=== News Summaries from The Sports Network - Friday, April 17 ===
=== Flyers fire Craig Berube ===
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head
coach Craig Berube after two seasons.
Berube was named to the post in October 2013 after Peter Laviolette was fired
just three games into the 2013-14 season and guided the Flyers to a record of
75-58-28 during his tenure.
The Flyers rebounded from an 0-3 start last season to make the playoffs, but
lost a seven-game first-round series to the New York Rangers, and finished 14
points out of postseason spot this spring after a record of 33-31-18.
"I wanted to make the right decision," said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall
about waiting a few days to make the change. "I put all the facts together,
but in the end, you go with your gut."
Berube had one year remaining on his contract. He was as an assistant coach
for six seasons before his promotion and spent 18 years in the Flyers'
organization as player, assistant coach and head coach.
"Craig Berube is a good friend of mine; he's a terrific man," Hextall added.
"But professionally I have an obligation to do what I think is best."
Hextall said the search for a new head coach would begin immediately and that
he would like to have one in place by the NHL Draft in late June.
=== Stars sign D Klingberg to 7-year extension ===
Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars signed defenseman John
Klingberg to a seven-year contract extension on Friday.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Dallas Morning News reported it
has an average annual value of $4.25 million.
Klingberg had 11 goals and 29 assists in 65 games this season. He led all NHL
rookie defensemen in assists and points.
"John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that
few in this league can match," said Stars general manager Jim Nill. "He fits
in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was
felt immediately. We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue
his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman."
The 22-year-old native of Gothenburg, Sweden was selected by Dallas in the
fifth round of the 2010 NHL Draft. He played in both the Swedish and Finnish
elite leagues before coming to North America full-time this season.
=== Report: Kings' Stoll arrested ===
(SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll was reportedly
arrested Friday on suspicion of drug possession in Las Vegas.
The Kings released a statement late Friday night.
"We are aware of police reports out of Clark County, Nevada regarding Jarret
Stoll. Our organization is concerned and has begun conducting a thorough
internal investigation. While we continue to actively gather facts, we are
withholding further comment at this time."
The report, per the Los Angeles Times, said Stoll was arrested on "suspicion
of possession of cocaine and ecstasy at a pool complex at the MGM Grand
Stoll, 32, helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, though he
recorded a career-low 17 points (6G, 11A) this past season.
=== Caps' Holtby won't start Game 2 ===
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Washington Capitals goaltender Braden
Holtby will not start Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference quarterfinal
series against the New York Islanders due to an illness.
Philipp Grubauer, recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League just
hours before Friday's critical game for Washington, will make his first career
NHL playoff start in Holtby's absence.
Grubauer played in just one game for the Capitals during the regular season
and has made 20 career NHL appearances. The 23-year-old owns a 7-6-5 record
with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage over those games.
In 49 games for Hershey this season, Grubauer compiled a 27-17-5 record with a
2.30 GAA. The 23-year-old German was part of an ECHL title-winning team with
Reading two years ago.
Holtby, whose 41 wins and nine shutouts during the regular season were tied
for second in the NHL, stopped 26-of-29 shots in Washington's 4-1 Game 1 loss
to the Islanders on Wednesday.
=== Canadiens' Pacioretty in for Game 2 ===
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty
is on the ice for Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the
Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
Montreal's leading scorer missed the final two games of the regular season and
the playoff opener after hitting the back of his head against the boards when
checked by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on April 5.
Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points this season.
He is taking the spot of Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who suffered an upper-
body injury in Game 1.
=== Sens' Stone in for Game 2 ===
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone is in
the lineup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against
the Montreal Canadiens.
Stone suffered a microfracture to his right wrist in Wednesday's Game 1 after
taking a vicious slash from Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.
Subban was given a major penalty with a game misconduct for his actions, but
did not receive a suspension.
Stone was Ottawa's second-leading scorer this season with 64 points and also
finished second on the team in goals with 26.
=== Manziel apologizes following rehab stint ===
Berea, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel
issued a statement Friday, offering an apology and thanks to fans, teammates
and the organization for support during his recent stay at a treatment
Manziel spent more than two months at a rehab center, undergoing treatment for
an undisclosed substance problem. He reportedly entered in late January before
exiting last week.
The former Heisman Trophy winner issued a statement through the Browns on
"I would like to thank my family, friends, the Browns organization, my
teammates and Browns fans everywhere for your patience, understanding, and
support during my stay at Caron," said Manziel on Friday. "The doctors and
staff have been amazing and what I've learned in the last couple of months has
been tremendous. I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I
disappointed, but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans
that I let down."
Manziel had a rough rookie season after being selected with the 22nd overall
pick in last year's draft, drawing criticism for his poor play and for his
behavior on and off the field.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and it's my intention to work very
hard to regain everyone's trust and respect," Manziel continued. "I understand
that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I
Reports of Manziel's partying circulated all last summer after the draft. In
late November, a fight at a high-end apartment complex in Cleveland between a
fan and people associated with Manziel took place in the early morning hours.
