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     === News Summaries from The Sports Network - Thursday, October 30 ===
                       === RG3 likely to start Sunday ===
 Ashburn,  VA  (  - Washington  Redskins  quarterback  Robert
 Griffin  III will  likely start Sunday's game against Minnesota after taking a
 majority of the first-team reps in practice on Thursday.
 Griffin  hasn't  played since suffering  a dislocated  ankle in Week 2 against
 Jacksonville,  but coach  Jay Gruden  said Griffin  would be  his starter  for
 Sunday barring any issues the rest of the week.
 "The  progress that he's made has made us prepare him to be the starter," said
 Gruden  on  Thursday. "We wouldn't put  him with the (first-team) if we didn't
 feel  he was 100  percent physically. Every intent right now is to prepare him
 to be the starting quarterback."
 Gruden  maintained that  Griffin must still get through practice on Friday, or
 Colt  McCoy would get  his second straight start. McCoy led the Redskins to an
 overtime victory over Dallas on Monday.
 "If  there's a  fallback, if there's a  drawback, or if he's sore at all, then
 we'll  go  back to Colt,"  Gruden added. "His  ankle looks great. Robert's the
 starter  ...  but he's  got to  be 100  percent No.  1. We  feel like he's 100
 percent  physically right now, but we still have another day left to make sure
 that's the case."
 McCoy  played well  in the victory over Dallas, completing 25-of-30 passes for
 229  yards while rushing for a touchdown. If the Redskins wanted to give McCoy
 the  start, Griffin would have an additional two weeks of rest with the club's
 bye after Sunday's game.
 However, it appears that Griffin is ready to return.
               === Brady, Miller named AFC's best for October ===
 New York, NY ( - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady,
 Denver  Broncos  linebacker Von  Miller and Miami  kick returner Jarvis Landry
 have been selected as the AFC's top players for the month of October.
 Brady  completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,268 yards with 14 touchdowns
 and no interceptions to capture the offensive award for a seventh time. He led
 New England to four wins during the month, passing for at least two scores and
 a rating of better than 100.0 in each game.
 Miller  was  tabbed as  the top  defensive player  for the  second time in his
 career after posting seven sacks with 14 tackles, 10 of which went for a loss,
 to  help Denver to  four wins. He notched two sacks in three of his four games
 and has recorded at least one sack in six straight games.
 Landry  picked  up the special teams  honor after averaging 35.6 yards on five
 kickoff  returns.  He leads the  NFL with an average  of 31.3 yards on kickoff
 returns this season and also posted 13 catches for 144 yards in three games in
              === Murray again among NFC's best for the month ===
 New  York, NY ( - Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray
 was among the top NFC's top players for the second straight month.
 Murray,  the  offensive player of the  month for September, again garnered the
 award  and  was joined by Minnesota  defensive lineman Everson Griffen and New
 Orleans kicker Shayne Graham as October honorees.
 Among  Murray's  accomplishments for October  were league highs of 520 rushing
 yards  and 691 yards from scrimmage. He averaged 130 yards per game during the
 month, rushing for at least 100 yards in each contest en route to breaking Jim
 Brown's NFL record of six straight 100-yard games to start a season.
 Murray  leads the NFL with 1,054 rushing yards and is tied for the league lead
 with  seven  rushing touchdowns.  He joined  Hall of  Famers Barry Sanders and
 Emmitt  Smith as  the  only running  backs to  win  consecutive NFC  offensive
 monthly honors in a single season.
 Griffen  led the NFC  with six sacks and added 20 tackles with a forced fumble
 during  the month to  pick up the defensive award. He had at least one sack in
 each of the team's four games.
 Graham earned the special teams nod after converting all nine field goal tries
 and  nine  PATs during October.  Despite playing  only three games because the
 Saints had a bye, Graham led all NFC players with 36 points.
             === Watkins, Mosley named October's top rookies ===
 New   York,  NY  (  -  Buffalo  Bills  wide  receiver  Sammy
 Watkins  and Baltimore  Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley were named the Offensive
 and Defensive Rookies of the Month for October Thursday.
 Watkins,  a  first-round selection  out of  Clemson, led  all rookies with 393
 receiving  yards  on 21 receptions  with three  touchdowns, which tied for the
 most among NFL rookies for the month.
 He  posted  at least  87 receiving  yards in  three of  four games this month,
 including two 100-yard performances, the most among NFL rookies in October.
 Mosley,  a  first-round selection out  of Alabama,  started all four games and
 posted  42 tackles,  third amongst all NFL players, with two interceptions for
 the  month.  He led  the team  in tackles in  three of  four games this month,
 including  a career-high  15 tackles  against Indianapolis  in Week  5 and  13
 tackles against Cincinnati in Week 8.
                === Sandoval, Scherzer among 121 free agents ===
 New  York, NY  ( - It's back to the business of baseball, as
 World  Series hero  Pablo Sandoval  and former  Cy Young  winner Max  Scherzer
 headline this year's crop of 121 free agents.
 The  Major League  Baseball Players Association released the list on Thursday,
 just  a  day after the San  Francisco Giants captured their third World Series
 title in five years.
 Sandoval,  the 2012 World Series MVP who had a record 26 hits this postseason,
 is  the top Giant  available and could command a hefty payday after his recent
 heroics. Also on the list is Michael Morse, who had the go-ahead RBI single in
 San  Francisco's 3-2 victory over Kansas City in Game 7 on Wednesday. Starting
 pitchers  Jake Peavy  and Ryan  Vogelsong are  also eligible,  as is  reliever
 Sergio Romo.
