National Sports | WRHL National Sports 2016-02-13T07:45:05Z National Sports Magical Mickelson moves two ahead at Pebble Beach (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson, aiming to end a PGA Tour title drought of 31 months, relied on his magical short game to move two shots clear after the third round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in California on Saturday. The American left-hander, chasing a record-equalling fifth victory in the pro-am event held on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula, fired a flawless six-under-par 66 on the Pebble Beach host course, one of three venues being used for this event. Mickelson broke clear of a congested leaderboard with three consecutive birdies on his back nine on the way to a 16-under total of 199, two ahead of Japan's Hiroshi Iwata, who carded a 69 at Spyglass Hill. Bryant soaks up warm farewell from frigid outpost By Steve Keating TORONTO (Reuters) - A frigid Sunday night in winter-locked Canada may be the perfect place for a hockey player to take a bow, but for Kobe Bryant the NBA's most northern outpost would seem an odd setting to wave farewell. The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, the first ever held outside the United States, will not represent Bryant's last goodbye - that will come on April 13 back home in sunny Los Angeles in the Lakers' regular season finale against the Utah Jazz. Reporters from across North America along with 336 international media outlets from 40 countries have made the trip to Toronto while 17 international television and radio networks including China, Japan and France will carry Sunday's showcase live. Schwartzel takes one-shot lead at Tshwane Open Charl Schwartzel carded an excellent four under par 66 on Saturday to take a one shot lead ahead of the final day of the Tshwane Open in Pretoria. Home hope Schwartzel started the third round two strokes adrift of overnight leader Anthony Michael, but picked up a shot at the second before holing his eight foot eagle putt at the ninth to join Zander Lombard and Michael in a share of the lead at the turn. The 2011 Masters champion is now nine under overall, one better than compatriot Lombard, who hit a best-of-the-day 63 to catapult himself into contention. Golf: Schwartzel on course for victory on his 2016 debut South African Charl Schwartzel is poised to mark his first appearance of the year with a win after taking a one-shot lead in the Tshwane Open third round on Saturday. The 2011 U.S. Masters champion bagged an eagle and three birdies in a four-under-par 66 that earned a nine-under tally of 201, one ahead of compatriot Zander Lombard who carded the best round of the day with a scintillating 63. Schwartzel dropped his first shot since Thursday after finding a bunker at the 18th, ending a run of 40 holes without a bogey. Golf-European Tour Tshwane Open scores Feb 13 (Infostrada Sports) - Scores from the European Tour Tshwane Open at the par-70 course on Saturday in Waterkloof -9 Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 71 64 66 -8 Zander Lombard (South Africa) 72 67 63 -6 Anthony Michael (South Africa) 64 69 71 Haydn Porteous (South Africa) 70 66 68 -4 Toby Tree (Britain) 70 71 65 Dean Burmester (South Africa) 70 68 68 -3 Richard Sterne (South Africa) 68 70 69 Nino Bertasio (Italy) 68 71 68 Jamie McLeary (Britain) 68 70 69 -2 Jeff Winther (Denmark) 73 66 69 George Coetzee (South Africa) 68 72 68 -1 Theunis Spangenberg (South Africa) 65 71 73 Andrew Curlewis ... Thitiphun clinches Asian Tour title in Bangladesh Thailand's Thitiphun Chuayprakong clinched his maiden Asian Tour title when he carded four-under-par 67 in the final round to claim a two-shot victory at the $300,000 Bashundhara Bangladesh Open on Saturday. The 23-year-old Thai, who went to the final round with a three-shot lead, kept his composure to hit five birdies against a lone bogey for a winning total of 21-under-par 263 at the Kurmitola Golf Club. India's Shubhankar Sharma signed off with a splendid 65 to take the third place on his own on 270, while compatriot Chikkarangappa S. (73) shared fourth with Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand (68) on 272. LaVine shines as US beat World in NBA Rising Stars Challenge Minnesota forward Zach LaVine scored 30 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the United States to a 157-154 victory over the world team in the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge in Toronto. LaVine was named Most Valuable Player of the contest featuring many of the NBA's top rookies and second-year players, which launched the festivities of All-Star weekend. Sunday's All-Star Game will cap the action at Air Canada Centre, but before then LaVine will defend the title he won last year in Saturday's Slam Dunk contest. Sparkling 60 lifts Kang to share of Pebble Beach