Friday's Sports In Brief - NBC Sports

Friday's Sports In Brief
August 16, 2014, 3:30 am

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) NASCAR has thrived for years thanks to the personalities of some of its biggest stars and that includes an occasional feud, gesture or angry encounter on the track. But less than a week after Kevin Ward Jr. was killed during a sprint car race in New York after being struck by a car driven by Tony Stewart, NASCAR on Friday barred its drivers from approaching the track or moving cars after an incident during the race.

The new rule takes effect immediately and applies to all NASCAR series.

IndyCar reviewed its safety guidelines after Ward's death, and the protocol is similar to what NASCAR announced Friday, IndyCar spokesman Mike Kitchel said. Drivers are supposed to stay put until a safety team arrives unless there is a fire or other extenuating circumstances.

It remains to be seen how NASCAR will enforce its provision, and how much the threat of penalties will deter drivers in the heat of the moment.

Last Saturday, Stewart's car struck Ward during a sprint car race in Canandaigua, New York. After Stewart's car appeared to clip Ward's car, sending it spinning, Ward left the car during the caution period, walked down the track and was hit by Stewart. His funeral was Thursday.

Stewart, who could face criminal charges, is skipping this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

NFL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended for the season opener against Tennessee on Friday for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Bowe was pulled over for speeding in a Kansas City suburb on Nov. 10, and was arrested after police found a black bag containing his wallet, driver's license and two container of suspected marijuana. He later pleaded guilty to amended charges of defective equipment and littering, and his attorney said there was no admission of guilt for the marijuana charge, which was dismissed.

Bowe, who signed a $56 million, five-year deal last offseason, issued a statement through the NFL Players' Association shortly after the suspension was announced.

"I made an error in judgment. I take responsibility for my mistake and it will not happen again," he said. "I will be supporting my teammates in Week 1, and I cannot wait to get back on the field to help us win in Week 2 and beyond as we work toward our goal of winning the Super Bowl."

BASKETBALL

PHOENIX (AP) - Women's basketball stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson are engaged.

Griner proposed to Johnson and both posted it on social media, with Griner showing a photo of her on one knee with a ring in her hand in front of Johnson on her Instagram account. Griner plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and Johnson for the Tulsa Shock.

In the post, Griner wrote: "Last Night was a Night to Remember(,) I became the happiest person on this earth! (almost pass out but when that one word came out I came back to life) Me and my baby (at)missvol25 are in it for Life!"

Johnson also had a photo on her Instagram account of Griner lying in bed with an engagement ring resting on her shoulder.

Griner has embraced her role as a prominent gay athlete since finishing a record-breaking career at Baylor. She came out last year and wrote a candid memoir, "In My Skin," that was critical of college coach Kim Mulkey.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Two weeks after a gruesome compound fracture of his right leg, Indiana Pacers star Paul George said Friday he remains hopeful that he can make it back onto the court late next season even though it's a longshot.

"All I can do at this point is sleep, watch TV and lay down, so it's tough for me. I'm used to being active, lifting weights, being in the gym," George said. "At the same time, I want to be part of this team. The last thing I want to do is feel like I'm not part of this team because I'm out. I'm holding out hope, just personally, because I want to be back."

Paul was injured Aug. 1 during a U.S. national team scrimmage in Las Vegas when he his right leg collided with the basketball stanchion, snapping his leg in two.

George said he has watched the replay once and won't watch it again.

Doctors have told the 24-year-old George that he is likely to make a full recovery, though it will take a full year. Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel said earlier this week they didn't plan to have George in 2014-15.

George said doctors placed pins in his knee and ankle to stabilize a rod that was inserted into the injured leg, which was broken in two places. Three days later, he returned to his suburban Indianapolis home where is now recuperating in a cast and hobbling around on crutches.

GOLF

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) - Brittany Lincicome opened a three-stroke lead Friday in the wind-swept LPGA Championship, the tour's fourth major championship of the season.

The long-hitting Lincicome followed her opening 67 with a 68 to reach 9 under at Monroe Golf Club. She won the 2009 Kraft Nabisco for her lone major title and has five LPGA Tour victories.

Lexi Thompson, tied for the first-round lead with Meena Lee, dropped into a tie for second with defending champion Inbee Park of South Korea. Thompson had a 72, and Park shot 66.

That gave the United States two players at the top as the Americans go for their fourth straight major title of the season. Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco to start the run.

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand had a 69 to join Lee, from South Korea, and Jane Park at 5 under. Lee had a 73, and Park shot 69.

Top-ranked Stacy Lewis sputtered again with a 1-over 73 to finish the two rounds at even par.