Manziel eventually started two games late in the season, then was placed on
injured reserve for the finale because of hamstring issue. He then overslept
the day before the last game against Baltimore and was fined.
"I also understand there's a lot of curiosity about this, but anyone who has a
friend or family member that's been through things like this knows it's an
ongoing process," Manziel added. "I'm going to continue to ask folks to try to
respect my privacy as I determine to what degree I am comfortable talking
about a subject which I consider very personal. Most of you have been
considerate about that and I thank you for it."
Manziel is expected to join his teammates next week for offseason workouts at
the Browns training complex.
"I look forward to seeing my teammates next week and focusing on football and
my desire to be the best possible player, teammate, and man that I can be," he
Manziel appeared in just five games for the Browns last season.
In his debut as a starter in a Week 15 game against Cincinnati, Manziel threw
for just 80 yards and was intercepted twice and sacked three times in a 30-0
The former Texas A&M star was back on the field the following week against
Carolina and was 3-for-8 for 32 yards before exiting late in the first half
with the hamstring injury that kept him out of the final game of the season.
=== Bryant recalled by Cubs ===
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - As expected, the Chicago Cubs recalled third
baseman Kris Bryant from Triple-A Iowa on Friday.
The Cubs sent the highly touted prospect back to the minors at the end of
March following a stellar spring training, doing so only in an effort to keep
Bryant under the club's control -- contract-wise -- for an extra year.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, delaying Bryant's service
time in the majors by 12 days pushes the slugger's free agent eligibility back
until after the 2021 season.
Bryant belted nine homers, drove in 15 runs and batted .425 over 40 at-bats in
14 games this spring in Arizona. He clubbed three homers, knocked in 10 runs
and hit .321 during his short stay at Iowa.
"Today I got to tell my family that my dream is coming true," Bryant wrote on
Twitter Thursday night after he was notified by the Cubs of his Friday recall.
"Can't really put into words what that feels like. So excited for this
Bryant was immediately inserted into the starting lineup as the cleanup hitter
for Friday's game against San Diego.
The Cubs also activated outfielder Chris Denorfia off the 15-day disabled list
and opened two roster spots by placing pitcher Neil Ramirez and third baseman
Mike Olt on the DL.
Olt, who had been holding down the position at third base until Bryant's
imminent recall, has a hairline fracture in his right wrist. He had just two
hits in 15 at-bats, including a solo home run, in six games this season.
Ramirez, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA
in five appearances out of the bullpen for the Cubs this season.
Denorfia had been on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
=== Brewers put Gomez on DL ===
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Milwaukee Brewers have placed
outfielder Carlos Gomez on the 15-day disabled list because of a right
Gomez was hurt during Wednesday's game against St. Louis and missed Thursday's
series finale against the Cardinals, making the DL move retroactive to April
In eight games this season, Gomez is batting just .235 with four doubles, a
homer and a team-high six runs batted in.
The Brewers recalled utilityman Jason Rogers from Triple-A Colorado Springs to
fill the roster spot.
=== Pirates activate C Stewart from DL ===
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Pirates activated catcher
Chris Stewart from the 15-day disabled list and optioned catcher Tony Sanchez
to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Stewart strained his right hamstring during spring training and missed the
start of the season. He played five rehab games between Double-A Altoona and
Indianapolis and went 6-for-18.
The 33-year-old Stewart batted .294 with a .362 on-base percentage, both
career highs, in 49 games for Pittsburgh last year. He is expected to back up
Sanchez had three hits in three games this season with Pittsburgh.
=== Reyes sidelined with oblique injury ===
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes will
likely miss the weekend series against Atlanta because of an oblique injury.
Reyes was hurt last weekend against Baltimore and has tried to play through
the pain. He left Thursday's game against Tampa Bay and will try to give the
injury time to heal, hoping to avoid a stint on the disabled list.
In 10 games this season, Reyes is batting .324 with three doubles and five
runs batted in.
=== Astros' Peacock returns to DL ===
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Houston Astros pitcher Brad Peacock landed
back on the 15-day disabled list Friday after making just one start in his
return from offseason hip surgery.
Peacock was activated to start Tuesday against Oakland and threw five innings
in his season debut, taking the loss in a 4-0 setback to the Athletics after
surrendering three runs. The right-hander sustained a strained left
intercostal strain during the outing, according to the team.
Asher Wojciechowski was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to take Peacock's place
in the rotation.
Wojciechowski started Houston's 5-1 loss to Cleveland on April 9 and received
the loss in his major league debut, allowing four runs on eight hits over four
innings. The rookie righty rebounded to toss four scoreless frames in relief
on Monday, then was sent down to Triple A to make room for Peacock.
=== Rays send reliever Beliveau to DL ===
St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays placed reliever
Jeff Beliveau on the 15-day disabled list Friday due to soreness in his left
Beliveau, who posted a 2.63 ERA and one save in a career-best 30 appearances
for the Rays in 2014, has been tagged for four runs and five hits over just 1
2/3 innings over his two most recent appearances.
