National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

NCAA President calls for 'scholarships for life'

WASHINGTON (AP) NCAA President Mark Emmert told a Senate committee Wednesday he supports "scholarships for life" and other reforms in how athletes are treated, then did such a good job of casting himself as a powerless figurehead that one senator told him: "I can't tell whether you're in charge or whether you're a minion."

Emmert faced a skeptical Senate Commerce Committee and said he feels college sports "works extremely well for the vast majority" and that the overall current model of amateurism should be preserved.

But he listed several changes he'd like to see enacted.

In addition to the end of the standard year-to-year scholarships, he said scholarships should also cover the full cost of attending college, not just basics such as room and board.

He also called for better health, safety and insurance protocols and said universities must confront what he called the "national crisis" of sexual assault.

Emmert said such changes could come about if Division I schools decide to remake their decision-making structure in the coming weeks, giving more authority to the five biggest conferences.

He reiterated that the schools themselves are in charge of the rules and emphasized the challenge of creating a consensus among college presidents, coaches and athletic directors.

That led to sharp words from Sen. Claire McCaskill, who leveled the "minion" statement and added: "If you're merely a monetary pass-through, why should you even exist?"

The Missouri Democrat was particularly concerned with research that showed a significant percentage of universities allow athletic departments to handle sexual assault investigations of athletes.

Emmert said he was "equally surprised and dismayed by" McCaskill's numbers and that he would work to put an end to the apparent conflict of interest.

The hearing came as the NCAA faces pressure from multiple fronts to reform how athletes are treated and compensated.

The organization is awaiting a judge's ruling following a three-week trial in Oakland, California, in which former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon and others are seeking a share of revenues from the use of their names, images and likenesses in broadcasts and videogames.

Also, former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is leading a push to form the first union for college athletes.

Emmert testified in the O'Bannon trial, where he opposed any effort to pay players because it would destroy the bedrock of amateurism on which college sports is based.

There have been moves, however, to pay more attention to the athlete's concerns. Emmert noted that multiyear scholarships were recently reinstated after being banned for close to four decades. The Big Ten last month came out in support of guaranteed four-year scholarships and improved medical coverage for athletes.

Also testifying was former University of North Carolina football player Devon Ramsay, who spoke of the red tape he had to endure to clear his name after allegations of plagiarism. UNC has been dealing with a long-running academics and athletics scandal, and Ramsay said he came to the conclusion that the school "was more concerned with penalties and losses of scholarships than protecting one of its own."

Ramsay also called for mandatory summer internships that would help prepare athletes for future careers. He said it's "almost impossible" to complete an internship at a competitive football school because of the time demands made by coaches.

"The NCAA as an institution no longer protects the student athlete," Ramsay said. "They are more concerned with signage and profit margins."

Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller also took the bigger view, questioning whether the amateur model is sustainable. He told Emmert: "I think I am just very skeptical that the NCAA can ever live up to the lofty mission that you constantly talk about."

"I don't see how a multibillion dollar commercial enterprise can merely be an amateur pursuit," the West Virginia Democrat said. "I don't see how the NCAA will ever be capable of truly making a safe, quality educational experience for students their No. 1 priority."

Rockefeller said he doesn't plan to drop the issue. He dropped veiled threats of using subpoena power and the committee's special investigation unit should the Democrats retain control of the Senate and the NCAA not move forward with reforms.

Near the end of the hearing, which lasted just under three hours, Rockefeller said too much of the hearing was conducted in "self-protection mode."

"My real feeling from this hearing," Rockefeller said, "is that we haven't accomplished much."

Emmert declined an invitation from Rockefeller to make a concluding statement. After the hearing, Emmert deflected questions from reporters while being led to a freight elevator to leave the building.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Stepan hopes his save starts Rangers' comeback

LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Derek Stepan's goal-line save happened in a frantic blur, the New York Rangers center had a few chances to marvel at the replay in the ensuing 24 hours.

"And I was looking right into the camera when they took it," he said Thursday, laughing about the inside-the-net camera that captured him knocking the puck underneath Henrik Lundqvist. "So it was good timing."

Everything about Stepan's heady play was perfectly timed, but he politely declined credit for saving the Rangers' season in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. He's just glad he helped to prevent a possible sweep by the Los Angeles Kings, who could have tied the game and likely forced overtime with the goal.

The Rangers survived for another trip to Staples Center and Game 5 on Friday night with major help from two fantastic plays by Stepan and defenseman Anton Stralman, who knocked another puck off the line in the first period of Game 4.

Stepan came through with 1:11 left while the Kings pressed desperately for an equalizer. After the puck trickled underneath Lundqvist and came to rest on the goal line, Stepan dived to his knees, knocking it away and then underneath his goalie.

"Most of it is just reaction," Stepan said. "You don't have much time to think in a situation like that. It's just instinct and reaction."

Stepan even had the wherewithal to use the side of his glove so he wouldn't close his hand on the puck in the crease, which would have resulted in a penalty shot.

Although he recognized the importance of the play, Stepan didn't let it go to his head.

"It was a fortunate bounce for us," Stepan said. "I got very lucky pushing it under the goaltender. A lot of times, you push it into the back of your goalie, or you push it to one of their guys."

Dan Girardi also deserved credit for knocking Anze Kopitar out of the play and preventing the Kings' leading scorer from getting a rebound opportunity. The Kings actually weren't near the motionless puck until Jeff Carter took a belated hack at it, but Stepan took care of it.

Stralman made an equally astonishing play in the first period, sweeping a stopped puck off the goal line with his stick while simultaneously preventing Carter from jabbing it home.

Lundqvist made 40 saves in Game 4, but relied on his teammates for two more. After three games of bad bounces and late-game struggles, the Rangers got most of the breaks.

"A couple of times last night, we had that luck that you need in a tight game," Lundqvist said. "Sometimes you say it (and) maybe not mean it 100 percent, but that factor of luck in a series against a good team, you're going to need it to win games. You can't rely on it all the time, but there are moments in games where the difference is so small, that little extra push might help you to get the win."

A few optimistic Rangers fans jumped onto Twitter after Game 4 and compared Stepan's play to Dave Roberts' steal of third base for the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, catalyzing their comeback from an 0-3 series deficit to the New York Yankees.

Stepan knows such optimism is a week premature. The Rangers would have to win four straight games to become the fourth team in NHL history to rally from an 0-3 deficit - just the second in the finals.

But thanks to Stepan's play, the Rangers have a shot to make it to Game 7 - which just happens to be scheduled for Stepan's 24th birthday on June 18.

"As a group, you gain some confidence, but there's no momentum in a series like this," Stepan said. "You just keep working for the bounces."

LA Kings eager to raise Cup at home in Game 5

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Kings already know there's no place like home ice for a coronation.

They've got the chance to lift the Stanley Cup at Staples Center again when they host the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the finals on Friday night, giving the ultimate celebration to their long-suffering fans for the second time in three years.

Yet the Kings' memories of that night in June 2012 weren't a popular subject Thursday as they prepared for the chance to finish another draining, two-month postseason with one big party.

"It doesn't matter where you win the fourth," Jarret Stoll said at the Kings' training complex. "This time of year, it's all about the result."

With the weary poise of a team that has already been through three seven-game series this spring, the Kings insisted they're not bothered by their inability to finish a sweep in New York. Mike Richards and the Kings calmly flew home, grabbed a few hours of sleep and focused on a good start to Game 5, figuring it will lead to the big finish.