 Scherzer  may  be the No. 1  starting pitcher on  the market. He turned down a
 long-term offer from the Detroit Tigers in March after signing a one-year deal
 worth  $15.25  million to avoid arbitration.  The right-hander won the 2013 Cy
 Young  Award after  a 21-3 campaign and  this past season was 18-5 with a 3.15
 ERA and a career-high 252 strikeouts.
 A  couple  of other top  pitchers available are  James Shields, who helped the
 Royals to the American League title, and Jon Lester, who was dealt from Boston
 to Oakland in the biggest trade at the July 31 deadline.
 Other  American  League stars  on the market  include Baltimore slugger Nelson
 Cruz,  who  led the majors with  40 home runs  during his lone season with the
 Orioles on the heels of his suspension for ties to the Biogenesis scandal, Red
 Sox  closer Koji  Uehara, Tigers  veterans Torii  Hunter and  Victor Martinez,
 Yankees closer David Robertson and Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera.
 National  League stars  available  include Dodgers  shortstop Hanley  Ramirez,
 Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, Nationals shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and a
 trio  of  Pittsburgh Pirates --  catcher Russell Martin and pitchers Francisco
 Liriano and Edinson Volquez.
 Also  part of the list are retired players Derek Jeter, Paul Konerko and Bobby
 Abreu.  Another  32 players  may become eligible  pending option provisions in
 their contracts.
 Free agents can begin negotiations with any club starting Nov. 4 at 12:01 a.m.
                     === Reds pick up option on Cueto ===
 Cincinnati,  OH ( - The Cincinnati Reds exercised their club
 option on pitcher Johnny Cueto for the 2015 season on Thursday.
 Cueto,  who will  earn $10  million in  the upcoming  season, compiled  a 20-9
 record  with  a 2.25  earned run average  over 34 starts,  a year removed from
 making only 11 starts in an injury-shortened 2013 campaign.
 The right-hander tied Washington starter Stephen Strasburg with 242 strikeouts
 for  best  in the  National League  and became the  Reds' first 20-game winner
 since Danny Jackson went 23-8 in 1988.
 Over  seven  seasons with the Reds,  the 28-year-old Dominican native has gone
 85-57  with a 3.27 ERA and 995 strikeouts over 194 starts. Cueto has also gone
 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in three postseason contests.
 The  Reds declined the 2015 options for infielder Jack Hannahan and outfielder
 Ryan Ludwick.
 Hannahan  hit .188 with  two RBI in 26 games last season, while Ludwick, a 12-
 year veteran, had nine home runs, 45 RBI and a .244 average over 112 games.
                === Cardinals exercise 2015 option on Lackey ===
 St.  Louis,  MO ( -  The St. Louis Cardinals exercised their
 contract  option on  starting  pitcher  John Lackey  for  the  2015 season  on
 Lackey,  who  was acquired  from Boston  at the trade  deadline, will earn the
 league  minimum  $500,000 in 2015  after making $15.25  million in each of the
 last three seasons.
 The  right-hander  went 14-10  with a  3.82 earned run  average over 31 starts
 split between the Cardinals and Red Sox last season.
 Lackey  won  his postseason start  against the  Los Angeles Dodgers during the
 National  League Division Series, but gave up four runs on five hits in a loss
 to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
 The  36-year-old  has compiled a  152-117 record with a  4.03 ERA in 355 games
 over 12 seasons with the Angels, Red Sox and Cardinals.
                === Red Sox bring Uehara back on 2-year deal ===
 Boston, MA ( - The Boston Red Sox announced on Thursday that
 reliever Koji Uehara will return to the club thanks to a two-year contract.
 No  financial terms  were reported, but the  Boston Globe stated it is for $18
 million split equally between the two years.
 The 39-year-old  native of Japan finished the 2014 campaign with a 6-5 record,
 26  saves  and 2.52 earned run  average over 64 appearances for the last-place
 Red Sox.
 "Good morning everybody! You might have heard through media, I signed with Red
 Sox  for  2 years. I am  looking forward to  seeing you!," Uehara wrote on his
 Twitter account shortly after the club released the news.
 Uehara  has put together a 10-6 record and 1.75 ERA along with 47 saves in 137
 contests over the last two seasons in Boston. He was the 2013 ALCS MVP.
                 === Dan Haren returns to Dodgers for 2015 ===
 Los  Angeles,  CA (  - Los  Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dan
 Haren  exercised his $10 million contract option to return to the team for the
 2015 season on Thursday.
 Haren,  who  underwent surgery to  clean out the  AC joint in his non-throwing
 shoulder  last Wednesday,  put  together  a respectable  first  season in  Los
 Angeles after signing with the team as a free agent in November.
 The  34-year-old made 32 starts and produced a 13-11 record with a 4.02 earned
 run  average, though  he was not used in the Dodgers' National League Division
 Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
 The  Dodgers expect  the veteran  hurler to  be recovered  in time  for spring
                    === Phillies decline option on Adams ===
 Philadelphia, PA ( - The Philadelphia Phillies declined Mike
 Adams' 2015 $6 million club option on Thursday.