Fellow lefty C.J. Riefenhauser was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill
Beliveau's spot in the bullpen. Additionally, the Rays recalled infielder Ryan
Brett from Durham prior to Friday's game against the New York Yankees and
optioned outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Bulls.
Riefenhauser pitched in seven games as a September call-up by the Rays last
season, allowing five runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old
pitched to a 1.80 ERA in 11 appearances during Spring Training, however.
Brett hit .303 with eight home runs, 38 RBI and 27 stolen bases at Double-A
Montgomery last season.
=== Twins put Duensing on DL ===
Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Twins have placed pitcher
Brian Duensing on the 15-day disabled list with a right intercostal strain.
Duensing suffered the injury during Thursday's game against Kansas City,
during which he allowed two runs in the ninth inning of Minnesota's 8-5 win.
The left-hander has allowed three runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings over six
games this season.
To replace Duensing on the 25-man roster, the Twins recalled pitcher Caleb
Thielbar from Triple-A Rochester.
Thielbar has made 103 relief appearances over the past two seasons with the
Twins, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.59 ERA.
=== Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has quadruple bypass surgery ===
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar is currently recovering from major open heart surgery performed
Thursday in Los Angeles.
The UCLA Health System released a statement Friday revealing that the Hall of
Fame center underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery on his 68th birthday.
The procedure was performed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center by UCLA chief
of cardiac surgery Richard Shemin, who said Abdul-Jabbar is expected to make a
"At this time, Abdul-Jabbar would like to thank his surgical team and the
medical staff at UCLA, his alma mater, for the excellent care he has
received," the statement read.
"He is looking forward to getting back to his normal activities soon. He asks
that you keep him in your thoughts and, most importantly, cherish and live
each day to its fullest."
One of the most prolific players in NBA history, Abdul-Jabbar earned six
league MVP awards during his 20-year playing career and won six world titles
with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He was named an All-Star 19
times and finished his career with 38,387 points.
Abdul-Jabbar was previously diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in
2008, but announced in 2011 that the disease is in remission.
=== Nets' Teletovic cleared for basketball related activities ===
Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic has
been cleared to resume basketball-related activities, the team announced
Teletovic has been out of action since being diagnosed with multiple blood
clots in his lungs in late January. He won't be available for the start of the
playoffs, as Brooklyn opens its first-round series against Atlanta on Sunday.
"Mirza will be listed as out for games, and if his status changes, we will
update at the appropriate time," said Nets general manager Billy King.
Nets team physician Dr. Michel Farber provided an update on Teletovic's
condition in a statement issued by the club.
"Over the last three months, Mirza has been closely monitored on blood
thinners and follow-up testing has met our expectations," the statement read.
"The most recent bloodwork was normal and Mirza has been cleared to resume all
Teletovic averaged 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games this season.
=== Kenseth grabs pole for Sprint Cup race at Bristol ===
Bristol, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Kenseth will start on the pole for
Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway after beating Brad Keselowski
for the top position in qualifying.
Kenseth, the driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, made a lap
around this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval at 128.632 mph during the final round
of Friday's qualifying to earn his first pole of the season and the 14th of
his Sprint Cup Series career.
It's the second time in 31 races that Kenseth has claimed the pole at Bristol.
He started first and won the night race here in August 2005. Kenseth has been
winless in his last 51 Sprint Cup start. His most recent victory in the series
occurred in September 2013 at New Hampshire, his first season with JGR.
"Our Dollar General Camry had some really good speed," Kenseth said. "(Crew
chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and the guys made some really great adjustments. They
had the very best for the last lap, and we were able to put it together. Glad
we're starting from the pole, and we've got some work to do tomorrow
(Saturday's final practice) to get it ready for Sunday."
Kenseth also won the summer night race at Bristol in 2006 and '13, but has yet
to score a victory in the spring race here.
Keselowski's best lap in the last qualifying round was clocked at 128.442 mph.
It's the first time this season that the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford
will start on the front row in a Sprint Cup race.
"We're reasonably happy with our day to qualify second," Keselowski said. "You
get that close and it seems to sting a little bit more because it didn't take
much to find the next place, but it could be worse and we're thankful for a
decent starting spot."
Carl Edwards, who is Kenseth's teammate at JGR this year, qualified third.
Edwards won last year's spring race at Bristol, in his final season with Roush
Kevin Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, took the fourth starting
spot, followed by Denny Hamlin, also a JGR driver, and Joey Logano, who won
the last night race here in August. Logano posted the fastest laps in the
first two rounds, including the fastest lap in the qualifying session at
129.290 mph, set in the opening round.
"It's frustrating when you win the first two rounds and then you don't really
make it happen on the third one," Logano said. I just got too loose in the
last round. I'm mad at sixth, so at least that's a good problem to have."
Qualifying seventh through 12th were: Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard,
Jamie McMurray, David Ragan and Austin Dillon.
