Woods increases Open lead
FARMINGDALE, N.Y., June 14 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods took complete command of the U.S. Open Friday, firing a 2-under 68 in steady rains to open a three-shot lead midway through the second round -- an advantage that had a good chance of growing as the day progressed.
Of those who played in the morning at the Bethpage Black course, the closest player to Woods was a distant eight shots behind. That was Billy Mayfair, who shot a 74 in the difficult conditions.
Every player closer to Woods than Mayfair still had a long and wet afternoon of golf ahead.
Woods, who owned a one-shot lead after one round, finished 36 holes at 5-under 135. The only other players under par were South Korean K.J. Choi, who was 2-under through four holes, and Spain's Sergio Garcia, who was 1-under through four.
Woods was the only player in the morning half of the field to break par. David Duval was 1-under in the latter stages of his round, but faded to shoot 73 and finish at 11-over 151 for 36 holes.
The 36-hole cut could be in the 9-over or 10-over range, which would be the highest U.S. Open cut in 16 years.
This year's Open has taken on the appearance of Woods' first victory in this tournament two years ago -- when he beat his nearest rival by 15 shots. In that event, Woods tamed a Pebble Beach Golf Links layout that frustrated every other player in the field.
Off-and-on Rains began falling shortly after midnight on Long Island and they persisted throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Heavy rains were expected to move into the area during the latter stages of the second round.
Nevertheless, Woods birdied the first two holes from four and three feet and then rolled in a six-footer for another birdie at the par-5 fourth.
He suffered a bogey at the par-3 eighth, however, when his tee shot plugged in a bunker. And from that point, Woods put on a typically tremendous scrambling exhibition. He saved par time and again from difficult spots, beginning at the ninth, when he got up and down from a greenside bunker.
At the brutal, par-4 15th, Woods drove into the rough, put his second shot in a bunker and wound up holing a 12-footer for par. And at the par-3 17th, his tee shot sailed over the green into deep rough.
With bogey seemingly a sure thing, Woods slashed a sand wedge through the tall grass, lobbed the ball onto the green and it trickled directly at the hole. Only at the last second did it take a slight break to the left, but Woods had only a short putt remaining to save par.
For the second straight day, Woods closed his round with a birdie -- holing an 18-footer at the 18th for his 68.
"I couldn't have asked for a better start," Woods said. "It is always great to start this way, especially in the U.S. Open.
"The golf course is brutal. If you make one mistake here or there, it adds up and you pay a price. It is always nice to make those big par putts. They feel better than making a birdie.
"The par save at the ninth was really important. With the 10th, 11th and 12th coming up (three of the hardest holes on the course), it was a big save."
Among those trying to survive in the weather late in the day and at 1-over par early in their rounds were Rocco Mediate, Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington, Tom Lehman and Scott Hoch. For them to stay at that figure throughout the afternoon would require an outstanding round of golf, the kind that only Woods could manage among the morning starters.
Mayfair was in second place among those in the clubhouse at 143 while Scott McCarron and Steve Flesh were at 4-over 144.
U.S. sneaks in to second round at World Cup
SEOUL, June 14 (UPI) -- A World Cup that has been nothing short of bizarre became even stranger Friday, much to the delight of the United States and to the everlasting chagrin of Portugal.
Two weeks of group play concluded Friday night, at the end of which Japan and South Korea had upheld the tradition of success by host nations and the round of 16 had taken on a most unexpected appearance.
The collection of teams remaining to play for the World Cup includes nine from Europe, two from South America, one from Africa and two from Asia. No Asian nation had ever advanced out of World Cup group play and now two have done so and both will provide challenges in the next round thanks to the passionate home crowds.
The final 16 also includes Mexico and the United States, who will meet next Monday in a renewal of an old rivalry that has never had such high stakes.
How the United States arrived in the second round merely added to the unique nature of this World Cup.
Needing a win or a tie against Poland to ensure their advancement, the Americans suffered two huge defensive lapses in the opening minutes Friday night in Daejeon and found themselves in an instant 2-0 hole. With Poland falling back into a defensive shell, the Americans eventually suffered a 3-1 defeat.
