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Two Hernandez associates indicted on murder charges

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Two associates of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were indicted Friday on murder charges in the shooting death of a man last summer about a mile from Hernandez's home, prosecutors said.

A grand jury in Bristol County returned separate indictments against Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace in the June 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said.

Ortiz and Wallace, who are from Bristol, Conn., where Hernandez grew up, had been charged previously with accessory to murder after the fact and had pleaded not guilty. They had been ordered held on $500,000 bail on the older charges.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the killing of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston resident who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.

Jenkins, who testified before the grand jury, has been charged with perjury in the case. Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton, who refused to testify, has been charged with criminal contempt and conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The district attorney's office said Friday that Ortiz and Wallace would be arraigned in Fall River Superior Court on the new charges at a date yet to be scheduled. The office said it would have no further comment on the indictments until then.

Ortiz's lawyer, John Connors, said he had not seen the indictment but called it "totally ridiculous." He said, as he had in the past, that Ortiz was "just along for the ride" with Hernandez, Wallace and Lloyd on the night Lloyd was killed.

Connors said the district attorney's office has strung his client along, charging him first with a weapons violation, then accusing him of being an accessory.

"It almost looks to me like they felt they couldn't use him as a witness, (so) they're going to charge him?" he said. "Why wouldn't they have done this months ago? There's no new evidence in this matter."

Questions have been raised about the reliability of Ortiz as a witness. Prosecutors say he has told authorities that he didn't see who shot Lloyd but that Hernandez and Lloyd were alone outside the car. That's different from his initial story, in which, according to court records, he told police that Hernandez and Wallace got out with Lloyd.

Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found by a jogger in an industrial park in North Attleborough. Prosecutors have said Hernandez was upset with Lloyd for talking at a nightclub to some people with whom he had problems. They have not identified who they believe pulled the trigger.

A message was left for Wallace's attorney, David Meier. Wallace has been described by prosecutors as Hernandez's "right-hand man."

John Daly -- an Augusta fixture gone wrong

AUGUSTA, Ga. –- Washington Road on Masters week never changes. Yes, stores flip from time to time, one business closes and another reopens, a construction site covers an old K-Mart, a pawnshop replaces a tire store, one chain restaurant subs in for another. But the heartbeat of Washington Road remains constant. It is traffic and strip malls and signs hovering like rain clouds and stoplights and traffic cops and tents and concrete grayness.

People who come to the Masters for the first time have a hard time harmonizing the commercial unpleasantness of Washington Road with the gorgeousness of the Augusta National they have seen on televisions while a piano tinkles in the background.

And Hooters. That is one mainstay of Washington Road. They built the Hooters about 20 years ago … I was the sports columnist for the Augusta newspaper when it opened. The Hooters is a short walk from Augusta National, and many people will note the irony of that, if there is irony in that.

In front of the Hooters on Masters week is a bus, and in front of the bus is long orange table, and in front of the table is a man who in a weird way has become another mainstay of Washington Road.

In front of the bus in front of the Hooters, John Daly sells merchandise and poses for photographs and talks to his fans who, even after all these years, still want the best for him.

***

WE WERE BOTH 25 the year we came to Augusta for our first Masters. That was 1992. I was a 25-year old kid who had just joined The Augusta Chronicle newspaper; I knew almost nothing about golf. John Daly was a 25-year-old kid who had just set the golf world on fire by blistering the field at the 1991 PGA Championship. He won mainly by hitting balls so far that professional golfers could only watch with their mouths wide open.

I met Daly at Doral in Miami that year -- the Doral Open it was called then. It was the first professional golf tournament I had ever attended, much less covered. I was there with the Augusta Chronicle’s legendary golf writer David Westin; our job was to talk to many, many golfers and write preview stories about them for the massive and comprehensive Augusta Chronicle Masters section. Westin and I basically wrote preview stories about every golfer back then.

David knew the golfers. I knew nothing.  So, being the veteran scribe that he was, David made up a list of golfers for each of us to talk with. He took the golfers who were nice and accommodating and easy to work with, and he stuck me with everyone else. I spent much of the week listening to golfers snap, “I’m not thinking about the Masters yet!” or offering to possibly meet them at some place at some time – they couldn’t PROMISE they would show up but they might.

Somehow, I ended being responsible for the John Daly preview story. My suspicion – David won’t confirm this – is he figured Daly would be a pain in the neck to deal with. He was a golfing phenomenon already. Let the rookie handle it. I easily found Daly on the driving range; he was the one surrounded by people. I somehow made my way through to introduce myself and tell him that I needed five or 10 minutes so I could write something about him leading into the Masters.

“Yeah, tell you what, just meet me at the pro-am tomorrow morning,” he said. I nodded and he walked off. I quickly found David Westin.

“What’s a pro-am?” I asked him.

***

HARD TO BELIEVE, yes, but 23 years have drifted by since John Daly obliterated Crooked Stick Golf Club at the 1991 PGA Championship and changed the entire orientation of professional golf. It is all but impossible to believe a movie hasn’t been made about it.

You certainly know the story: Daly was a struggling golf pro. He had needed four trips to Q-School, where people qualify for the PGA Tour. He finally got through but wasn’t getting anywhere. One week before the PGA he had shot a second-round 75 to miss the cut at the Buick Open. It was his eighth missed cut that year.

By way of comparison, Tiger Woods has missed nine cuts in his ENTIRE CAREER.

 It goes without saying that Daly had not qualified for the PGA Championship that year – he was the ninth alternate. As in: ninth. He needed an almost unprecedented series of lucky breaks and freak occurrences just to get into the PGA. Well, it all happened, the last break being a last-minute withdrawal of Nick Price, whose wife Sue had a baby just as the tournament was about to begin.

Daly drove more than 500 miles from his home in Arkansas to Carmel, Ind., on the hunch that he might get into the field. He showed up at the golf course on Thursday having never seen it before. Caddie Jeff Medlin – who was normally Nick Price’s caddy – took him on; Medlin had no idea who he was. But once he saw John Daly hit a golf ball, he knew what to say. He kept telling Daly, ‘Kill it, John.” So Daly killed it. His round was stopped by rain; on Friday morning he finished his first round at 69. He was in contention.

Then he grabbed a sandwich, got back on the course, and shot 67 to take the lead.

Nobody had ever seen anything quite like John Daly at Crooked Stick. Mere mortals had bunkers and narrow fairways to contend with. Daly did not even see those. He was looking past all that. His ball flew over anything resembling danger. He hit golf balls distances no professional golfer ever had, and he breezed down the fairway, high-fiving the gallery as he bounced by.

Daly had taught himself how to swing a golf club by banging away at golf balls on a nine-hole course without a bunker in the little town of Dardanelle, Ark. He had patterned his swing after Jack Nicklaus diagrams in Golf Digest. He was too damned stubborn to let any golf pro or golf coach tell him what he was doing wrong.

He employed a ju-jitsu golf move that people would call “Past Parallel.” On his backswing, he would bring the club back so far that it would be parallel to the ground (where golfers had almost always stopped) and then just keep on going, like a pinball machine turning over and tilting. Golf expert after golf expert explained why going past parallel was a dangerous and unsound thing to do. But John Daly didn’t listen to golf experts.

On the third day, he shot 69 and had a three-shot lead. He celebrated that night by going to an Indianapolis Colts preseason game. He was brought on the field and introduced at halftime and the fans went bonkers when they saw him. Nobody could remember the last time anyone went bonkers over a professional golfer.

