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Sports Update

Nov. 13, 2001 at 11:48 PM   |   Comments

In Sports from United Press International

Woods, Duval begin title defense

GOTEMBA, Japan, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods and David Duval of the United States will be out to defend their title at the World Golf Championships-EMC World Cup at the Taiheiyo Club, which begins Thursday (Wednesday night in the United States).

Ranked first and third in the world, respectively, Woods and Duval form one of 24 international teams competing this week.

A year ago, the American duo overcame host Argentina, which was represented by European Tour members Angel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero, to win the inaugural event.

Among those trying to unseat Woods and Duval are 30 European Tour members who combined for 21 titles this season.

The South African squad includes reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els.

Another major champion in the field is Fiji's Vijay Singh, who was made an honorary member of the European Tour in May. A two-time Masters champion, Singh was winless on the PGA Tour this year but finished fourth on the money list with more than $3.4 million. Singh, who captured the Malaysian Open and Singapore Masters earlier this year, will team this weekend with Dinesh Chand.

Thomas Bjorn, a member of the European Ryder Cup team who held off Woods at the Dubai Desert Classic in March, will partner with Soren Hansen for Denmark.

Spain will be represented by 21-year-old Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Garcia enjoyed a breakthough PGA season, winning his first two tournaments and finishing sixth on the money list with just under $3 million.


Kovalev back after knee surgery

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins got back another of their walking wounded Tuesday as right wing Alexei Kovalev returned to the lineup after missing 13 games following knee surgery.

Coming off a career season, Kovalev underwent arthroscopic surgery on October 16 and has four assists in four games.

His return came three nights after superstar Mario Lemieux played for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery on October 29. The Penguins still are missing center Martin Straka, who could miss the rest of the season with a broken right leg, and defenseman Hans Jonsson and Janne Laukkanen.

Last season, Kovalev played on Pittsburgh's productive second line with Straka and Robert Lang and posted career bests with 44 goals and 51 assists in 79 games. He tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring, shared the league lead with four hat tricks and made his first All-Star Game appearance.


Johnson wins 3rd straight Cy Young Award

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Randy Johnson captured his third straight Cy Young Award Tuesday, honoring him as the best pitcher in the National League.

The tall, lanky Arizona star, known as "The Big Unit," won by a landslide over teammate Curt Schilling. The pair were baseball's most dominant pitching tandem this season as they led the Diamondbacks to a seven-game World Series victory over the New York Yankees.

They shared the Series MVP Award, but this one was all Johnson's. He collected 30 of the 32 first-place votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association and 156 points. Schilling got the other two first-place votes and 98 points.

The 38-year-old Johnson is the first pitcher to win the Cy Young three straight times since Greg Maddux won each year from 1992 to 1995. He is only the fourth pitcher to win the award as many as four times. Johnson won in the American League with the Seattle Mariners in 1995.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound lefthander was 21-6 this season with the best ERA in the National League -- 2.49. His 373 strikeouts in 249 2/3 innings established a record for strikeouts per nine innings (13.4).

Johnson went 16-2 with a 2.21 ERA in his final 24 appearances to help the Diamondbacks win the NL West title.

Schilling was just as important to Arizona's cause, posting a 22-6 record with a 2.98 ERA. He led all of baseball with 256 innings and struck out 293. After Arizona losses, Schilling was 13-1 with a 1.72 ERA.

Matt Morris of the St. Lous Cardinals, who tied Schilling for the league lead with 22 wins, finished third with one-second place vote and 28 thirds for 31 points.


Andruw Jones gets 6-year deal

ATLANTA, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Braves on Tuesday avoided another arbitration hearing with Andruw Jones by signing their star center fielder to a six-year contract.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but last year the 24-year-old defensive whiz beat the Braves in arbitration for $8.2 million--the largest figure ever awarded through the process.

Jones was eligible again this February and could have been a free agent after the 2002 season. But in the first of what could be some very tough decisions, the Braves opted to lock up the young power hitter.