That meant the only way the United States could advance would be for South Korea to defeat Portugal and when the early result of the Americans' game became known at the site of the South Korea-Portugal match, those teams knew that they both would advance if their game ended in a tie.
A tie seemed to be likely since neither side played aggressively during the first half. Instead of playing aggressively, Portugal played with a lack of good judgment.
Portugal's Joao Pinto was sent off in the 27th minute for making a dangerous tackle, but even then a tie seemed to be the inevitable result. In the 65th minute, however, Deus Severo Beto drew his second yellow card of the match and Portugal was suddenly playing two men down.
That brought about a nightmare scenario for Portugal when Ji-Sung Park settled a cross in front of the net, stepped by defender Sergio Conceicao and rocketed the ball past Vitor Baia in the 69th minute.
Although Portugal threw everyone forward in the final minutes and hit the post once, South Korea hung on for its 1-0 victory.
Despite the loss to Poland, the United States finished group play with four points while Portugal and Poland had just three each. That gave the Americans second place in the group and moved them into the second round for only the second time since 1932.
If South Korea had not scored its goal, the United States and Portugal would have both finished with four points and Portugal would have advanced on goal differential. Although Portugal does not have the worldwide reputation some of the more traditional soccer powers do, its absence from the round of 16 is almost as shocking as that of Argentina and defending champion France.
"I am disappointed," said Portugal coach Antonio Oliveira. "This is not the result we expected. We didn't achieve our goal.
"It would make no sense to make any comments about red cards, referees or whether they (the dismissals) were good decisions or bad decisions.
"Nobody expected that USA and Korea would make it to the second round and the same way nobody expected that Portugal, France and Argentina would be out."
"We were lucky," said America's Claudio Reyna. "We owe Korea some thanks. But a lot of teams got through with four points. We have had some bad luck in the past and we will take some good luck today.
"We will have to regroup. But a lot of teams got through with a little bit of luck. Italy, one of the best teams in the world, got through with a little luck."
The round of 16 begins Saturday with Germany playing Paraguay and Denmark taking on England. On Sunday, it will be Sweden vs. Senegal and Spain vs. Ireland. Monday's games find Mexico meeting the United States and Brazil playing Belgium. The second round will close out Tuesday with Japan facing Turkey and South Korea tangling with Italy.
If the United States should defeat Mexico, it would play the Germany-Paraguay winner in the quarterfinals on June 21.
"Certainly, we are elated to qualify for the second round," American coach Bruce Arena said. "However, I am disappointed with tonight's results.
"I must give credit to Poland. They played very well. If you play a team of that much quality and you get behind by two goals in the first five minutes, you will have a very difficult battle ahead of you, and we certainly faced that. At the same time, our guys never quit and played well at good parts of the game."
The other two countries to advance Friday were Japan and Belgium.
Japan began the day leading Group H and carried the favorite's role against Tunisia. The Japanese upheld that role with a 2-0 victory that left them on top of the group.
Belgium needed to defeat Russia in the other Group H game to prevent the Russians from advancing and two late goals gave Belgium a 3-2 victory.
Goals in a four-minute span by Wesley Sonck and Marc Wilmots gave Belgium a 3-1 lead.
"It's great to have beaten Russia to qualify for the next round," Belgium coach Robert Waseige said. "In a football match, you can never follow a pre-set scenario. This time we were lucky that one of our substitutes, Wesley Sonck, went on at the right time and managed to score a very important goal."
Although the opening round of the World Cup will be viewed in Europe from the angle that France and Portugal failed to advance, those in Asia will celebrate the dramatic improvement of teams in that part of the world.
"This is the culmination of many years of work," said the coach of the Japanese team, Frenchman Philippe Troussier.
"Japanese football is not perhaps recognized as it should be, particularly in Europe. We've had a project going now for four years which has been developing. We've had the public behind us with great support here in Japan and with each match we've developed momentum.
"That has carried us on from one match to another and now to qualification for the next round."
Lakers have victory parade
LOS ANGELES, June 14 (UPI) -- It's another June, and the Los Angeles Lakers are having another celebration at City Hall.
An estimated one-million people has flooded downtown L.A. to take part in the parade for the three-time NBA champions. For the third straight year, Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson are leading the celebration, symbolic of the team's third straight NBA crown.