On Sunday, Daly came to the course and saw a simple four-word note on his locker: “Go get ’em John.” That was from Jack Nicklaus. Daly swallowed hard and realized that this was kind of a big deal. He hit his first shot into the woods but then said to himself, “No, no, you’re not doing this.” He settled down. He won by three shots. It was the most unlikely golf victory in probably 75 years.

“How would you describe the way you play golf?” he was asked.

“Grip it and rip it,” he said.

Daly high-fived so many people that PGA Championship week, his hands hurt for a week.

***

BACK IN MIAMI, seven or so months after he became a star, I showed up in the morning to talk to John Daly at the Doral Open pro-am. I quickly realized that it was hopeless. Fans were mobbing him. Everybody wanted to talk to him, to get a photo with him, to take a photo with him.

There’s no doubt that Tiger Woods’ victory at the 1997 Masters had an earth-shaking effect on golf – prize money skyrocketed, television ratings skyrocketed, golf became cool to people who had never before cared for golf. But John Daly, for his short time at the top after Crooked Stick, was the most beloved golfer I have seen since Arnold Palmer. He was an underdog and a renegade, a rebel and the guy you wanted to go drinking with, an impossibly talented golfer and a good ol’ boy. He was Elvis. People would come to golf tournaments just to scream “You da man!” after he crushed one of his absurd drives.

He was already fighting demons. According to Daly’s autobiography, “My Life in and out of the Rough,” Daly’s father, Jim, bought John his first golf clubs and he could be a fun guy when he wasn’t drinking. But when he did drink, Jim Daly was mean and out of control. John had his father’s weakness. He was disqualified from a junior tournament when a bottle of Jack Daniel’s was found in his golf bag. He would say that by the time he won the PGA, he was drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. One night while playing on the Hogan Tour – sort of a minor-league tour – he passed out and was rushed to the hospital. His friends thought he’d had a stroke.

“The next day,” Daly would write in his autobiography, “I shot two-under.”

His story was so overpowering, so extraordinary, that nobody was looking for warning signs. Other golfers were somewhat in awe of him. Jack Nicklaus told me that no player’s game was ever better suited for a golf course than John Daly’s game was for Augusta National. And the fans simply could not get enough of him; he wasn’t just a new star, he was a sensation, a mania.

“Hey!” John Daly yelled across the course. I looked around to see who he was yelling at.

“Hey!” he shouted again. “Yeah! You! Augusta. Get over here.”

Everybody turned around and looked at … me. I got over there.

“Walk with me,” Daly said and he lifted the gallery ropes. We would talk while he played.

***

HERE'S HOW John Daly sums up his life in his autobiography.

I’ve traveled to six continents – and won golf tournaments on five of them.

In my darker days, I had a few drinks, visited a few hospital ERs, and did time in a couple of rehab clinics.

I’ve beat up hotel rooms, houses, and cars.

I’ve gambled away a couple of fortunes.

I live on Diet Coke, Marlboro Lights, and the support of my fans.

I’ve weighed as much as 290 pounds—and lost as much as 65 in three months.

And I’ve been married four times.

I guess you could say I’m not exactly a poster boy for moderation.

***

WHAT IS TALENT? This is a complicated question, actually, something that scouts and recruiters and business leaders study endlessly. But if talent refers to a natural aptitude for something, if it refers to an unexplainable gift for making something very difficult look and seem very easy … then there’s a case to be made that John Daly is the most talented golfer who ever lived.

Think about it. John Daly set his life on a one-way course for self-destruction. He was served divorce papers at Augusta one year. He has admitted to losing $50 million gambling. His Wikipedia page, like most of them, has a section called: Personal Life. The subheads underneath tell the tale:

7. Personal life

7.1 Alcohol

7.2 Health

7.3 Gambling

7.4 Marriages

7.5 Lawsuits

And yet, still, he not only won that amazing PGA Championship, he also won the British Open – Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer did pull off that double. Daly won his British Open at the most prestigious course on earth: The Old Course at St. Andrews. The last 40 years, the winners at St. Andrews have been: Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Louie Oosthuizen and, yes, John Daly.

He won three other PGA Tour events too. His extraordinary power off the tee was matched by a shockingly soft touch around the greens; Daly was an artist when chipping and putting the ball.  He always played extremely fast, like he was playing in a heavy rainstorm, and on the right day, in the right moment, he hit shots other people only dreamed of hitting.

I saw it all up close that day at the Doral Open pro-am. He had a cigarette in his mouth and he was barely paying attention to anything but the fantastic stories he was telling. “Excuse me for a minute,” he would say and he would walk over to the tee or the fairway or the green. And then, more often than not, he would hit an extraordinary shot. Once, he excused himself, climbed into a fairway bunker, did not even look at his target, swung and hit one of the most remarkable shots I’ve ever seen – a majestic bunker shot that landed on the green, hesitated and then rolled up to the hole like a child running to a parent at the airport. The ball stopped two inches from the hole.

Daly nodded, stepped out, walked over and continued the story exactly where he left off.

***

JOHN DALY STILL GETS INVITED to play in a lot of tournaments. It has been a decade since he won on the PGA Tour – and in that decade he has finished top 10 nine times and shot 80 or worse 19 times. But on occasion he can still do magical things. And people, many people, sponsors and fans and yes media types, have always wanted to believe the best about John Daly, have always wanted to believe in a comeback.

He had actually been playing OK this year – he made two cuts in his first five tournaments and had almost matched his 2013 earnings – until his last tournament. He went to the Valspar Open in Tampa Bay in mid-March, struggled to a 74 in the first round and then completely unraveled with a second-round 90. He would say he had the putting yips. He four-putted one hole, made 12 on another.

Daly talked hopefully about his game coming around in a sit-down interview with the Guardian; the news from the interview that was widely reported, though, was that he was smoking 40 cigarettes and was sucking down 10 to 12 cans of Diet Coke per day. When I saw him Thursday he inhaled a Diet Coke through a straw as if he was taking his last breath.

I’ve interviewed John numerous times since we walked the pro-am in Miami. He always has been engaging. He always has spoken hopefully about the future and he has never made excuses about the past. One time he broke out into a country song he wrote in the middle of an answer – he writes songs and has released an album. Another time, he talked about a plan of some sort to help children. Another time he explained to me how he had given up drinking and it was only a matter of days or weeks before he was taken into protective custody when police found him drunk outside a Hooters.

It’s so tempting to try to imagine what John Daly might have done had he overcome his demons, had he grown his gifts, had he … well … had he been someone other than John Daly.

***

THERE IS ONE fun little twist to the John Daly pro-am story. On the fourth or fifth hole, can’t remember which, one of the people in John Daly’s pro-am group started getting kind of ticked off that Daly was ignoring him and talking to this stupid reporter. That person: Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

“Hey!” Marino yelled at me. “Some of us paid money to play with John Daly.”

In retrospect, I can’t blame the guy. He did pay money to play with Daly. But I was young then, still unaccustomed to getting yelled at by athletes, especially great ones, and I looked around for a hole to crawl into. In that moment John Daly turned to Dan Marino and did something I will never forget.

“Hey Dan,” he said. “You ARE playing with me.” And he turned back to tell me another story.

And so I like him. I will always like him. He was and is an addict for whatever vice happens to be in play. He has obviously done a lot of things he is ashamed of doing. But in my experiences I’ve seen him be nice to people. I’ve heard him spill his heart out again and again. He was given a great gift, and he was given crushing flaws, and he has spent his life trying to find someplace to live between the two.

“Hey, great to see you,” John Daly said to me as he stood in front of the Hooters Thursday during the first round of the Masters. I have no illusion that he remembered me. There were 15 or 20 people gathered around his bus, searching through his table of shirts and hats and golf balls and autographed pictures. A guy asked if he could have his picture taken with Daly.