"It's not going to be easy, but confidence is there," Richards said. "If we play well, we think that we can have success. You don't make it to this point of the season without having confidence in your team."

Stoll is tired of the Kings' weak starts, however. The Rangers have taken 2-0 leads in three of the series' four games, forcing Los Angeles to play catch-up hockey - something the Kings do extraordinarily well, but would prefer to skip Friday.

"We know we can do more, especially at the start of games," Stoll said.

Henrik Lundqvist gave the Rangers hope with his 40-save performance in Game 4, earning another cross-country trip for the Eastern Conference champions. The goalie's unflappable poise - and one or two puck-slowing mounds of snow - helped keep the Rangers in the series with a 2-1 win in Game 4.

And now that they're off the canvas, the Rangers realize they have ample reason to be comfortable at Staples Center, where they never trailed in their two series-opening overtime losses. The Rangers still mixed it up in their return to the visitors' dressing room for practice Thursday: except for their two goalies, every player took a new locker.

"I know if we win (Game 5), they're definitely going to feel the pressure," Lundqvist said. "We were in that spot playing Montreal. The closer you are to your final goal, obviously you tend to think more. That's just the way you work. It's hard not to."

Lundqvist is the Rangers' best hope, and the Swedish star is at his best with the season on the line. He is 11-2 in the Rangers' last 13 elimination games with a 1.30 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.

"It comes down to how much you want to battle, how much you want it," Lundqvist said. "Not only for me, but for the group. ... Sometimes when everything is on the line, that's actually easier sometimes to focus in on the important thing and not so much on consequences."

Lundqvist's dominance in the Kings' 10th loss of this postseason was frustrating but not discouraging to a team that has repeatedly surmounted all difficulties over the past three years.

Two seasons ago, the Kings had lost just two games in the entire playoffs when they had their first chance to clinch their franchise's first championship. The Devils beat Los Angeles 3-1 at Staples Center in Game 4 and then won again in New Jersey in Game 5, making the eighth-seeded Kings uncomfortable for the first time in their charmed run.

The Kings returned home and won Game 6 in a rout. Most of the Kings' current roster was on that team, and the players remember the innumerable distractions: ticket requests, media pressures and a wellspring of natural excitement.

"I think everyone is more equipped now, or more ready for it, more aware of what the distractions are and how they can present themselves, and what you need to do to push them away," Richards said.

Game 5 is Los Angeles' NHL-record 64th playoff game in the last three seasons, and the Kings will tie the single-season record with their 26th postseason game of this season. The game will be the 93rd of the entire postseason, making it the longest playoff in league history.

But if the Kings are exhausted at the brink of their 10th series victory in the most grueling three-year stretch in hockey history, they haven't shown it. The Kings dominated the Rangers for much of Game 4, outshooting them 15-1 in the third period, but failing to get anything past Lundqvist.

The Kings uniformly scoff at the notion of fatigue playing any role with hockey's ultimate prize just a game away.

"This is why you play the game," Stoll said. "It doesn't matter how many games you play. You've got energy. You've got jump. You should, (if) you realize what you're playing for. Yeah, it's a lot of games, but it's why we play."

Female official hopes to break NFL barrier

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Sarah Thomas starts the day at her second job by tucking her long blond hair inside her cap, so she doesn't get noticed.

On a football field, that's impossible.

Thomas doesn't consider herself a pioneer, just "one of the guys." But as one of two female officials in the NFL's officiating development program, Thomas has a chance to break barriers in a male-dominated profession.

This week, Thomas, a former college basketball player, current college official and mother of three whose full-time job is as pharmaceutical sales representative, worked with a crew of officials during Browns mini-camp. Like the players, she worked on improving her skills and honing her craft.

One day, she hopes to be on the field with the pros. But not because of her gender.

"I am a female, but I don't look at myself as just a female," she said. "I look at myself as an official."

Thomas began her officiating career in 1996, when an NFL scout spotted her working a high school game. From there, she joined Conference USA and was invited to join the NFL's developmental program, now in its second year. Thomas worked some training camps and preseason games last season.

The next step is a regular-season game, and the earliest that can happen is 2015.

It's not her call, so to speak, but Thomas believes she's ready.

If this week was any indication, Thomas could be on her way.

"She's done a good job," Browns coach Mike Pettine said after practice Thursday. Pettine believes it's time for the league to welcome female officials.

"If she's efficient and good at what she does, I have no issues with it," Pettine said. "I think the best compliment somebody paid to her was when someone said, `What did you think of the female official?' And they said, `There's a female official out here?' I thought she was on point."

Browns cornerback Joe Haden joked that Thomas was a little whistle happy.

"She was calling everything," Haden said, smiling. "I couldn't snap on her. I was chilling."

Thomas said her goal is to blend in. She doesn't want to stand out because of her sex - or worse, because she's not competent. She's dedicated to being a solid, fair and mostly unseen, which is why she pulls her hair up under her cap. Still, sometimes players do a double take when they see her on the field.

"I think sometimes they go `What is that?"' she said. "Yes, I do tuck my hair and at first I really wasn't too sure why. But I get it. We don't want to be noticed and anything I can do to blend in - I like it when I leave the field and people go `I told you that was a girl."'

Thomas has two boys and an 18-month-old girl. She said her sons are most interested in her nabbing some NFL attire or autographs, "I can't do that," she said.

Her children have never thought about their mom being anything other than an official, so they don't really grasp that she could make history as the NFL's first female official.

"They just know mom officiates and it's nothing foreign to them or pioneering or anything," she said. "I do this."

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AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

At 32, US's Beckerman gets his shot at World Cup

SAO PAULO (AP) His shirt off post practice with multiple upper-body tattoos on display and dreadlocks as messy as ever, Kyle Beckerman signed autographs through a small space in the fence separating him from a swarm of fans.

For Beckerman, being in Brazil is what he planned all along. Ever since the days he began signing his autograph as an unofficial member of the national team around age 8.

Whether leaving a note to his parents letting them know he'd gone to a friend's house and wouldn't be home for dinner or was off to soccer practice, Beckerman always ended with his signature of Kyle Beckerman, followed by "USA No. 15."

Now, at 32, Beckerman is living it for real.

"Yeah, it's come full circle," Beckerman said. "I didn't know. That's what I wanted to happen, but you never know."

Beckerman knows this will all go by far too quickly, because as soon the Americans are done playing in Brazil he will be back to his job as captain of Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake.

Midfield mate Brad Davis posted a photo on Twitter of him with Beckerman, who gave a thumbs up as they departed for Brazil while carrying a guitar on his back.

The dreads go way back for Beckerman, whose curly hair would easily knot up if he neglected to comb it as a kid - forcing his mom to pull out the scissors. Once out of the house, he let it go for good.

Beckerman keeps things light with his music for the Americans.

"Of course, look at his hair, man, a bit of Bob Marley," Davis said Wednesday. "He's a bit of a free spirit."

While Beckerman didn't play in the first of three sendoff matches, he came in for the second half against Turkey and moved into the starting lineup in a defensive role for the finale against Nigeria as coach Jurgen Klinsmann switched up his midfield.

"We've often talked about Kyle, and we keep talking about him because he's a pure giver to that team. He's one that covers other's backs, and that's literally what he's doing," Klinsmann said. "Chemistry-wise, he's an extremely important player to that group, because he has tremendous experience, he's always hungry and you know that when he steps on the field, even if it's a public training session, that he's going to go 150 percent."