Kahne was the only one of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers who advanced
into the third qualifying round. Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed the cut for the
final round by 0.016 seconds. Earnhardt will start 13th. Jeff Gordon will roll
off 23rd after struggling in the second round. Jimmie Johnson, who won his
second race of the season last weekend at Texas, failed to make it out of
round one. Johnson's lap at 126.146 mph earned him the 28th starting position.
"It's just been a struggle," Johnson said. "In practice, we were on one side
of it, and then in qualifying, we were on a different side. It's a frustrating
Friday. Bristol can be that way for us. We always race a lot better, so we'll
settle-in during the race and I think come out with a good finish."
Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday Jr. failed to qualify.
=== Djokovic, Nadal to meet in Monte Carlo semis ===
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Great rivals Novak
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will square off in Saturday's semifinals at the $3.5
million Monte Carlo Masters, the first clay-court Masters event of the year.
The high-flying world No. 1 Djokovic won the first eight games in drubbing
eighth-seeded U.S. Open champion and fellow Monte Carlo resident Marin Cilic
6-0, 6-3 in 65 minutes, while the third-seeded former top-ranked star Nadal
got past fifth-seeded fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours,
44 minutes on Day 6 at the famed Monte Carlo Country Club.
"The first set went completely my way," Djokovic said after spanking Cilic.
"I knew he was going to start to change some things in his game so he could
start to play a little bit better. But I made a crucial break at the beginning
of the second. The first eight games were really fantastic. I tried to keep it
up, [but] I did drop in the concentration a little bit."
Djokovic is now 12-0 lifetime versus Cilic, while Nadal is 23-6 against
Ferrer, including 5-0 in Monte Carlo. Nadal beat Ferrer in the 2011 finale
The 2013 winner and two-time Monte Carlo runner-up Djokovic is trying to
become the first-ever player to capture the first three Masters events of the
year, having recently nailed down back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and
Nadal won this clay-court Monte Carlo title eight straight years from
2005-12, beating Djokovic in the 2009 and 2012 finals. Djokovic ended the
Spaniard's run with a surprising victory in the 2013 title match.
The nine-time French Open king Nadal is 23-19 lifetime against Djokovic,
including 2-1 in Monte Carlo, but the Serb is 13-9 in their Masters matchups.
The other semi will pit sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych against 14th-seeded French
favorite Gael Monfils, as the former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych was
leading fourth-seeded Milos Raonic 5-2 in the first set when the Canadian
Raonic retired with a foot injury, and Monfils mauled ninth-seeded Bulgarian
Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3.
Berdych is 5-1 lifetime against Monfils.
=== Serena will open for U.S. in Fed Cup playoff vs. Italy ===
Brindisi, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - World No. 1 superstar Serena Williams
will be first up for the United States in its Fed Cup semifinal versus host
Italy this weekend.
The best-of-five tie will commence when the 19-time Grand Slam champion takes
on 36th-ranked Camila Giorgi on Saturday, and that match will be followed by a
tilt between 57th-ranked young American Lauren Davis and world No. 15 former
French Open champ Sara Errani. The 21-year-old Davis will be making her Fed
Cup singles debut.
The reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion and Williams is a perfect 11-0
in her career Fed Cup singles matches.
Sunday's reverse singles have Williams facing Errani and Davis battling
Giorgi, while the Day-2 doubles rubber has an American tandem of Christina
McHale and Alison Riske meeting an Italian duo of Flavia Pennetta and Karin
Knapp on the red clay at Circolo Tennis Brindisi.
Williams' former top-ranked older sister, Venus, decided against playing this
week due to personal reasons.
Both the U.S., captained by Mary Joe Fernandez, and Italy, guided by Corrado
Barazzutti, are trying to earn a spot in next year's Fed Cup World Group.
The two teams know each other well, having met four times in the last six
years, including back-to-back finals in 2009 and 2010. The Italians have won
all four of those recent encounters, but team USA leads the all-time head-to-
head series, 9-4.
The Americans hold a record 17 Fed Cup titles, but haven't captured the
championship now since 2000. The Italians are four-time champs, with all four
coming over the last nine years, including as recently as 2013.
=== Kvitova set to lead Czechs against France in Fed Cup semi ===
Ostrava, Czech Republic (SportsNetwork.com) - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova
will lead the reigning Fed Cup champion and host Czech Republic in this
weekend's semifinal against Germany in Ostrava.
The best-of-five tie will get underway Saturday with opening singles rubbers,
as 13th-ranked Czech Lucie Safarova will take on No. 29 rising Frenchwoman
Caroline Garcia and the world No. 4 Kvitova will encounter 58th-ranked
Kristina Mladenovic on an indoor hardcourt at Cez Arena.
Sunday's reverse singles will pit Kvitova against Garcia and Safarova versus
Mladenovic, while a doubles rubber tentatively has a Czech tandem of Karolina
Pliskova and Barbora Strycova taking on a French duo of Alize Cornet and
The two-time Wimbledon titlist Kvitova is 23-6 in her career Fed Cup singles
The Czechs, captained by Petr Pala, are trying to reach their fourth Fed Cup
final in five years.