“Buy something,” the woman next to him said, “and he’ll be happy to take a photo.”

I bought an orange shirt. It says “John Daly” in script and has a sketch of a lion swinging a golf club. The lion, of course, is taking the club way past parallel.

“Can I have a bag to put this in?” I asked.

“Sure,” John Daly said. “As long as you don’t mind it being a Hooters bag.”

Red Sox fall 4-1 as Pineda, Ellsbury lead Yanks

NEW YORK (AP) David Ortiz looked at a cellphone photograph of Michael Pineda's right hand, one with a brown substance smeared across the palm.

"Was he hitting, or was he pitching?" Ortiz said.

Pine tar or dirt? It may never be clear.

Pineda took a two-hit shutout into the seventh inning, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit an RBI single off old roommate Clay Buchholz in his first game against the Red Sox, a 4-1 victory for the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Ellsbury drew all the pregame attention after switching sides in the offseason. But it was the dark. seemingly tacky substance on the lower palm of Pineda's pitching hand that quickly became the focus.

Close-up camera shots clearly showed Pineda (1-1) pitching for the first four innings with something on his hand, and there was speculation it was pine tar to help him get a better grip on a chilly night. The game was never stopped for an umpire to examine him, and it was gone by the fifth.

"I thought he was great," Boston star Dustin Pedroia said. "I mean, I have pine tar on my bat, you know. That's a non-issue. I thought he was better than us tonight."

Pineda maintained nothing sinister was involved.

"It's dirt," Pineda said. "Between the innings, I'm sweating too much, my hand. I'm putting dirt - I'm grasping the dirt. ... I'm not using pine tar."

Buchholz and fellow Red Sox ace Jon Lester both attracted questions last year about substances they had on the mound, but nothing came of them.

"I became aware of it in the fourth inning through the video that someone had seen," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And then, when he came back out for the fifth inning, it looked, based on where it was told to me it was located, it looked like the palm of his right hand was clean."

Umpires weren't aware of the issue until after the game.

"The Red Sox didn't bring it to our attention, so there's nothing we can do about it," umpire crew chief Brian O'Nora said. "If they bring it to our attention, then you've got to do something."

And Yankees manager Joe Girardi essentially repeated the same answer five times during his postgame news conference.

"I never saw it. There's nothing really for me to talk about," he said.

Making his first Yankee Stadium start 27 months after he was acquired from Seattle, Pineda appeared completely recovered from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him for two years. Throwing at up to 95 mph, he allowed four hits, struck out seven and walked two.

Brian McCann ended an 0-for-14 slide with a run-scoring single that put the Yankees ahead during a two-run fourth that also included a run-scoring double-play grounder by Alfonso Soriano.

In just his third big league start after 554 games in the minor leagues, 27-year-old infielder Dean Anna homered as New York boosted its lead to 4-0 in the fifth, when Ellsbury had an RBI single.

"Playing with him so long and then you see him playing against us, it's definitely kind of weird," Pedroia said.

Daniel Nava led off the seventh with a home run into the second deck in right, and Xander Bogaerts' single chased Pineda.

Buchholz (0-1) was sharper than in his opening start against Milwaukee, giving up four runs - two earned - and seven hits in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

"It got a lot better in a five-day span, which usually doesn't happen that quick," Buchholz said. "I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight."

NOTES: Red Sox CF Jackie Bradley Jr. sprinted into left-center to catch Carlos Beltran's two-out drive in the fourth with Derek Jeter on second. Nava sprinted in to make a sprawling grab on Yangervis Solarte's fly to right leading off the third. ... CC Sabathia (1-1) is slated to face Lester (0-2) on Friday night.

Old guys get it done in opening round at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) In a tournament packed with a bunch of young newcomers, the 50-and-over crowd made a bit of a stand in the first round of the Masters.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was leading the tournament for a time before stumbling on the back nine. Fred Couples was on the leaderboard himself before tying the 50-year-old Jimenez with a 1-under 71 that left both players three shots off the lead.

And former champion Bernard Langer managed to shoot even par in his 31st Masters.

"A 72 is not that shabby," the 56-year-old Langer said.

Not shabby at all, though the Masters is the one major championship where older players tend to do well. Jack Nicklaus finished in a tie for sixth here at the age of 58 in 1998, while Couples always seems to be hanging around the lead in the early rounds.

Power still counts, but sometimes the older players can make up for it by knowing where to put the ball and being crafty.

"It's hard for anyone. There are a lot of young guys that can hit the ball a long ways," said Jimenez, who was 4 under and in the lead before making bogey on No. 11 and double on 12 after hitting it in the water. "I don't hit the ball that far, but I hit it and it goes straight to the flag, you know. It's nice to see that I'm being competitive with all the guys."

Couples, who won the 1992 Masters, said he feels like he can still play Augusta National and compete with younger players, though he concedes he would have to get some breaks to put on another green jacket on Sunday.

"Can a 50-year-old win here?" the 54-year-old Couples asked. "I think so. I'm one of them."

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FAMILY TIES: Bill Haas didn't let blood get in the way of work. He fired his brother last month and picked up a new caddie for the Masters.

"I needed to switch it up," Haas said. "My brother has been on the bag a bunch for a few years, and I think I needed a change."

Jay Haas Jr. has been hired and fired before - just like any other player-caddie relationship - and Bill, his younger brother, is known to be tough to work for at times. Plus, Bill didn't just go find anyone from the caddie yard.

He is using Scott Gneiser, who was with David Toms when he won the 2001 PGA Championship. Gneiser started this year working for PGA Tour rookie John Peterson until getting fired, about the time Bill put his brother on the bench.

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TOUGH 12: The tricky little Par-3 12th at Augusta National played tougher than it has in years.

The 155-yard hole, which has water and a bunker in front, proved to be the second-hardest on the course in the opening round Thursday. Nicknamed "Golden Bell," the hole yielded six birdies, 56 pars, 26 bogeys, six doubles and three triples. The only hole tougher was the par-4 No. 11. The last time the 12th played as hard was 2009.

It was the only blemish on defending champion Adam Scott's scorecard.

Scott doubled the 12th after his tee shot caught the bank in front of the green and hopped back into Rae's Creek.

"I had just received the most incredible ovation as I came to the 12th tee - and I hit my worst shot of the day," Scott said. "I think that's my first-ever trip into Rae's Creek."

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IKE'S TREE: Three former champions who have combined for 13 wins in the Masters have different ideas about what should happen to the 17th hole now that the Eisenhower Tree is gone.

"I think I would probably put a tree right back where the tree was try to get it about as similar as it was when it was taken out," Arnold Palmer said.

Jack Nicklaus, the six-time champion who is most heavily involved in golf course design, said he would pay closer attention to the hole beyond where Ike's tree was.

"It does look a little naked," Nicklaus said. "It's not only Ike's tree, but Little Ike and a couple other trees were gone. But they really had no effect on the play of the golf tournament as it relates to the tournament. ... Sure, you could put a tree back. But I personally think that the hole needs definition a little further up, not back."

Gary Player said no other tree has had greater significance on a golf course. That said, Player is not a big fan of trees that come into play off the tee.

"As much as I had for the name attached to the tree, I think it's best that the tree does not be put back," Player said.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said the club would move slowly in figuring out the best change, if any.

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DONALD PENALTY: Luke Donald's 7-over 79 - his highest score ever at the Masters - included a two-stroke penalty.

