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News Summaries from The Sports Network - Friday, August 29



49ers LB Smith suspended 9 games



San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended nine games without pay on Friday for violating the NFL's Policy and Program for Substance of Abuse and the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

Smith can return in Week 11 against the New York Giants, as the 49ers have a Week 8 bye.

In July, Smith was sentenced to 11 days in jail and three years' probation on weapons and DUI charges, leading to this most recent suspension.

"Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement released by the team on Friday. "Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally. We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead."

Smith voluntarily took a leave of absence from the 49ers last year to seek help for a substance abuse problem, missing five games.

He has been one of the NFL's elite pass rushers since being drafted No. 7 overall by the 49ers in 2011. He has 42 sacks in just three seasons, but has had numerous run-ins with the law.

Vikings' Simpson suspended again



New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson has been suspended for the first three games of the 2014 season for again violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Simpson will be eligible to return following the team's Week 3 contest against New Orleans.

It will be Simpson's second suspension in the past three years. He was also banned for three games in 2012, his first year with the Vikings, following a guilty plea to a felony drug charge.

In September 2011, when Simpson played for Cincinnati, police confiscated a package containing 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana that was being shipped from California to Simpson's Kentucky home.

The latest suspension stems from a DWI arrest last November.

Simpson had 48 catches for a career-high 726 yards and one touchdown in 16 games, including eight starts, last season. He has 145 receptions for 2,004 yards and eight scores in six seasons with Cincinnati and Minnesota.

Bengals release Green-Ellis



Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cincinnati Bengals have released running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Green-Ellis started all 16 games for the Bengals last season, rushing for 756 yards and seven touchdowns. In two seasons with Cincinnati, he rushed for 1,850 yards and 13 scores, starting all 31 regular-season games he appeared in.

Over six NFL seasons, Green-Ellis has 3,914 yards and 42 touchdowns rushing. He spent his first four seasons in the league with the New England Patriots.

The Bengals also waived linebacker Brandon Joiner, defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross and quarterback Tyler Wilson on Friday.

LB Angerer among those cut by Falcons



Flowery Branch, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Falcons cut 12 players on Friday as they work to trim their roster to 53.

Linebacker Pat Angerer, offensive tackle Pat McQuistan and running back Josh Vaughan were released.

Angerer started 39 games the last four seasons with Indianapolis, while McQuistan has appeared in 72 career games.

The Falcons also waived defensive end Nosa Eguae, fullback Maurice Hagens, cornerback Jordan Mabin, wide receiver Freddie Martino, safety Kimario McFadden, tight end Jacob Pedersen, offensive lineman Adam Replogle, defensive tackle Donte Rumph and linebacker Yawin Smallwood.

Smallwood was selected by the Falcons in the seventh round of this year's draft.

Moorman given the boot by Bills



Orchard Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Bills released long-time punter Brian Moorman on Friday and it looks as if he is calling it a career.

In a letter released through his P.U.N.T. Foundation, Moorman said, "It may be the end of a career, but it's certainly not the end of a friendship."

Moorman averaged 43.8 yards per punt during his 13-year career, which was all spent with Buffalo except for 12 games in 2012 with Dallas. Last season, he punted 61 times for an average of 41.2 yards.

Moorman's P.U.N.T. Foundation was created in 2004 to make a difference in the lives of children in Western New York who are fighting cancer.

According to his letter, he plans to continue his work through his foundation for patients in Western New York.

On Friday, the Bills also released linebacker Xavius Boyd, defensive tackle Landon Cohen, tight end Dominique Jones, cornerbacks Kamaal McIlwain and Sam Miller, quarterback Jordan Palmer, fullback Evan Rodriguez, wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt and offensive lineman Jared Wheeler. The team placed cornerbacks Mario Butler and Bobby Felder and tight end Tony Moeaki on the reserve/injured list.

Bucs release K Barth



Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released veteran kicker Connor Barth on Friday.

Barth, 28, missed the entire 2013 season due to an Achilles injury. He holds Tampa Bay records for single-season field goal percentage (92.9 in 2011) and most consecutive field-goal attempts made with 25.

The move leaves Patrick Murray to handle the field goal and kickoff duties. He signed with the Bucs back in January after going undrafted out of Fordham.

Tampa Bay also released defensive end Larry English and guard Jamon Meredith. The team waived cornerbacks Marc Anthony, Kip Edwards, Anthony Gaitor and Keith Lewis, linebackers Nate Askew and Ka'Lial Glaud, offensive linemen Edawn Coughman, Andrew Miller and Jeremiah Warren, defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and fullback Lonnie Pryor.

Sims to get start for Alabama



Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Blake Sims will reportedly be the starter for the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday when they take on West Virginia.

CBSSports.com, citing an unnamed source, is reporting that Sims will get the starting nod over Jacob Coker. The report adds that both Sims and Coker will play.

Sims is a fifth-year senior. He completed 23-of-39 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns as A.J. McCarron's backup a season ago.

Coker, a junior, was at Florida State last season, serving as backup to eventual Heisman winner Jameis Winston. In limited action last season, he completed 18-of-36 passes for 250 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Texas Tech's Kingsbury gets extension



Lubbock, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Texas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury got an extension and a raise on the eve of his third season.

The school announced Friday night that it has agreed to a three-year extension to keep Kingsbury with the Red Raiders through 2020.

The deal raises Kingsbury's salary to $3.1 million in 2015. He will make $4.1 million in the last year of the extension.

"There has never been a more exciting time within our football program than now," Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement. "I am very proud of the program coach Kingsbury is building and I know our fans are as well."

Kingsbury, 35, played quarterback at Texas Tech from 1998-2002 and was hired in December 2012 after Tommy Tuberville left unexpectedly to coach Cincinnati.