Klinsmann could mix and match, yet it looks like Beckerman might start Monday's World Cup opener against Ghana.

"This whole process of being with the national team, you've just got to be ready, ready when your number's called," Beckerman said.

His teammates trust him to be that reliable defensive stopper no matter the situation or who is attacking.

"He's a very disciplined player," midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said. "He's the type of guy that will be that No. 6, that anchor guy that makes sure when players like myself or the outside backs spring forward, that we know he's going to be there covering our backs."

Soccer's showcase event means so much to Beckerman, among the inaugural players to take part in the U.S. under-17 residence program in 1999 along with Landon Donovan, current left back DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu. He helped that American team reach the semifinals of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.

He's at a different level now.

"It hasn't totally sunk in that this is the team," he said. "I got a little taste of it with the youth national teams, the under-17s but you never know with the full team. It's just amazing that it's come full circle."

Now that he's in Brazil, he wants to savor the experience.

"I've talked to a couple people who played in World Cups before, and they say it just goes by like that. As soon as we get done with this we have our season going on. It's like it didn't even happen. I'm trying to soak it all in for sure and enjoy it."

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

Hoyer 'securely ahead' of Manziel for Browns' job

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Johnny Manziel's No. 2 jersey has double meaning.

He's behind Brian Hoyer.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said Hoyer is "securely ahead" in the competition to be Cleveland's starting quarterback this season, but his lead over Manziel isn't "insurmountable."

After the Browns ended their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday, Pettine sized up the battle as a friendly fight that will heat up when the team opens training camp late in July.

Pettine said Hoyer, who is recovering from knee surgery and has been limited during practices, still has a grip on the starting job - for now.

"It's been hard to evaluate because Brian hasn't been able to take the 11-on-11 reps, but when we put the depth chart together, Brian will be No. 1," he said.

Pettine agrees with Browns general manager Ray Farmer's evaluation that Manziel, the wildly popular 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick from Texas A&M, has some catching up to do.

Manziel is trailing Hoyer, but maybe not by much.

"I don't think it's insurmountable," Pettine said. "Brian is securely ahead of him right now, but we will compete and we will decide. The issue for us as a staff is finding the right time to name a starter. If you wait too late, then nobody's ready for the opener, if you do it too soon, then it wasn't a true competition.

"That will be part of our discussions as well as far as OK, here's the plan, here's a date that we want to go ahead and name him."

During recent workouts open to the media, Manziel has shown some of the flashes that earned him the Johnny Football nickname in college. But there have also been moments where he looked like another lost rookie.

Pettine made it clear the Browns have not made any decisions and the competition is still in its infancy.

"We haven't really been in the mode of thinking, `He's this far ahead today. How much was the gap closed?"' Pettine said. "They're still learning the basics of the offense. The rookies haven't been here very long. They're playing catch-up from a playbook standpoint. So at this point, we really weren't keeping score. "

Pettine kept Hoyer and Manziel off limits to reporters this week, hoping to contain a story that's expected to only grow.

In the next few weeks, Pettine and his staff will decide how to best divide the snaps between Hoyer and Manziel. Pettine said it's safe to assume the duties will be shared.

"I don't know how even we'll get it, but there will definitely be times when Johnny will be with the ones (starters)," Pettine said. "It would be hard to evaluate if we didn't that. If there wasn't a competition, then it would just be strictly ones and ones, twos and twos. We haven't met to go over that."

Pettine also plans to play Manziel with Cleveland's starting offense in exhibition games.

"If a guy has a chance to be a starter, I would think that you'd want to expose him to a starting defense if he was going to be the guy opening day," said Pettine.

Manziel has made some headlines with his off-the-field antics in recent weeks. He partied poolside in Las Vegas with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and was filmed spraying champagne on patrons in a nightclub. Last weekend, he was in Austin, Texas, where he was photographed lying on an inflatable swan raft in a pool, drinking champagne.

Pettine won't micromanage Manziel or any of his players as long as they're not involved in anything that's criminal or affects their jobs. But with a long break coming up, he's hoping all the Browns steer clear of danger.

"It's nervous any time your entire team is dismissed," he said. "As a coach, you hear your phone ring and you kind of look at it with one eye, hoping it's not an issue coming up. We talked to them about it. We wanted to make sure that they handled themselves well. The advice was: Learn the system, stay in shape, stay out of trouble."

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AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

No charges in Fla. for Kaepernick, 2 other players

MIAMI (AP) San Francisco 49ers star quarterback Colin Kaepernick and two other NFL players will not face charges in an incident involving a woman at a downtown hotel, prosecutors announced Thursday.

A memo released by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office said there was insufficient evidence that any crime was committed in the hotel room on April 1. Tests indicated the woman was not sexually assaulted and other evidence backed up the players' contention that nothing happened.

In fact, the memo by Assistant State Attorney Laura Adams described the woman as incoherent when police and fire-rescue officers responded to 911 calls to the room at the Viceroy Hotel. She had to be sedated in order to be taken to the hospital, where she was temporarily involuntarily committed for her own safety, the memo says.

"When she heard the officers' voices, the complainant started screaming incoherently about Jesus and devils," Adams wrote.

A hotel security officer told police that when he arrived at the room, the woman began praying, "asking God to forgive her of her sins" and began screaming in words the security officer couldn't understand, according to the memo. She banged her head against the walls and started kicking uncontrollably.

At the hospital, doctors noted that she was "severely agitated" and appeared to be in an altered mental state, although no evidence of drugs beyond marijuana were detected in her system, Adams wrote. The woman had told police she and the three players had drinks and smoked marijuana earlier in the night.

Kaepernick consistently denied any wrongdoing. Earlier this month the 49ers gave the 26-year-old a $126 million, six-year contract extension that will keep him in San Francisco through 2020. He was drafted in 2011 in the second round out of Nevada.

The other players in the room that night were 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette.

The prosecutor's memo says that an attorney for Kaepernick and Lockette told investigators they met the woman about a year ago in Atlanta and that she and Kaepernick had sex. The woman later told Kaepernick she was pregnant and he cut off contact with her, including changing his phone number, the memo says.

Eventually, she learned Kaepernick and Lockette would be in Miami and made arrangements to visit them, traveling by Greyhound bus. After the woman's behavior deteriorated, Kaepernick contacted a nearby friend and decided to leave the hotel.

"I'm leaving right now I'm terrified," Kaepernick texted the friend, according to the prosecutor's memo.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

Falcons to be featured on Hard Knocks this year

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons have announced they will be featured on HBO Sports' documentary series Hard Knocks this summer.

The five-part weekly series debuts Aug. 5 and concludes Sept. 2.

The annual show gives fans an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as they prepare for the upcoming NFL season.

Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank says the team is "excited about the opportunity to give our fans a behind the scenes look at what it takes to prepare an NFL team for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and beyond."

Hard Knocks is now its ninth season.

Other teams previously featured on the award-winning reality series include the Ravens, Chiefs, Jets and Dolphins. The Cowboys and Bengals have each been featured twice.

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AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

US Open under way on a new kind of Pinehurst

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) Daniel Berger hit the opening tee shot in the U.S. Open that illustrated the difference of Pinehurst No. 2.

He hit an iron just short of the sandy area filled with native plants - or weeds - and clumps of wiregrass bushes. In the two previous U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, his ball might have been in thick rough that is typical of the so-called toughest test in golf.

Under cloud cover in North Carolina, the U.S. Open was off to a quiet start.

Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar and former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson made birdie on the opening hole. Birdies are expected to be hard to find at Pinehurst, even with its new look. It is reputed to be one of the tougher U.S. Open courses because of its turtleback greens designed by Donald Ross.

For now, the course is the story.

The resort hired Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to restore the natural look of more than a half-century ago to this Ross masterpiece. Some 40 acres of sod was removed, and now there are vast expanses of what appears to be sandy dunes. This U.S. Open effectively has no rough.

The amount of sprinklers was reduced by nearly 60 percent, and they are in a single row in the middle of fairways. So the course has a very brown look to it, especially around the edges. Players have been raving about it all week, even though they knew what was in store for them.

The one player getting plenty of attention is Phil Mickelson.

He teed off Thursday morning in his quest to finally win a U.S. Open. Mickelson holds the record with six runner-up finishes, and that takes on even greater significance because the U.S. Open is the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam.

As part of this major's tradition, Mickelson's victory in the British Open last summer put him in the same group as the U.S. Open champion - Justin Rose, who denied Mickelson the title last year at Merion. Also joining them was U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Rory McIlroy was among the early starters.

Trial will weigh if Sterling was properly ousted

LOS ANGELES (AP) A trial will be held next month to determine whether Donald Sterling, who opposes his estranged wife's planned sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, was properly removed as an administrator for the family trust that owns the team.

A probate court judge in Los Angeles Wednesday denied Shelly Sterling's urgent request to confirm her authority as sole administrator of The Sterling Family Trust so that she can unilaterally proceed with a $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Instead, the judge agreed to an expedited hearing because of looming sales deadlines.

The development is the latest in a legal tug-of-war following the NBA's decision to ban Donald Sterling for life after racist remarks to a girlfriend were recorded and publicized. Donald Sterling is fighting the decision and suing the league for $1 billion.

The league has contended the comments were bad for business and damaged both the Clippers and the NBA.

The four-day trial was granted exceptionally quickly and will begin July 7. The deadline for the sale is July 15, which also is the date the NBA's owners hope to vote on whether they will approve the sale.

Court filings Wednesday indicated the NBA has set a hard deadline of Sept. 15. If the sale isn't completed then, the league will undertake proceedings to seize and sell the team on its own.

Donald Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini, left the courthouse without comment after a clerk announced the trial schedule. Neither Sterling was present.

"I just want to resolve this as quickly as possible," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press on Wednesday in Miami at an NBA Cares event.

The crux of the case will center on the question of whether the 80-year-old Donald Sterling is mentally competent to be a co-trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which gives him the authority to determine the team's future. According to the trust's terms, he can be ruled "mentally incapacitated" after being evaluated by two doctors, said Pierce O'Donnell, Shelly Sterling's attorney.

Shelly Sterling activated that clause in negotiating what would be a record-breaking deal with Ballmer as sole trustee. But Donald Sterling challenged the removal in a letter sent Monday to his wife's attorney said "any attempt to remove me as a Trustee of the Sterling Trust is invalid and illegal. Furthermore, any assertion that I am `incapacitated'... is false and without merit."

According to court documents, two doctors examined Donald Sterling in May and concluded that he suffers from "mild cognitive impairment consistent with early Alzheimer's Disease" or some other forms of brain disease after examining brain scans and having him undergo other tests.

"In my opinion he is substantially unable to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence, and is no longer competent to act as trustee of his trust," concluded Dr. James E. Spar, who is affiliated with the division of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA.

Sterling voluntarily went to the doctors at the request of his wife, according to a person with knowledge of the proceedings who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details publicly.

A third doctor reviewed the two doctors' findings as well as Sterling's brain scans and concurred with their conclusions that he "lacks the capacity to function as trustee."

Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, contested the doctors' findings in remarks Tuesday to The Associated Press.

"Anybody at his age level on a brain scan would probably show some impairment. But that doesn't mean you forget where your car keys are and you're incompetent," Blecher said. "There isn't the slightest evidence he's incapable of managing his affairs."

Donald Sterling said in a statement that he's not just fighting for the Clippers but taking a stand against the NBA, which he called "a band of hypocrites and bullies" and "despicable monsters" who want "to take away our privacy rights and freedom of speech."

"As I've said previously, if Donald chooses to litigate against us, so be it," Silver said. "So it's going to take longer than we had hoped for this transaction to close, but it'll get done ultimately. It's just a question of time."

Ballmer's attorney, Adam Streisand, said he was pleased with the trial schedule and "confident that after the trial the court is going to bless this transaction."

The NBA's general counsel, Rick Buchanan, warned in a court papers that if the judge didn't confirm Shelly Sterling's sole trusteeship and if her deal with Ballmer "is not promptly consummated, there will be substantial harm" to the Clippers, the NBA and even The Sterling Family Trust - the last of which would be responsible for the NBA's costs related to the legal proceedings that result.

Buchanan said a recent independent survey of more than 500 Clippers fans found the majority would be less likely to support the team if Donald Sterling remained its owner. Buchanan said thousands of NBA fans worldwide have contacted the league directly or via social media to say they're hurt or embarrassed by his views and aren't sure they'll continue supporting the league and its teams. He also cited NBA player worries about the impact for the team with the upcoming NBA draft.

"Mr. Sterling's continued ownership is damaging the Clippers' and NBA's relationships with existing and potential business partners and licenses," Buchanan wrote. He said nearly all of the Clippers' local sponsors have terminated or suspended their relationships with the team, including Adidas, Commerce Casino and Hotel, Red Bull, Mandalay Bay Hotel, Virgin America and Mercedes.

Shelly Sterling's court bid aims to have a judge confirm her authority as sole trustee to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward.

Blecher said that a representative for Donald Sterling would be at any hearing, and that the next step is to have other doctors evaluate Donald Sterling.

"I have no doubt at the end of the day the court is not going to say he's incompetent," Blecher said. "That's a very high burden in the probate court - otherwise people would get their sisters and wife and brother-in-laws and everybody declared incompetent."

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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

Donovan to analyze US team during World Cup

LOS ANGELES -- ESPN has hired Landon Donovan to offer commentary on the U.S. soccer team he was cut from just before the World Cup.

The 32-year-old Donovan, the American career leader in goals and assists, was dropped last month in a highly debated move by coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Donovan made his debut during ESPN's two-hour World Cup preview show Wednesday.

On Klinsmann's comments that the U.S. isn't ready to win a World Cup, Donovan said on air: "This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I disagree with Jurgen."

Donovan will work out of the company's Los Angeles studios, with a particular focus on his former team. He will provide analysis before and after the Americans' group-stage matches and during halftime. Donovan also will appear on shows such as "SportsCenter."

"Clearly he knows the team," ESPN President John Skipper said in Sao Paulo. "We're going to have him concentrate on the day before the U.S. games, the day of the U.S. games. It is not our expectation to put him on the spot."

A veteran of three World Cups, Donovan can provide inside analysis of the Americans.

"We're much more interested in tactics and his reaction to how they are playing," Skipper said. "He knows the team."

Donovan scored a U.S.-record five World Cup goals, including a stoppage-time goal against Algeria sent the Americans to the second round four years ago.

Former teammate Jozy Altidore said in Sao Paulo he wasn't too surprised by the move.

"He's a smart guy. He knows the game very well," Altidore said. "It was always going to going to happen - right? - him to be a commentator."

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya agreed that "I don't see any problem with it."

