National Sports | WRHL http://www.wrhl.net/pages/index.cfm?id=495 National Sports 2016-06-30T12:34:59Z National Sports Noah reportedly eyes Knicks as Thunder ponder Horford In Thursday's final hours before the NBA's free agency period began, Joakim Noah was reportedly being eyed by the New York Knicks while Oklahoma City looked at Al Horford to help keep Kevin Durant with the Thunder. Players whose contracts expire become free agents and can start talks with other clubs at one minute after midnight Friday morning on the US East Coast, with Durant among the top players looking seriously at making a move. Noah, the son of French tennis legend Yannick Noah, has been a standout for the Chicago Bulls. Stop-start for McIlroy, hole-in-one for Bjerregaard at French Open Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France) (AFP) - Rory McIlroy had a stop-start opening to the 100th French Open at Golf National on Thursday, as Dane Lucas Bjerregaard fired a hole-in-one and opened up a one-shot clubhouse lead. World number four McIlroy managed four birdies against four bogeys in an even par round of 71 to sit five adrift of the early lead. Despite not being a spectacular opening to his first visit here since 2010, it was a good return for McIlroy after missing the US Open cut at Oakmont, despite two shots finding the water. Top China golfer Feng not to allow Zika fears ruin Rio dream (Reuters) - Top Chinese woman golfer Shanshan Feng will compete at the Rio Games despite concerns over Zika virus and the world number 12 says she fears for the sport's Olympic future following some high-profile withdrawals from the men's competition. Golf's return to Olympics for the first time since 1904 has been hit by pullouts by several top male golfers, including world number one Jason Day, multiple major champion Rory McIlroy, Fiji's Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas, can cause crippling defects in babies and has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre in adults. Golfers dream of green jackets, not Olympic gold: McIlroy (Reuters) - An Olympic gold medal was not the pinnacle of the sport for golfers according to world number four Rory McIlroy, and he had no concerns about his decision to withdraw from the Rio de Janeiro Games. The Northern Irishman withdrew from the Rio Games last week, citing concerns about the Zika virus, though he also told British media the Olympics were not one of his goals. "Most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold, and we haven't," McIlroy told British media. Olympics-Golfers dream of green jackets, not Olympic gold - McIlroy An Olympic gold medal was not the pinnacle of the sport for golfers according to world number four Rory McIlroy, and he had no concerns about his decision to withdraw from the Rio de Janeiro Games. The Northern Irishman withdrew from the Rio Games last week, citing concerns about the Zika virus, though he also told British media the Olympics were not one of his goals. "Most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold, and we haven't," McIlroy told British media. Timberwolves' new Chinese stakeholder on buying spree A Chinese businessman has bought a minority stake in the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, his company and the league said, after taking over Spanish La Liga football team Granada in a 37 million euro deal earlier this month. The deal makes him the first Chinese citizen to have an ownership stake in an NBA team, the league said in a statement. "My goal is to bring China and this great league closer, and build the Timberwolves and Lynx fan base in our country," it quoted Jiang as saying. Warriors extend qualifying offers to Barnes, Ezeli (Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors extended qualifying offers to forward Harrison Barnes and center Festus Ezeli on Wednesday, making them restricted free agents. The move, which needed to be made by Thursday, means the Warriors can now match any offer made to the pair by other teams. The Warriors, however, are expected to pursue Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who could potentially take Barnes' small forward position and force him to exit. Teen Henderson defends LPGA breakthrough title Second-ranked Brooke Henderson defends her first LPGA title this week at the Portland Classic, her breakthrough victory last year helping the Canadian teen return as a major champion. The 18-year-old qualified for the event on Monday then rolled to an eight-stroke victory, the largest LPGA victory margin since 2012, to become the tour's third-youngest winner ever. Henderson became the first Canadian to win an LPGA event since Lori Kane in 2001 and only the second Monday qualifier to ever take a title after Laurel Kean in 2000. NFL players union wants to see evidence in league probe The NFL Players Association wants to see evidence supporting the league's investigation into charges of dope cheating made in a December report by Al-Jazeera America on performance-enhancing drugs. The union's formal request was revealed Wednesday in letters sent to Adolpho Birch, the NFL vice president who sent letters to the union last week asking to investigate the four remaining active NFL players mentioned in the report -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent linebacker Mike Neal. "On behalf of Mr. Harrison, we have repeatedly requested that the NFL inform him and the NFLPA whether the NFL possesses any credible evidence (e.g., verified documents or verified testimony of witnesses) that warrants an interview of Mr. Harrison regarding a potential violation of the Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances (PES Policy)," the union's letter on behalf of Harrison said, according to a copy obtained by USA Today. Indianapolis Colts sign Luck to richest deal in NFL history Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck signed a six-year contract extension through the 2021 season for $140 million, the richest contract in NFL history, Colts owner Jim Irsay said Wednesday. The biggest prior deal in NFL history saw Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers ink a five-year contract for $110 million in 2013. "Andrew has signed through 2021," Irsay tweeted. South Africa's Pace first LPGA