The Red Raiders were 8-5 in each of Kingsbury's first two seasons at the helm with one bowl game win. They open the 2014 season on Saturday at home against Central Arkansas.

Texas Tech also agreed to extensions with the head coaches for baseball, track and field and men's tennis.

M's to sit Montero for rest of season



Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - A Seattle Mariners official said Friday that first baseman Jesus Montero and a team scout exercised "bad judgment at nearly every stage" during a confrontation at a minor-league game.

General manager Jack Zduriencik said Montero has been called up from a rehab assignment with the Everett AquaSox but will not play for the Mariners again this season.

National crosschecker Butch Baccala has been sent home until further notice.

Montero and Baccala were involved in an altercation during a Class-A game on Thursday night in Boise, Idaho.

According to accounts, Montero was angry after Baccala sent him an ice cream sandwich in the dugout. Montero took a bat into the stands and threw the ice cream sandwich at the scout.

Zduriencik said the team was still investigating the incident but "it is clear that both Jesus Montero and Butch Baccala engaged in behavior that is far below what we expect from members of our organization, including bad judgment at nearly every stage of this incident.

"I want to apologize on behalf of the Mariners franchise to the Boise Hawks and their fans," Zduriencik said. "We recognize that fans, including children, were impacted by this incident, and the language that was used. We recognize the severity of this incident, and want to assure the Hawks and their fans that it will be dealt with appropriately."

Once a red-hot prospect, Montero appeared in just six games for the Mariners this season after showing up for spring training overweight. He was called up briefly in June and then again for one game last month and was rehabbing a strained oblique with Everett when the altercation occurred.

The Mariners signed Montero to a one-year contract in February.

Athletics drop protest



Anaheim, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics have decided to drop their protest of Thursday's game against the LA Angels of Anaheim.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin lodged the protest after a ninth-inning play that was ruled obstruction.

Athletics pitcher Dan Otero fielded Erick Aybar's high chopper along the first-base line and the two collided, along with Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss. Despite Aybar being on the infield grass, umpires ruled that Otero obstructed the runner's path and awarded him first base.

It was a judgment call and crew chief Gerry Davis said after the game that a judgment ruling cannot be protested.

"After further consideration, as well as conversations with the commissioner's office, the A's have decided to drop the protest from last night's game," the Athletics said Friday in a statement. "We have determined that, as stated after the game by the crew chief, Gerry Davis, the call in question was a judgment call and not worthy of pursuing further."

The Angels went on to load the bases with the score tied at 2-2 in the ninth inning, but failed to score. They went on to win the game in 10 innings.

Cards activate Molina from DL



St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Cardinals activated catcher Yadier Molina from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

Molina suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb while sliding into third base on July 9 in a win against Pittsburgh. He underwent surgery to repair the ligament on July 11. The 32-yard-old has batted .287 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 83 games this season.

St. Louis optioned catcher Tony Cruz to Double-A Springfield to make room for Molina on the active roster.

In addition, the club announced that left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales will be recalled from Triple-A Memphis to start the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader.

Gonzales, who has pitched at four different levels this season, will make his fourth start for St. Louis.

Orioles' Pearce exits with abdominal strain



Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Baltimore Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce left Friday's night's game against Minnesota with a right abdominal strain.

Pearce made the last play in the top of the third inning, fielding a grounder and tossing to pitcher Miguel Gonzalez for the final out. But he was replaced in the field to start the fourth.

Pearce is batting .289 this season with a career-high 16 home runs.

Mariners recall Jones



Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - The Seattle Mariners have recalled outfielder James Jones from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday.

Jones, who played center field for a majority of the season until the Mariners acquired Austin Jackson from Detroit at the trade deadline, has batted .256 with eight doubles, four triples and nine RBI in 83 games. The speedy outfielder has also swiped 20 bases, getting caught stealing just once.

Seattle optioned right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Tacoma in order to make room on the roster for Jones. Ramirez went 1-6 in 14 starts this season for the M's.

Mets place Murphy on DL, call up prospect Herrera



Flushing, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Mets placed second baseman Daniel Murphy on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a strained right calf.

The move is retroactive to Aug. 25.

Murphy is batting .301 with nine homers and 53 RBI over 126 games this season.

The Mets called up Dilson Herrera, a 20-year-old infielder, from Double-A Binghamton to take the roster spot of Murphy.

Herrera has hit .323 with 13 homers, 33 doubles, 71 RBI and 98 runs scored in 128 games between High-A St. Lucie and Binghamton.

Outman in, Hill out for Yankees



Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - A day after trading for pitcher Josh Outman, the New York Yankees selected his contract from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated pitcher Rich Hill for assignment.

Outman was 4-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Indians this season. He was also 3-1 with a 4.43 ERA in 23 games at Triple-A Columbus.

The veteran lefty has a career record of 16-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 152 games, 32 of which have been starts, over parts of six seasons with Oakland, Colorado and Cleveland.

Hill, also a lefty, appeared in six games with the Yankees this season, allowing two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Yanks' Tanaka heading back to New York with arm soreness



Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka's hopes of returning to pitch again this season hit a snag Friday when the team announced Tanaka is heading back to New York with what was termed "general soreness" in his pitching arm.

The soreness has caused the team to shut Tanaka down from throwing. He will do strengthening exercises at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka has been sidelined since early July with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He decided to rehab the injury instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Tanaka had appeared to take a big step toward a September return by throwing 49 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday.

The Yankees are in Toronto for a weekend series against the Blue Jays.

Indians activate C Gomes



Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Indians activated catcher Yan Gomes from the 7-day disabled list on Friday.

Gomes developed concussion symptoms from a deflected pitch he took off his mask last Thursday against Minnesota. He is batting .284 with 17 homers and 53 RBI this season.