 Adams  spent much of  the last two seasons on the disabled list and pitched in
 just  18  2/3 innings  this year,  posting a 2-1  mark with  a 2.89 earned run
 His  option would  have vested  automatically at  $6 million  with 60  innings
 pitched  in 2014 or at $6.5 million with 120 innings in 2013-14, but he tossed
 43 2/3 innings in his two seasons.
 In  addition,  Starter A.J. Burnett has  until Monday to accept or decline his
 $12.75  million player  option, while  starter Kyle  Kendrick and  catcher Wil
 Nieves became free agents Thursday.
                === Athletics promote Bush to hitting coach ===
 Oakland,  CA (  - The Oakland Athletics promoted Darren Bush
 to  hitting coach  and named  Scott Emerson  bullpen coach  and Marcus  Jensen
 assistant hitting/catching coach on Thursday.
 Bush  served  as  the A's  bullpen  coach  the  past  two seasons,  his  first
 assignment  on  a major  league coaching  staff. He  replaces Chili Davis, who
 left to take the same position with the Boston Red Sox.
 Emerson  earns  his first major  league coaching assignment after spending the
 last  two  seasons as the  A's minor  league roving pitching instructor, while
 Jensen also joins his first big league coaching staff after serving as the A's
 minor league roving hitting instructor in 2014.
 In  other A's  coaching news, pitching coach Curt Young, third base coach Mike
 Gallego  and first  base coach Tye Waller will return in their same capacities
 in  2015.  They join  new bench  coach Mike  Aldrete to  complete the A's 2015
 coaching staff.
                      === Nats exercise option on Span ===
 Washington,  DC ( - The Washington Nationals exercised their
 club  option on the  contract of outfielder Denard Span for the 2015 season on
 Span,  who  will be  entering his third  season with the  Nationals, hit for a
 career-best .302 average with five home runs and 37 RBI and set the Nationals'
 record for hits in a season with 184.
 "Denard  was arguably  our most consistent offensive player in 2014, keying so
 much  of  our offensive  production, and  his defense in  center field is Gold
 Glove-caliber  on a nightly basis," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.
 "We're excited to keep him in the fold for the 2015 season."
 Over  seven seasons  with Minnesota and Washington, Span has hit .286 with 314
 RBI, 32 home runs and 141 stolen bases over 889 games.
 Washington  declined to  exercise  their  options on  the  contracts of  first
 baseman Adam LaRoche and pitcher Rafael Soriano.
                    === Angels pick up option on Street ===
 Anaheim,  CA (  - The  Los  Angeles Angels  of Anaheim  have
 exercised the 2015 club option on the contract of closer Huston Street.
 Street  converted 17-of-19 save opportunities after the Angels acquired him in
 a trade with San Diego back in July.
 The  31-year-old righty is  36-29 with 275 saves and a 2.82 earned run average
 in  576 career  games with the Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Padres and
 The  Angels also  declined the 2015 club  option on the contract of lefty Sean
 Burnett.  He missed most this past season after undergoing a second Tommy John
                   === O's pick up options on Chen, O'Day ===
 Baltimore,  MD (  - The Baltimore Orioles have exercised the
 2015  club options on the contracts of pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O'Day,
 the team announced Thursday.
 Chen was 16-6 with a 3.54 earned run average in 31 starts this past season. In
 three  years  with the O's,  the 29-year-old lefty  from Taiwan has gone 35-24
 with a 3.86 ERA in 86 starts.
 O'Day,  32, made 68 relief appearances in 2014, going 5-2 with a 1.70 ERA. The
 right-hander recorded 73 strikeouts and walked only 19 in 68 2/3 innings.
             === Kashing in: Kemba gets extension from Hornets ===
 Charlotte,  NC (  - The Charlotte Hornets signed guard Kemba
 Walker to a  multi-year contract extension on Thursday,  a day after he lifted
 his team to a season-opening win.
 Walker  began  the campaign  in impressive  fashion, leading  the Hornets to a
 108-106 overtime win over Milwaukee. He first forced overtime by draining a 3-
 pointer  with  1.6 seconds  left in  regulation, then  later capped a 26-point
 night  with a  successful  step-back for  the winning  shot  with 5.1  seconds
 remaining in overtime.
 "Today  is  a great day for  the Charlotte Hornets," Charlotte general manager
 Rich  Cho said.  "To be able to retain  such an important piece of the core we
 are  building here in  Charlotte is exciting. Kemba is an integral part of the
 culture we're trying to create within our organization and we are excited that
 he will continue to be a part of our team for years to come."
 Last  season, Walker averaged a career-high-tying 17.7 points and career highs
 of 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
 The  6-foot-1 Walker  was selected by Charlotte with the ninth overall pick of
 the  2011 NBA  Draft and has appeared  in 221 games, including 180 starts over
 his  three-year career.  He  has averaged  16.0 points,  5.5  assists and  3.7
 "It's  rewarding to  continue my career with the team that drafted me," Walker
 said. "Since my first day in Charlotte, I knew that this was where I wanted to
 be. I am excited about the direction in which this franchise is headed and I'm
 confident  that  we will only get  better. I'm grateful for the opportunity to
 represent this organization, our fans and this city moving forward."
 Charlotte has improved its win total in each of Walker's three seasons.
              === Knicks' Calderon sidelined with calf strain ===
 New  York, NY  ( - New York Knicks point guard Jose Calderon
 will miss 2-to-3 weeks with a right calf strain.
