Rookie leads, McIlroy leaves at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., March 1 (UPI) -- Rookie Luke Guthrie had the lead Friday, Tiger Woods barely survived the cut and Rory McIlroy walked off the course in the second round of the Honda Classic.
In an out-of-the-ordinary day on the PGA Tour, first-round leader Camilo Villegas failed to qualify for the weekend action and the normally difficult PGA National course continued to yield low scores.
The center of attention, however, turned out to be McIlroy, the event's defending champion and the top-ranked player in the world.
He had already endured a struggling start to the season, having missed the cut in his first tournament of the year before losing in the opening round of the World Match Play Championship last week. Things, however, got worse on Friday.
After shooting an even-par 70 in the opening round, McIlroy played his first eight holes in 7-over on Friday. After hitting his second shot into the water at the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day, he shook hands with playing partners Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and walked off the course.
McIlroy told a group of reporters who caught up with him in the parking lot that he was "in a bad place right now."
An hour later a statement was released from McIlroy through the PGA Tour saying his withdrawal was brought on by a painful wisdom tooth that is "due to come out in the near future."
"It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate," the statement said. "It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners.
"I came here with every intention of defending my Honda Classic title. Even though my results haven't revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner."
While that was going on, Guthrie was in the process of firing a tournament-low, 7-under 63 that put him at 9-under 131 for 36 holes and one shot in front of Michael Thompson.
Guthrie, who reached the PGA Tour by finishing third on the Web.com Tour's money list last year, has now made the cut in five of his first seven starts on the circuit. He is trying to become the second rookie to win on the tour this year after Russell Henley, who captured the Sony Open in Hawaii.
It took a score of even-par 140 to make the cut and that was what Woods turned in after his second straight 70. Villegas, who shot a 64 on Thursday, posted a 77 Friday and missed the cut for the third time in four starts this year.
McIlroy is scheduled to play next week at the World Golf Championship event that will be played at the Doral Country Club in Miami.
Report: Flacco signs historic contract
BALTIMORE, March 1 (UPI) -- Quarterback Joe Flacco reportedly has agreed to a new six-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens that will make him the highest paid player in NFL history.
The Baltimore Sun and other media outlets reported the deal had been worked out and would be announced Monday.
Various league sources said Flacco would receive $120.6 million during the six years of the contract.
The Ravens have been facing a deadline of March 4 to either sign Flacco or designate him as the club's "franchise player."
Flacco's original contract with Baltimore expired at the end of the 2012 season, which came to a close with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl title over San Francisco. During the playoffs Flacco threw for 11 touchdown passes without an interception.
He was the 18th pick in the 2008 draft and has not missed a start during the last five seasons. He has 17,633 career passing yards with 102 touchdowns and 56 interceptions.
Flacco has quarterbacked the Ravens to a 9-4 record in the playoffs and they have reached the postseason in each of his five years with the team.
Anthony rallies Knicks past Wizards
WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- Carmelo Anthony's 30 points and a stingy defense in the fourth quarter Friday brought New York a 96-88 victory over Washington.
The Knicks won their third in a row, overcoming a four-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.
Washington was held to 11 points in the final period and managed just two points over the closing 4 minutes. Anthony provided a key 3-pointer with 2:28 to play that pushed the Knicks in front by six.
Raymond Felton supported Anthony with 23 points and J.R. Smith had 13 points to go with 11 rebounds for the Knicks.
The Wizards, whose 16 victories are the second fewest in the NBA this season, were led by 29 points from Bradley Beal.
V. Williams falls in Brazilian semifinals
FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil, March 1 (UPI) -- Olga Puchkova surprised Venus Williams in their first career meeting Friday to reach the championship match of the Brazil Tennis Cup.
Puchkova, born in Moscow and now a resident of Florida, had lost six of her 10 matches on the WTA Tour this year before defeating Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. The match lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes.
The unseeded Puchkova will meet Monica Niculescu in the title match after Niculescu defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 6-2.
Neither of the finalists has won a tour championship, and they will be meeting for the first time.