"I feel like people are probably going to want to tune in on that, yeah," he added.

US Open to start its 2-week experiment

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) Too bad the USGA couldn't get Ernie Banks on the first tee Thursday to announce, "Let's play two!" Banks was known as "Mr. Cub," and he loved baseball so much he wished there could be a doubleheader every day.

That's effectively what awaits the USGA at Pinehurst No. 2.

For the first time in history, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open will be held on the same course in consecutive weeks. USGA executive director Mike Davis is excited about the grand experiment, though he's making no promises.

"Let me just stay that for the two weeks, our intent is to try to test both groups of golfers in a like manner," Davis said Wednesday. "Whether we're actually able to pull that off or not is another story that I think a lot of us - including me - are still waiting to see, although we're confident we can get pretty good at it."

The idea is to have men and women approach the greens with roughly the same type of shot.

Pinehurst will play 7,562 yards for the men and 6,649 yards for the women.

"If it happens to rain a lot in week two versus week one, we will take that under consideration in terms of how the golf course is set up," Davis said.

The comparison with men and women in golf is always the speed of the green. Davis said he intends to keep the putting surfaces at 12 on the Stimpmeter for both weeks. The difference is the greens for the Women's Open will be less firm.

"So if a male hits a 6-iron in, it reacts the same way as a 6-iron hit by the female," he said.

The big question has been divots that 156 players take over two days, and then roughly 70 more players take on the weekend. Davis doesn't expect that to be a problem. Playoff from divots is part of the game, anyway.

Davis thinks it will be a great week. If nothing else, he expects it to showcase women's golf. But he can't make any promises.

"I will acknowledge, this sounds swell on paper," Davis said. "Trying to execute it perfectly, I can almost guarantee you we won't do that."

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PEBBLE FUTURE: LPGA Tour players celebrated when the USGA announced nearly a decade ago that Pebble Beach would host a U.S. Women's Open. Seven years ago, when the U.S. Women's Open was at Pine Needles, former executive director David Fay said of the Women's Open going to Pebble, "We know the year - it's 2014 - but we have not finalized the date."

The year is 2014. The women are at Pinehurst No. 2.

As for Pebble Beach? That's no longer in the picture, at least for now.

USGA President Tom O'Toole said when the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach in 2010, it was announced that the course along the Pacific Ocean would celebrate its centennial by hosting the 1918 U.S. Amateur and the 1919 U.S. Open.

"In those discussions, we mutually withdrew the concept of going there for `14 for the women," O'Toole said. "We will continue to advance the idea of taking the Women's Open to Pebble Beach.

"The conventional thinking was, `OK, we won't burden them in `14,"' he said. "We'll go there in `18, `19, and we'll talk of a future Women's Open thereafter."

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NEXT UP FOR PINEHURST: Pinehurst No. 2 is hosting its third U.S. Open since 1999, the most any golf course has hosted an Open in such a short period of time in more than a century. It also had the U.S. Amateur in 2008.

The next USGA championship is right around the corner for the resort.

USGA president Tom O'Toole said Wednesday that Pinehurst has been selected to host the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship the last weekend in May.

Because there will be 256 players - 128 two-man teams - Pinehurst No. 2 and Pinehurst No. 4 will host the qualifying in stroke play, and then No. 2 will take the 32 teams who qualify for match play. Fourballs is also referred to as "better ball" in America.

The new championship starts next year at Olympic Club. It replaces the U.S. Amateur Public Links.

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MICKELSON'S BEEF: Phil Mickelson said Pinehurst No. 2 was simply awesome. At least 17 of the holes.

His only complaint is how the USGA switched up the par 5s on the front nine. The fourth hole played as a par 5 the last two times at about 565 yards. The fifth hole was a par 4 that measured about 480 yards.

For this year, No. 4 is a par 4 at 529 yards, while No. 5 is 576 yards and a par 5. Mickelson loves the change - he just doesn't like the extra length on No. 5

"When they made No. 5 a par 5, I thought it was the greatest decision because that green is the most difficult green out here and I thought it sure would be exciting to see us hitting long iron shots into a par 5 trying to make birdies and eagles," he said. "But when the tee boxes were moved so far back to where it's not reachable, now the shot we're hitting into that green is a 50-yard pitch shot.

"That's just not exciting, challenging, and won't have the same type of drama that it would have if those back tees were removed and the green was reachable in two."

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WHAT, NO FOOT WEDGE?: Rory McIlroy isn't one to tinker with his clubs, but he's swapping out one of the four wedges he usually carries to make room for a 3-iron in the bag this week.

With Pinehurst No. 2 stretched to 7,562 yards this week, the former U.S. Open champion expects to use the 3-iron off several tees to keep the ball in the fairways on tight par 4s.

"I played, last Tuesday, I played one ball around here, tried to keep score, and I only had three wedge shots into greens," McIlroy said.

He's also planning to use the long shot on the par-5 10th.

"I'll play that as a three-shot hole. The par-3 sixth hole is another one that a 3-iron is going to be needed," he said. "I just felt like there's a few more 3-irons needed on this course."

Column: McIlroy gets some tips from the old master

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) The one thing Rory McIlroy won't lack heading into this U.S. Open is advice. In the few weeks since his breakup with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, only some of it has been worth much.

Gary Player told him to lay low. Jack Nicklaus told him not to be afraid to change the way he plays, even in the middle of a round. Smartly, he only followed up with one of them.

"Do you just ring him up," a reporter asked about McIlroy's budding relationship with Nicklaus, "and say, `I'm popping in?"'

"I don't ring him up," McIlroy chuckled, "I ring his secretary up and say, `I'd like to schedule a meeting, please.' But it's been great to spend some time with him. I feel like I've got a really good rapport."

The two had lunch in Florida a week after the Memorial, the PGA Tour stop where Nicklaus plays the gracious host but isn't shy about asking tough questions. Not about relationships, mind you, unless you count questions about where to slot the club at the top of the backswing.

"He said to me, he goes, `How the hell can you shoot 63 (in the first round) and then 78 (in the second)?"' McIlroy recalled. "I said, `I wasn't meaning to, Jack. I'm trying not to."'

That began a conversation between the two on the subject of trust. Nicklaus told him the moment he sensed his swing was sliding off the rails in that second round, he would have made a change "right then and there."

"The mental strength to be able to do that," McIlroy paused, still marveling at the idea.

"Hopefully," he added a moment later, "some of those little nuggets of wisdom that he passed on to me might help this week."

Success came so fast for the 25-year-old Northern Irishman it was easy to assume he'd mastered most of golf's lessons. But it took an old soul like Nicklaus to point out where some of the big gaps remained.

When McIlroy wins, he usually wins big, running away from the field the way he did at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. What he has yet to prove is whether he has the patience and toughness to grind out victories, a trait that served Nicklaus and Tiger Woods well over decades. If nothing else, the back-and-forth with Nicklaus has put the idea in his head.

"It's going to be a test of patience," McIlroy said about Pinehurst No. 2. "And I think I am better equipped than I was a few years ago. The U.S. Open I won was a very ... was abnormal. It was wet. It was low scoring. I haven't won a tournament whenever it's been like this. That's why I'm relishing the challenge.

"It's conditions that I haven't won in before and I'd love to be able to prove to myself, but also prove to other people that I can win in different conditions. It's a great opportunity to do that this week."

