting a little bit better of an atmosphere.”
Trevor Richards (4-9) gave up three hits in seven innings, struck out nine and walked one. Tyler Kinley and Drew Rucinski finished a four-hitter.
“It was just a lot of fun,” Wallach said. “The homer was obviously fun. It was great catching Trevor out there. He was phenomenal today. He had everything going for him. It was just a fun game.”
Cincinnati finished the road portion of its schedule at 30-51, its fourth straight season of 50 or more losses away from home. The Reds are 36-40 at home.
“We certainly have to do better than that, and at home also,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “The road situation has really hurt us. I don’t really know why that would be but we have to do a better job.
Lorenzen and Wallach were former teammates at Cal State-Fullerton for two seasons and were reunited with the Reds last season.
“He is a little bit different of a pitcher now,” Wallach said. “He’s got some more pitches.”
Lorenzen was frustrated with the results of his outing.
“Nine hits, four innings eight of them being singles,” Lorenzen said. “They just singled me to death and Wallach kind of threw the knockout punch and got me with it. It’s definitely frustrating. You want them to hit the ball.”
Reds: RHP Matt Harvey (7-9, 4.92 ERA) is to start Tuesday’s opener of a two-game home series against Kansas City.
Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 2.35) is slated for Monday’s first game of a three-game series at Washington.
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Razzle dazzle lifts unbeaten Miami past winless Raiders
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
Monday, September 24
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Razzle dazzle worked for the Miami Dolphins when little else went right.
Injuries depleted their front four, and penalties became a problem. The ground game disappeared, and the defense wearied on a 90-degree afternoon as the Oakland Raiders hogged the ball.
But Miami coach Adam Gase took advantage of speedy receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant with creative play-calling, and the Dolphins overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 16 minutes Sunday to beat winless Oakland 28-20 .
“Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “You have to have the grit and togetherness to stick it through and find a way to win.”
The surprising Dolphins (3-0) have done that every week so far, setting up an early-season AFC East showdown Sunday at New England. Here are things to know about Miami’s latest win:
EXOTICS: Wilson and Grant scored on jet sweeps, with each taking a short toss from Tannehill in the backfield and turning the corner into the clear. But the best bit of trickery was Wilson’s pass — the first of his NFL career — to Grant for a 52-yard score that put Miami ahead to stay.
The source of the play? Gase’s mentor, former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz.
“Just straight thievery,” Gase said. “I mean we stole it. It’s an old Martz play. Nobody watches his old stuff. They might now.”
WINLESS: The Raiders fell to 0-3 under new coach Jon Gruden, and have lost seven in a row dating to last season. Running back Marshawn Lynch, who rarely comments publicly, offered words of encouragement for Oakland fans.
“Most of our players are playmakers,” Lynch said. “Just one juke or spin move, or step out of one tackle, and we’ll have a different ballgame.”
Oakland plays at home Sunday against Cleveland.
KEEPAWAY: The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in just 39 plays. Oakland ran 74 and had a 17-minute advantage in time of possession.
“It was like death by a thousand paper clips,” Gase said.
Oakland’s ball-control approach took a toll on a Miami front four that lost three players. Akeem Spence was ejected, and William Hayes and Andre Branch suffered knee injuries.
That left Miami with only six defensive linemen on a sweltering afternoon.
“They were gassed,” Gase said. “They were fighting, though. That’s why I love our locker room.”
The Dolphins also overcame nine penalties for 74 yards, and won even though their running backs totaled 15 yards on 11 carries.
TAKEAWAY: Cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Oakland’s Derek Carr twice deep in Miami territory. Howard outmaneuvered intended receiver Martavis Bryant on the second pick, when the Raiders were on the verge of regaining the lead with three minutes to go.
“I saw one on one with Martavis, and I took a chance,” Carr said. “They just made a good play.”
Said Howard: “It was game-changing. It meant everything. It took the soul out of them when I caught the interception.”
Two plays later, Wilson scored on a 74-yard catch and run to seal Miami’s win.
The Dolphins have seven interceptions. They totaled nine all of last year.
TAKING A TOLL: Gruden — among others — appeared physically drained by the subtropical heat.
“It affected me,” he said. “It was hot. It was hot for them, too.”
Raiders tackle Donald Penn (concussion) and safety Karl Joseph (lower leg) sat out the second half. Receiver-returner Dwayne Harris (dehydration) required an IV.
For Miami, tight end A.J. Derby (foot) sat out the second half, and cornerback Bobby McCain was shaken up in the final minutes.
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Brady, Patriots searching for answers after another loss
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
Monday, September 24
DETROIT (AP) — Tom Brady isn’t the type to panic over a couple early losses.
He’s also not making any promises about where New England’s season could go from here.
Brady was held to 133 yards passing Sunday night, part of an abysmal performance by the Patriots in a 26-10 loss to previously winless Detroit. New England barely mustered 200 yards of total offense, and Brady spent most of the game on the sideline as the Lions ran up a huge advantage in time of possession.
There’s certainly plenty of time for the Patriots (1-2) to snap out of their funk, but even a team with their track record isn’t guaranteed anything.
“We’ll see,” Brady said. “I’m not going to make predictions. It’s about hard work, it’s about commitment, it’s about being disciplined, it’s about doing the right thing. Obviously, we’re not doing a great job of that.”