lead South Korea's Kang Sung fired a scintillating 60 to seize a share of the second-round lead in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Friday, never realizing how close he was to golf's magic number of 59. Kang had nine birdies and an eagle in his 11-under effort on the Monterey Peninsula course, one of three in use over the first three rounds of the PGA Tour event. Kang, who notched two victories in Asia in 2013 -- in the C.J. Invitational and Kolon Korea Open -- said he didn't realize Monterey Peninsula played to par-71, unlike the par-72 layouts of Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. Korean Kang flirts with a 59 to share Pebble Beach lead (Reuters) - South Korea's Kang Sung-hoon fell one stroke shy of becoming only the seventh player to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour as he surged into a tie for the lead after the second round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Friday. Needing a birdie on his final hole at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to dip under 60, Kang hit his "worst shot of the day" off the tee and had to settle for a par three there and a career-best score of 11-under 60. Four-times champion Phil Mickelson was a further stroke back in a three-way tie for third, having also raised hopes of a magical 59 after making an electric start before he lost momentum on his back nine to card a 65 at Monterey Peninsula. Golf-U.S. PGA Tour Pebble Beach Pro-Am scores Feb 13 (Infostrada Sports) - Scores from the U.S. PGA Tour Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday in Pebble Beach, California -11 Kang Sung-Hoon (Korea) 72 60 Hiroshi Iwata (Japan) 66 66 -10 Phil Mickelson (U.S.) 68 65 Fredrik Jacobson (Sweden) 65 69 Chez Reavie (U.S.) 63 70 -9 Justin Rose (Britain) 66 68 -8 Roberto Castro (U.S.) 66 70 Mark Hubbard (U.S.) 70 66 Ricky Barnes (U.S.) 65 70 -7 Jim Herman (U.S.) 69 67 Ryan Ruffels (Australia) 67 70 Jonas Blixt (Sweden) 67 69 -6 Bill Haas (U.S.) 69 68 Stewart Cink (U.S.) 70 68 Jason Day (Australia) 71 66 Matt Jones (Australia) 68 70 Vaughn Taylor (U.S. ... Golf-Korean Kang flirts with a 59 to share Pebble Beach lead South Korea's Kang Sung-hoon fell one stroke shy of becoming only the seventh player to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour as he surged into a tie for the lead after the second round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Friday. Needing a birdie on his final hole at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to dip under 60, Kang hit his "worst shot of the day" off the tee and had to settle for a par three there and a career-best score of 11-under 60. Four-times champion Phil Mickelson was a further stroke back in a three-way tie for third, having also raised hopes of a magical 59 after making an electric start before he lost momentum on his back nine to card a 65 at Monterey Peninsula. Mets reliever Mejia banned for life for doping Major League Baseball (MLB) on Friday issued a lifetime ban to former New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia after he tested positive a third time for a performance-enhancing substance. Mejia, 26, tested positive for anabolic steroid Boldenone. The lifetime suspension is the longest drug-related ban MLB has issued. Icy blast before Canada warms up for All-Star Game By Steve Keating TORONTO (Reuters) - The NBA got a frosty welcome as it brought its All-Star Game north to Canada for the first time where fans and players were greeted by an Arctic blast on Friday but a forecast for plenty of heat over a party packed weekend. Mother Nature and the host Toronto Raptors provided the stereotypical bone-chilling Canadian winter weather as A-list celebrities, industry kingpins and the world's best basketball players, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry took over the frost-bitten city. Really cold," shivered Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, who arrived for Media Day on Friday with a toque pulled down snuggly over his head. Hawks' Horford to replace Bosh in All-Star Game Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford was named Friday by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Miami forward Chris Bosh in Sunday's 65th NBA All-Star Game. Bosh, named a reserve for the Eastern Conference squad that will face the Western Conference in Toronto, will be sidelined with a strained calf. "What a privilege to be named to the #NBAAllStarTO team," Horford posted on Twitter. Mets pitcher Mejia gets record life doping ban from MLB Major League Baseball issued the toughest doping ban in its history Friday, imposing a life ban on New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia after a third positive test for steroids. Mejia was already in the midst of a 162-game suspension for both Boldenone and Stanozolol from a positive test last