player to skip Rio Olympics South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace became the first woman golfer to withdraw from the Rio Olympics, saying Wednesday she will not play in Brazil because she fears contracting the Zika virus. "I was very much looking forward to the opportunity," said Pace, her nation's top-ranked woman golfer at 38th in the world. "However, over recent months my team has been monitoring the situation regarding the Zika Virus and finding out as much information as possible. Durant, Wade, Duncan make first moves to NBA future NBA stars Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and Tim Duncan have made their first steps toward deciding where they will play next season, or in Duncan's case if he will play at all. Oklahoma City forward Durant, set to play for the US Olympic squad in Rio in August, was expected to meet with the Thunder before becoming a free agent on Friday and he becomes eligible to meet with other clubs. Durant, 27, is reportedly looking at meeting with the New York Knicks, whose star player Carmelo Anthony will join Durant in Rio, and the Golden State Warriors, who won a record 73 games last season but lost to Cleveland in the NBA Finals. Day and Spieth set for Firestone, McIlroy in France (Reuters) - World number one Jason Day, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and second-ranked Jordan Spieth command the spotlight at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio where Rory McIlroy is a conspicuous absentee. Two years ago, four-times major winner McIlroy clinched the prestigious title at Firestone Country Club by two shots but he will not be competing in the 2016 edition as he is playing instead in the European Tour's French Open. Traditionally, the Bridgestone Invitational is held in early August but the PGA Tour event was brought forward by more than a month this year to accommodate golf's return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Spieth still uncertain if he will play golf in Rio Olympics World number two Jordan Spieth remains uncertain if he will compete in the Rio Olympics when golf returns to the Games lineup for the first time in 112 years. Spieth and many of the world's top golfers will compete this week at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. "Right now, I'm uncertain," Spieth said. Golf-Day and Spieth set for Firestone, McIlroy in France World number one Jason Day, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and second-ranked Jordan Spieth command the spotlight at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio where Rory McIlroy is a conspicuous absentee. Two years ago, four-times major winner McIlroy clinched the prestigious title at Firestone Country Club by two shots but he will not be competing in the 2016 edition as he is playing instead in the European Tour's French Open. Traditionally, the Bridgestone Invitational is held in early August but the PGA Tour event was brought forward by more than a month this year to accommodate golf's return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Pace becomes first women's golfer to opt out of Rio (Reuters) - South African Lee-Anne Pace, citing Zika concerns, became the first women's golfer to withdraw from the 2016 Rio Olympics on Wednesday, joining a growing exodus on the men's side that includes the world's top-ranked player. Pace, a nine-times winner on the Ladies European Tour who is ranked 38th in the world, said she was eager to represent South Africa at the Aug 5-21 Olympics but felt Zika was too big a risk to take. "After weighing up all the options and discussing it with my family and team, I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus, I will not be participating," Pace, 35, said in a statement. Olympics-Pace becomes first women's golfer to opt out of Rio South African Lee-Anne Pace, citing Zika concerns, became the first women's golfer to withdraw from the 2016 Rio Olympics on Wednesday, joining a growing exodus on the men's side that includes the world's top-ranked player. Pace, a nine-times winner on the Ladies European Tour who is ranked 38th in the world, said she was eager to represent South Africa at the Aug 5-21 Olympics but felt Zika was too big a risk to take. "After weighing up all the options and discussing it with my family and team, I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus, I will not be participating," Pace, 35, said in a statement. McIlroy defends Rio player pull-outs Rory McIlroy defended on Wednesday the growing number of top-ranked golfers pulling out of the Rio Olympics and denied it represents a stinging embarrassment to the sport. Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 in August but will not feature world number one Jason Day, fourth-ranked McIlroy or US Open runner-up Shane Lowry because of fears over the Zika virus, to name just a few big names. "As a tool to grow the game around the world, I think it's great," McIlroy, a four-time major winner, told reporters ahead of the 100th French Open, of golf's inclusion at the Olympics. LeBron declines option but expected to stay with Cavs LeBron James, fresh off guiding the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title, is headed for free agency after officially declining the $24 million player option on his contract. While the move frees James to talk to other teams, he isn't expected to leave Cleveland but to negotiate a new contract with them. James, 31, was a unanimous choice as NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after leading the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors. Golfer Spieth unsure about taking part in Rio (Reuters) - Twice major winner Jordan Spieth is still undecided about whether to participate in August's Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games or opt out because of the Zika virus like several of his fellow professionals. The American world number two is the highest-ranked golfer left in the field after number one Jason Day withdrew on Tuesday, citing concerns over Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas. "Right now, I'm uncertain," Spieth told reporters ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Olympics-Golfer Spieth unsure about taking part in Rio Twice major winner