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Rory McIlroy holds off Tiger to win Honda Classic

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Rory McIlroy holds off Tiger to win Honda Classic

From Comcast SportsNet
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Rory McIlroy, the new No. 1 player in golf, is not easily rattled. He didn't see a scoreboard in the final round of the Honda Classic until he walked onto the eighth green, looked at the large video screen to his left and saw that Tiger Woods -- who started the day nine shots behind -- already was tied for fourth, four shots behind. McIlroy buried a 10-foot putt for his first birdie of the day. The pressure of trying to win and reach No. 1 in the world didn't really hit him until he was lining up a putt on the 13th green at PGA National, his concentration shattered by a cheer that could be heard a mile away from the 18th green. It was so loud that McIlroy not only knew what it was for -- an eagle on the 18th green -- but who it was for. Tiger Woods. "I wasn't really paying much attention until he made that eagle on 18," McIlroy said. "I heard the huge roar. And it definitely wasn't a birdie roar. That's when I knew that he probably got to 10." That would be 10-under par for Woods, courtesy of a 62, his lowest score ever in a final round in his 15 years on tour. The birdie-eagle finish, just like the Tiger Woods of old, pulled him within one shot of the lead. McIlroy still faced the scariest stretch of golf at PGA National, with water in play on every shot over the last four holes. What followed was a clutch performance worthy of the new No. 1. McIlroy made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 13th to restore a two-shot cushion. Standing some 65 feet away, in grass so deep he could barely see the golf ball, he gouged out a wedge to 4 feet for a par he badly needed to keep momentum. On the two par 3s over the water, Nos. 15 and 17, he splashed out of a bunker toward the water and saved par both times. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland finally played it safe at the end, making par on the last hole for a 1-under 69 that was meaningful in so many ways. It made him the 16th player to be No. 1 in the world, and the second-youngest behind Woods, who was 21 when he first reached No. 1 after the 1997 U.S. Open. It was his fifth career win, three of those on the PGA Tour, which includes his record-setting performance last year at Congressional to win the U.S. Open, and a 62 in the final round to win at Quail Hollow. And he won despite Woods, that red shirt brighter than it has been in two years, posting a score that McIlroy didn't think possible in such blustery conditions Sunday. Lee Westwood, whom McIlroy beat in the semifinals of the Match Play Championship a week earlier in Arizona, closed with a 63. Even in such strong company, this day belonged to golf's new No. 1. "It was always a dream of mine to become the world No. 1 and the best player in the world or whatever you want to call it," McIlroy said. "But I didn't know what I would be able to get here this quickly. ... Hopefully, I can hold onto it for a little longer." However long, it sets the tone for a big year in golf -- especially with the Masters a month away. Even in defeat, Woods showed that he is hitting the ball well enough not to be counted out at any time. His 62, which featured two eagles in the final round, was nearly nine shots better than the average score Sunday. "It feels good, because I felt like I was close," Woods said after the 28th runner-up finish of his PGA Tour career, and his best result since he was second at the 2009 Tour championship. "I've been close to shooting this score, or scores like this. And it was just a matter of time before things all fell into place." Tom Gillis birdied the last hole for a 69 and tied Woods for second. Westwood was alone in fourth. The 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th was a big moment for Woods. The eagle on the final moment was a shot under pressure that had not been seen in some time. With a 5-iron from 216 yards, he aimed at a tunnel beneath the grandstand and ripped it, the ball clearing a bunker and settling 8 feet away. "It was a lot of fun out there," Graeme McDowell said. "It was just roars going up all over the golf course. For Rory to go out today with a two-shot lead and have Tiger shoot 62 on him and Westwood shoot 63, it just shows how hard it is to win golf tournaments on any tour in the world, but especially this tour. "This golf season just got a lot more spicy." But it starts with McIlroy, who had been building to this occasion when he would replace Luke Donald at No. 1. Since injuring himself at the PGA Championship trying to hit a 7-iron with a tree root in his way, McIlroy had finished out of the top five only once in 12 tournaments he played. He won the Hong Kong Open, along with an unofficial event against a limited, world-class field at the Shanghai Masters. He was runner-up at the Dunhill Links in Scotland, the Korean Open, the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Match Play. And he won the Honda Classic, finishing at 12-under 268, with two former No. 1 players making a move. "It was a lot more meaningful," McIlroy said. "I think the way I won today was great. I missed a few greens coming in. I was able to get up-and-down. I made a couple of big par saves early, which kept my momentum. It was just one of those days. There was a 62 and a 63 out there, which is unbelievable playing. "I just needed to focus on my game and do what I needed to do," he said. "And thankfully, that's what happened." He hugged his father on the 18th green, posed with the crystal trophy and flashed a No. 1 sign. Before long, he was off to New York to spend a few days with his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, before going to Miami for a World Golf Championship. It will be his first tournament as No. 1, a spot that McIlroy intends to keep as long as he can. "There's very few players as good at him at his age out there winning tournaments," three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said. "There are guys with potential, but he's already delivered. And he has a good balance in his life. He doesn't look like a guy who is going to burn out. He looks like he's going to be here for a while."

Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

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Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.

The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference.

It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks.

Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2.

The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 1-yard run after Damon Harrison's interception. Rosas, who missed the extra point after the Darkwa TD, kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Giants a short-lived 9-6 lead with 1:38 left in regulation after Janoris Jenkins' interception.

With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal - his third short one - with :01 left in regulation. The drive was kept alive when Jenkins' interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty against him.

McAdoo pulled out every trick in his book, using a fake punt; a halfback option that was intercepted; an odd formation with his tackles lined up 5 yards wide; and then the decision to go on fourth-and-5 from the Chiefs 36 with just over two minutes to play.

The Giants took the lead early in the second quarter after defensive tackle Harrison intercepted a deflected shovel pass and returned it to the Kansas City 26-yard line. Led by DT Robert Thomas' blocking, Darkwa scored from 1 yard after Marcus Peters was called for pass interference in the end zone.

Rosas, who had missed a field goal in each of the last four games, had his extra point pushed wide right by the wind.

Kansas City cut the lead in half on the next series, driving 61 yards in more than nine minutes. Butker ended up with his first 31-yard field goal.

GIANTS RESPOND

The Giants' unexpected performance came less than a week after co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the embattled McAdoo would remain in charge through at least the end of the season. Days later, McAdoo and his team held what he termed "a brutally honest" team meeting in which mistakes and lack of effort plays were shown for all to see after the two losses by a combined 82-38 margin.

INACTIVES

The Giants were missing two key starters. WR Sterling Shepard was out after having a career game against San Francisco, making 11 catches for 142 yards. He was added to the injury report Saturday with an illness and could not play. CB Eli Apple was at home with his mother, who had brain surgery on Thursday. "He's My best friend, my nurse and part time ninja," Annie Apple tweeted Sunday morning. ...Thanks for being my side every step of the way."

UP NEXT

Chiefs: Host Buffalo next Sunday.

Giants: at Washington on Thanksgiving night.

Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

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Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds remaining and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Miami Dolphins 30-20 on Sunday.

O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter.

They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day where Miami had more mistakes than points.

Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20-20 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner.

Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs' score.

Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. Moore went 17 of 28 for 282 yards and the touchdown in relief, but Miami couldn't overcome five turnovers and 17 penalties - one shy of the franchise all-time record.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards, and Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards and another touchdown for Miami, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2013.

A pair of short drives gave the Bucs control in that big second quarter. Howard's score came on a two-play, 6-yard drive after an interception, and Jackson's score capped a four-play, 37-yard drive following a Miami fumble.

BIG PLAYS

The Dolphins had their three longest passing plays of the season - the 61-yard touchdown pass to Stills, a 49-yarder to Landry and another 45-yard strike to Stills. Before Sunday, Miami's longest pass play was a 36-yard throw from Cutler to Stills against the Jets on Oct. 22.

INJURIES

Buccaneers: RG Evan Smith left in the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Dolphins: Besides Cutler's concussion, the Dolphins lost RG Jermon Bushrod in the third quarter to a left foot injury. LB Chase Allen, who started in place of Rey Maualuga - who was arrested early Saturday in a dispute over a bar tab and quickly waived by the Dolphins - also was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. LB Stephone Anthony had a knee injury, the specifics of which were not announced.

PLENTY OF BIRTHDAYS

Howard, the Bucs' rookie tight end, celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. For the Dolphins, CB Cordrea Tankersley turned 24 and DE Terrence Fede turned 26.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta on Nov. 26, the second game in a three-week stretch of road contests.

Dolphins: Visit New England on Nov. 26, the start of a three-week stretch where Miami will see the Patriots twice.