The Indians placed catcher Chris Gimenez on the paternity list to clear room for Gomes on the roster.

Oilers agree to terms with Schultz



Edmonton, AB (SportsNetwork.com) - The Edmonton Oilers and defenseman Justin Schultz have agreed to a one-year contract.

Financial terms for the restricted free agent were not disclosed, but TSN.ca is reporting it to be worth $3.675 million.

Schultz notched 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points in 74 games last season. He led all Edmonton defensemen in goals, assists and points, and led all Oilers in average ice time at 23:20 per game.

The 24-year-old British Columbia native appeared in 48 games for the Oilers during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign and has compiled 19 goals with 41 assists for 60 points in his first 122 NHL games.

"Excited for another year with the oilers!!" Schultz wrote on Twitter. "Thanks for all the support."

Schultz signed with Edmonton as a free agent following the 2012 NHL Entry Draft after playing three seasons at the University of Wisconsin.

Clippers waive Delfino, Raduljica



Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers waived guard/forward Carlos Delfino and center Miroslav Raduljica.

Delfino and Raduljica were acquired on Tuesday by the Clippers from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for forward Jared Dudley and a protected 2017 first-round draft pick.

Delfino missed all of last season with a foot injury that he suffered during the 2013 NBA playoffs with the Rockets. The native of Argentina has averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 rebounds over eight seasons with Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee and Houston.

Raduljica scored 3.8 points per game with 2.3 rebounds over 48 games for the Bucks last season.

Former Villanova coach Kraft dies at 93



Villanova, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Former Villanova basketball coach Jack Kraft died on Thursday in New Jersey, the school said in a release Friday. He was 93.

Kraft coached Villanova from 1961-73 and he finished with 238 victories. He guided the program to six NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the 1971 title game. The Wildcats lost 68-62 to UCLA in the final.

"The Villanova community mourns the loss of Jack Kraft," university president Rev. Peter M. Donohue said. "His leadership style inspired great play and nurtured the development of skills and interests off the court that contributed to successful and rewarding lives. This inspired great loyalty and love among those he coached, and created a rich legacy that will endure at Villanova."

Kraft's winning percentage of .715 is the highest in Villanova history.

Sharapova moves on at U.S. Open



Flushing Meadows, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Five-time major titlist Maria Sharapova moved on, while second-seeded Simona Halep and two-time champion Venus Williams were a pair of third-round losers Friday at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova, seeded fifth in the tournament, defeated No. 26 Sabine Lisicki in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4 to close out play on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The reigning French Open victor and 2006 champion here in New York will face 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki next in the round of 16.

Wozniacki cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 result over 18th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic. Wozniacki posted a runner-up finish in New York in 2009.

The French Open runner-up Halep succumbed to 32-year-old Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 on the famed Grandstand court. Halep is just 4-3 since titling in her native Romania last month.

Halep had reached at least the quarterfinals at the year's first three Grand Slam events.

Lucic-Baroni cried tears of joy after the stunning result.

"This is incredible," said the former teen phenom. "I believed the whole time."

"After so many years, my God, this is just incredible," Lucic-Baroni added. "Every painful moment was worth it."

Meanwhile, 13th-seeded gritty Italian Sara Errani outlasted the 19th-seeded former world No. 1 Venus in 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5) fashion.

After swapping a pair of bagel sets, Errani and the seven-time major champion Venus got down to business in the third, where Venus blew a 5-3 lead as the Italian eventually forced a tiebreak.

The former French Open runner-up Errani set up a match point with a backhand winner and closed out the entertaining bout with a forehand winner into an open court after just over two hours of compelling tennis.

"It was a really tough match, even if I won the first set 6-0," said Errani. "She's an amazing player. I just tried to focus on every point. I tried to keep going, not thinking too much about the score."

Errani finished with 18 winners and 25 unforced errors, while Williams was hurt by 52 miscues.

The 34-year-old Venus was the back-to-back U.S. Open champ in 2000 and 2001 and is also a two-time runner-up in New York.

Errani will face Lucic-Baroni in the round of 16.

Meanwhile, ninth-seeded former No. 1 and 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Jelena Jankovic swatted Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes at Ashe and 17- year-old promising Swiss Belinda Bencic ousted sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5. The Serbian Jankovic will face Bencic in her next outing.

Four of the top-10 seeds have been knocked out of the depleted women's draw.

Czech left-hander Lucie Safarova, seeded 14th, snuck past 22nd-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 in 2 hours, 25 minutes.

A mild upset came when Chinese Peng Shuai took out 28th-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3 on the hardcourts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Peng ousted fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska here on Wednesday.

Stewart: Ward's death 'will definitely affect my life forever'



Hampton, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Nearly three weeks after he struck and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race at a dirt track in Upstate New York, Tony Stewart spoke publicly for the first time, expressing his sorrow.

During a press conference on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the site of this weekend's 500-mile Sprint Cup Series race, a somewhat subdued Stewart read from a prepared statement, which lasted a little more than two minutes, but he did not take any questions from the media. He left the conference immediately after his statement.

"This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally, and this is something that will definitely affect my life forever," Stewart said during his opening remarks. "This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life.

"With that being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward's family and friends are experiencing is something that I can't possibly imagine. I want Kevin's father, Kevin Sr., and his mother, Pam, and his sisters, Christi, Kayla and Katelyn, to know that everyday I am thinking about them and praying for them."

On Thursday, Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Stewart would return to his driving duties in the No. 14 Chevrolet at Atlanta.