July. The life ban is the longest ban issued by Major League Baseball for using banned performance-enhancing drugs. Shaq and Iverson among Hall of Fame finalists TORONTO (Reuters) - Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson headlined a list of 14 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Friday. Three-time NBA Finals MVP O'Neal, nine-time NBA All-Star Iverson, three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson and four-time WNBA champion Sheryl Swoopes joined eight coaches, a referee and a record-setting team as finalists for election in 2016. They were nominated from the North American and women's committees. Absent from the All-Star announcement was China's Yao Ming, whose nomination falls within the Direct Elect International Committee. ... Facebook India MD Kirthiga Reddy stepping down (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's India managing director, Kirthiga Reddy, said on Friday she is stepping down and returning to the United States to "explore new opportunities" at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Reddy, who joined Facebook in 2010 as its first employee in India, said in a Facebook post she would be relocating in the next 6-12 months. Reddy is working closely with William Easton, MD of emerging markets (Asia Pacific), and Dan Neary, vice president of Asia Pacific, to search for her successor. Warriors want NBA season win mark, but title is top goal Stephen Curry is playing better than he did last season, when he was the NBA's Most Valuable Player, and he has the Golden State Warriors winning at a historic rate. Curry is leading the league with 29.8 points a game, six more points a game than he averaged last season, and his 245 3-pointers are on pace to shatter the one-season NBA record of 286 he set last season. On top of that, the defending champion Warriors are on pace to surpass the best season in NBA history, the 72-10 campaign of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 season when they went on to win the title. League proud to be progressive, but more can be done By Frank Pingue TORONTO (Reuters) - The NBA has long been considered the most progressive of North America's four major professional sports leagues when it comes to gender equity but more work can be done, according to some owners and former players. Heading into the NBA's current season, currently on break for All-Star Weekend in Toronto, the league led the way in North America with two female assistant coaches among its 30 teams. "We can always do more but I think the NBA has always been a leader in human rights and I think we're a very inclusive league and product from a fan standpoint as well," said Steve Nash, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player who retired last year, told Reuters. CSKA take Olympiakos revenge, Djokovic inspires Red Star By Zoran Milosavljevic BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian guard Milos Teodosic helped six-time Euroleague winners CSKA Moscow secure a 92-85 home win over Olympiakos Piraeus on Friday to avenge three painful defeats by the Greek side. Red Star Belgrade were cheered on by tennis world number one Novak Djokovic as they beat Cedevita Zagreb 94-74 to rack up their fourth win in five games in Thursday's stand-out fixture. On the same night, holders Real Madrid, who are chasing a record-extending 10th title in Europe's premier club competition, enjoyed an impressive 93-82 success at Khimki Moscow. Shaq, Iverson named among 14 Hall of Fame finalists Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal and four-time NBA scoring champion Allen Iverson were among 14 finalists for 2016 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday in Toronto. "Shaq" and Iverson were among seven first-time nominees from the women's and North American selection committees for consideration for the 2016 Hall of Fame group to be announced April 4 in Houston and enshrined in September at the sporting shrine in Springfield, Massachusetts. Retired Chinese star Yao Ming, eligible for consideration this year for the first time, falls under the Hall of Fame's direct elect international committee and that group announces only enshrinees, that coming in April. No charges for Giants' Bromley from rape claim New York Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley will not be charged in connection with a rape accusation by a woman at a hotel last month, his attorney said Friday. Police investigated a January 30 claim by a 26-year-old woman that Bromley tried to rape her and then struck her with his car while fleeing a hotel room, accusations denied by Bromley, 23, who met the woman online. "As we stated from the outset, the allegations against Mr. Bromley were completely false," Bromley's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said. NBA becomes first with 1 