After Donald left his third shot in a green-side bunker at par-4 ninth, he grounded his club before his next stroke. That incurred a two-stroke penalty that left him with a quadruple-bogey 8. He rebounded with seven pars and a bogey over his next eight holes, but ended the round with a bogey that left him just shy of 80.

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DUFNER'S DUFF: Jason Dufner carded the highest score of the day, a quadruple-bogey 9 at the 13th. Things unraveled in a hurry, too, after reaching the green-side rough in two. Dufner's third shot slid past the hole, just missing the pin by a few inches, and didn't stop until it rolled off the green, down an embankment and into a creek.

With part of his ball above water, Dufner tried to chip out from there, but the shot came up short and rolled back in. He dropped from there, then chunked his sixth shot well short. He chipped on and two-putted for his highest score by far in 13 rounds at the Masters.

Dufner finished at 8 over.

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DIVOTS: Eight players shot 80 or higher: amateur Chang-woo Lee (80), Hideki Matsuyama (80), Jason Dufner (80), Graham DeLaet (80), amateur Jordan Niebrugge (81), Craig Stadler (82), Ben Crenshaw (83) and Branden Grace (84). ... Bubba Watson (3-under 69) had the only bogey-free round of the day. ... Of the six amateurs in the field, three of them - Matthew Fitzpatrick, Oliver Goss and Garrick Porteous - shot 76.

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AP Sports Writer Tim Dahlberg and AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

Giants' Eli Manning has surgery on left ankle

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is going to start the offseason training program with a surgically repaired left ankle.

The Giants announced that Manning had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to relieve some lingering discomfort in the ankle he sprained in the regular-season finale against Washington.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP has been rehabbing the ankle for more than three months, but it was still bothering him.

Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist in Charlotte, N.C., performed a debridement, removing dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

Manning expects to be able to run in six weeks.

Manning is coming off one of his worst seasons. The 33-year-old who will be entering his 11th season threw a career-high 27 interceptions playing behind a decimated offensive line that allowed him to be sacked 39 times. He completed 317 of 551 passes for 3,818 yards and 18 touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 69.4 was his lowest since a 55.4 in his rookie season in 2004.

"I'm looking forward to the start of the offseason program on the (April) 21st," said Manning, who has started 151 consecutive games. "I will be in the weight room and in the meeting rooms so we can all learn the new offense. I got some good work in this week at Duke, and I think it's smart to get this procedure done now so the ankle isn't an ongoing issue. I'm eager to get to work with our new offensive coaches and system."

The Giants will hold organized team activities May 28-30, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-10, June 12-13, and a mandatory minicamp June 17-19.

Coach Tom Coughlin hired Ben McAdoo as the new offensive coordinator after Kevin Gilbride retired after last season. There also is a new quarterback coach, Danny Langsdorf.

The Giants (7-9) scored 294 points, the lowest total of the Tom Coughlin era. They finished 28th in the NFL in total yards (307.5 a game), 29th in yards rushing per game (83.3) and 30th in yards per carry (3.5).

New York has missed the playoffs the past two seasons.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Task force: Niagara Falls possible home for Bills

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Don't rule out Niagara Falls as a potential future home of the Buffalo Bills.

Several officials told The Associated Press that a newly formed Bills stadium task force of public and private leaders seeking to bolster the team's long-term viability is considering sites that would put it closer to the team's burgeoning Ontario fan base.

"We're looking at Niagara County," Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy told the AP this week. "We're open to looking at a number of venues."

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster confirmed Niagara County was discussed as an option during the inaugural meeting last week of the newly formed New Stadium Working Group committee.

Duffy made clear "that all options should be on the table," Dyster said, adding that includes Niagara County and even Batavia, about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester.

That goes beyond the group's initial directive, which was first limited to seeking potential stadium sites in Erie County, where Buffalo is located.

Another idea is having the Bills relocate their headquarters to the University at Buffalo campus in the Erie County town of Amherst, where a new practice facility would be built and shared with the school's football team. That proposal would satisfy a long-term need for a Mid-American Conference program seeking to broaden its profile.

Though not a member of the working group, New York state Sen. Tim Kennedy told the AP he is aware of the preliminary discussions tying the Bills and the school. A person familiar with the discussions confirmed the Bills/UB plan has been raised. That person wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the subjects raised in the private meeting and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Duffy and Dyster are among 20 members of the stadium group, which was established to make recommendations on whether the Bills require a new facility or should continue playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium, their 41-year-old home in Orchard Park. The group was formed as part of a 10-year, $271-million lease agreement the team reached with the state and Erie County in December 2012.

The group's role in helping determine the Bills' future took on more significance after Ralph Wilson, the team's owner and founder, died on March 25. Wilson's widow, Mary Wilson, is now overseeing the team until the franchise is sold, which raises the possibility of the Bills relocating under a new owner.

The Bills are essentially locked into playing at their current home through the 2019 season, because the lease features a $400 million penalty in the event the team broke it. In 2020, the Bills have a one-time opportunity to opt out of the lease for about $28 million.

Toronto and Los Angeles are regarded potential suitors.

The new owner will have final say on any stadium proposal.

It's incumbent upon the working group, which includes U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, to present a framework of viable options that provide the best chance of keeping the team in western New York.

"We have many very good tools to help that happen," Schumer told the AP. "I think there is a view that us showing early interest and the potential of a new home for the Bills is very helpful, because we want to show an owner that we want to do what it take to keep the Bills in Buffalo."

Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently undergoing $130 million in upgrades. The work includes structural upgrades and adding fan amenities to bring the facility up to modern-day NFL standards.

The Bills' presence has been regarded as key in helping an economically hard-hit region maintain a national identity. As the NFL's only New York-based franchise, the team generates about $20 million in direct annual tax revenue for the state.

Niagara Falls is 30 minutes closer by car than Orchard Park to a growing southern Ontario fan base. The Bills estimate Canadians make up about 18 percent of their season-ticket base.

Kennedy favors the proposal of linking the Bills and the university but is against a stadium site outside of Erie County.

"The Buffalo Bills were born in Buffalo and should stay in Buffalo," Kennedy said. "At least in Erie County. If we're talking about a new stadium I'd like to see it built in Buffalo proper."

Kennedy said a new stadium with a dome or a retractable roof could be part of a larger development, including a new convention center. The new facility would boost efforts to re-energize downtown Buffalo, he said, and could even make the city a contender for hosting the Super Bowl, he said.

Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said the southern Ontario market is critical to the Bills' future. Giambra said Wilson discussed with him the possibility of the team playing home games in St. Catharines, Ontario, while maintaining its headquarters in New York.

"They were aggressively trying to figure out how to tap that Canadian marketplace because of the economics," Giambra said.

Dyster is aware of discussions regarding the advantages of Niagara Falls' location, but said it's premature to suggest what recommendations might emerge.

"The critical thing here is that we all have to come together as a region to make certain that we keep the Bills here," Dyster said. "If we lose the Bills, we're all losers."

Davis to miss last 4 games, Gordon having surgery

METAIRIE, La. (AP) The Pelicans say All-Star forward Anthony Davis will miss New Orleans' final four games this season.

The club also says guard Eric Gordon is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee next week.

Davis, who has averaged 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks this season, sat out Wednesday night's loss to Phoenix with back soreness. The club says team doctors have determined that Davis could use another week or two of rest to heal properly.

Gordon, who has averaged 15.4 points during 64 games, has missed 10 straight contests with left knee tendinitis. The Pelicans say he's expected to make a full recovery during the offseason.