Players and coaches have boarded 11 red double-decker buses, traveling south on Figueroa Street to the Staples Center.
Longtime broadcaster Chick Hearn, who had heart surgery in December and also suffered a broken hip this year, is the emcee.
For the past two years, O'Neal has entertained the crowd with his hip-hop rap and dance steps. However, reserve forward Mark Madsen provided the laughter last year with his clumsy dance moves.
The Lakers completed a four-game sweep of the New Jersey Nets with a 113-107 victory on Wednesday night, giving Jackson his record-tying ninth NBA title, three straight with the Chicago Bulls from 1991-93 and 1996-98, and three with the Lakers.
Jackson, 58, tied Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics for the most NBA titles, and recorded his 156th career postseason
victory, moving past Pat Riley for the most all-time.
O'Neal set an NBA record with 145 points in a four-game series. He averaged 36.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in what may be the most dominant Finals performance in league history.
The Lakers have won 14 titles, nine in Los Angeles and five in Minneapolis. They have appeared in 12 of the last 23 NBA Finals, winning eight. Only the Celtics have won more titles with 16.
At age 23, Bryant is the youngest player ever to have three championship rings, and forward Robert Horry earned his fifth ring after winning back-to-back titles with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and '95.
Red Wings have to find a coach
DETROIT, June 14 (UPI) -- Scotty Bowman, the greatest coach in NHL history, announced his retirement Thursday night after guiding the Detroit Red Wings to
their third Stanley Cup in six years and the record ninth of his unparalleled career.
Bowman revealed his plans to players on the ice at Joe Louis Arena, moments after the Wings posted a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Five of the Finals.
"It's my last game as a coach," he said. "I made up my mind (during) the Olympic break. We got lucky, I had a little bit of a rest. But I am so happy to go out now."
With a ninth championship, Bowman broke the record held by his mentor, Toe Blake. Three nights earlier, he passed Blake with his 35th Stanley Cup Finals victory.
"Toe Blake coached 13 years in this league and he won eight Cups," Bowman noted. "I think he was far and away the best coach that's ever coached in the league. I have had 30-something
years at it, so if you stay long enough on a job, you can get yourself in a position where you are looked at."
Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach of the NBA are the only other coaches in major professional sports to win nine championships.
Casey Stengel managed the New York Yankees to 10 pennants and seven World Series titles.
College World Series commences in Omaha
OMAHA, Neb., June 14 (UPI) -- There will be a local favorite when the College World Series begins Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. That might be bad news for Clemson.
The Tigers will face Nebraska, which will pack the crowd with supporters wearing red, after Georgia Tech opens the tournament against South Carolina.
Nebraska (47-19) is making its second straight trip to the CWS, and is hoping to fare better than last season, when it dropped a pair of one-run decisions to Cal State-Fullerton and Tulane in its first CWS appearance in school history.
Cornhuskers righthander Shane Komine hopes to have a better effort since he was touched for all five runs in a 5-4 defeat to the Titans. That was Komine's last loss since he went 10-0 with a 1.87 ERA this season as his team's ace.
The offense features a prolific leadoff hitter in Jeff Liese, who is one of six .300 hitters in the Nebraska lineup with a .378 average.
Designated-hitter Jed Morris bats third and leads the team with 21 homers.
Clemson (52-15) was ranked No. 1 for most of the season, and features some outstanding hitters of its own. The Tigers outscored their
opponents, 40-4, in winning their regional before taking two of three games from Arkansas to capture their Super Regional.
Mets hire Chambliss as hitting coach
NEW YORK, June 14 (UPI) -- Former New York Yankee great Chris Chambliss was hired Thursday by the New York Mets to be their new hitting coach.
The hiring came on the eve of the annual interleague Subway Series between the two rivals. Chambliss replaces Dave Engle, who was fired earlier this week.
"To be back and working in New York again and be working in the major leagues is very exciting," Chambliss said. "I have no idea what to say. It all happened so fast."
Chambliss, who also held a similar post with the Yankees from 1996-2000. He had been serving as a roving minor league hitting instructor for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Mets, he has his work cut out for him.