bln likes, followers New York (AFP) - The NBA claimed a social media milestone on Friday, saying it has become the first professional sports league to surpass one billion social media likes and followers. Kobe makes All-Star farewell among those he inspired Kobe Bryant makes his 18th and final NBA All-Star Game appearance Sunday in Toronto, with the Los Angeles Lakers legend surrounded by a new generation of playmakers he inspired to greatness. "It's time for me to go," Bryant said Friday. Now Davis will be among those trying to make sure Bryant wins a record fifth NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award, breaking the record Bryant now shares with 1950s icon Bob Petit. Tanaka unsure of status for Yankees opener New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is uncertain if he will be ready for the start of the Major League Baseball season and plans to gauge his fitness in pre-season. The 27-year-old Japanese right-hander had off-season surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow and has not yet thrown from a mound as the Yankees prepare to open pre-season training with other clubs next week. "Can't really say," Tanaka said through a translator when asked if he would be ready for New York's April 4 opener. Raiders secure return to Oakland for 2016 season After weeks of uncertainty, the Oakland Raiders have secured a return to their home stadium for the 2016 NFL season, but a long-term solution in a new venue remains elusive. Raiders owner Mark Davis signed a one-year lease extension to play at Coliseum, the team's home since moving back to the San Francisco bay area from Los Angeles in 1995. The deal includes two option years for the Raiders that could tie the club to the 56,000-seat venue, which was built in 1966 and is the only stadium that is shared by NFL and Major League Baseball clubs. Bears drop top rusher Forte after eight NFL seasons Matt Forte will not return to the Chicago Bears next season, the club and player announced Friday, ending the tenure of the second-most prolific rusher in the team's 95-year history. Since joining the Bears in 2008, Forte leads the NFL with 12,718 total yards from scrimmage. "These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. Golf-European Tour Latest Tshwane Open leaderboard Feb 12 (Infostrada Sports) - Latest leaderboard in the second round from the European Tour Tshwane Open at the par-70 course on Friday in Waterkloof holesplayed rounds -7 Anthony Michael (South Africa) 18 64 69 -5 Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 18 71 64 -4 Haydn Porteous (South Africa) 18 70 66 Theunis Spangenberg (South Africa) 18 65 71 Daniel Im (U.S. ... Schwartzel surges into contention at Tshwane Open Four birdies and an eagle helped propel home favorite Charl Schwartzel to within two shots of the lead after a flawless 64 in the second round of the European Tour’s Tshwane Open on Friday. Schwartzel is two shots behind leader and compatriot Anthony Michael, whose score of 69 from a roller-coaster second round left him seven under par for the tournament. Michael managed four birdies but also dropped three shots as he battled to find consistency on a difficult day on the Pretoria Country Club course. Golf-Schwartzel surges into contention at Tshwane Open Four birdies and an eagle helped propel home favourite Charl Schwartzel to within two shots of the lead after a flawless 64 in the second round of the European Tour's Tshwane Open on Friday. The 2011 Masters champion produced the outstanding golf on a day when the average score was two over par and play was extended into the evening due to a weather delay. Schwartzel is two shots behind leader and compatriot Anthony Michael, whose score of 69 from a roller-coaster second round left him seven under par for the tournament. Thunder down Pelicans as both teams play with heavy hearts Westbrook was one rebound shy of his ninth triple double of the season as he collected 10 assists and nine rebounds. Durant connected on 10 of 17 from the field and also handed out six assists as Oklahoma City improved to 40-14. The Thunder are one of three Western Conference teams heading into the All-Star break with at least 40 wins, behind the Golden State Warriors (48-4) and San Antonio Spurs (45-8). Padres hire Nomo to bolster Pacific Rim presence (Reuters) - The San Diego Padres have hired Japanese pitching pioneer Hideo Nomo as an advisor for baseball operations to strengthen their presence in the Pacific Rim, the National League franchise said on Thursday. The Padres already have four full-time scouts in the Pacific Rim and expect the 47-year-old Nomo to help them gain a stronger foothold in terms of finding talent in the region. "We are proud to welcome Hideo to the Padres organization," San Diego general manager A.J. Preller said in a statement. Bucks pull away from Wizards