Stewart, a three-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, missed the last three races -- Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol -- while he was in seclusion following his involvement in the fatal accident on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

The incident occurred during a caution when Ward climbed out of his car and then walked down the dirt track, pointing his finger in the direction of Stewart and apparently yelling at him to express his displeasure. The right rear of Stewart's car hit Ward and dragged him briefly across the track.

The caution came when Stewart and Ward made contact while battling for position, with Ward spinning out and hitting the wall.

Currently, there are no criminal charges pending against Stewart. The investigation regarding Ward's death is still ongoing. Ward died from massive blunt trauma.

"The racing community is a large family, and everyone is saddened with this tragedy," Stewart added. "I want to thank all of my friends and family for their support through this tough and emotional time. And the support from the NASCAR community, my partners and all of our [Stewart-Haas Racing] employees has been overwhelming.

"I've taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident my own way. It's given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss my team, my teammates, and I miss being back in the race car. I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time."

"I also understand that all of you [in the media] have many questions and want a lot of answers, but however, I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. Emotionally, I'm not sure if I could answer them anyway. I'm here to race this weekend, and I appreciate your respect. And there will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions."

Shortly after Stewart spoke, the Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Department released a statement on the progress of its investigation. It will continue for at least two more weeks.

"The investigation into the death of Kevin A. Ward Jr., which occurred August 9, 2014, at the Canandaigua, New York Motorsports Park, will continue for at least another two weeks," Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said in the statement. "The Ontario County Office of Sheriff has reviewed this investigation, as it has been developed to date, with members of the District Attorney's Office.

"The Office of Sheriff will continue to apprise the District Attorney of information as it is developed. When the investigation is completed, the news media will be advised as to what action will be taken. The Ontario County Office of Sheriff thanks all media outlets for their patience and understanding as we continue to thoroughly investigate this tragic crash."

Sprint Cup practice at Atlanta took place on Friday afternoon, and qualifying for Sunday's 500-mile event was scheduled for the evening. This will be the first time Stewart has competed in a Sprint Cup race since Aug. 3 at Pocono.

Stewart is presently 26th in the point standings and has yet to win a race this season. Atlanta and Richmond (Sept. 6) are the two remaining races during the regular season. The Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins on Sept. 14 at Chicagoland.

Regan Smith substituted for Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet at Watkins Glen, while Jeff Burton filled in for him at Michigan and Bristol.

Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing, participated in Stewart's press conference and took questions from the media after Stewart had departed. Frood explained why Stewart decided to return to racing at Atlanta.

"I think for Tony, it's all about this healing process," Frood said. "That's part of why he's in the car. Besides, his mom, his dad, his sister, and his niece and nephew are here at this racetrack.

"It's part of the healing process of being with his family that he's been with since 1999, knowing that these people are going to help him get through this. I think that's one side of it. The other side of it is he's a racer. We have 270 employees [at SHR]. I think him putting a helmet on will help him cope with this situation."

Frood also noted that Stewart has personally reached out to Ward's family members.

"Tony has sent the family flowers and a card around the services," he said. "Besides that, he's been very respectful of them and their time to grieve. I do know that it will be very important, it's important for Tony, to spend time with the family. I do believe that will happen in the appropriate time."

NASCAR allowing Stewart to remain eligible for Chase



Hampton, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Despite his absence from the last three races, NASCAR will allow Tony Stewart to remain eligible for a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship due to "a very unique set of circumstances."

Stewart is currently 26th in the Sprint Cup Series standings and has yet to win a race this season. But if Stewart wins either Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway or next week's Chase-cutoff event at Richmond International Raceway then he would clinch a position in the 16-driver Chase field.

When announcing the new playoff format for its premier series in January, NASCAR noted that a driver eligible for the Chase must be in the top-30 in points following the first 26 races (regular season) and have attempted to qualify for all of those events. However, in rare instances, NASCAR can waive the requirement of attempting to qualify for all regular-season races.

NASCAR has decided to waive the requirement for Stewart based on the circumstances for him missing Watkins Glen (Aug. 10), Michigan (Aug. 17) and Bristol (last Saturday).

"This has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to our sport," NASCAR president Mike Helton said during a press conference on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "As a league and our responsibility to try to make decisions that are correct and right, sometimes we evaluate circumstances that are given to us and then make those decisions as correctly as we can.

"After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we've come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it."

Stewart, a three-time Cup Series champion, had been in seclusion following his involvement in a fatal accident on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. He struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race. As of now, there are no criminal charges pending against Stewart, but the investigation into Ward's death is still ongoing.

On Thursday, Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Stewart would return to his driving duties of the No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Atlanta. On that same day, NASCAR issued a statement in regards to Stewart's return, saying he "has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete."

Helton gave some details on the process that NASCAR used to clear Stewart for his return to racing.

"As typical, our process calls for us to rely on third-party experts to assure us that a NASCAR driver or a NASCAR member is ready to return, and all those forms of processes were met, and we cleared him, based on those inputs from third-party experts," Helton said.

Helton did not reveal any names or their fields of expertise.

Roughly an hour before Helton met with the media, Stewart spoke publicly for the first time since Ward's death. Stewart expressed his sorrow while reading from his prepared statement.

Stewart will not qualify for the Chase if he does not win at either Atlanta or Richmond. Points-wise, he is too far behind 16th-place Greg Biffle on the provisional Chase grid. Twelve drivers have already clinched a spot in the playoffs based on their race wins this season. At least two positions will go to drivers who are without a victory.

Last year, Stewart missed the Chase after he broke his right tibia and fibula during an accident in a sprint car race in Iowa. He underwent three surgeries to repair his injured leg and was sidelined for the final 15 Sprint Cup races of the season.

Harvick wins Atlanta pole, Stewart qualifies 12th



Hampton, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick grabbed the pole for Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, while his teammate and team co-owner, Tony Stewart, qualified 12th in his return to racing.