New Orleans' season concludes with two games each against Oklahoma City and Houston, starting Friday night in Oklahoma City.

Kenseth looking for another Darlington win

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) Matt Kenseth hopes to get his season going and lock up a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Darlington Raceway.

Kenseth came to the Southern 500 last May as one of Sprint Cup's hottest drivers, winning twice in his first season driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. This time, Kenseth comes in winless through seven races under the new NASCAR format where a victory pretty much ensures a driver a spot in the 16-team Chase.

Kenseth added to his fast start a season ago with a Southern 500 win. He'd love to become the eighth different driver to win in as many races with his second consecutive victory here. Kenseth says he's not any more concerned about the winless start than he would be in any season.

A's take struggling Jim Johnson out of closer role

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Oakland Athletics brought Jim Johnson into their bullpen when they lost All-Star closer Grant Balfour in free agency.

Two weeks into the season, Johnson is 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA and one blown save in five appearances for the Athletics. Manager Bob Melvin couldn't afford to wait while the former Orioles closer got into a groove, removing him from that role on Thursday.

Melvin will proceed with a closer-by-committee approach.

"There's no timetable," Melvin told A's beat writers before the team played their series finale against the Minnesota Twins. "Let's just get him straightened out. And we have plenty of options. That's the good thing about our team, our versatility. We'll play it by ear based on how the game's going, who's available on that particular day."

He's allowed at least two runs in three of his five appearances, his seven total runs allowed is tied for the most in the AL among relievers. He's allowed more walks and hits than any other reliever in the league.

It's a far cry from the dominant reliever who saved 50 games for the Orioles last season, tied with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the most in the majors. The A's were in the market when Balfour, who had 38 saves last year to help Oakland win its second straight AL West title, signed with the Tampa Bay Rays over the winter.

Johnson is making $10 million and will be a free agent at the end of this season, but the A's can take heart that he has recovered from similar funks before to post solid seasons. Last year, he was charged with three losses and four of his nine total blown saves during a tough six-game stretch in the middle of May. He allowed 12 runs over five innings in that stretch, but posted a 1.52 ERA in his other 69 appearances.

Oakland will use Dan Otero, Ryan Cook, Luke Gregorson and Sean Doolittle in save situations, depending on the matchup.

Gasol, Randolph lead Grizzlies past Heat 107-102

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Zach Randolph had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 20 points and 14 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies kept their playoff hopes alive with a 107-102 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

LeBron James led the Heat with 37 points, connecting on 14 of 23 shots, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Rashard Lewis scored 17, and Chris Bosh finished with 13 points. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points for the Heat.

Meanwhile, the loss, coupled with the Indiana Pacers' 104-102 win at Milwaukee, dropped the Heat into the second spot in the Eastern Conference.

Mike Conley finished with a team-high 26 points and handed out six assists as Memphis remained one game behind the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Suns defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 94-88 also on Wednesday night.

Courtney Lee added 18 points for Memphis.

Pacers rest starters, edge Bucks 104-102

MILWAUKEE (AP) Chris Copeland's driving layup with 1.2 seconds remaining gave the Indiana Pacers a 104-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night that moved them back into first place in the Eastern Conference.

Copeland finished with a season-high 18 points. Luis Scola also recorded a season high with 24 points and Evan Turner added 23 for Indiana, which benched all of its usual starters for the entire game.

Coach Frank Vogel made the move after saying his team appeared tired following a 107-88 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday, when the Pacers were held to a franchise-low 23 points in the first half.

Even without the starters, Indiana moved a half-game ahead of the Heat heading into Friday's matchup in Miami.

Hamilton out 6-to-8 weeks with torn thumb ligament

SEATTLE (AP) Josh Hamilton's attempt to beat out an infield grounder with a headfirst slide into first base landed him on the bench for up to two months.

The 2010 AL MVP was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday by the Los Angeles Angels with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He was hurt trying to hustle down the line and beat out a grounder in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's loss to Seattle. Hamilton was thrown out, but the consequences of his decision ended up being far greater.

"The news sucks. Anytime you play and you're playing hard and having fun, the last thing you want to do is do something that is going to cause you to miss time and maybe hurt your team in the long run," Hamilton said. "If I could see the future, obviously, I wouldn't do it."

Los Angeles said an MRI Wednesday revealed a complete tear of the thumb's ulnar collateral ligament. After initially saying hand and wrist specialist Dr. Steven Shin would operate at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedics in Los Angeles, the Angels said Hamilton will be examined by Shin on Friday to determine whether surgery is needed.

Hamilton was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and outfielder J.B. Shuck was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. Hamilton said he believed it was just a jammed thumb, but when he tried throwing in the outfield between innings he knew something might be wrong.

Hamilton told manager Mike Scioscia to have someone pinch hit for him in the ninth. Ian Stewart batted for Hamilton and struck out with the potential tying run on base in a 5-3 loss.

"It's definitely unfortunate but I think as a team you have to be able to absorb and be deep enough to absorb injuries to players and Josh is a special talent who is off to a great start for us. We'll do our best to fill that void," Scioscia said. "Over the years, we've had a lot of our key players miss significant time, but we've been able to absorb it and move on. That's what we have to focus on doing now for the next six, eight weeks, whatever the time frame is going to end up being."

Scioscia said the Angels lineup could see mixing and matching while Hamilton is out. Collin Cowgill was in the lineup in left field and leading off, with Kole Calhoun dropped to sixth in the order and Howie Kendrick moved up to Hamilton's usual No. 5 slot.

A five-time All-Star, Hamilton has struggled since signing a $125 million, five-year contract with the Angels before the 2013 season. He hit a career-low .250 last year with 21 homers and 79 RBIs, his poorest power numbers since 2009. He was batting .207 with 25 RBIs through June 23, then hit .289 with 54 RBIs during the rest of the season.

Hamilton strained a calf muscle during a baserunning drill on Feb. 25 and didn't play in his first spring training game until March 17. He is hitting .444 with two homers and six RBIs in 27 at-bats this season.

Hamilton believes he can still keep his timing down with his swing even while he's sidelined.

"Disappointing in general that you've got to miss some time, because as a player you prepare the whole offseason to come in and do what you can to help contribute to your team winning ballgames," he said. "That's the most disappointing part of the injury."

The injury rekindled the debate about sliding into first base. Hamilton wasn't the only player to make that choice in Tuesday's game. Seattle's Michael Saunders had an awkward slide into first base running out a ground ball.

"It's just part of who I am. I've done that a lot," Hamilton said. "Who knows if I will ever do that again?"

Mettenberger works out hard at LSU pro day

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Wearing an LSU helmet, shoulder pads and a yellow practice jersey, Zach Mettenberger took a mock snap and rolled hard to his right, rifling passes to former LSU receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Less than four months after reconstructive left knee surgery, Mettenberger came away from LSU's pro day looking a lot like the quarterback who racked up 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns last season.

"That was one of the biggest things we wanted to show," Mettenberger said after Wednesday's workout, which was viewed by numerous NFL personnel. "Just my knee health and mobility was a lot in question. I was able to roll out and throw accurate balls with something behind them.

"It was fun. I've been saying for a couple weeks now that I was healthy and good enough to go and I don't think all of y'all believed me," Mettenberger added. "The biggest thing I wanted to do is show that I could go out there, take an explosive drop and throw down field like everyone knows I can."

Mettenberger's college career ended as he unloaded a 32-yard completion to Landry during LSU's regular season finale against Arkansas on Nov. 29. Taking a hit as he threw, Mettenberger tore his anterior cruciate ligament and sprained his medial collateral ligament. Doctors gave the latter injury time to heal before repairing the ACL in January with a piece of Mettenberger's hamstring.