 Calderon,  who  underwent an MRI  on Thursday,  suffered the strain during the
 preseason,  but  re-aggravated it during  warm-ups prior to New York's season-
 opening loss to Chicago on Wednesday.
 The  33-year-old veteran averaged 11.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in
 81 games for Dallas last season.
                 === Spurs' Leonard cleared to play Friday ===
 San  Antonio,  TX (  - The San  Antonio Spurs announced that
 forward Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to play in Friday's game at Phoenix.
 The  reigning  Finals MVP missed  the final  six preseason games and Tuesday's
 season opener because of a right eye infection.
 Big  man  Tiago Splitter  (strained right  calf) and  guard Patty Mills (right
 shoulder surgery) will not play against the Suns.
             === Warriors lock up Barnes, Ezeli through 2015-16 ===
 Oakland,  CA  ( - The  Golden State Warriors exercised their
 fourth-year team contract options on forward Harrison Barnes and center Festus
 Ezeli for the 2015-16 campaign.
 Barnes  was  the seventh overall  pick in the 2012  draft, while Ezeli was the
 final selection in the first round that year.
 Barnes,  22, has  been a  key contributor  to the  Warriors being  a perennial
 playoff  contender  since his arrival.  He has started  106 of the 160 regular
 season  games he  has played  and  averaged 9.3  points and  4.1 rebounds  per
 Ezeli  sat out last  season with a knee injury after averaging 2.4 points, 4.0
 rebounds and nearly a block per game as a rookie.
 Golden  State also  announced it  has not  picked up  the third-year  contract
 option  on guard  Nemanja Nedovic, who came  become a free agent at the end of
 this season.
                   === Oklahoma's Mixon reaches plea deal ===
 Norman,  OK ( - Joe Mixon's brush with the law has come full
 circle, as the Oklahoma Sooners freshman has avoided trial after being charged
 with an "act resulting in gross injury" three months ago.
 Mixon, 18, allegedly punched a 20-year-old female student and broke four bones
 in her face at a Norman restaurant on July 25.
 The highly-touted running back had been suspended for the season, but remained
 a student at the university while being excluded from all team activities.
 According  to the  Oklahoman Mixon  has entered  an Alford  plea on  Thursday,
 which asserts his innocence but still comes with consequences.
 Mixon  was given  a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service
 behavioral counseling and a $200 fine, per the paper.
                === Jackets place Wisniewski, Letestu on IR ===
 Columbus,  OH (  -  The Columbus  Blue  Jackets have  placed
 defenseman James Wisniewski and center Mark Letestu on injured reserve.
 Wisniewski  is expected  to be sidelined for  at least a week and possibly two
 weeks  with a  broken finger  he suffered  in Tuesday's  game against  Ottawa.
 Letestu  could be out for a month with a groin injury he sustained against the
 In  nine games  this season, Wisniewski has three assists. He led all Columbus
 defensemen in scoring last season with 51 points in 75 games.
 Letestu  has three goals and two assists in nine games. He could return in two
 weeks under a best-case scenario.
 Columbus has been beset by injuries in the first month of the season.
 Goaltender  Sergei Bobrovsky  is also out with a broken finger, while forwards
 Artem  Anisimov  (head), Matt Calvert  (upper body) and Nick Foligno (stinger)
 have  also  been hurt since last  weekend. Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton and
 Boone Jenner have yet to play this season because of injuries.
 The  Blue  Jackets recalled centers Sean  Collins and Brian Gibbons from their
 American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield to fill the roster spots.
                         === Red Wings recall Weiss ===
 Detroit,  MI (  -  The Detroit  Red  Wings recalled  forward
 Stephen Weiss from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
 Weiss,  who  was limited  to just  26 games last  season for Detroit following
 hernia  surgery,  was sent down to  the Griffins on Tuesday for a conditioning
 The  31-year-old  left Wednesday's contest  against Rockford after two periods
 with a sore groin and will be evaluated further in Detroit.
 Weiss has appeared in just one game for the Red Wings this season.
                      === Flames' Backlund heads to IR ===
 Calgary,  AB  (  -  The Calgary  Flames  announced  Thursday
 that forward Mikael Backlund was placed on injured reserve.
 The  25-year-old left-handed Swede posted a goal and three assists in 11 games
 this season.
 To  fill  the roster  spot, the  Flames recalled  forward Michael Ferland from
 Adirondack  of  the American Hockey  League. Ferland  leads the club with nine
 points (4G, 5A) in nine games.
                   === Flyers take a chance on Colaiacovo ===
 Philadelphia,  PA  (  - The  Philadelphia  Flyers  announced
 following  a 4-3  loss  to the  Lightning, that  free  agent defenseman  Carlo
 Colaiacovo was signed to a contract.
 With  long-term injuries  to Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald, and call-ups
 from Lehigh Valley a stop-gap measure, team general manager Ron Hextall sprang
 for some experience on the blue line.
 Colaiacovo,  31, has 401  games under his belt with the Maple Leafs, Red Wings
 and Blues, but the Toronto native carries a reputation for being injury-prone.
 He has posted 31 goals and 133 assists in parts of 11 seasons.
 The former first-round pick of the Leafs in 2001 appeared in just 25 games for
 St.  Louis last  season, totaling a goal and three assists, while cracking the
 lineup only 31 times in the last two years.