Two-time champion France, skipped by former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, is
3-2 all-time against the Czech Republic, with all three wins coming in their
last three meetings.
The winner in Ostrava will face the Germany-Russia victor in the World Group
final in November.
The high-flying Czechs topped the Germans in last year's final in Prague to
capture a third championship in four years.
=== Hingis to play Fed Cup singles against Poland ===
Zielona Gora, Poland (SportsNetwork.com) - Martina Hingis will officially put
her singles hat on for the first time since 2007 this weekend, playing two
singles matches -- as well as the doubles match -- in Switzerland's Fed Cup
playoff tie against Poland.
Hingis, who came back to the tour in doubles in the summer of 2013 and has
since become one of the top players in the team discipline, is the former
world No. 1 in singles star, winning five Grand Slam titles. Her last tour-
level singles match came against China's Peng Shuai in Beijing in '07.
She was asked how it feels to take the singles court again for the first time
in almost eight years.
"That's why I took a while to make this decision -- I was like, 'Give me
another night to sleep on it,'" Hingis said. "The comfort zone is there to
play doubles, obviously I've played very well in the last five weeks, winning
three titles, and the confidence is there. But singles is a different ball
game. On the other hand they have put the trust in me, so it's like, 'Let's go
for it. Let's try.'
"Hopefully I can make at least a game, you know -- a point for Switzerland!"
She has had a little bit of practice in singles, though.
"I've played some World TeamTennis in America in the last three or four years,
maybe a set," Hingis said. "But it's usually just one set. That's why I said I
should sleep on it. We'll see if I can last.
"I'll try my best for the team. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Hingis' first match will be against current world No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska on
"I'm very happy about it," Radwanska said. "I haven't played her for a couple
of years now, so it's going to be a good challenge, especially since she's
still very fit and still playing some great tennis.
"We actually played in the Indian league a few months ago. She was there as a
singles player. She was still playing great tennis, playing against everyone.
She's still young and very fit and after so many years on tour she can't
forget how to play good singles. That's why she can still be very dangerous."
Radwanska beat Hingis in their only previous meeting.
=== Kuznetsova will open for Russia vs. Germany in Fed Cup SF ===
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2015 Fed Cup semifinal between host
Russia and Germany will get underway Saturday when two-time Grand Slam
champion Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Julia Goerges at Sochi's Adler Arena.
Kuznetsova-Goerges will be followed by a bout between 19th-ranked German
Sabine Lisicki and world No. 38 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
On Sunday in Sochi, reverse singles will pit the 24th-ranked Kuznetsova
against the former Wimbledon runner-up Lisicki and Pavlyuchenkova versus the
No. 63 Goerges, while a doubles affair has German stars Andrea Petkovic and
Angelique Kerber taking on a Russian pairing of Elena Vesnina and two-time
major runner-up Vera Zvonareva.
Team Russia, captained by Anastasia Myskina, is playing without injured world
No. 2 star Maria Sharapova this week, while the Germans, piloted by Barbara
Rittner, elected to keep their top-two players, Petkovic and Kerber, out of
the singles lineup for now.
"The number one and two ranked players [Petkovic and Kerber] came in from
Charleston and only arrived here on Tuesday/Wednesday night. So its always
tough," said Rittner, giving her reason for the decision.
"They have had long weeks, successful weeks in the U.S. and I had two players
who were fresh. They have been here from Sunday and they had good practice
sessions and we have a strong team," the German captain added.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two nations and Russia holds a 3-1
lead in the head-to-head. Germany, however, won the last meeting between the
two sides when it prevailed 3-2 in the 2002 World Group first round.
Russia has lifted the Fed Cup on four occasions (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008),
while Germany has been crowned champions twice (1987, 1992).
The winner in Sochi will face the Czech Republic-France victor in the World
Group final in November.
Germany lost to the Czechs in last year's Fed Cup final.
=== Merritt matches course record at Harbour Town ===
Hilton Head Island, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Troy Merritt fired a 10-under 61
on Friday to match the course record and soar into the lead at the Heritage.
Merritt, who is looking for his first PGA Tour victory, finished 36 holes at
12-under-par 130. He missed the tournament's 36-hole scoring record by one
Defending champion Matt Kuchar carded a 66 to move into a share of second
place. He was joined at 8-under 134 by John Merrick (65).
Jim Furyk, the 2010 winner, posted a 7-under 64 at Harbour Town Golf Links to
jump into a tie for fourth at minus-7. He stands alongside Kevin Kisner (67)
and 2013 winner Graeme McDowell (69).
Masters champion Jordan Spieth fired a 9-under 62 and soared into a share of
seventh place at 6-under-par 136. Louis Oosthuizen (67), Kevin Streelman (65),
Matt Every (70) and Morgan Hoffmann (68) joined Spieth at minus-6.