While Nicklaus will be McIlroy's model this week, he hasn't ignored Player's advice altogether. In the wake of his very public breakup with Wozniacki, he has lowered his social media profile and already won once. He concedes that balancing his public life he has with the private one he wants is an act he's still working on.

"It's nice when you get out on the golf course because you've got five hours of you're just out there with your clubs, with your caddie, trying to shoot the best score possible," McIlroy said. "That's the approach that I'm sort of adopting from now until whenever."

The conversation with Nicklaus appears to be taking hold. Much harder to learn will be the desire that catapulted Nicklaus to 18 major victories - the stubborn pride that made him back off a 4-footer on the last hole of a tournament he wasn't going to win even in the final years of his career, because it mattered to him to shoot 77 instead of 78.

"Golf has sort of been a nice release for me the past few weeks. I just want to try to keep focused on that," McIlroy said.

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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at http://www.twitter.com/JimLitke

Letarte gets Earnhardt in a groove in final season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) It took Steve Letarte 51 races to return Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Victory Lane, where the duo celebrated at Michigan in 2012 a turning point in their pairing.

Letarte, a career Hendrick Motorsports employee, had been tasked with rebuilding the confidence in NASCAR's most popular driver and teaching him how to win again. The confidence part wasn't difficult - it took discipline, raised expectations and a schedule Earnhardt was expected to follow.

The winning? Well, it didn't come as often as driver and crew chief would like.

Earnhardt didn't win again in 2012 or all of 2013. His next victory didn't come to this year, the season-opening Daytona 500. But, he added a second win last Sunday at Pocono, and now heads his weekend back to Michigan International Speedway, site of his first victory with Letarte two years ago, in the midst of his first multi-win season in a decade.

The irony is that the success is finally coming as he and Letarte are set to split.

Letarte announced in January this year would be his last with Hendrick Motorsports and as Earnhardt's crew chief. He's moving into an analyst role with NBC and will be in the television booth when the network takes over a portion of the NASCAR schedule next year.

Letarte, despite the success he's finally achieving with Earnhardt, is at peace with the decision.

"You guys only get to see the great stuff, which is a win at Daytona and a win (at Pocono)," he said. "But Saturday of Kansas, my little girl had her first communion and I was in Kansas. When moments like that happen it reaffirms why I made my decision."

Letarte was 15 when he became a part-time employee with Hendrick Motorsports in 1995. In the 20 seasons since, he progressed through the organization and became one of the team's veteran crew chiefs. He also got married and had two children, but the demands of his job prevented him from being the husband and father he wanted to be.

"This is my life, this is how I was raised, but I chose ... to have a family, and when I made that decision, that was not a casual decision, that was a decision for forever," he said. "As much as I love my job, they have to come first."

Earnhardt understands that Letarte must move on for his own personal reasons, and he's genuinely happy for his crew chief - "he's going to be able to spend a ton of time with his kids, play as much golf as he wants to play. He's getting a steal compared to what he's doing right now."

But he didn't feel that way last November when Letarte told him after the season finale that he was leaving the team at the end of 2014.

"I broke down," Earnhardt admitted. "It was the hardest thing to have to hear, but at the same time, I thought, `Well, we've got one year together, and as much fun as we have and as good a friends as we are, I feel lucky to have one more year."'

So their goal is to put together the strongest season possible, to win races and make a run at the Sprint Cup title.

"It would be very disappointing and sad if this was his last year and we struggled," Earnhardt said. "But we've won two races, and I won my first Pocono race, he won his first Daytona 500. It seems a bit storybook, and we're having a real thrill."

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NO TIME TO PARTY: Ed Carpenter got very little time to celebrate following his IndyCar Series victory at Texas last Saturday night. The owner/driver returned to Indianapolis early Sunday morning, and was back to work a day later.

Carpenter and his Ed Carpenter Racing crew were on the road first thing Monday, headed to Iowa Speedway for the first of three test sessions in nine days. The team was also scheduled to test at Milwaukee and Pocono.

"I guess there is no rest for us right now," said Carpenter, who led 90 laps at Texas in grabbing his first win of the season. "We need to use this break to get ready for the next oval races. It's tough on the whole team after more than a month of work. But that is why we love to go racing."

Carpenter turned over his car this season to Mike Conway for races on road and street courses. Conway took the team to Victory Lane in April at Long Beach, and Carpenter made his season debut as driver at Indianapolis, where he won the pole for the Indy 500.

A crash ended his race early, but he rebounded two weeks later to score his first career victory at Texas.

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LE MANS COVERAGE: Bob Varsha will lead Fox Sports coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of10 on-air personalities and analysts assigned by the network to the race.

Varsha, a veteran race broadcaster, will be host and play-by-play announcer when coverage of the world's most famous sports car endurance race begins Saturday morning. Brian Till will take over for Varsha when the on-air teams rotate in multi-hour segments in similar fashion to the multi-driver entries.

Analysis will be provided by Calvin Fish, Dorsey Schroeder, Tommy Kendall and Darren Law. Fox Sports has tabbed Justin Bell, Jamie Howe, Andrew Marriott and Greg Creamer to report.

"Some events need no hype whatsoever; think The Masters, the Kentucky Derby, the Tour de France," said Varsha. "Le Mans is one of those. Dale Earnhardt once told me it was the one race he wanted to do outside of NASCAR, and I'm sure Mario Andretti would tell you that, for all he achieved, Le Mans was the one that got away. That's how the drivers see it. It's that big a challenge, and that rewarding."

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MUSTANG TO PACE FIELD: Ford will continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang this weekend when the iconic pony car makes its debut as an official pace car in Sunday's race at Michigan.

The field will be led to the green flag by a 2015 Mustang GT fastback driven by Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor Co. president of The Americas.

"With its proximity to the Motor City, Michigan International Speedway is a showcase for the auto industry," said Chantel Lenard, Ford's director of U.S. marketing. "To have Mustang, a brand born of racing, in this special anniversary year, leading some of the world's best drivers to the green flag, is special."

Built in Flat Rock, Michigan, the 2015 Mustang is all-new from the ground up. The sixth-generation, rear-wheel-drive car has the long hood and short rear decklid proportions of its most iconic predecessors, as well as a low, wide stance.

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SPIRIT AWARD: Lynda Petty, the late wife of seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, was named the first quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Spirit Award.

Petty was one of the founding members of the Racing Wives Auxiliary, a charitable organization that provided assistance to those in need within the racing community. The group is now known as the Women's Auxiliary of Motorsports, and seeks to enrich the lives of women, children and families through various education and wellness programs.

Petty died in March at 72 after a long illness.

The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are chosen, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership.

Also, The Petty Family Foundation this week announced it will use the numerous donations made in Petty's memory to contribute to four organizations.

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THEY SAID IT: "Some of the stuff the haters say is the funniest stuff. The real short ones, like `You suck,' those are the best ones. I just favorite them and block them," Dale Earnhardt Jr., who joined Twitter in February, on how he handles hateful tweets.

LSU S Mills indefinitely suspended after arrest

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU starting safety Jalen Mills has been indefinitely suspended from the football team by coach Les Miles after the junior's arrest on a battery charge early Wednesday morning.

A probable cause document states that a woman says Mills punched her in the mouth on May 4 in his apartment. She says she fell to the ground and was briefly unconscious.

Mills was contacted by police on May 29 and he told them he was in Houston and would return to Baton Rouge on June 9, the first day of summer school and football workouts. A June 10 appointment was set for Mills to meet with the police, but he did not make the meeting.