The Mets (32-33), in fourth place in the National League East and 6 1/2 games back of Atlanta, have been one of baseball's biggest disappointments thus far, mainly because of a consistent lack of offense. That despite a star-studded line up which includes offseason acquisitions Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar and slugger Jeromy Burnitz to go along with Mike Piazza.
Vaughn is at the heart of the Mets' hitting problems. He has only four home runs and 21 RBI and has a batting average a paltry .229 in 51 games. Burnitz hasn't been much better. In 64 games, he has eight homers and is batting just .197, 60 points below his career average.
Piazza has not been able to avoid the team's hitting malaise, either. Even though he has been their best performer, Piazza is batting just .278, which is 45 points under his career average.
Also, the Mets team batting average is .246. Only three teams are worse. And, as a team, they have hit only 49 home runs. Only the Pirates have hit fewer in the National League.
Chambliss said his plan will be to give individual advice to each player.
"Everyone doesn't need to have a system of hitting," he said. "I don't try to incorporate that. Over the years I've learned that the important thing is to know all styles of hitting and things to help guys get better. I have a big job ahead of me."
"Chris was exactly the right guy," said General Manager Steve Phillips. "Having played in New York and succeeded, having coached in New York and succeeded. We hope to wipe the slate clean with our hitters and get a fresh start."
Tampa Bay pitcher suspended
NEW YORK, June 14 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays lefthander Joe Kennedy has been suspended seven games for intentionally throwing at the head of Ken Huckaby of Toronto in a game June 6 at SkyDome.
Major League Vice President Bob Watson levied the suspension on Friday and also fined Kennedy an undisclosed amount. Unless appealed, Kennedy's suspension will begin with this weekend's series against the Florida Marlins.
Both benches emptied after Kennedy threw at Huckaby in the seventh inning, although no punches were thrown. Kennedy and Tampa Bay Manager Hal McRae were ejected.
Kennedy was retaliating for an incident in the fourth inning, when Toronto starter Luke Prokopec hit Aubrey Huff in the helmet.
The 23-year-old Kennedy is 4-5 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 starts. He fired a six-hitter in his last start, an 11-2 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Cubs P Zambrano suspended five games
CHICAGO, June 14 (UPI) -- Chicago Cubs righthander Carlos Zambrano, who has not pitched in a major league game for over a month, Friday was suspended five games for his actions in a June 4 minor league game with Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League.
Zambrano was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Cubs on May 10 with a strained pitching elbow and was on a rehab assignment with Iowa. But he threw at a batter in a game
against Salt Lake, inciting a benches-clearing incident in the ninth inning.
The 21-year-old Zambrano has no decisions with a 3.27 ERA in 11 appearances with Chicago.
Unless he appeals, the suspension begins Friday, when the Cubs start a three-game series with their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
Jaguars sign G Raleigh Roundtree
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 14 (UPI) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars Friday continued to fortify their offensive line, signing versatile guard Raleigh Roundtree to a one-year contract.
Despite his versatility, Roundtree, who spent his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers and started 31 games at both guard positions over the last
two years, did not draw much interest in the free agent market. He signed for the veteran minimum of $525,000.
Since June 1, the Jaguars have signed Roundtree, center Kevin Long from Tennessee and tackle Daryl Terrell from New Orleans after unloading wide receiver Keenan McCardell and middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
Roundtree has started at every position on the offensive line except center, most of them at guard. He cracked the starting lineup at left guard in 2000 before switching to right guard last season. He became expendable when the Chargers selected Nebraska's Toniu Fonoti in the second round of the April draft.
Sorenstam takes lead at Evian Masters
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France, June 14 (UPI) -- Annika Sorenstam, racing out to an early lead, birdied the first three holes Friday on the way to a 7-under-65 and opened a four-shot lead over Mi Hyun Kim of Korea after the third round of the $2.1 million Evian Masters.
The tournament matches the top players from the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour, including Sorenstam, the four-time 2002 LPGA Tour winner and reigning Player of the Year.
The Swedish star who began the day one shot off the lead, did not have a bogey on Friday. She used a pitching wedge to set up short putts on the first two holes and sank an 11-foot putt on No. 3.
Sorenstam birdied Nos. 12, 14, 16 and 17, and worked her way out of the rough on 18 to salvage par and finish with a score of 16-under 200 after three rounds.