           === Djokovic, Federer, Murray reach Paris Masters QFs ===
 Paris,   France   (  -  Reigning  champion  Novak  Djokovic,
 former titlist Roger Federer and Andy Murray were among Thursday's third-round
 winners at the $3.7 million Paris Masters.
 The  two-time  Paris Masters champ Djokovic  got past French favorite and two-
 time tournament runner-up Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) in the Day 4 nightcap.
 The  Wimbledon  champion Djokovic will  face Murray in a quarterfinal showdown
 here  on Friday. The Serb is 14-8 in their lifetime series, including 3-0 this
 year and 8-4 in Masters matchups.
 The  second-seeded  former world  No.  1  Federer handled  20-year-old  French
 qualifier  Lucas  Pouille 6-4, 6-4  on the  indoor hardcourts at Paris' Palais
 Federer's  quarterfinal opponent  on  Friday will  be  Canadian slugger  Milos
 The  33-year-old Federer  is fresh  off his  title in  his hometown  of Basel,
 Switzerland,  last  week  and  was  the Paris  Masters  champ  in  2011.  He's
 currently riding a 14-match  overall winning streak, including a title  at the
 Shanghai Masters just three weeks ago.
 Meanwhile,  the  eighth-seeded former  world No. 2  star Murray humbled ninth-
 seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-3 in 69 minutes.
 "I  made it  very  difficult for  Grigor,"  said Murray.  "I  hardly made  any
 mistakes at all throughout the match."
 The  win cemented  Murray's spot in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in
 London in two weeks.
 Murray is fresh  off his title in Valencia, has won two  straight and three of
 his last five tournaments overall, and riding an 11-match winning streak.
 A  Day  4 upset  came when  14th-seeded South African  Kevin Anderson took out
 third-seeded Australian Open champ Stan Wawrinka 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-3).
 The  6-foot-8  Anderson will face 2005  Paris Masters titlist Tomas Berdych in
 the quarterfinals.
 Four  other stars avoided upsets, as fourth-seeded David Ferrer drilled fellow
 Spaniard  Fernando Verdasco  6-1, 6-2;  a fifth-seeded  Berdych handled  12th-
 seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3; sixth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Kei
 Nishikori  held  off 10th-seeded  French  favorite  and former  Paris  Masters
 champion and former runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 4-6, 6-4; and a seventh-
 seeded Raonic tackled 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-5, 7-6 (9-7).
 Ferrer  titled  here two years  ago and was  last year's Paris Masters runner-
 up to  Djokovic. The Spaniard's quarterfinal opponent will be Nishikori.
 This marks the final tournament of  the regular season on the ATP World Tour.
                      === Makarova loses again at TOC ===
 Sofia,  Bulgaria  (  -  Top  seed  Ekaterina  Makarova  lost
 her  second straight match this week during round-robin action at the $750,000
 WTA Tournament of Champions.
 Sixth-seeded   Frenchwoman  Alize   Cornet  doused   the  Russian   U.S.  Open
 semifinalist  Makarova in  6-1, 6-4 fashion on the indoor hardcourt at Armeets
 Meanwhile,  another  upset  came  when fourth-seeded  German  Andrea  Petkovic
 downed  second-seeded Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-3 in
 Thursday's  nightcap.  Petkovic is the  first player to qualify for Saturday's
 semifinals in Sofia.
 Also   on   Thursday,  seventh-seeded   rising  21-year-old  Spaniard  Garbine
 Muguruza  tackled  third-seeded  Italian  veteran Flavia  Pennetta  0-6,  6-1,
 6-1.  The Venezuelan-born Muguruza whipped Makarova 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday.
 This  eight-player season-ending tournament is for players who have won one or
 more  of  the WTA International  events during the  year but failed to qualify
 for the WTA Finals, which was staged in Singapore last week.
 This    week's    four-woman   Serdika    Group   features   Makarova   (0-2),
 Pennetta  (1-1), Cornet  (1-1) and  Muguruza  (2-0). Cibulkova  (2-1) led  the
 four-player   Sredets  Group,  which  also  includes  Petkovic  (2-1),  fifth-
 seeded  Carla  Suarez  Navarro  (1-1)  and  eighth-seeded  Bulgarian  favorite
 Tsvetana Pironkova (0-2).
 Friday's  round-robin  matches  will  pit Makarova  against  Pennetta,  Suarez
 Navarro versus Pironkova and Cornet against Muguruza.
 This  six-year-old  tournament will move  to Zhuhai,  China, next year after a
 three-year run in Sofia.
           === UConn women unanimous preseason No. 1, again ===
 New  York, NY ( - Connecticut will start the women's college
 basketball  season the same way it ended the 2013-14 campaign, as the top team
 in the nation.
 UConn  won its ninth national championship last April with a 79-58 drubbing of
 previously  unbeaten  Notre Dame  and on Thursday  received all 35 first-place
 votes from a nationwide media panel in the preseason Associated Press poll.
 It's  the  10th time  the Huskies, who ended last season 40-0, will  start the
 season  as  the nation's top team.  They went on  to win the national title on
 six of those occasions.
 South Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Texas A&M round out the top five.
 Stanford,  Duke, Baylor, Texas and Maryland are teams six through 10. The next
 10   consist   of  Kentucky,   Louisville,  North  Carolina,  Michigan  State,
 California,  Nebraska, West  Virginia, DePaul, Iowa and Oregon State. Oklahoma
 State, Dayton, UCLA, Rutgers and Syracuse finish out the top 25.