LSU head athletic trainer Jack Marucci said that while ACL repairs have traditionally been performed using a piece of the patient's patellar tendon, LSU and the Tigers' orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brent Bankston, have had a lot of success using hamstrings for more than a decade. Marucci mentioned a host of other LSU players who've had the same procedure and returned quickly to training, including running backs Stevan Ridley and Joseph Addai.

Marucci said Cybex tests - in which a machine is used to comparatively measure the strength of both legs - showed that Mettenberger's left leg was about 95 percent as strong has his healthy leg. Mettenberger, who his right handed, pushes off with his healthy right leg when he throws.

"I showed I'm healthy enough to go through practice, compete for a job - and by the time the season rolls around in September, I should be fully healed," Mettenberger said.

His decision to wear pads was made months ago and was not influenced by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's decision to also work out for NFL personnel in pads, Mettenberger said.

"The game is played in pads," he said. "I just think it's going to be a new trend for quarterbacks to work out with pads on."

Mettenberger missed on a few throws, twice throwing behind Beckham on crossing routes, and was breathing heavily when the workout ended.

"I'm three months out of surgery and not in playing shape. My legs are kind of tired. That's kind of something to expect," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to work through that."

Mettenberger had not yet visited any NFL clubs for private workouts, but said he has some scheduled as soon as Thursday with Jacksonville, followed by another Saturday with Detroit.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was among numerous coaches and scouts who attended the workouts at LSU.

"It's as good a workout as I've seen just with regards to the amount of throws, but to know he's three-and-a-half months post-surgery, that's pretty impressive," Payton said. "It says a lot about him - and his doctor."

Mettenberger's workout was conducted by LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, a former offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL. Cameron said Mettenberger's pro day performance was a testament to the quarterback's work ethic, and that Mettenberger is ready for the NFL.

"His skill set translates extremely well to that league," Cameron said. "The bottom line is the guy's got to be tough, got to be football smart and he's got to be able to distribute the ball to everybody else throughout his team under pressure and in tight windows. Zach can do that."

Future Pro Bowls to be played in Arizona, Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) The next Pro Bowl will be played in Arizona at the site of the Super Bowl, skipping Hawaii for the first time since 2010.

The game will return to Hawaii in 2016, the NFL announced Wednesday.

The 2015 game will be the third time the Pro Bowl is held in the same city as the Super Bowl. The NFL's all-star game took place in Los Angeles after the first Super Bowl in 1967, then the two games weren't in the same city again until South Florida in 2010.

Since 1980, all but one Pro Bowl has been held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the college football home of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

The Pro Bowl will remain a week before the Super Bowl, as it has the last five years. The new format introduced after last season, which scrapped the AFC vs. NFC matchup, will be retained. The new format splits the all-stars through a schoolyard-style draft, a setup loosely based on fantasy sports meant to play toward player egos and the changing ways fans are interacting with the game.

The Pro Bowl after this coming season will take place Jan. 25, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium. A year later, the game will be held Jan. 31, 2016, at Aloha Stadium.

Tourism officials in Hawaii said they were pleased that the game was coming back in 2016 and the deal has an option for the game to be played in Hawaii in 2017.

"While we would like to have had the Pro Bowl in Hawaii in 2015, the return of the Pro Bowl in 2016 provides the state with an opportunity to showcase our islands' unique culture and beauty," Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the main agency that markets the state to tourists, said the 2014 Pro Bowl generated nearly $72 million in direct visitor spending, including spending by people who traveled with Pro Bowl attendees.

The agency said Hawaii will pay $5 million to support hosting the Pro Bowl in 2016 and repurpose funds set aside for the 2015 game toward other initiatives, including drawing more conventions and tourists from Asia.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, who leads a state initiative to try to attract big sporting events to Hawaii, said the loss of the 2015 game sends a message that the state has to stay proactive and competitive while other destinations push value and Hawaii grapples with issues like how to freshen an aging stadium.

"We've anticipated having to compete harder for all kind of different events, not just with the NFL but with other events," Tsutsui said. "We can't just take those things for granted anymore."

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AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this report. Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

Curt Schilling says he's completed chemo treatments

Curt Schilling says he has completed chemotherapy treatment and has radiation treatment ahead.

Schilling released a statement Feb. 5 saying he had cancer, and daughter Gabby tweeted the following week that he had undergone surgery.

The former pitched said in a Twitter posting Tuesday night: "Chemo done, 5 radiations remain."

He has not said what type of cancer he has or the prognosis.

A six-time All-Star who was 216-146 from 1988-07, Schilling won World Series titles with Arizona in 2001 and with Boston in 2004 and `07. He was hired in December to be part of ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast crew, and ESPN said Schilling will join the telecasts as soon as his health allows.

UMass basketball player announces he's gay

Derrick Gordon had kept his secret for too long.

He couldn't be himself. He considered giving up the sport he loved. Because he was gay, he distanced himself from teammates.

"I was living life in shame," the UMass guard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It took a toll on me."

Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball on Wednesday, making the announcement on ESPN and Outsports. Now he hopes to inspire others in similar situations.

"It's crazy that I'm the first," he told the AP. "I didn't know that it would be this long, but if I'm the first, then I'll start it off."

Previous announcements by NBA player Jason Collins and Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam made his decision easier. Gordon said he talked with Collins several times before making his announcement.

"There was a time that I didn't want to play basketball anymore and that's the worst feeling ever," he said. "Right now I'm happy. I'm free just to live my life."

Gordon was the Minutemen's fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season. UMass went 24-9 and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. It lost its first game to Tennessee on March 21.

Nine days later Gordon told his parents, who have been supportive. The sophomore informed UMass coach Derek Kellogg the next day.

"He said it didn't matter. He's still going to love me for who I am," Gordon said. "He said `It just might make you play a lot better next season than you did last season.' So we joked around a lot."

Two days later, he told his teammates at an emotional meeting. They, too, supported him.

Center Tyler Bergantino roomed with Gordon as freshmen.

"The fact that he's gay doesn't change anything," Bergantino said. "We didn't know he was gay before. We know he's gay now. But he's the exact same person."

Gordon said some teammates at the Amherst, Mass., school probably have known since last summer. He sat out the previous season after transferring from Western Kentucky to be closer to his family in New Jersey, where he played at high school powerhouse St. Patrick.

"They could sense it because I kind of separated myself from the team," Gordon said. "I didn't really hang out with them as far as going to parties and stuff. I really kind of kept to myself, kept quiet. We went on road trips - I'd sit by myself and they were always wondering why. I did it because I didn't want to put myself in a situation where maybe something happens and they end up finding out. Then what? I'm not going to know how to handle the situation."

Gordon held off making the announcement to keep from diverting attention from the NCAA tournaments, which ended Monday night for the men and Tuesday night for the women.

"I've been getting tons and tons of support," Gordon said. "I'm barely getting anything negative."

That may be coming, but he's confident he can handle it.

"I'm not too concerned about any away games in terms of the crowd. I have a tough skin for that," he said. "They can say whatever they want."

During the year he sat out, he considered giving up the sport but changed his mind "just because I don't want to feel like I can't be myself because our society doesn't accept it," Gordon said. "I want to be able to live my life happy and play the sport that I love."

And help others who haven't come out.

"I just hope I can give kids in general the confidence to just come out and live their lives and be free," he said.

Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.

He tweeted that he was "so proud" of Gordon: "Another brave young man who is going to make it easier for so many others to live an authentic life."