down the stretch (The Sports Xchange) - Khris Middleton scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away from the Washington Wizards down the stretch for a 99-92 victory on Thursday at the Bradley Center. Middleton hit 9 of 17 shots but also set his teammates up well, notching nine assists while grabbing six rebounds and five steals. Forwards Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 17 apiece for Milwaukee, which also got 12 points and nine rebounds from center Greg Monroe. Thunder down Pelicans in Oklahoma (The Sports Xchange) - Oklahoma City and New Orleans came into their matchup Thursday with heavy hearts. The death of Ingrid Williams, wife of Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams affected both franchises. Monty Williams was the Pelicans head coach before being fired last season and had been like a second mother to most of the current players. Reavie grabs Pebble Beach first-round lead American Chez Reavie fired an eight-under-par 63 on Thursday to upstage major champions Jordan Spieth and Jason Day in the first round of the PGA Tour Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Reavie fired an eagle and seven birdies with one bogey on the par-71 Monterey Peninsula course, one of three in use for the tournament along with Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill -- both par-72 layouts. World number one Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open last year, opened with a one-under 71 at Spyglass Hill, as did reigning PGA Champion Day of Australia. Reavie leads at Pebble Beach as Spieth, Day battle (Reuters) - American Chez Reavie rebounded superbly from missed cuts in his last two PGA Tour starts to fire an eight-under-par 63 and grab a one-shot lead in the opening round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday. While some of the biggest names in the game battled hard to post sub-par scores, Reavie covered his final nine holes in a sizzling seven-under 30 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, the easiest of the three venues being used for this week's event. Oakland Raiders to stay put for 2016 season Officials for the Oakland Raiders said on Thursday that they have reached a one-year lease extension agreement, keeping the team in the San Francisco Bay Area city for the upcoming National Football League season. Raiders Owner Mark Davis told a news conference that its agreement with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority also includes one-year extension options for the following two years to stay at Coliseum. "My heart is here in Oakland, and if we can get something done, that's what I'm trying to do," Davis said, when asked about the team's long-term plans. NBA Heat's Whiteside banned one game for elbowing Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, the NBA's top shot blocker, has been suspended one game without pay for elbowing San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, the league announced Thursday. Whiteside, who honed his game for two years in China and Lebanon, averages 3.9 blocks a game, ranks as the NBA's second-most accurate shooter by hitting 61.7 percent from the floor and is fifth in the league in rebounds with 11.0 a game. The 26-year-old American 7-footer (2.13m) was whistled for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 119-101 Miami home loss to the Spurs. Bryant's swan song to light up All-Star Weekend Kobe Bryant has spent a career tormenting the Toronto fan base and now he is set to entertain it as the NBA's All-Star Weekend descends on Canada for the first time and welcomes Bryant for his swan song. Set to play in his 18th and final All-Star Game on Sunday, a kinder and gentler Bryant will continue a farewell tour that will conclude his legendary 20-season tenure in the league. The Toronto faithful harbor memories of Bryant registering 81 points against the Raptors in Los Angeles 10 years ago, but in this exhibition of stars they will cheer him on to rediscover old magic and perhaps claim a record fifth All-Star MVP award. Three-game ban upheld for NFL Bengals linebacker Burfict Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's lost his appeal on Thursday against a three-game suspension for violent play which included an incident that left an opponent concussed. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell banned Burfict for the Bengals' first three games next September after his actions in a playoff game last month against Pittsburgh, notably a severe blow to the head of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown that resulted in a concussion. NFL appeals officer Derrick Brooks, a retired Hall of Fame linebacker for Tampa Bay, upheld the suspension, which will cost Burfict $502,941 as he enters the third season of a four-year contract worth $20 million. WRHL 2016-02-14T00:45:05Z