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Sept. 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM   |   Comments

Justin Rose leads BMW Championship

LEMONT, Ill., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Justin Rose grabbed the lead with an 8-under 63 after one round of the BMW Championship Thursday and Webb Simpson began his bid for a third win in four starts.

The third of the PGA Tour's four playoff tournaments opened in some of the coolest weather felt on the circuit this year, with temperatures in the 50s and a brisk wind blowing.

Rose birdied half the holes at the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club and finished with a two-shot lead. He began the tournament in 34th place on the FedEx Cup points list and needs to climb into the Top 30 this week to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

A victory this week would jump Rose all the way into one of the first five spots on the points list. If any of the leading five players wins the Tour Championship in Atlanta, that player will capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million first prize.

Simpson, with one playoff victory to his credit and the current points leader, shared second place with Mark Wilson at 65. Both Simpson and Wilson have two victories this year, but Wilson's wins came early in the season.

Simpson won the Wyndham Championship prior to the start of the playoffs and he then captured the Deutsche Bank Championship to take the points lead.

A second playoff win by Simpson would make him a leading contender for player-of-the-year honors even though he did not win a major title in 2011. His best finish in a major was a tie for 14th at the U.S. Open.

K.J. Choi was alone in fourth at 67 with Camilo Villegas, John Senden and defending FedEx champion Jim Furyk at 68.

Furyk needs to finish 11th or better this week to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went into last year's Tour Championship ranked 12th and his victory in that event vaulted him past the front runners to the biggest paycheck of his career.

Rickie Fowler and Chez Reavie, defeated by Simpson in a playoff at the Deutsche Bank event, were among those at 69.


Union chief says NBA players unified

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- NBA Players Association President Derek Fisher said Thursday he believed the union would put up a solid front during future negotiations with league owners.

A letter from Fisher to the players that was leaked Thursday indicated he did not think the owners were less unified.

Fisher gathered Thursday with several players to discuss the ongoing labor talks and he appeared at a news conference in advance of the meeting.

"At the end of the day, we'll have to negotiate a deal," Fisher said as he stood in front of a group of players. "And the only way we'll get a deal done that's fair is with these guys right here.

"Of course, we'd love to be back to work. We'd love for this lockout to end. But we've prepared ourselves for what it may bring. So if it ends tomorrow or if it ends a year from now, we're together and we're ready to tackle the issues that we'll face."

There had been some optimism expressed during talks between the players and owners this week, but CBS Sports.com reported that two owners -- Dan Gilbert of Cleveland and Robert Sarver of Phoenix -- had developed a hard-line approach to the negotiations that had slowed progress.

The letter Fisher sent to the players indicated he agreed with that report.

"What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides," the letter said. "The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally.

"They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners."

While the players were meeting in Las Vegas, the owners held their own gathering in Dallas.

The NBA lockout began July 1. Training camps are scheduled to open Oct. 3 and the opening exhibition games are set for Oct. 9. The first games in the regular season are scheduled for Nov. 1.

Although the league is at odds with its players, the NBA did announce Thursday it had agreed to a five-year collective bargaining agreement with its referees.

The new contract came almost two years after the NBA began the 2009-10 season with replacement officials.


Teemu Selanne to play another year

ANAHEIM, Calif., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Teemu Selanne, Anaheim's all-time scoring leader, said Thursday he had decided to play one more season for the Ducks.

Selanne had put a decision concerning the 2011-12 campaign on hold after undergoing knee surgery at the close of last season. He signed a one-year deal Thursday.

"I'm very happy that my knee has recovered from surgery and is ready for the season," said Selanne, 41. "I'm excited and optimistic about what this team can do and thankful to have another opportunity to play in Anaheim."

He scored 31 goals and had 49 assists in 73 games last season.

Selanne holds the Anaheim records for games played (774), goals (410) and assists (461). He is 27th on the NHL's all-time points list with 1,340.

His career began with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992. He has also played for San Jose and Colorado.


Minnesota coach returns to practice

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Minnesota Gophers Coach Jerry Kill was discharged from a hospital Thursday and was soon back on the practice field.

Kill returned to practice five days after collapsing on the sidelines near the end of a 28-21 loss to New Mexico State. He suffered a seizure, during which he convulsed and flipped from his back onto his side as stunned players watched.

"I'm pleased to report that Coach Kill has been discharged from care," Minnesota team physician Dr. Pat Smith said. "He is in good spirits and eager to get back to work. He has no restrictions and is free to return to work when he feels up to it."

Kill was hired by the Gophers last December after leading Northern Illinois to bowl appearances in three straight seasons. Minnesota is off to an 0-2 start this year.

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