                === Karlberg leads by 2 at the CIMB Classic ===
 Kuala  Lumpur,  Malaysia ( - Sweden's Rikard Karlberg opened
 with  a  7-under 65 on Thursday  and he stands  two strokes clear of the field
 after one round of the CIMB Classic.
 Karlberg, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, finished fifth at the Malaysian
 Open earlier this year. That was his best finish of the season on the European
 Billy Hurley III carded a 5-under 67 on the West Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf &
 Country Club. He was joined in second place by Brian Stuard and Angelo Que.
 Defending  champion Ryan  Moore posted a 68 on Thursday. He shared fifth place
 with  Davis Love  III, David  Lingmerth, Prom  Meesawat, Tim  Wilkinson, Kevin
 Streelman, Jeff Overton and Seung-Yul Noh.
 Karlberg  parred the  first two holes, then  made birdie at the third. He came
 back with a birdie on the par-5 fifth.
 The  Swede poured  in  three straight  birdies  from the  seventh  to jump  to
 minus-5. He started the back nine with seven consecutive pars.
 Karlberg  rolled  in a birdie try  at 17 and  made it two  in a row as he also
 birdied the 18th to close out his round.
 "My  putting was great  after a hot start and then it was a little bit so-so,"
 Karlberg  stated. "I made an important par on 13 to keep my round going and it
 was nice to finish with those two birdies at 17 and 18."
 Hurley  parred  five of the first  six holes to go  along with a birdie at the
 third.  He ran off  three birdies in a 4-hole span from the seventh. After six
 straight pars from the 11th, Hurley grabbed a share of second with a birdie at
 the 17th. He parred the last to end there.
 Stuard  played the back nine first in round one. He faltered to a bogey at the
 11th, but came right back with a birdie on No. 12. Stuard drained four birdies
 in a row from the 14th.
 He  tripped to another bogey at the par-5 18th. Stuard atoned for that mistake
 with a birdie at the first. He later birdied No. 8 to move to minus-5.
 Que  got off  to a quick start with  birdies at one and two. He traded a bogey
 for a birdie from the fourth. He jumped to 5-under with three straight birdies
 to close out his opening nine.
 Around  the turn,  Que stumbled to a bogey  at the 13th. He got that shot back
 when he birdied the 16th. Que parred the last two to share second.
 NOTES:  Karlberg is the  first Asian Tour player to ever lead the CIMB Classic
 after  any round ...  Karlberg has had two other PGA Tour starts and they were
 at  the U.S.  Open in 2010 and 2013  ... There was a 2-hour weather delay with
 thunderstorms  in  the area ... With  wet conditions, preferred lies were used
 during the first round.
                     === Levy leads by one in Shanghai ===
 Shanghai,  China  ( -  Alexander Levy fired  a 7-under 65 in
 Thursday's opening round and he grabbed a 1-shot lead at the BMW Masters.
 Levy  won  twice this year  on the  European Tour, and  they were his only two
 top-10  finishes. Levy fired a second-round 62, which helped him win the China
 Open  in  April. He  later won the  Portugal Masters, which  was trimmed to 36
 holes due to weather problems.
 "I  think this  country likes me. For  me, this golf course is pretty much the
 same  of  Shenzhen," said Levy of  the course he  won on earlier this year. "I
 like this type of golf course with water and the target golf."
 Nicolas Colsaerts, Romain Wattel and Emiliano Grillo are tied for second place
 at minus-6.
 Graeme McDowell opened with a 5-under 67 on the Masters Course at Lake Malaren
 Golf  Club and  he stands alone in fifth place. Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson,
 Marcel  Siem,  Richard Sterne, Oliver Wilson  and Branden Grace are one stroke
 back at minus-4.
 Levy birdied the second and followed with six consecutive pars from the third.
 He caught fire from there.
 The  Frenchman rolled  in a birdie chance at  the ninth. Levy made it two in a
 row as he also birdied the 10th. He wasn't done as he followed with birdies at
 11 and 12.
 Levy  poured in  his fifth straight birdie  at the par-5 13th. That burst gave
 him  the lead. After  three pars in a row, Levy birdied the par-3 17th to move
 to minus-7. He parred the last to end there.
 "I played very good today. The last three tournaments I did that, and I did it
 again  today. It's what I want in my game, to be consistent on the golf course
 and  I like when  I am bogey-free," Levy stated. "I missed one fairway I think
 today and I'm still aggressive on the golf course and I like to play this golf
 and I need to be thinking like that for the rest of the week."
 Colsaerts played the back nine first in the opening round. He birdied the 10th
 and 13th, then jumped to 4-under as he made eagle at the par-5 15th.
 After  three  pars in  a row,  Colsaerts tripped to  a bogey  at the first. He
 quickly  erased that mistake with birdies at two and three. Colsaerts faltered
 to  a another  bogey on the fifth.  He moved into second place with birdies at
 the seventh and eighth. Colsaerts parred the last to end there.
 Wattel started his bogey-free round with birdies at the first and third. After
 he  ran off four  pars in a row from the fourth, Wattel birdied the eighth and
 ninth  to  make the turn  at minus-4. He  birdied the 13th  and 18th to gain a
 share of second place.
 Grillo  carded two birdies  on the front nine, and they came at the second and
 seventh.  He picked up  his third birdie on the 10th. Grillo flew into a share
 of second as he birdied three of the last four holes from the 16th.