After a loss to Jacksonville the previous weekend, the Patriots came out flat against Detroit. With 4:58 left in the second quarter, the Lions led 13-0, and that didn’t do justice to Detroit’s domination. At that point, the Lions had massive statistical edges in first downs (14-0), yards (196-13) and time of possession (20:46-4:16).
New England scored the next 10 points to pull within three, but Matthew Stafford’s 33-yard scoring pass to Marvin Jones in the third quarter made it 20-10.
Brady was held to his fewest yards passing since Dec. 28, 2014, when he threw for only 80 in a loss to Buffalo. Brady split time with Jimmy Garoppolo in that game, after the Patriots had already wrapped up the division.
On Sunday, New England went three-and-out on its first two possessions, and Detroit (1-2) was able to establish its long-dormant running game, keeping Brady off the field. Rookie Kerryon Johnson ran for 101 yards for the Lions, their first 100-yard rusher since Nov. 28, 2013.
“There’s no magic play you can call. It just comes down to execution — throwing and catching, and converting on third down,” Brady said. “It’s not one thing, it’s everything that we need to do a better job of.”
With Josh Gordon inactive and Julian Edelman still suspended, Brady didn’t seem to have enough targets. On one play in the fourth quarter, he threw a deep pass over the middle and no New England player was anywhere near the ball. That apparent miscommunication led to an intentional grounding flag that helped derail another possession.
It was the first time the Patriots lost back-to-back games by double digits since December 2002, according to ESPN Stats & Info. New England had a bumpy start to last season as well, dropping two of its first four games. The Patriots recovered well enough to make it to the Super Bowl, but right now they’re searching for answers once again.
“We’re not scoring enough points. We’re not executing well enough on a down-by-down basis,” Brady said. “There’s been a lot of talk about it in practice, and we’re going through it and watching film and correcting stuff. It’s just not getting done on the field.”
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Huskers’ Frost on Purdue: ‘We get a game that we can win’
By ERIC OLSON
AP College Football Writer
Monday, September 24
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — First-year coach Scott Frost warned last week things could get worse for winless Nebraska before they get better.
Anyone who watched 14th-ranked Michigan’s 56-10 throttling of the Cornhuskers on Saturday would be hard-pressed to imagine how things could get worse than they are now.
The Huskers (0-3, 0-1 Big Ten) are off to their worst start since George “Potsy” Clark’s 1945 team opened 0-5.
They’ve lost seven straight games since last season, with the opponents scoring 31, 54, 56, 56, 33, 24 and 56 points.
A loss at home to Purdue this Saturday would give Nebraska an eight-game losing streak and seven-game home losing streak, both unprecedented in the program’s 129 seasons.
Purdue (1-3, 0-1) happens to be the only team Nebraska has beaten in its current nine-losses-in-10-games stretch. The Huskers won 25-24 in West Lafayette, Indiana, last October on a touchdown with 14 seconds left.
“We’ve got a chance to get reset next week,” Frost said. “This is a really good (Michigan) team we played. We get a game that we can win next week.
“We’ve got to find a way to get better. We’re not ready to beat a team like (Michigan) yet, but the key word is yet. Because I know where it’s going. Certainly it isn’t happening as quickly as I would like, but I’m kind of excited because it’s not going to get worse than this. It’s only up from here.”
The Huskers’ 39-0 halftime deficit was their largest on record, their 39 rushing yards were fewest since managing 31 against Southern California in 2007, and their 132 total yards were fewest since finishing with 106 against Texas in 2009.
“We’re not going to go any lower than this,” offensive lineman Jerald Foster said. “We talked about how if you’re in a swimming pool, this is the bottom of the pool. You’re finally touching the feet on the ground. At that point, you’re finally able to push off. It’s not about swimming, it’s about getting back to the top.”
Special teams struggled again. Return man Tyjon Lindsey muffed a punt to set up a Michigan touchdown, the Huskers gave up Donovan Peoples-Jones’ 60-yard punt return for a TD, and Nebraska’s Jaron Woodyard interfered with Peoples-Jones as he tried to catch another punt. The Huskers also were penalized on three other special teams plays.
“More than a few breakdowns,” Frost said. “We’re a team, so it’s on all of us. There’s some things that just keep happening and that means guys either can’t do it or won’t do it right. We can’t keep kicking the ball down the middle of the field 50 yards and give athletes like they had back deep a chance to return it. We got to be able to field a punt when it’s bouncing on the ground and not muff it and give it to them. We can’t have penalties.”
Frost said he wasn’t concerned about having players check out mentally, as some admittedly did last year when the losses began piling up at the end of Mike Riley’s time as coach.
“The only ones we would lose are the ones we never really had,” Frost said, “and that’s probably better in the long run. If there’s guys that jump off ship, then we never really had them. The guys that we’re actually going to win with and win championships with would never do that. Inevitably that’s going to happen. The wrong type of people are going to jump off if they’re not having the results they want. And that’s healthy for the team.”
The Huskers enter this week 11th or lower in the Big Ten in three of the four major offensive categories and 10th or lower in three of the four on defense.
They’ll be trying for their first win in 336 days, almost an unfathomable dry spell for a program that ranks fifth in all-time wins.
“We’re not giving up, we’re going to get this thing right,” Frost said. “They brought us in here to get it right; we’re going to get it right. We knew it was a big job because there’s just so much that needed to be fixed and changed. We’re not there yet.”
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Michigan, contributed to this report.
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