Harvick, in his first season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, turned a lap at 190.398 mph during the third and final round of Friday's knockout qualifying at this fast 1.54-mile oval. He claimed his Sprint Cup Series-leading sixth pole of the season, including his second in a row. He started first but finished 11th in last weekend's race at Bristol.

This was Harvick's 12th career pole in the series. It's also his first pole at Atlanta. His inaugural victory in the series came here on March 11, 2001, in just his third career start.

"The first [qualifying] round wasn't very good due to the driver not doing a very good job," Harvick said. "But luckily, they [No. 4 SHR team] bring fast enough cars to where even with the big mistake that I made that we were able to make it to round two. The next two laps were fairly close on time and felt very close in the way that the car handled. I didn't think I had gotten everything out of the car the last run, so I was nervous as to whether that was going to be good enough. But in the end, it was."

Stewart's return came nearly three weeks after he struck and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race at a dirt track in Upstate New York. Earlier in the day, Stewart spoke publicly for the first time since his involvement in the fatal accident, expressing his sorrow. He read from a prepared statement during a press conference. His statement lasted a little more than two minutes before he departed the conference.

Stewart was 10th fastest in the day's lone practice session, with his best lap clocked at 189.642 mph. Harvick and Stewart were the only drivers from SHR that advanced into the final qualifying round.

"It's good to have Tony back," Harvick said. "To be able to communicate and talk to him about racing and just see him start that first step of getting back to normal, as his friend, is exciting to me."

Stewart's lap in the last round of qualifying came in at 187.907 mph.

Despite missing the last three races -- Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol -- NASCAR has allowed Stewart to remain eligible for a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Stewart is currently 26th in the point standings and has yet to win a race this season.

If Stewart were to win either Sunday's race at Atlanta or next week's Chase- cutoff event at Richmond, then he would clinch a position in the 16-driver Chase field.

During a press conference on Friday, NASCAR president Mike Helton said, "This has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to our sport. As a league and our responsibility to try to make decisions that are correct and right, sometimes we evaluate circumstances that are given to us and then make those decisions as correctly as we can.

"After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we've come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it."

Stewart had been in seclusion since Ward's death.

Brad Keselowski will start alongside Harvick on the front row after he made a lap at 190.058 mph. Harvick and Keselowski were the only drivers who topped the 190 mph mark.

"It's by far the best qualifying effort I've ever had here [at Atlanta]," said Keselowski, the driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske. "That's a testament to the team and the work they've done and trying to be better. We're having a phenomenal season, but I just wish it would have been one more spot instead of second to first-place. But that's the way it goes, and hopefully we can find that one more spot here Sunday night."

Rookie Kyle Larson qualified third, followed by Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr.

Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, who won at Atlanta one year ago, Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards placed seventh through 11th, respectively, in qualifying.

Other notable drivers and their starting positions include: rookie Austin Dillon (13th), Joey Logano (14th), Jamie McMurray (15th), Jimmie Johnson (16th), Denny Hamlin (17th), Greg Biffle (18th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th), Clint Bowyer (21st), Kurt Busch (22nd) and Danica Patrick (27th).

Ty Dillon qualified 29th in what will be his first career start in the series.

Michael McDowell was the only driver who failed to qualify.

Castroneves on pole at Fontana, Power qualifies 21st



Fontana, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Helio Castroneves won the pole position and earned a bonus point, while his Team Penske teammate and championship leader, Will Power, qualified 21st for Saturday night's IndyCar Series season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.

Castroneves posted a two-lap average speed of 218.540 mph during Friday's qualifying for the MAVTV 500. The 39 year-old Brazilian claimed his third pole of the season and the 41st of his Indy car career, breaking a tie with Rick Mears for fourth on the all-time pole winners list.

It was the third time Castroneves won the pole at this two-mile oval in Southern California. He started first here in the 2002 and '03 races.

With the pole win, Castroneves moved from 51 points to 50 behind Power in the battle for the IndyCar championship. Neither driver has yet to win a title in the series.

"It ain't over. It's just beginning," Castroneves said. "Our job is to be aggressive over the 500 miles and finish where we started."

Power's qualifying finish at Fontana was a season-low for him, with his two- lap average clocked at 212.604 mph. Last year, he earned the pole here with a record average speed of 220.775 mph. Power is the defending winner of this race.

"With the starting position, I'd rather start at the very front or the very back to stay out of trouble early on," Power said. "It's obviously all about the race. It's very long, and we'll be racing in different conditions."

Earlier this month, Scott Dixon won the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after he started last in the 22-car field.

If Power finishes sixth or better in this race, he will clinch the series title, regardless of Castroneves or Pagenaud's performances.

This 500-mile event is the third and final leg in IndyCar's "Triple Crown" this season, and it awards double points. Already having won the pole, if Castroneves were to lead the most laps and win the race then he would earn a total of 104 points.

Simon Pagenaud, the only other driver who remains eligible for the title, qualified 13th in his Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing car. Pagenaud trails Power by 81 points.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Castroneves and Power's teammate, qualified second with an average of 217.261 mph. Josef Newgarden placed his Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry on the outside of row one (217.600 mph). This race will feature a three-wide start.

Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon, the 2013 IndyCar champion and last weekend's race winner in Sonoma, California, and Charlie Kimball will start from the second row.

Tony Kanaan, Mikhail Aleshin, a rookie this season, and Ryan Hunter-Reay will roll off from row three.

Palmer fires 63, leads Deutsche Bank by 2



Norton, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Palmer fired an 8-under 63 on Friday to grab a 2-stroke lead after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Palmer, who has three PGA Tour wins, finished second at the Humana Challenge and again at the Honda Classic earlier this year.