"I found something in my ball position on the range, and it made a world of
difference. One more nights sleep and just feeling like I had a little
something to think about on the course, and that helped me zero in on targets
a little better and get into a rhythm," Spieth stated. "I don't want to go
home early, and I knew I had to shoot at least 2-under. I got a couple good
breaks today, but all in all I played well."
Two-time winner Tom Watson birdied the 18th hole for a 1-under 70, which
helped him make the cut on the number at even-par 142. That was his 501st made
cut in 617 career PGA Tour starts.
Merritt got off to a relatively slow start with one birdie and five pars in
his first six holes. He stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 seventh within two
feet and kicked that in for birdie.
After a par at the eighth, Merritt rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at nine to
make the turn at 5-under. He made it two in a row with another gain on the
Merritt birdied the 12th and 13th from 11 and 13 feet out, respectively. He
caught fire after making par on No. 14. Merritt rolled in an 18-foot birdie
try on the par-5 15th to grab the lead at minus-9.
The 29-year-old birdied the final three holes, all from inside seven feet, to
match David Frost's course record.
"I've got a superstition that when I make a birdie I don't take a ball out of
a round, and I put the last ball into play on 12 and it got beat up the last
seven holes, but I played it all the way in and made six birdies with it,"
said Merritt. "It was a lot of fun. It was fun to hit quality golf shots and
roll the putts in."
Kuchar, who played alongside Spieth, had two birdies and seven pars on his
opening nine. On his second nine, Kuchar dropped in back-to-back birdies from
the first, and again from the fifth. Kuchar missed the green at the par-3
seventh and that led to a bogey, which dropped him back to minus-8. He parred
the last two holes to end there.
Merrick birdied the 10th and 11th to get his round going. After a bogey on No.
12, he drained a 19-footer for birdie at the 15th. Merrick parred the next
three before converting birdie chances at the first three holes around the
That burst moved Merrick to 7-under and he remained there as he parred five in
a row from the fourth. Merrick converted a 14-footer for birdie on the ninth
to join Kuchar in second place.
NOTES: Merritt is trying to join a group of 10 other players that made this
event their first PGA Tour win ... The only other time he led after any round
on the PGA Tour was after the first round of the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii ...
With little wind through the day, Friday's scoring average at 69.641 was the
second-lowest in event history ... The cut line fell at even-par 142 with 76
players making it to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were
Kenny Perry, Graham DeLaet, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Ernie Els.
=== Uihlein moves into lead in China ===
Shenzhen, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Peter Uihlein posted a 4-under 68 on
Friday and moved into the lead after the second round of the inaugural
The American completed 36 holes at 9-under-par 135.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded a 3-under 69 to end two rounds at minus-8 at
Genzon Golf Club.
Emiliano Grillo shared low round of the day honors with his 5-under 67. He
jumped into a share of third place alongside Gregory Havret (68), Matt Ford
(69) and Darren Fichardt (70).
Matteo Manassero (70) headlines a group of four players tied for seventh place
at 5-under-par 139.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson stumbled to a 2-over 74. He fell into a
share of 42nd place at even-par 144.
"It's tough. I haven't played very well. I haven't putted very well. But it's
a beautiful golf course," said Watson.
Uihlein took advantage of the par-5s on Friday to move into the lead. He
parred three holes in a row from the 10th to open his round before carding his
first birdie at the par-5 13th.
The 2013 Madeira Islands Open winner stumbled to a bogey at the 15th. He
erased that mistake with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
Around the turn, Uihlein birdied the par-5 second to move to 7-under. He
parred the next three, then dropped in a birdie effort at the sixth. Uihlein
grabbed the lead as he capped his round with a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
"It was tricky today. The wind was swirling quite a bit," Uihlein stated. "I
got the back nine out of the way pretty quickly. I played very solid. I felt
like getting anything under-par on the back nine was nice, and I played a
pretty stress free front nine, which is always good."
Aphibarnrat, who also started on No. 10 on Friday, tripped to a bogey at the
12th, but came right back with a birdie at No. 13. He parred the final five
holes of his opening nine.
The 2013 Malaysian Open champion birdied the first and third, both for the
second day in a row, to move to minus-7.
Aphibarnrat birdied the sixth to get to 8-under. He faltered to a bogey at the
eighth, but quickly atoned for that error with a birdie at the ninth.
"It was a great round. Again, the wind was getting up on a few holes before I
finished, but the way I was striking the ball is still very good," Aphibarnrat
NOTES: Uihlein has had the 36-hole lead twice previously on the European Tour,
but failed to hold either lead ... First-round leader Wen-yi Huang stumbled to
a 2-over 74 and dropped into a tie for 11th at 4-under-par 140 ... Niclas
Fasth carded a hole-in-one on the par-3 third ... Byeong-Hun An, who shared
second place after the first round, withdrew due to a neck injury and Paul
Waring withdrew with a shoulder injury ... The cut line fell at 2-over-par 146
with 67 players moving on to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut
were Alejandro Canizares, Oliver Fisher, Peter Hanson, Peter Lawrie, Robert
Karlsson and Nicolas Colsaerts.