Jordan Spieth is still undecided about whether to participate in August's Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games or opt out because of the Zika virus like several of his fellow professionals. The American world number two is the highest-ranked golfer left in the field after number one Jason Day withdrew on Tuesday, citing concerns over Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas. "Right now, I'm uncertain," Spieth told reporters ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. California gets go-ahead to vote on legalization of marijuana The proposed so-called "Adult Use of Marijuana Act," which is supported by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom among others, would allow people aged 21 and older to possess as much as an ounce of marijuana for private recreational use and permit personal cultivation of as many as six marijuana plants. "Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself," initiative spokesman Jason Kinney said in a statement. The measure would also establish a system to license, regulate and tax sales of marijuana, while allowing city governments to exercise local control over or disallow commercial distribution within their borders. Hend happy to handle Australia's hopes in Rio golf Scott Hend might not be the best known Australian golfer but the peripatetic world number 75 says he is happy to handle the burden of his country's hopes at the Rio Olympics after a rash of high profile withdrawals. World number one Jason Day pulled out of the Games on Tuesday citing concerns over the Zika virus, following world number eight Adam Scott and 39th ranked Marc Leishman in withdrawing his name from contention. Big-hitting Hend is therefore in pole position to land one of Australia's two spots at the Rio de Janeiro Games, when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. Number one golfer Day withdraws over Zika (Reuters) - World number one Jason Day became the latest top golfer to withdraw from August's Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games because of the Zika virus on Tuesday. Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names, including four-times major champion Rory McIlroy, Fiji's Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have also pulled out due to Zika concerns. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas, can cause crippling defects in babies and has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre in adults. No.1 Day confirms Aussie Open after Olympic pullout World number one Jason Day Wednesday said he will head home to play the Australian Open this year, a day after becoming the latest golfer to withdraw from the Olympics. The Australian has not teed off at his national Open since 2013 due to injuries and family issues and will line up alongside world number two Jordan Spieth. "The Australian Open holds a special spot in my heart and Iā€™d love to get my name on that trophy one day -ā€“ hopefully this November,ā€ Day said in a statement. European Ryder Cup race hots up in Paris The tournament has double points on offer for Europe's Ryder Cup hopefuls, as well as counting as two events in the Race to Dubai, after the European Tour attempted to dissuade their biggest stars from ignoring the event in favour of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in the United States. Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy answered the call, as did Masters champion Danny Willett, but a host of the continent's biggest stars decided to stay away. The ramifications for Europe captain Darren Clarke and his Ryder Cup selection could prove vital, as he may have to use a wildcard pick on a player who would otherwise have qualified for the team to play at Hazeltine in September automatically. Olympics: Number one golfer Day withdraws over Zika (Reuters) - World number one Jason Day became the latest top golfer to withdraw from August's Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games because of the Zika virus on Tuesday. Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names, including four-times major champion Rory McIlroy, Fiji's Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have also pulled out due to Zika concerns. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas, can cause crippling defects in babies and has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre in adults. Golf: Montgomerie clinches British Open spot in qualifying (Reuters) - Scotland's Colin Montgomerie will play at the British Open for the first time in six years after coming through final qualifying on Tuesday to claim a place in next month's championship at Royal Troon. The 53-year-old shot a five-under-par aggregate after 36 holes at Gailes Links to take the final spot after an agonizing two-hour wait as he qualified with Swede Oskar Arvidsson, ranked a lowly 1,418, and 23-year-old Spaniard Scott Fernandez. Montgomerie is a member at Royal Troon, where his father James was secretary, and will play at the Open for the first time since his 21st consecutive appearance in 2010. Woman injured, gunman dead in downtown Denver shooting (Reuters) - A woman was critically injured in a shooting inside a downtown Denver office building on Tuesday and police said the suspected gunman was pronounced dead at the scene with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Denver Police spokesman Doug Schepman told reporters at a news conference that the woman was shot multiple times around 2:45 p.m. local time (2045 GMT) and was taken to a hospital in critical condition. The Denver Post newspaper uploaded video online showing office workers with their hands above their heads fleeing the building dubbed the Alliance Center, a hub for environmental activism groups and other organizations. Golf's gender divide over Rio, and Zika By Mark Lamport-Stokes (Reuters) - When it comes to golfers and their interest in competing at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a curious gender divide is emerging which, at first glance, is counter-intuitive. While world number one Jason Day and fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy are among several big names in the men's game who have already opted out of Rio, not a single women's player has yet