Local favorite Keegan Bradley is alone in second place after carding a 65 on Friday. Chesson Hadley, 2010 runner-up Jason Day and 2011 winner Webb Simpson share third place at minus-5.

Ian Poulter, who shared ninth here last year, posted a 4-under 67 at TPC Boston. He was joined in sixth place by Carl Pettersson, Bill Haas, Russell Knox and Jordan Spieth.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson opened with a 1-under 70 and is tied for 26th after one round. Among those he is tied with is world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who birdied three of his first four holes on Friday. However, McIlroy mixed two birdies and three bogeys over his final six holes to slide to minus-1.

Palmer played the back nine first on Friday and stumbled to a bogey on the 10th as he drove into a native area. He erased that mistake with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

The 37-year-old made an 8-footer for birdie on No. 12 to get into red figures. After a pair of pars, Palmer converted back-to-back birdie putts at 15 and 16 from inside seven feet.

Palmer stuffed his approach inside two feet on No. 17. After he kicked that in for birdie, Palmer 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th for his fourth straight birdie.

Around the turn, Palmer played his third at the par-5 second to seven feet. He made that for birdie to move to minus-6. At the fifth, he rolled in a 23-foot birdie chance to grab the lead.

Palmer parred three in a row from the sixth. He capped his round with a birdie putt from 18 feet out on the ninth, his last.

"I've had that good feeling (with my putter) since the Open Championship. I took a small tip from (Shawn) Stefani, who was talking about his putting changes. I took a little something from that," admitted Palmer, who needed just 21 putts in his opening round.

"It's been great the past couple of months. My short putting has been phenomenal, I felt. I'm making a lot more putts inside six feet. When you get the putts going from 15 (feet) and in, especially for birdie, it makes for good days."

Early in the day, Bradley got off to a quick start with birdies at one and three. After a pair of pars, he converted an 11-footer for birdie at the sixth.

The 2011 PGA Champion made it two in a row as his third at the par-5 seventh stopped inside two feet and he kicked that in for birdie.

After nine pars in a row, Bradley moved to minus-5 with a 15-foot birdie effort on No. 17. He closed with an up-and-down birdie from a greenside bunker at the 18th.

"It was a battle mentally with all that is going on, so I'm proud of the way I hung in there today. I think I've gotten to the point where it's going to help," said Bradley, who grew up in Vermont, of playing in front of friends and family. "My first couple of years, I tried to play too well. Now, I'm kind of embracing it and today was a good example of that."

NOTES: Palmer had two putts outside of 13 feet all day, and he made both for birdie ... Palmer is playing in his 16th FedExCup playoff event, and he has just one top-10 finish in his previous 15 starts ... 100 players qualified for this tournament, but only 93 are competing ... Paul Casey and Tim Clark withdrew before the event, and therefore will not advance in the FedExCup playoffs because they are outside the top 70, which is the cutoff for next week's field at the BMW Championship.

Otto shoots 62 to take lead at Italian Open



Turin, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - Hennie Otto cruised to a 10-under 62 on Friday to take a 3-shot lead heading into the weekend at the Italian Open.

Beginning the day one shot back of the leaders at Circolo Golf Torino, Otto finished 36 holes at 15-under-par 129 and leads first-round co-leader Bernd Wiesberger by three shots.

"I really played well, hit some good shots and the greens were running well so you were able to make some putts," Otto said. "Something about courses in Italy suits my eye and it would be great to win the tournament. Hopefully I can keep it up and keep going over the weekend."

Otto, who won this event back in 2008, is a two-time winner on the European Tour and he is seeking his first victory since winning the South African Open Championship in 2011. Otto nearly took home the same title earlier this season, but he finished tied for second.

Wiesberger, another two-time winner on tour who ended tied for 15th at this year's PGA Championship after playing in the final pairing with eventual champion Rory McIlroy, carded his second straight 66 and he is in sole possession of second place at 12-under 132.

Ross Fisher is alone in third at 9-under 135 following a 66 on Friday. Rafael Cabrera-Bello (63), James Morrison (66), David Lipsky (67), Morten Orum Madsen (68) and Richie Ramsay (69) are all right behind Fisher at minus-8.

Stephen Gallacher, who is the only player that can clinch an automatic spot on the European Ryder Cup team with either a win or a second-place finish this week, shot a 65 to jump into a tie for ninth at 7-under 137.

"When you tee it up 15 and 12 behind you know you're going to have to be more aggressive and make some birdies so I was delighted to shoot 65 with a double- bogey in the end," said Gallacher. "It would be nice to follow it up with more of the same. I knew I had to go low at some stage and I'm just delighted to get on a run on the back nine."

Francesco Molinari, the 2006 champion of this event who was tied atop the leaderboard with Wiesberger after round one, shot an even-par 72 on Friday and he is tied for 16th with six others at 6-under 138.

Following a bogey-free, 5-under 67 on day one, which put him just one shot behind the leaders, Otto came storming out of the gate to begin his second round.

Back-to-back birdies on one and two had Otto in red numbers early and he added another gain on the par-4 fourth. After two pars at five and six, Otto rattled off three straight birdies from seven to complete a 6-under 30 on the front nine.

Otto did not slow up on the back nine either. Two more pars preceded a big eagle on the par-5 12th to get him to minus-7. Otto kept rolling with two more birdies at 13 and 15, meaning if he was able to make three birdies to close out his round, Otto would have been the first player to ever shoot a 59 on the European Tour.

A par on 16 dashed those hopes, however, and Otto's first bogey of the week on 17 was the only speed bump in an otherwise incredible round. Otto got that shot back immediately as he closed the day with a gain on 18 to get him back to 10-under for the day.