=== European Tour names Pelley as chief executive ===
Virginia Water, England (SportsNetwork.com) - The European Tour named Keith
Pelley as it new Chief Executive Officer on Friday. Pelley will replace George
O'Grady, who announced last November that he was stepping down.
Pelley is currently the president of Rogers Media in Canada, where he helped
orchestrate the largest sports right deal in Canadian history, when Rogers
acquired the rights to National Hockey League broadcasts.
"I am very honored to be joining the European Tour as its new CEO at an
exciting stage in its development," Pelley said. "The tour already has a
highly regarded reputation and I look forward to building on this using my
previous experience in both media and sports to ensure it remains at forefront
of the game across the globe."
Pelley led Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium for the 2010 winter
games in Vancouver. Prior to that, Pelley was the CEO of the Canadian Football
League's Toronto Argonauts.
"I am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley to the European Tour as our new Chief
Executive. Keith's proven track record, extensive experience and outstanding
leadership skills in both sport and media will be invaluable as we continue to
further develop our strategy," said European Tour chairman David Williams.
"On behalf of the board, I would again like to thank George O'Grady for his
extraordinary contribution to the European Tour and professional golf over the
last 40 years and we are delighted that he will undertake the role of
President of International Relations, ensuring the European Tour will continue
to benefit from his knowledge and experience."
=== Rain halts play at Gwinnett Championship ===
Duluth, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Joey Sindelar was one of five players that
stood at 4-under par when the first round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship
was halted by rain on Friday.
Sindelar was joined atop the leaderboard by Tommy Armour III, Gary Hallberg,
Ian Woosnam and Olin Browne.
Heavy rain at TPC Sugarloaf halted play, and after a lengthy wait, officials
called play for the day. The first round will resume on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET
with the second round to follow at 10:40 a.m. Players will remain in the same
groups for round two.
Tom Byrum posted a 3-under 69 and was one of three players that completed
their opening rounds. Byrum shared sixth place with Steve Pate, Stephen Ames,
Steve Jones, Kevin Sutherland, Brad Faxon, Mark O'Meara and Tom Pernice, Jr.
John Huston and Mark Brooks both carded 2-under 70s and are tied for 14th.
Reigning champion Miguel Angel Jimenez was even-par through 11 holes and was
tied for 40th place, while 2013 winner Bernhard Langer shared 28th at minus-1.
Sindelar played the back nine first on Friday and he opened with a pair of
pars. He converted his first birdie chance at the 12th, then ran off six
straight pars from the 13th.
Around the turn, Sindelar dropped in back-to-back birdies at one and two to
move to minus-3. After three more pars, he birdied the par-5 sixth to grab a
share of the lead. Play was called shortly after that.
Armour and Hallberg started at the same time, but on opposite nines. Armour
birdied the first and third to get off to a quick start. He later birdied the
seventh and ninth to make the turn tied for the lead at minus-4. Armour parred
the first five holes of the back nine before play was stopped.
Hallberg birdied the 12th and 15th to go with seven pars on his opening nine.
He moved into a share of the lead with birdies on Nos. 1 and 3. Play was
stopped after he parred his next two holes.
Woosnam traded a birdie at the 10th for a bogey at the 11th. He soared up the
leaderboard with three birdies in his next four holes. Woosnam ran off six
consecutive pars from the 16th. He birdied the fourth to grab a share of the
Browne birdied four of his first five holes from the 10th. He parred seven in
a row before play was stopped for the day.
NOTES: Of the five leaders when play was called on Friday, only Browne and
Hallberg have won on the Champions Tour and they both have one tour title ...
Sindelar, Armour and Woosnam are all looking for their first tour victory ...
This was the first suspension on the Champions Tour since last year's Quebec
=== Sei Young Kim takes outright lead in Hawaii ===
Oahu, Hawaii (SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie Sei Young Kim carded a 2-under 70
in Friday's third round and that was good enough to give her a 1-shot lead
heading into the final day of the LOTTE Championship.
Sei Young Kim, who shared the second-round lead with I.K. Kim, picked up her
first career victory on the LPGA Tour at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic,
the second event of the 2015 season. She finished 54 holes at 12-under-par
"I think overall I didn't have the really good feel for my shots today," Sei
Young Kim admitted. "Started to get better as the round went on, but my
putting wasn't working too well. Overall it was a pretty tough round."
I.K. Kim, who also held the outright first-round lead, shot a 1-under 71 and
she is alone in second at 11-under 205. World No. 3 Inbee Park is one shot
further back at minus-10 following a 3-under 69 at Ko Olina Golf Club.
Jenny Shin (70) is alone in fourth at minus-8, while Chella Choi (71) is at 7-
under. Ai Miyazato (71) and Paula Creamer (72) share sixth place at minus-6.