After police were unsuccessful in contacting Mills by telephone, a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Cavs taking close look at Kansas prospect Embiid

CLEVELAND (AP) As they search for a new coach, the Cavaliers are taking a close look at an intriguing player.

Kansas center Joel Embiid worked out Wednesday for the Cavs, who are trying to decide what to do with the No. 1 overall pick in this month's NBA draft. The 7-foot Embiid, who has only been playing basketball for a few years, arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday night for his visit, the team confirmed. The Cavs are eager to put Embiid thorough medical physical as there have been concerns about the 18-year-old's back.

Embiid missed the tail end of his freshman season with the Jayhawks because of what was described as a stress fracture in his lower back. Embiid did not attend the league's pre-draft combine last month in Chicago, and his medical records were not released by the school. The Cavs don't want to take any chances with a selection after last year's top pick, forward Anthony Bennett, struggled during his first year after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Embiid is the first of the top prospects to visit the Cavs, who are expected to meet with Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins and Duke forward Jabari Parker.

"Having fun in Cleveland," Embiid wrote on his Twitter account, with a photo of a Cavaliers' T-shirt.

In the meantime, the Cavs are in the fourth week of their coaching search. The team has had interviews with at least six known candidates, the most recent being former Cleveland All-Star guard and current Charlotte assistant Mark Price. The Cavs are expected to have a second meeting with Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry, who previously worked with Cleveland general manager David Griffin in Arizona.

Ideally, the Cavs would like to have a new coach in place by the June 26 draft, but have not put a timetable on hiring their third coach in three years.

Griffin has said he would be open to listening to trade offers for the top pick.

Wainwright wins 9th, sends Rays to 3rd straight shutout

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Adam Wainwright became the NL's first nine-game winner, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Tampa Bay 1-0 on Tuesday night, the Rays' third straight shutout loss.

The Cardinals have three consecutive shutouts for the first time since April 2013. St. Louis, with 13 shutouts this season, was coming off 5-0 victories over Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.

Tampa Bay has been shut out an AL-leading 10 times this season. The Rays, who have lost 14 of 15, have not scored a run in 28 innings.

Wainwright (9-3) scattered seven hits over seven innings. Trevor Rosenthal got the final four outs, including a base-loaded pop fly by Matt Joyce in the eighth, for his 17th save.

Matt Holliday put the Cardinals up 1-0 with his fourth homer this season, a long drive to left center with two outs in the sixth off tough-luck loser Jake Odorizzi (2-7).

Odorizzi, a Cardinals' fan who grew up about 30 miles from Busch Stadium, had a strong performance in his first game against St. Louis. The right-hander gave up one run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings.

Holliday and Kolten Wong both returned to the Cardinals lineup. Holliday was scratched Sunday due to a sore lower back, while Wong sat out three games with left shoulder soreness.

Odorizzi had allowed one baserunner, a fourth-inning walk to Holliday, before giving up consecutive two-out singles in the fifth to Jhonny Peralta and John Jay. The inning ended on a fly ball by Peter Bourjos.

The Rays threatened in both the first and fourth innings. Ben Zobrist hit a fly ball with two on to end the first. Logan Forsythe lined out to second with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth.

NOTES: Former Cardinals manager and Tampa native Tony La Russa will throw the ceremonial first pitch before the finale of the two-game interleague series Wednesday night. La Russa will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame on July 27. ... Tampa Bay C Ryan Hanigan (right hamstring tightness) says he is ready to be activated Wednesday from the 15-day DL. ... The Rays signed 2014 first-round draft pick Casey Gillaspie, a first baseman out of Wichita State. ... St. Louis 1B Matt Adams (strained left calf) has started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis. ... This was the third time that Tampa Bay C Jose Molina and his brother, Cardinals C Yadier Molina, have played against each other in the majors. ... Rays LHP Erik Bedard (3-4) and St Louis RHP Michael Wacha (4-4) are Wednesday's scheduled starters.

Shelly Sterling heads to court for right to sell Clips

LOS ANGELES (AP) Shelly Sterling's attorney will be in probate court on Wednesday to seek an emergency order for a hearing so a judge can confirm her authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, according to an individual familiar with the matter.

The individual was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Shelly Sterling brokered what would be a record-breaking $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to sell the team after her husband and co-owner Donald Sterling made racist comments to a girlfriend that were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved swiftly to oust him as an owner.

But Donald Sterling has vowed not to sell and is suing the NBA for $1 billion.

Donald Sterling said in a statement released by his attorney on Tuesday that he's fighting for the fundamental rights of Americans against the NBA which he calls "a band of hypocrites and bullies" and "despicable monsters."

His statement is titled in caps and underlined: "WHY I AM FIGHTING THE NBA? THE NBA WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH."

Shelly Sterling contends she is the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the team. Donald Sterling was stripped as co-trustee after two neurologists last month determined he was suffering from dementia and "mentally incapacitated" under the trust's conditions, according to a person who is familiar with the trust and the medical evaluations but could not speak publicly.

The aim of Sterling's court bid is to have a judge confirm provisions of the family trust to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward without a hitch. Donald Sterling has the right to present his side at any hearing and appeal any decision.

His attorney Maxwell Blecher said a representative for Donald Sterling will be at the hearing, and that the main issue to be decided is whether Donald Sterling is mentally competent.

"There isn't the slightest evidence he's incapable of managing his affairs," Blecher said. He said the next step is to have other doctors evaluate Sterling.

"I have no doubt at the end of the day the court is not going to say he's incompetent. That's a very high burden in the probate court - otherwise people would get their sisters and wife and brother-in-laws and everybody declared incompetent."

Though both Sterlings will have their own attorneys at the hearing Wednesday and they live apart, the couple remains "chummy," Blecher said.

"It's what I describe to people as a strange estrangement, they don't seem at all hostile to each other, and he's very solicitous of her," Blecher said. "They've been married 58 years. Each threatens the other one they're going to get a divorce but they never did and never have."

On Monday, Donald Sterling pulled his support from the Ballmer deal. He instructed his attorneys to prosecute the lawsuit against the NBA that alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend.

It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.

Donald Sterling agreed to ink the deal and drop the suit last week assuming "all their differences had been resolved," his attorneys said. But individuals close to the negotiations who weren't authorized to speak publicly said he decided to not sign the papers after learning the NBA won't revoke its lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine.

"He never voluntarily said `Oh let's sell the team for $2 billion,' he didn't care about the money and he's walking away from it now. It's not about the money," Blecher said. "To him it's about the ownership of the team, the maintenance of his integrity, reputation and dignity. That's what he wanted from the league. He wanted to have them help him restore it and they wouldn't do it."

Donald Sterling's comments to V. Stiviano included telling her to not bring black people to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. They resulted in outrage from the public and players and even President Barack Obama.

Mickelson trying to keep his focus on Pinehurst

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) Phil Mickelson spent five hours in the stifling heat Tuesday at Pinehurst No. 2 with a lot on his mind.

He was trying to sharpen his game, figure out what it will take to finally win a U.S. Open and make enough putts with his claw grip to avoid losing to a pair of players whose combined age is younger than him.

This major has a reputation as the toughest test in golf.

It's every bit of that for Mickelson.

"I really believe that this week is testing a player's entire game," Mickelson said. "Because it forces you to make good decisions, to choose the right club off the tee, hit solid iron shots into the green and utilize your short game to save strokes. It's just a wonderful test ... the best test I've seen to identify the best player."