"It's always special to shoot a 62, but a 59 never even crossed my mind," said Otto. "I didn't really think about my score until my caddie said if I made par on 17 we would have been on course for a 10-under par round."

Wiesberger completed his second straight bogey-free round on Friday. He made two birdies on the back nine, his opening nine, at 12 and 16. After making the turn with four straight pars from 17, Wiesberger made back-to-back birdies on three and four, and again on seven and eight.

NOTES: Otto also finish tied for eighth at this event last year ... Cabrera- Bello's 63 on Friday was 10 shots better than his first-round 73 ... Molinari and amateur Edoardo Raffaele (70), both of whom are at 6-under, are the only two Italians in the top 20 ... With the cut falling at 2-under 142, 77 players advanced to the weekend, including seven Italians.

Kim pushes lead to 3 shots in Portland



Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - I.K. Kim carded a 5-under 67 on Friday and extended her lead to three strokes after two rounds of the Portland Classic.

Kim ended 36 holes at 12-under-par 132. The last of Kim's three wins came in the 2010 season. Her lone top-25 finish this season was at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

Carlota Ciganda and Mi Jung Hur both fired 7-under 65s in the second round. They moved into a share of second place at 9-under 135. They were joined there by Laura Diaz, who shot 68 in round two.

Last week's winner So Yeon Ryu carded a 66 to move into fifth place at minus-6. She was joined there by Mina Harigae (69), Xi Yu Lin (68) and Paula Reto (69).

Amelia Lewis is alone in ninth place at 7-under 137 after posting a 71 on Friday.

Defending champion Suzann Pettersen (67) and U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster (70) are among nine players tied for 10th place at 6-under 139 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Kim started her round with birdies on the 10th and 12th. After faltering to a bogey on the 13th, she came right back with birdies on the 14th and 15th to move to 10-under.

The 26-year-old birdied the first before tripping to another bogey on the par-3 second. She came right back with a birdie on the third.

Kim parred three straight from the fourth. She converted a birdie effort on the par-5 seventh to move to 12-under. Kim parred her final two holes to end there.

"The greens were rolling much better in the morning, so that was kind of nice, and I hit the ball well, similar to yesterday. I'm really pleased with how I played on the par-5s," Kim stated. "I'm really pleased how I played the last two days, and I'm looking forward to the weekend."

Ciganda traded a birdie for a bogey from the second. She poured in three birdies in a 4-hole span from the fourth to jump to 5-under.

Around the turn, Ciganda birdied the 10th and followed with a pair of pars. The Spaniard poured in three consecutive birdie chances from the 13th to move into second place.

"I've been playing good the last couple of weeks, so I'm excited to be here for the weekend. Today was a great round of golf," said Ciganda. "I made eight birdies and one bogey, and I was very comfortable, hitting the ball good. The putts were going in. So it was one of those days that everything goes well."

Hur started with a birdie on the 10th. She converted back-to-back birdie tries at 13 and 14. After a birdie at No. 17, Hur made the turn at minus-6. She birdied the second and made consecutive birdie efforts at seven and eight before a par on the ninth wrapped up a bogey-free round.

Diaz was also bogey-free on Friday with birdies on Nos. 5 and 7. After six consecutive pars, she moved to minus-8 with a birdie on the par-4 14th. Diaz birdied the 17th to gain a share of second place.

"I didn't even pay attention to it until somebody texted me last night about it, and then of course, it was on my mind when I had a long par putt today," said Diaz of bogey-free through two rounds. "I've given myself a lot of opportunities ... a lot of good looks at the hole."

NOTES: Kim's last 36-hole lead was in 2011 in Thailand ... Kim won on the Ladies European Tour earlier this year, but her last LPGA Tour win was at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational ... Jeong Jang and Hee-Won Han both announced their retirements earlier in the week, and both made it to the weekend, Jang at 3-under and Han on the number at plus-1 ... The cut line fell at 1-over-par 145 with 78 players moving on to the weekend ... Among those missing the cut were Sandra Gal, Charley Hull, Belen Mozo and Pat Hurst.

Pernice, Bryant share lead in Calgary



Calgary, AB (SportsNetwork.com) - Tom Pernice, Jr. and Bart Bryant both opened with 8-under 62s on Friday to gain a share of the lead after one round of the Shaw Charity Classic.

Pernice tied for fifth place at this event last year and he collected his second tour win earlier this year. Bryant is searching for his second tour victory to go with his title at the 2013 Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The pair matched the course record at Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club. Bill Glasson set that mark last year in the first year of the tournament.

David Frost is alone in third place at minus-7, while Joe Durant and Joe Daley are one stroke further back at 6-under 64.

Michael Allen, who shared fifth place last year with Pernice, carded a 65 on Friday. He was joined in sixth place by Woody Austin, Steve Elkington, Mark McNulty and Craig Stadler.

Kevin Sutherland, who fired the first 59 in tour history two weeks ago, stands at 4-under 66. He was one of 11 players that were four strokes off the lead.

Pernice flew out of the gate with five consecutive birdies from the 10th to soar up the leaderboard. In that run, Pernice had a 12-foot eagle putt on the 11th, but 2-putted for birdie.

"Obviously, the swing's feeling pretty good and the ball's kind of going where you want it to and the key is you're able to capitalize and make some putts," Pernice said of his early birdie run. "I just tried to stay calm and relaxed and just keep going, put the pedal down and just keep going. I had good control of the golf ball, drove the ball in play quite well especially the first nine holes."

He traded a bogey for a birdie from the 17th to make the turn at 5-under. The Principal Charity Classic winner birdied the second and fourth to move into the lead minus-7.

After a pair of pars, Pernice wrapped birdies at the seventh and ninth around a bogey on the par-4 eighth.