Sam, projected as a middle-round prospect in next month's NFL draft, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended.

Sam also tweeted congratulations to Gordon: "You have so many in your corner and we're all proud and rooting for you."

Current NBA players Kyrie Irving of Cleveland and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Charlotte played with Gordon in high school.

"I thought it was a great day for him and his family," Irving said before the Cavaliers hosted the Detroit Pistons. "I'm proud of him. It's a big step, not only in his life but in his career to get the weight of the world off his shoulders."

"Derrick was a great teammate and is an even better friend," Kidd-Gilchrist said before the Bobcats' game in Washington. "I admire his courage and willingness to share his story."

Kellogg praised Gordon's "courage" and hopes the announcement will help others feel comfortable coming out.

"Some years from now, it might have a place in history," he said.

For now, Gordon has a more immediate goal - returning to the court with his teammates.

"They're ready to get back in the gym just as much as I am," he said. "I can't wait to get back with them and get ready for this upcoming season."

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AP Sports Writers Tom Withers in Cleveland and Joseph White in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Ryan Moore wins Masters' Par 3 tournament

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) With friends and family members in tow, Ryan Moore made memories at the Masters on Wednesday.

Moore shot a 6-under 21 to win the Par 3 tournament at Augusta National, calling it a "perfect practice day."

No one should consider it the perfect prelude to golf's first major, though.

Since the Par 3 contest began in 1960, no winner has gone on to don the green jacket later in the week. Raymond Floyd (1990) and Chip Beck (1993) won the mid-week tournament and finished second on Sunday. But since no one has swept both events, making the Par 3 more of a curse than a forecast for the Masters.

"I'm not afraid of it," Moore said. "You never know. Someone has got to break that curse at some point in time, so hopefully it's me, if I end up winning. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple hole-in-ones. We'll see."

Moore made a relatively short putt on the ninth hole to get to 6 under. He finished one shot behind the Par 3 record held by Art Wall (1965) and Gay Brewer (1973).

Moore played the round with his 18-month-old son, Tucker, who got more attention as he pounded his plastic driver all around the course.

"It was fun having my boy out there and playing a round, you know, playing with a couple of friends," Moore said. "That's what it's for, to kind of make you relax a little bit and just go and enjoy yourself the afternoon before."

Kevin Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller finished tied for second at 4-under 23. Bernhard Langer, Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson were another stroke back.

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NO CHANGES: The Masters is the only major that doesn't have a rules official assigned to every group on the golf course.

And it will stay that way.

One of the suggestions that emerged from the Tiger Woods' ruling last year was that it might have been avoided if a rules official had been on the scene. Woods hit a wedge to the 15th green that hit the flagstick and caromed into the water. He said he purposely took his penalty drop a few yards back to avoid hitting the pin again.

That was a violation - the rule requires the drop to be as near as possible to the previous spot - and it led to a two-shot penalty. Woods was assessed the penalty shots after he signed his card, but he was not disqualified under Rule 33-7 because the rules committee felt it erred in not talking to him before Woods signed the card.

Augusta National, like the other majors, brings in rules officials from tours and golf organizations around the world.

"We have approximately 60 officials on the course, significantly more than any other tournament," Masters chairman Billy Payne said. "We think we do it pretty good with the familiarity they acquire for the specific holes - some with as many as six officials on it. So we think the way do it is pretty good, which is not to say that we would never consider a change. But we kind of like the way we do it now."

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ALL FOR WOMEN: The Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced last week that its 2,400 members would vote in September whether to accept females for the first time, a proposal that secretary Peter Dawson said appears to have ample support.

That includes Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.

"I'm proud to be a member of the R&A, and I bet you can guess how I'm going to vote," Payne said Wednesday.

The home of the Masters had no women as members for 70 years until a surprise announcement in August 2012 that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore had been invited to join.

"We readily and joyously welcomed our lady members when that happened a couple years ago, and it remains a very good decision on our part," Payne said. "We are so delighted - and I know I speak for everyone - that they are members."

He declined to say what kind of message it would send to the world of golf if the R&A takes on women as members.

"I would respect their process, their requirement to conduct a vote, and so the process will culminate in a decision," Payne said. "And as I've said, I know where one vote is going to be cast."

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DIVOTS: Darren Clarke becomes the 25th player to make 500 starts on the European Tour when he tees off Thursday in the Masters. European Tour chief George O'Grady commemorated the milestone by presenting Clarke an engraved silver ice bucket. ... Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have this going for them: The four majors that Tiger Woods has missed because of injury were won by Irishmen - Padraig Harrington (2008 British Open, 2008 PGA Championship), McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open) and Clarke (2011 British Open). ... There were three hole-in-ones in the Par 3 event. University of Florida golf coach Buddy Alexander, who was paired with former Gators Matt Every and Billy Horschel, aced No. 2. So did Mark O'Meara. Matt Jones aced the third hole. Those three shots bring the total hole-in-ones to 80 since the event's inception in 1960.

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AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

UConn hoping to capitalize on championships

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Campus celebrations are winding down after two nights of championship parties, yet the off-court excitement could be just beginning at the University of Connecticut.

With students, faculty and alumni beaming with pride following the men's and women's basketball team's national titles, the university administration is looking far beyond the Gampel Pavilion sports arena for a payoff.

The teams' accomplishments led national news and sports broadcasts and appeared on news or sports pages of newspapers across the world.

"It's amazing. It lets everyone know we're something special here," said Danielle Deschene, an 18-year-old freshman from Norwich who was sporting a Huskies sweatshirt while picking up a UConn T-shirt for her dad at a campus bookstore.

UConn is the only school to ever win the NCAA Division I men's and women's titles in the same year, a feat it also accomplished in 2004.

Money can't buy that kind of publicity, and an expected result is a boost in finances, admissions applications and recruiting.

UConn President Susan Herbst said it is hard to quantify the effect the titles will have on donations and student applications, but she's sure they'll increase.

"They get the attention, they win, and then I take that attention and turn it toward the academic mission," she said Tuesday. "People are thinking about UConn and when they get to me with congratulations, then, I have to talk about our health center, our excellence in education, our student success."

Brian Otis, vice president of development at the University of Connecticut Foundation, said the national titles have contributed to a major hike in fundraising from less than $20 million annually in the 1990s to $63 million last year.

"The success has raised the bar of excellence across the university," he said. "There was a period where mediocrity was the acceptable level of performance. That's no longer the case."

Veteran UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma also made the point during a campus victory rally for his team Wednesday afternoon.

"Today, there is absolutely no question and no doubt that if you come to school here, you are a champion and you're going to live with champions," Auriemma said.

The women's team took a campus victory lap in an open-air, double-decker bus before speeches and cheers outside the Student Union. Seniors Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson tearfully thanked fans and fellow students.

"I love the support that we have from all of you," Hartley said. "It's not just the women's basketball team or the men's basketball team, we share this with every team on our campus."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that a parade for the basketball teams will be held Sunday in Hartford.

The NCAA basketball titles - a record ninth for the women and fourth for the men - deliver a boost to the UConn brand, Herbst said.

The school's image took a hit in 2013 because of the men's team was banned from the NCAA tournament over academic performance issues. The school also is facing a Title IX lawsuit over its response to sexual assault allegations on campus. Those headlines have been replaced by stories about men and women performing at a high level on and off the court and the school celebrating both championships.

"We're still top dogs," UConn men's coach Kevin Ollie said.

UConn expects the titles to help recruiting. The Huskies already were among the nation's elite in attracting basketball talent. But Ollie says winning another title a year after the ban sends a message to potential student athletes that the program isn't on the decline.