Jones had a bit of an off-year, batting just .251 with 34 homers and a team-leading 104 RBI. He did capture his fourth straight Gold Glove Award and remained extremely durable--missing just one game.

Signed by the Braves in July 1993, Jones already has 150 homers and 465 RBI in 827 games. He erupted onto the national scene in 1996, when he became the second player to homer in his first two World Series at-bats, connecting against the New York Yankees. At 19 years, five months and 27 days, he was the youngest player in World Series history to homer.


Lions release Pete Mitchell

PONTIAC, Mich., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Tight end Pete Mitchell, who has been as big a disappointment as his team this season, was released Tuesday by the winless Detroit Lions.

Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Mitchell has just five catches for 29 yards in six games this season and has been inactive in each of the last two contests.

Under rookie coach Marty Mornhinweg, the Lions are the NFL's lone remaining winless team and are off to their worst start since an 0-11 campaign in 1942.

A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Mitchell spent the last two years with the New York Giants, before signing a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Lions. Last season, he caught 25 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown for the NFC champions.

The 30-year-old Mitchell spent his first four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has caught 254 passes for 2,639 yards and 13 TDs in his NFL career.


Storm wins first WNBA draft lottery

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Seattle Storm won the inaugural WNBA draft lottery conducted on Tuesday and own the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 for the second consecutive year.

The lottery was modeled after the one used in the NBA with the non-playoff teams participating and determined the order of the top three picks.

Seattle, Detroit, Washington and Indiana shared the league's worst record last season at 10-22 and had the best chances at receiving the No. 1 pick -- 226 chances out of 1,000. Detroit will have the second pick and Washington will select third overall.

The WNBA draft will be held April 19, 2002 in Secaucus, New Jersey.


Bledsoe gets medical green light

FOXBORO, Mass., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Quarterback Drew Bledsoe has been given medical clearance to return to the New England Patriots but he won't be starting right away.

Tom Brady, who has subbed admirably for Bledsoe, will start at the controls when the Patriots host the St. Louis Rams Sunday night.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Bledsoe has not played since suffering a "sheared" blood vessel in his chest cavity after being hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in a Sept. 23 game.

Bledsoe and members of the medical team that treated him held a news conference at Massachusetts General Hospital Tuesday afternoon. Bledsoe lost 20 pounds as a result of the internal bleeding, but resumed training two weeks ago.

"Whether it be the quarterback position or not there's something to say for staying with the hot hand," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said, in announcing that Brady would continue for now as the starter.


Another blow for Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Bills, off to their worst star in 16 years at 1-7, had another crippling blow to deal with Tuesday--the loss of their quarterback.

Rob Johnson suffered a broken collarbone in Sunday's 21-11 loss to the New England Patriots and is out for an estimated three to five weeks. There was concern among team officials and teammates alike, however, that he might be out much longer.

Johnson left the game with 4:41 left after Patriots cornerback Terrell Buckley slammed his right shoulder into the turf on a sack. Alex Van Pelt, who has not starter a game in four years, will be at the helm Sunday when the Bills face Seattle.


SYDNEY, Australia, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The big serve of Goran Ivanisevic put a dent into Gustavo Kuerten's dreams of ending the year as the No. 1 player Tuesday.

Ivanisevic, the eighth-seeded Wimbledon champion, fired 28 aces to power past the top-seeded Kuerten, 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, in just under two hours in round-robin play at the $3.65 million Tennis Masters Cup, the final ATP tournament of the season.

In the first Ken Rosewall Group match of the day, fifth seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) victory over No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain in two hours, 17 minutes.

Kuerten's lead in the ATP Tour Champions Race 2001 points standings shrunk to 38 points over U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt, the second-ranked Australian. Hewitt faces Australian Open winner Andre Agassi of the United States, another contender for the year-end No. 1 ranking, on Wednesday with 20 points going to the winner.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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