Defending champion Michelle Wie (73) is eight shots back and in a tie for
eighth at 4-under with five others.
Sei Young Kim, entering the day with a 3-shot lead alongside I.K. Kim, was
smooth out of the gate with four straight pars before she drained back-to-back
birdies on five and six. That had Sei Young Kim out in front on her own.
After finishing up the front nine with three straight pars, Kim tripped to her
first bogey on No. 10, only to get it back with a gain on the par-4 11th.
Kim later traded a birdie on 13 for a bogey on 14 and did the same thing with
a gain on 16 and a bogey on 17. The dropped shot at 17 paired with an I.K. Kim
birdie on the same hole had the duo tied for first once again.
However, while Sei Young Kim made par at the last, I.K. Kim made bogey to drop
her a shot back entering the final day.
I.K. Kim took the outright lead early on when she drained a birdie at the
first, but that was her last birdie for a while as the South Korean later made
bogeys on three and eight.
Kim's next birdie did not come until 12 holes later at the par-5 13th. She
then rattled off back-to-back gains on 16 and 17, which pulled her even with
Sei Young Kim.
I.K. Kim was unable to get up and down for par when her second shot missed to
the right of the green on 18 and she made bogey.
I.K. Kim agreed with Sei Young Kim about how difficult it was out on the
course in round three.
"I just had tough day today. It was tough wind, but I was hitting the ball
kind of everywhere, especially on the tee," I.K. Kim said. "I didn't know what
was happening. I was pushing it to the right a few times and I was pressure
reading my putting on the greens."
Park did most of her damage on the front nine with birdies on one, five and
six to go along with a bogey on four. She closed out her round with 11 pars
and one birdie on 13, getting her to within two of the lead.
NOTES: Since missing the cut at the first event of the season, Sei Young Kim
has picked up a win and four top-10 finishes in six events ... Sei Young Kim
held the second- and third-round leads at the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago,
only to finish tied for fourth ... I.K. Kim has gone 89 starts on the LPGA
Tour without a win. She has three career wins, with the last one coming at the
2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational ... Park is the highest ranked player in the
field this week. She has one win and four top-10 finishes in six events in
2015, with her worst finish being a tie for 13th ... Suzann Pettersen withdrew
on Friday due to a shoulder injury.
=== Malnati, Wittenberg remain on top in Mexico ===
Guanajuato, Mexico (SportsNetwork.com) - First-round co-leaders Peter
Malnati and Casey Wittenberg carded matching 4-under 68s in Friday's second
round and they continue to share the lead heading into the weekend at the El
Bosque Mexico Championship.
The duo finished 36 holes at 11-under-par 133, one shot ahead of Kevin Tway.
Malnati and Wittenberg have two wins each on the Web.com Tour. Malnati's last
one came earlier this season at the Brasil Champions, while Wittenberg won
both of his in 2012.
Tway is alone in third place at 10-under 134 following his 5-under 67 at El
Bosque Country Club. Chase Wright (67) and Luke List (69) sit two shots
further back at minus-8.
Rob Oppenheim (66), Henrik Norlander (69), Smylie Kaufman (69) and Oliver Goss
(70) finished the second round tied for sixth at 7-under 137.
Malnati began his round on the front nine and picked up right where he left on
Thursday. The 27-year-old got off to a good start by draining a birdie at the
first. Following three straight pars, Malnati poured in his second gain at the
Back-to-back birdies on eight and nine had Malnati rolling around the turn,
but the back nine was not quite as kind.
After four straight pars from 10, Malnati traded his first bogey on 14 for a
birdie on 15. He did the same thing with a bogey on 17 and a gain on 18.
Malnati shot even-par on the back nine to finish the day at 4-under and remain
tied atop the leaderboard.
"The only thing I did today that I regret is that I got pretty conservative on
the greens," Malnati admitted. "I had a lot of putts where I was cautious of
the wind and wound up leaving several putts short. I'd like to be a little
more aggressive tomorrow and not be afraid of the wind and what it can do."
Wittenberg had a flawless day, which started on the back nine. He rolled in
two birdies on 13 and 18 before making the turn at minus-2.
It was more of the same on the back side as the 30-year-old made six straight
pars from No. 1 before finishing strong with birdies on seven and nine,
completing his bogey-free round.
"My confidence has always been there. It's not like I'm searching for
something I've never done before," Wittenberg said. "The driver's been good so
far. I've played aggressive and we're going to keep it in the bag and keep
whipping it to see how it goes."
Tway made three birdies over his first five holes before dropping a shot at
the sixth. It was smooth sailing from there as Tway finished with gains on 11,
13 and 17 to card his second straight 67.
NOTES: Wittenberg was 13-under and held a 3-shot lead through two rounds at
this event in 2011, but he finished tied for ninth ... Malnati currently sits
atop the Web.com Tour money list with $164,607 ... The cut fell at even-par
144, with 68 players advancing to play the weekend.
04/18 01:35:48 ET