The championships also provide a financial windfall. Checkout lines snaked through the UConn Co-op bookstore Tuesday as fans purchased championship gear. The school is planning several new designs to honor both the men's and the women's teams.

Kyle Muncy, who's in charge of licensing and branding for the athletic department, said it's hard to predict how much of an effect the wins will have on licensing revenue. He said the biggest periods in the school's licensing royalty history were in 2004-2005 and 1999-2000, corresponding to the dual titles in 2004 and first men's title in 1999. He said this year could top the 2004 mark of $1.2 million.

The school's rise over the past 20 years as an athletic power has coincided with a rise in academic prowess. And the school has said the pool of applicants for next fall has higher SAT scores and more diversity than previous classes.

Applications for undergraduate admission at UConn have risen each year for over a decade, from 13,600 in 2001 to nearly 30,000 this year. Nathan Fuerst, the admissions director, said the championships do raise national awareness of UConn.

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Associated Press writers Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn., and Michael Melia in Storrs contributed to this report.

Northwestern QB says union push was rushed, wrong

Northwestern's Trevor Siemian said Wednesday it was wrong for former quarterback Kain Colter and other players to explore unionization without first taking their concerns to their coach and administrators.

The school's football players are scheduled to vote later this month on whether to form a union to possibly bargain over better compensation, health insurance and work conditions. Siemian, a quarterback who will be a senior this fall, said during a conference call with reporters that players should have taken their concerns to coach Pat Fitzgerald and athletic director James Phillips before setting out to unionize.

"I'm treated far better than I deserve here," Siemian said. "Introducing a third party or somebody else, especially when our main goals when this began ... there were issues with the NCAA that we thought we could address, and (unionizing) was one of the ways to do it. Nothing had been exhausted from within the school. Myself included, nobody ever addressed Fitz or Dr. Phillips about these issues.

"Two of these guys that all of us have come here and trusted so much - I've known coach Fitz five or six years now - to say I don't trust you enough to help us out addressing these changes isn't the right way to go."

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board announced on March 26 that Northwestern's football players meet the definition of employees under federal law and are allowed to unionize. The players are set to vote by secret ballot April 25 on whether to form a union.

Siemian said he would vote no.

"I can only speak for myself," he said. "I'll say there's a significant number of guys on the team who feel the same as me."

Tim Waters, the political director for the United Steelworkers Union, which has provided support to efforts to unionize, did not return phone and email messages. Neither did Ramogi Huma, president of the College Athletes Players Association, which is working with the steelworkers on the bid to form the nation's first union for college athletes.

Fitzgerald has told his players to vote against the union. He declined to comment further Wednesday, though Northwestern filed its formal appeal with the NLRB and said it had "presented overwhelming evidence" at a hearing earlier this year that its athletes are "students first."

"Based on the testimony of a single player, the regional director described Northwestern's football program in a way that is unrecognizable from the evidence actually presented at the hearing," the school said. "Northwestern views participation in intercollegiate athletics as part of the educational process."

The school noted that it provides four-year scholarships for athletes, not year-to-year scholarships provided by other schools, and that primary or secondary medical coverage is provided as well.

"We hope that the full NLRB will not only review this decision but will hold that Northwestern's football scholarship athletes are not employees, and the petition seeking an election for the players to vote on union representation will be dismissed," said Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for university relations. "We applaud our players for bringing national attention to these important issues, but we strongly believe that unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address these concerns."

Siemian said he regretted not exploring other options for addressing athletes' concerns when Colter organized a January meeting where he asked football players to sign union cards.

He said the fact the team petitioned the NLRB for a ruling "doesn't mean that a union is right for this university or this school."

"I think that distinction needs to be made, too," he added. "Just because you're an employee doesn't mean that a union is the right avenue, especially in a scenario at Northwestern where ... most guys on the team agree that we've been treated very, very well here. With that being said, I just don't think that's the direction we need to go in."

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Associated Press writer Tom Raum in Washington contributed to this report.

8-year-old girl befriended by hoops star dies

DETROIT (AP) When Michigan State was fighting to stay afloat despite a succession of injuries to key players, Lacey Holsworth was there.

When the team rebounded to win the Big Ten tournament, the 8-year-old from St. Johns, Mich., was there.

And as the cold-shooting Spartans bowed out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of eventual champion Connecticut one win short of the Final Four, she was there.

Now, Lacey is gone.

The little girl affectionately known as "Princess Lacey" finally succumbed to the cancer that she battled since 2011. Her father, Matt Holsworth, said Lacey died at their home late Tuesday "with her mommy and daddy holding her in their arms."

Lacey met Michigan State star Adreian Payne during one of her hospital stays, and their friendship quickly blossomed. The little girl became known to legions of basketball fans, cheering on Payne and the Spartans on Twitter as they became a popular pick to win it all this season.

"Words can't express how much I already miss Lacey," Payne said in a statement released by the school. "She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I'm a better man because of her."

When it was Payne's turn to be honored during Senior Night, the 6-foot-10 center scooped up Lacey and carried her around the court. He did it again in Indianapolis after Michigan State won the Big Ten tournament, and the little girl with the blond wig was there when he took part in a recent slam-dunk competition.

And there she was at the Michigan State basketball banquet last month, standing next to coach Tom Izzo, who put his arm around her as he addressed the hundreds of players, families and others in attendance.

His message: What Lacey was going through put his team's injury woes in perspective.

"I've learned they're minor injuries when you look at life," said an emotional Izzo, who paused to gather himself. "One of the greatest things I've done in my 30 years here" was seeing Payne interact with Lacey during a hospital visit.

"Watching that moment, I could never teach that. I could never coach that. I learned from him," said Izzo, who said Lacey became the team's inspiration.

Former Detroit coach and longtime ESPN announcer Dick Vitale pledged to raise $250,000 toward cancer research over the next month and present a check in that amount in Lacey's memory during his annual gala to benefit The V Foundation for cancer research on May 16 in Sarasota, Fla.

"I talked to Matt (Holsworth) this morning. I promise you that we are not going to let her die in vain," said Vitale, who was thrilled to have Lacey attend his gala last year.

"I was just crushed" when he found out about Lacey's death Wednesday morning, Vitale said. "They should take Lacey's picture and when they define courage it should have her photo right next to it."

Lacey watched Michigan State's NCAA tournament run from the stands. After Payne scored a career-high 41 points to help Michigan State beat Delaware in its first tournament game, Payne talked as much about what his performance meant to Lacey as it did to the Spartans.

"It's like having a family member who's really sick," he said. "The only thing you can do is play basketball. You can't be there with them. Just knowing that when I play well, it makes her happy. It feels like I'm doing something, in a way, to make her feel better."

Back pain while dancing in 2011 led to the discovery of a football-sized tumor that had engulfed her kidney. After another tumor wrapped around her spine, her father had to carry her into a hospital on Dec. 28, 2011. She lost feeling below her belly button and couldn't walk on her own for several months, a long stretch that included the first of many visits from Payne.

Still, Lacey almost always was smiling when she was seen in public.

"She loved unconditionally and without hesitation," said Matt Holsworth, who asked that others continue her legacy by doing the same.

In a statement, Izzo said: "Princess Lacey has taught us all an incredible lesson about love, strength and toughness. We can all learn from her on how to handle adversity with class and dignity. ... At just eight years old, she has given us all a lifetime of memories."

Lacey is survived by her parents, Matt and Heather Holsworth, and three brothers: Will, Mitchell and Luke. A memorial service is planned for April 17 at Breslin Center, Michigan State's arena in East Lansing.

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