Arbitrator finds for NFL in bounty case
NEW YORK, June 4 (UPI) -- NFL officials had the legal right to suspend players involved in what the league called a bounty program, an arbitrator ruled Monday.
Special master Stephen Burbank said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers when he ordered four players suspended for at least part of the 2012 season.
The players were all members of the New Orleans Saints in 2009-11 when a program offered cash payments for big hits that forced opponents from the game, an NFL investigation found.
New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season while defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was benched for eight games; Saints defensive end Will Smith was suspended for four games; and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, for three games.
All have appealed the disciplinary action.
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, saying actions prior to the current collective bargaining agreement aren't subject to league discipline.
Burbank, however, upheld Goodell's authority in the actions. The NFLPA issued a statement saying none of the players have seen the NFL's evidence of wrongdoing.
In addition to the players, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely for his lead role in the program. New Orleans Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season and General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight regular-season games.
Nadal, Sharapova win, Li loses at French Open
PARIS, June 4 (UPI) -- Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal won 17 consecutive games Monday in cruising through a fourth-round victory at the French Open.
Nadal, the world's No. 2-ranked player and who turned 26 Sunday, improved to 49-1 lifetime at Roland Garros with a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 blasting of 13th-seeded Juan Monaco. Nadal has won the French Open a record-tying six times, including in 2010 and 2011.
On the women's side, Maria Sharapova squeaked through but defending champion Li Na was ousted by a qualifier in fourth-round play.
Sharapova, the No. 2 seed who needs a French Open title for the career Grand Slam, got past Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2. The match featured 21 breaks in 30 games and fittingly ended with Sharapova's 12th break of the day.
Li, the No. 7 seed, fell to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. Shvedova, who has lost just one set in the main draw, took 58 percent of the points in the final two sets. She didn't manage a break point in the first set but converted seven of 19 the rest of the way.
Li had 41 unforced errors, nearly twice as many as Shvedova's 21.
Woods up to No. 4 in world golf rankings
VIRGINIA WATER, England, June 4 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods jumped to No. 4 in the men's world golf rankings after his victory at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
Woods seems to perform best when surrounded by golf's legends. He won Arnold Palmer's tournament earlier this year and accepted the champion's trophy at the Memorial from tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
Woods has won the Memorial five times and Palmer's event seven times. Woods' latest win featured three birdies on the last four holes, including a spectacular chip-in on the 16th.
It was the 73rd PGA victory for Woods, who is tied with Nicklaus for second-most all time. Sam Snead tops the list with 82 wins over 30 years. Nicklaus' 73 wins came over 25 years. Woods is in his 17th year on the tour.
The No. 4 world ranking is the highest for Woods since Feb. 20, 2011. His move from ninth last week forces five golfers down one place each. Martin Kaymer re-enters the Top 10 at No. 10, switching places with 11th-ranked Steve Stricker.
Luke Donald is No. 1, having held the position for a total of 47 weeks, which is sixth most (Woods owns the record at 623 weeks). Donald has an average points ranking of 10.434 with Rory McIlroy (9.057) in second and Lee Westwood (7.915) remaining third.
Woods has an average of 6.785, coming in ahead of Bubba Watson, who is fifth with an average of 6.163, and Matt Kuchar, whose average of 5.948 has him sixth this week. Justin Rose (5.749) is seventh ahead of Hunter Mahan (5.487) and Jason Dufner (5.249).
Kaymer has a ranking points average of 5.037, edging the 5.009 mark of Stricker.
Wittman coming back as Wizards coach
WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- Randy Wittman will return next season as the head coach of the Washington Wizards, the NBA team said Monday.
Wittman was named interim coach after the Wizards fired Flip Saunders in January when the team was 2-15. Washington won eight of its last 10 games and was 18-31 overall under Wittman.
"We are excited to bring Randy back as head coach and give him the opportunity to build on the positive momentum that the team showed under his leadership last season," Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.
"We were very pleased with the development of our young players and the commitment to winning he instilled despite taking over the team under difficult circumstances."
Wittman previously coached at Minnesota from January 2007 through Dec. 8, 2008, and Cleveland from 1999-2001. He had an overall record of 118-238.
"I'm thrilled to be returning to work with these players and this organization," Wittman said. "I felt that we made significant progress throughout last season and we are all looking forward to having a full summer, training camp and season to continue to improve this team."
The Wizards learned last week they will have the third overall choice in the NBA draft in June 28.