 NOTES:  Levy is 26-under par in five rounds in China this year on the European
 Tour  ... Edoardo Molinari had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth and he carded
 a  2-under 70, which left him tied for 19th ... This is the first event of the
 European Tour finals series.
                    === Park, Feng share lead in Taiwan ===
 Taipei,  Taiwan ( - Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng both opened
 with  8-under 64s on  Thursday and they share the lead after the opening round
 of the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship.
 Park  reclaimed  the No. 1 in  the world rankings  on Monday. She has two wins
 this  season and has  finished in the top 10 in each of her last seven starts.
 Feng  earned her fourth LPGA Tour title three weeks ago at the Sime Darby LPGA
 So  Yeon Ryu  had two birdies and an  eagle on the first four holes around the
 turn  to  grab the lead at  9-under, but she finished bogey, double-bogey. Ryu
 posted  a  6-under 66 at Miramar  Golf Country Club  and she is tied for third
 place with Line Vedel, Haru Nomura and Ssu-Chia Cheng.
 Stacy  Lewis,  who dropped to second  in the world rankings, carded 5-under 67
 and was joined there by Eun-Hee Ji and I.K. Kim.
 Park  parred three of  the first four holes to go with a birdie at the second.
 She  moved to 2-under  with a birdie at No. 5. She picked up another birdie at
 the ninth.
 After  a slow start  to the back nine, Park caught fire down the stretch. Like
 the  front nine, she  parred three of the first four holes of her second nine.
 Park made birdied the par-5 12th.
 Park  caught  fire starting with  a 7-foot birdie putt  at the par-3 14th. She
 followed  with birdies at 15 and 16 to get within two of Ryu. Park birdied the
 last and walked off the course tied for the lead with Feng and Ryu.
 "The  front nine I struggled. Probably missed my opportunities a little on the
 front  nine. I  hit the  ball really  solid  all day,  and on  the back  nine,
 everything  seemed to  drop," Park  said. "I  can't remember  the last  time I
 putted  like  this. It's been  a really good putting  day, so I'm really happy
 about that."
 Ryu,  who was  in the final group  out on Thursday, double-bogeyed the last to
 fall two back.
 "Honestly,  6-under is a good score, but I had a really bad finish. So 6-under
 is  not  a good enough score  to me," Ryu stated.  "But the thing is today, my
 putting really worked well, but I missed so many fairways."
 Feng opened with three pars in a row before getting on the board with a birdie
 at the fourth. She jumped to minus-3 when she made eagle at the par-5 sixth.
 At  the  ninth, Feng converted  another birdie chance as  she made the turn at
 minus-4. She birdied the 11th and 13th to get to 6-under.
 Feng  rolled in a  7-foot birdie effort at the 15th and that gave her the lead
 after minus-7. She closed with a birdie at the last.
 NOTES:  Park  hit all 14 fairways  and 15 of  18 greens in regulation ... Both
 leaders  had 26  putts in their opening rounds ... Brittany Lincicome carded a
 4-under 68 in round one, but withdrew after the round due to illness.
           === Pernice in lead at Charles Schwab Cup Championship ===
 Scottsdale, AZ ( - Tom Pernice, Jr. opened up with a 5-under
 65  in Thursday's first  round and he holds a 1-shot lead at the season-ending
 Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
 Pernice  has won three times on the Champions Tour, including once this season
 at the Principal Charity Classic.
 Bernhard  Langer,  who has already  secured the season-long Charles Schwab Cup
 after  a sixth-place  finish at  last week's  AT&T Championship,  is tied  for
 second  with three others at 4-under 66. He is joined there by Joe Durant, Jay
 Haas  and  Kenny Perry  after the  first round  on the  Conchise Course at the
 Desert Mountain Club.
 Billy  Andrade,  Olin Browne,  Russ Cochran  and Gene Sauers  are all tied for
 sixth  after 2-under  68s. Colin  Montgomerie, who  is second  in the  Charles
 Schwab Cup standings, finished at 1-over 71 along with defending champion Fred
 Pernice, who started this week at No. 9 in the standings, came out of the gate
 strong  with  a par on  No. 1 and  a birdie on No.  2. Things slowed down from
 there for Pernice, however, as he made seven straight pars from No. 3 to close
 out his front nine at minus-1.
 The  back nine is  where the 55-year-old Pernice got it going has he poured in
 back-to-back  gains  on 10 and  11. Following  two straight pars, Pernice made
 another pair of birdies on 14 and 15, putting him in the lead at minus-5.
 After  a par on  16, Pernice dropped his first and only shot of the day on No.
 17,  but he responded  quickly with a birdie on the par-5 last to get into the
 clubhouse with the lead.
 "I  drove the ball in play pretty much most of the day. A couple balls just in
 the  rough, but  I set up a  lot of opportunities," Pernice said. "I drove the
 ball straight today, kept it in play. I think that's important. If you do that
 here, you're going to have some good opportunities."
 Langer,  who held a share of the lead a couple times on Thursday, had a strong
 front  nine but did not finish quite as well. Langer started off with a birdie
 at  the first and then rattled off four straight pars before finishing off the
 front nine with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 6.
 It  was a quieter back  side for Langer as he tripped to a bogey on No. 11 and
 birdied No. 15 to get back to minus-4. He closed his round with three straight
 pars to end there.