withdrawn from global sport's showpiece. Both Day and McIlroy have cited Zika fears as their prime reason for pulling out, saying they were unwilling to put either themselves or their families at risk from a mosquito-borne virus that can cause crippling birth defects. Olympics-Golf's gender divide over Rio, and Zika By Mark Lamport-Stokes June 28 (Reuters) - When it comes to golfers and their interest in competing at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a curious gender divide is emerging which, at first glance, is counter-intuitive. While world number one Jason Day and fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy are among several big names in the men's game who have already opted out of Rio, not a single women's player has yet withdrawn from global sport's showpiece. Both Day and McIlroy have cited Zika fears as their prime reason for pulling out, saying they were unwilling to put either themselves or their families at risk from a mosquito-borne virus that can cause crippling birth defects. Legendary college basketball coach Pat Summitt dies Pat Summitt, the iconic former coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, died Tuesday at the age of 64. Summitt was diagnosed in August 2011 with early onset Alzheimer's disease. "It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt. NFL defensive guru Buddy Ryan dies James "Buddy" Ryan, the father of twin brothers Rex and Rob and mastermind of the Chicago Bears' famed "46 defense", died Tuesday at the age of 82. Ryan's health had deteriorated in recent years as he battled cancer. Buddy Ryan got a taste of being a champion as defensive coordinator with the title-winning New York Jets in Super Bowl III and was credited with being the difference-maker when the Bears crushed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Golfers Day, Lowry withdraw from Olympics over Zika fears Australia's world number one Jason Day and Ireland's Shane Lowry on Tuesday became the latest golfers to withdraw from the Rio Olympics because of fears over the Zika virus. "It is with deep regret I announce that I will not be competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games this coming August in Rio de Janeiro," Day said in a statement. The 28-year-old was later joined by US Open runner-up Lowry, ranked 25th in the world. Former NFL coach Buddy Ryan dies at 82 (Reuters) - Buddy Ryan, the cantankerous coach who constructed one of the greatest defenses in NFL history with the Chicago Bears and served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, died on Tuesday of cancer at age 82, the league announced. Ryan, whose twin sons Rex and Rob have carved out lengthy NFL coaching careers of their own, had a blustery, cocky personality and was sometimes at odds with coaches on his own teams - one of whom he punched during a game. Ryan's record as a head coach was not overwhelming but his defensive acumen was never questioned. Legendary U.S. women's basketball coach Pat Summitt dies at 64 Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in U.S. Division I college basketball history, died on Tuesday at the age of 64, the University of Tennessee said. Summitt, who coached the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols women's team and helped build women's college basketball into a national sport, announced in August 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. "Pat was the greatest coach of all time," university Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a statement. Olympics-World No.1 golfer Day withdraws over Zika fears (Adds details) June 28 (Reuters) - The world's top-ranked golfer Jason Day on Tuesday withdrew from August's Rio de Janeiro Olympics, citing fears over the Zika virus. "The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife's future pregnancies and to future members of our family," the Australian said in a statement posted on Twitter. "While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. Adidas strikes deal with Wanda to promote sport in China * China was fastest growing market for Adidas in 2015 * China government seeks to boost sports * Adidas to sponsor Wanda Ironman events in China * Adidas to open more stores in Wanda malls (Adds details, background) By Emma Thomasson BERLIN, June 28 (Reuters) - German sportswear firm Adidas has signed a deal with the Wanda business empire of China's richest man Wang Jianlin to sponsor two of Wanda's endurance events, promote soccer and basketball in the country and open stores in Wanda's malls. The agreement announced on Tuesday is the latest move by Adidas to try to strengthen its position as it goes head-to-head with bigger rival Nike in basketball-obsessed China. Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership (Reuters) - Muirfield will hold a second vote to admit female members, the golf club confirmed, after last month's initial ballot rejected the lifting of a ban on women, leading to the historic course losing hosting rights for the British Open. The decision drew criticism from several top golfers, including four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, and Muirfield was removed from the list of courses that host Britain's Open championship by tournament organizers, the Royal and Ancient. With 64 percent of members voting in favor of admitting women in the first ballot, club captain Henry Fairweather felt a second vote would be a step towards restoring their damaged reputation. Golf-Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership Muirfield will hold a second vote to admit female members, the golf club confirmed, after last month's initial ballot rejected the lifting of a ban on women, leading to the historic course losing hosting rights for the British Open. The decision drew criticism from several top golfers, including four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, and Muirfield was removed from the list of courses that host Britain's Open championship by tournament organisers, the Royal and Ancient. With 64 percent of members voting in favour of admitting women in the first ballot, club captain Henry Fairweather felt a second vote would be a step towards restoring their damaged reputation. WRHL 2016-06-30T17:34:59Z http://www.wrhl.net/pages/index.cfm?id=495