His definition of Pinehurst and its rugged, natural look would seem to require every ounce of concentration.

And that could be his biggest challenge.

On the golf course, Mickelson is trying to ignore the enormous expectations on him this week. He holds the worst kind of U.S. Open record with six runner-up finishes. He needs this major to complete the career Grand Slam.

And he's a sentimental favorite at Pinehurst No. 2, where in 1999 he played the entire week knowing his wife was on the verge of delivering their first child.

Payne Stewart made a 15-foot par putt on the final hole to beat him by one shot. Amanda Mickelson was born the next day. Stewart died in a plane crash four months later.

"Payne and I had this moment where we talked about fatherhood, but he also talked about winning future U.S. Opens," Mickelson said. "Although I haven't won one yet, I'm still fighting hard, and this would be a great place to break through and do it. The flip side is that I tend to do well when it's least expected.

"I don't want to put the pressure on that this is the only week that I'll have a chance," he said. "I think I'll have a number of great opportunities in the future years. But this is certainly as good a chance as I'll have."

Off the course, Mickelson has made headlines that threaten his clean image. He was linked two weeks ago to an insider trading investigation involving activist investor Carl Icahn and Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters over some timely trades of Clorox stock three years ago.

FBI agents even came to the golf course to try to interview Mickelson. He referred them to his attorney, said he had done "absolutely nothing wrong" and that "I'm not going to walk around any other way."

It would seem to be a major distraction for Mickelson.

Even though he hasn't won in nearly a year, and he has dropped to No. 11 in the world ranking, he is the center of attention in the sand hills of North Carolina - especially with Tiger Woods still out of the game while recovering from back surgery.

Then again, it could be to Mickelson's advantage to be at a place such as Pinehurst. The course doesn't allow anyone to think about anything but the next shot.

"We have so many players when they have a lot of stuff swirling around them that use that four or five hours on the golf course as a sanctuary," two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North said.

"You can focus sometimes even better, which sound crazy, but it's your place where no one can get to you. The phone can't ring. No one can ask you questions about whatever it is. And you get out there and find your little space. And sometimes that creates a situation where a guy can play exceptionally well."

The investigation has not been a big topic since Mickelson said repeatedly at the Memorial that he had done nothing wrong, was cooperating and would not talk about it until it was resolved.

There were no direct questions at his news conference Tuesday, only veiled references to coping with off-course distractions.

Barclays, one of his biggest sponsors, declined to comment on Mickelson. KPMG, another major sponsor, said in a statement, "We have had a very strong relationship with Phil for a number of years, and we fully expect it to continue. We have great respect for him."

While Mickelson's U.S. Open record is loaded with disappointment, he sees only opportunity. To have been the runner-up six times - not to mention other U.S. Opens where he had a chance to win in the final hour - means he must be doing something right.

And he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

"I feel as good about my game as I have all year," Mickelson said, pausing before he added, "That's not staying a lot because I haven't played well all year."

He also said an analysis of his close calls in the U.S. Open revealed that it rained during the week in five of those second-place finishes.

"So I'm pulling for rain," he said.

As for that other match? Mickelson carried the load as he and Rickie Fowler rallied from 3 down to tie the match, only for 20-year-old Jordan Spieth to make a 20-foot birdie on the 17th, and 21-year-old Justin Thomas to drill a tee shot on the 18th hole to set up a par for the win.

Another close call.

It's a U.S. Open.

Mickelson should be used to that by now.

Former Cy Young winner Bob Welch dies at 57

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Bob Welch, the 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Oakland Athletics and the last major leaguer to win at least 25 games in a season, has died. He was 57.

Welch died late Monday night at his Southern California home in Seal Beach, the team said Tuesday. Police said officers responded to a call for medical aid and found Welch dead in the bathroom area.

Authorities have not released the cause of death. The coroner was awaiting toxicology test results, which can take eight to 12 weeks, said Lt. Jeffrey Hallock, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Welch was known best for his famous battles with Reggie Jackson in the World Series and alcohol addiction.

The two-time All-Star was an admitted alcoholic early in his career and spent time in rehabilitation. He later co-authored a book with George Vecsey about his addiction titled "Five O'Clock Comes Early: A Ballplayer's Battle With Alcoholism."

"The fact is, I'm crazy when I'm drunk," Welch said in the book. "There's every chance I would have been dead by now if I was drinking."

The right-hander played on five teams that reached the World Series - 1978, 1981, 1988, 1989 and 1990 - and won two titles, one in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and another in 1989 with the A's.

Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten called Welch "one of the greatest competitors to wear the Dodger uniform."

"Welchie was a special guy. We lost a really good friend," said Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a longtime teammate with the Dodgers.

In Oakland, Welch figured prominently on teams that won three straight AL championships from 1988-90, including the club that swept the San Francisco Giants in the earthquake-interrupted World Series.

"This is a sad day for the entire A's organization," general manager Billy Beane said. "Those of us who knew Bob as a teammate and a friend will miss him greatly."

Welch finished 211-146 with a 3.47 ERA in 17 seasons with the Dodgers (1978-87) and Athletics (1988-94). He also was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the 2001 World Series and had served as a special instructor for the A's in recent years.

"He had a great arm, but what made him so special at a young age was the way he could command the corners with his velocity," Scioscia said. "He was a great talent, but that wasn't really what he was about. Bobby was a guy who, every time there was a roadblock in the way, he got over it. He didn't take the easiest path, but he was a solid guy."

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, the former Oakland GM who acquired Welch for the A's after the 1987 season, said Welch would be missed.

"He was an interesting character, really sort of hyperkinetic," Alderson said. "He was a super guy and a very likable, if not loveable, guy."

Welch was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 1977 out of Eastern Michigan. His most memorable moment for Los Angeles was against the Yankees in the 1978 World Series, when the rookie struck out Jackson with two runners on base to end Game 2.

"I was stone sober, too," Welch said in his book. "I hadn't gotten around to drinking before a game, particularly a World Series game - although, given time, I would have."

Dodgers first base coach Davey Lopes, a former teammate, recalled the battle with Jackson fondly before the team played in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if it gets any greater than that," Lopes said.

Welch won the AL Cy Young Award after going 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 1990 for Oakland. His 27 wins tied him with Steve Carlton in 1972 for the most in a season since Denny McClain's 31 victories in 1968.

"He will always be a significant part of our franchise's history," A's President Michael Crowley said.

Several current A's players also offered condolences on Twitter.

"Devastated to learn of Bob Welch's passing," left-hander Sean Doolittle wrote. "The A's organization lost not only one of its best pitchers, but one of its best people."

No one answered the door at Welch's home Tuesday, which had been sealed with a sticker from the Orange County coroner.

Neighbor Alma Purcha said she woke up to find police cars outside the home several blocks from the Pacific Ocean. She said Welch divided his time between Arizona and Seal Beach. She last saw him with his son and daughter Friday, when they exchanged pleasantries.

Welch was born in Detroit and was lauded by the school he led to two trips to the College World Series. Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke called the pitcher one of the university's "greatest ambassadors."

"The one thing Bobby definitely loved is this game of baseball," Scioscia said. "He understood pitching, and I know he did a great job for the Diamondbacks, and working for the Oakland organization was a natural for him because he had so many tremendous seasons there. I know he really connected with the kids and had a lot to give."

The A's said Welch is survived by sons Dylan, 25, and Riley, 23; daughter Kelly, 18; and former wife Mary Ellen.

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