"I just tried to stay relaxed really, tried not to get too excited knowing that you've got pretty good control of your golf swing and the putting stroke feels pretty good and just kind of let it happen," admitted Pernice.

Bryant started with a birdie on the first. He followed with his only bogey of the day on No. 2. After a birdie on the third, Bryant birdied the sixth and eighth en route to making the turn at minus-3.

The 51-year-old converted back-to-back birdie efforts at 11 and 12. Bryant birdied the 14th and made it two in a row as he also birdied the par-4 15th. Bryant grabbed a share of the lead as he birdied the par-5 18th.

"Well, I did everything pretty well today, drove the ball in the fairway for the most part, which is important here. Obviously putted well. Anytime you shoot 7- or 8-under, you've had a good day with the putter and hit some close iron shots," said Bryant. "I just did everything solid. I had a couple of nice bounces out there as well that helped me, but overall it was just a very consistent solid day."

NOTES: Pernice matched his career low on the Champions Tour ... Bryant was one stroke off the lead after the opening round last year ... Jeff Sluman made his 97th consecutive Champions Tour start ... Defending champion Rocco Mediate opened with a 2-under 70 and is tied for 34th.

Saunders moves 2 clear at Hotel Fitness Championship



Fort Wayne, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Saunders carded his second straight 6-under 66 on Friday to move two strokes clear of the field after two rounds of the Hotel Fitness Championship.

Saunders, who is Arnold Palmer's grandson, completed 36 holes at 12-under-par 132. He broke the 36-hole scoring record that Patrick Cantlay, Trevor Immelman and Michael Putnam established last year.

Justin Thomas fired a 7-under 65 for the second-best round of the day. He vaulted into a share of second place at minus-10. Thomas was joined there by Greg Owen (67), Colt Knost (67) and Derek Fathauer (68).

Kevin Tway had the best round of the day with his 64. He stands alongside Dicky Pride (69), Tyrone Van Aswegen (67) and Martin Piller (67) in sixth place at 9-under 135.

Immelman, the defending champion, posted a 2-under 70 and is tied for 41st at minus-3.

Saunders played the back nine first on Friday at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. He birdied the 11th, but gave that shot back when he stumbled to a bogey on the 13th.

After a par on 14, Saunders moved back to 7-under with a birdie on the par-5 15th. He parred four in a row around the turn.

Saunders converted back-to-back birdie efforts at two and three. A birdie at the par-5 fifth gave him a piece of the lead.

The 27-year-old, who made the cut in 12 of his 18 starts this year and had one top-5 finish, grabbed the lead with birdies at the seventh and eighth. Saunders parred the last to end at 12-under.

"If you can be on top, you always want to be there. Once I made a birdie and got to 11-under, I didn't want to just coast in," Saunders stated. "You always want to play against the best. This is how I know it is on the PGA Tour."

Thomas flew up the leaderboard as he birdied five of six holes from the 12th. After birdies at one and two, he bogeyed the fifth. Thomas birdied the eighth and parred the ninth to post minus-10.

Owen also started on the back nine and mixed four birdies and a bogey over his first eight holes. He played the final 10 holes in 2-under par with nine pars and an eagle on the par-5 second.

Knost had two birdies and a double-bogey on the front nine. Around the turn, he had an eagle and three birdies to gain a share of second place.

Fathauer rolled in three birdies in a 4-hole span from the second. He birdied the ninth to make a turn at minus-10. On the back nine, Fathauer parred the first five holes. He mixed two birdies and two bogeys over his final four holes.

NOTES: Saunders has never had full-time status on the PGA Tour, but a win here this week would get him that status for next season ... This is the first time Saunders has held the lead after any round on the Web.com Tour ... Bill Lunde had a hole-in-one on the fourth ... The cut fell at 1-under 143 with 71 players moving on to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were Ben Curtis, Chad Collins, John Rollins and Sean O'Hair.

Cornelson still on top by 1 in Ontario



Peterborough, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Adam Cornelson maintained his lead after two rounds of The Wildfire Invitational as he carded a 5-under 67 on Friday.

Cornelson ended 36 holes at 14-under-par 130. He is winless in his fourth full season on tour.

Brock Mackenzie fired a 7-under 65 and jumped into second place at minus-13. Randall Hutchison (66) and Joe Panzeri (64) are one stroke back at 12-under- par 132.

Andrew Georgiou (68) and Jay Vandeventer (65) are tied for fifth place at minus-11 at Wildfire Golf Club.

Tomas Cocha (67), Jeff Corr (66), Justin Shin (68), Jeff Dennis (68) and Chris Hemmerich (68) share seventh place at 10-under 134.

Cornelson had a steady second round that started with a pair of pars from the 10th. After a birdie on the par-5 12th, he parred five in a row.

The Canadian birdied the 18th to make the turn at 11-under. Cornelson made it two in a row with a birdie on the first. He later birdied the fourth and ninth to close out a bogey-free round.

Mackenzie also played the back nine first on Friday. He opened with a birdie on the 10th, then ran off three consecutive birdies from the 14th.

The ATB Financial Classic winner made the turn at 9-under after tripping to a bogey on the 10th. Mackenzie flew up the leaderboard as he birdied four of the first five holes around the turn.

That burst got Mackenzie within one of the lead. That is where he ended as he closed with four pars in a row.

NOTES: Cornelson has missed the cut in six of his nine starts this year ... Jay Myers had a hole-in-one on the par-3 11th ... With Tim Madigan among those missing the cut, Sean Shahi is the only player that has made all 10 cuts this season on the PGA Tour Canada ... The cut fell at 4-under 138 with 65 players making it to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were Stuart Anderson, Jon Mills, Olin Browne, Jr., Josh Persons and Greg Machtaler.

08/30 00:42:21 ET