 "I  got  off to  a really good  start, made  some putts on  the front nine and
 played  pretty solid,"  Langer said. "Then the back side, the putter got cold,
 especially  the last five  holes or so. I had five really good chances, didn't
 make  one of  them, so that was  disappointing the way I hit really good shots
 and gave myself opportunities and just couldn't convert."
 Durant  made  six straight  pars from one  to begin his  day before draining a
 birdie  on seven and an eagle on eight, quickly getting him to minus-3. Durant
 gave  one of those shots back with a bogey on nine and he fell back to minus-1
 after another bogey on 12.
 It  was smooth sailing  from there for Durant as he made birdies on 13, 15 and
 17, vaulting him into a share of second place.
 Haas  made  the turn at even  par after making a  birdie on one and a bogey on
 four.  The back  nine was clean for Haas  as he made birdies on 10, 14, 16 and
 18, tying him for second at minus-4 as well.
 Perry, this year's Regions Tradition champion, made a pair of birdies on three
 and  four, but he gave one of those back with a bogey on five. Another gain on
 eight  had Perry back to minus-2 and that improved to 3-under with a birdie on
 A  bogey  on 13 dropped Perry  back to 2-under,  but a strong finish got Perry
 into  a tie for  second. Following a trio of pars from 14, Perry made back-to-
 back birdies on 17 and 18 to finish at 4-under.
 NOTES: Pernice also has victories at the 2009 SAS Championship and the 2013 3M
 Championship  ... Langer,  who has also wrapped up the money title, is looking
 to  become the  highest single-season  earner  ever on  tour ...  Of the  four
 players  tied for  second, Durant is the only  one who has not won on tour yet
 this season.
                   === IndyCar releases its 2015 schedule ===
 Indianapolis,  IN (  - The  IndyCar schedule  for 2015  will
 feature  a total  of 17 races, highlighted, as always, by the Indianapolis 500
 in May.
 The  date for the greatest spectacle in racing will be May 24, capping a month
 of  events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will start May 9 with a road
 course  race, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, then will continue the following
 weekend  with  qualifying for the  500 before the  race itself on Memorial Day
 This  year's IndyCar series  schedule will open with a new event on March 8 in
 Brazil  on the Nelson Piquet road course in the capital of Brasilia. The slate
 will  conclude  on Aug. 30  in northern California  on the Sonoma Raceway road
 It will mark the first time an IndyCar series champion will be crowned after a
 road  event since 2007. Each of the last nine champions has been determined at
 the season's final race, including Will Power in 2014.
 The  North American portion  of the schedule starts March 29 in Florida at the
 Grand  Prix  of St. Petersburg. It  will be followed  by a second new event on
 April  12,  as the Indy  Grand Prix  of Louisiana makes  its debut at the NOLA
 Motorsports Park near New Orleans.
 Long Beach, California and Birmingham, Alabama return to conclude April, while
 the  post-Indy 500  schedule includes Belle Isle  Park at the end of May. June
 races  will start  at Texas Motor Speedway, continue on the streets of Toronto
 and conclude at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
 Oval races in Milwaukee and Iowa will take place in July before the three-race
 August calendar starts in Mid-Ohio and heads to Pocono before the season-ender
 in Sonoma.
 "The  Verizon  IndyCar Series calendar  represents another step forward in our
 strategy to grow the series," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent
 of  IndyCar  and the Indianapolis  Motor Speedway. "There were several factors
 that  led to the positive momentum we experienced in 2014 and we will continue
 to  execute on  those initiatives  --  continuity in  our broadcast  schedule,
 strategic  growth of  our  schedule and  improvements to  how  we promote  our
 ABC will telecast six events, including the Indy 500 and its qualifying, while
 NBC Sports Network will broadcast 12 races.
               === NBC to continue broadcast of Breeders' Cup ===
 New  York, NY  ( - NBC Sports Group has reached an agreement
 to continue televising the Breeder's Cup World Championships through 2025.
 NBC  and  Breeders' Cup Ltd.  announced Thursday  that a 10-year extension has
 been finalized. The current association between the two organizations began in
 "We're  proud to  extend our partnership with the Breeders' Cup as we continue
 to  showcase  the most prestigious  events in  horse racing," said Jon Miller,
 President  of Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. "We look forward each year to
 concluding  the  horse racing season  with two days  of terrific racing at the
 Breeders' Cup."
 Under  the agreement, NBC  and the NBC Sports Network will have eight hours of
 live  coverage of  the event  each  year, with  the $5  million Breeders'  Cup
 Classic airing during primetime.
 "We  are extremely  excited  to extend  for the  next  decade our  outstanding
 relationship with NBC and the NBC Sports Group in televising the Breeders' Cup
 World  Championships as  a cornerstone of its long-term expanded commitment to
 thoroughbred  racing," said  Craig Fravel,  President and  CEO, Breeders'  Cup
 Limited.  "The Breeders'  Cup has enjoyed an expanded and revitalized presence
 on  NBC with new fans viewing the Breeders' Cup Classic hour and NBC's ability
 to cross-promote the championships on its wide variety of platforms."
 This  week's Breeders'  Cup will  be  held at  Santa  Anita Park  for a  third
 straight  time Friday  and  Saturday.  The 2015  World  Championships will  be
 conducted  for the  first time at Keeneland Race Course with Santa Anita again
 the site in 2016 and Del Mar set to host for the first time in 2017.
 10/31 02:03:40 ET

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