It's the first time Americans have won the first three majors since 1999, and they haven't won four since 1992.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Heath Slocum and Scott Langley each shot 5-under 65 for the second straight day Friday to share the lead in the Wyndham Championship.

Brian Stuard, Nick Watney, Martin Laird and Andrew Svoboda were a stroke back. Watney and Svoboda shot 64, Stuard had a 65 and Laird a 66.

Ryo Ishikawa had the best round of the day - a 62 that was one stroke off the course record and included six birdies on the back nine.

Since the tournament returned to Sedgefield Country Club in 2008, every two-day leader until now had been at 11 under or better.

ENDICOTT, N.Y. (AP) - John Cook birdied the final two holes for a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with Olin Browne on Friday in the Champions Tour's Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 56-year-old Cook had eight birdies and a bogey on the En-Joie course. He won the last of his nine titles on the 50-and-over tour last year in the season-opening event in Hawaii.

Cook missed 10 weeks of the season after injuring his back in a February fall at his Florida home. He made an 8-foot putt on the par-3 17th and a 25-footer on par-4 18th.

The 55-year-old Browne birdied five of the last seven holes in a bogey-free round. He won the 2011 U.S. Senior Open for his lone Champions Tour victory.

He made birdie putts from 8 feet on the par-4 11th, 5 feet on the par-5 12th, 15 feet on the par-4 13th, 10 feet on the par-4 16th and 7 feet on the par-3 17th.

Defending champion Bart Bryant was a stroke back along with Steve Lowery and David Frost.

Bernhard Langer, the tour leader with four victories this year, was two shots back at 67 along with Sandy Lyle, Woody Austin, Jeff Sluman, Tommy Armour III, Doug Garwood, Dick Mast, Ben Bates, John Riegger and Scott Dunlap. Colin Montgomerie, a two-time major champion this season, opened with a 68.

TENNIS

MASON, Ohio (AP) - Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 on Friday night to advance to the semifinals in the Western & Southern Open, a tournament he has won an unprecedented five times. He will face Canada's Milos Raonic.

The second-seeded Federer was on the offensive from the first point as he evened their career series at 11 wins apiece.

Murray had saved all five break points this week, holding service in 26 games. He fought off that many break points in his first two games against Federer, who kept the pressure on, broke him to go up 3-2 and served it out.

While Federer is trying to make it a half-dozen trophies in Cincinnati, Serena Williams is still trying for No. 1.

Williams reached the semifinals on Friday, needing only 58 minutes to beat Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3 with a dominating performance.

She advanced a day after Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Tommy Robredo, ending his quest for the only Masters title that has eluded him.

Williams will face Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (5) to reach the semifinals in Cincinnati for the first time in seven tries.

Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova survived a match full of poor serving and beat second-seeded Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Each player had her serve broken eight times during the 2-hour, 31-minute match. Sharapova double-faulted 11 times.

She'll play ninth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who beat Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3.

In the men's bracket, Julien Benneteau upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

He will face sixth-seeded David Ferrer, who knocked off Robredo 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the first time in 11 appearances in Cincinnati.

YOUTH OLYMPICS

NANJING, China (AP) - Three teenage athletes from the Ebola-affected region of Africa won't be allowed to compete at the Youth Olympics in China because of the risk of possible infection, the IOC and local organizers said Friday.

All athletes and officials from the four West African nations affected by the deadly virus will be "subject to regular temperature and physical assessment" for the duration of the games, which open Saturday in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The International Olympic Committee and Chinese organizers issued a joint statement saying they had worked out a safety policy in conjunction with the World Health Organization to prevent the possible spread of the virus that has killed more than 1,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

However, athletes from the affected region will be prohibited from competing in combat sports due to "health authority guidelines" and aquatic events "based on the inability to completely exclude the risk of potential infection," the statement said.

LITTLE LEAGUE

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Mo'Ne Davis, one of two girls at the Little League World Series, threw a two-hitter to help Philadelphia beat Nashville 4-0 on Friday in the opener for both teams.

Davis, the first girl to appear for a U.S. team in South Williamsport since 2004, received rousing cheers during pregame introductions, every time she stepped to the plate, and after she struck out the final batter.

Davis had eight strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. She retired the first six batters and needed only 70 pitches to complete the game. She was hitless in three at-bats.

Philadelphia shortstop Jared Sprague-Lott hit a three-run home run in the first inning, and outfielder Carter Davis had an RBI sacrifice fly in the sixth.

HOCKEY

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Anaheim Ducks re-signed forward Jakob Silfverberg to a one-year, $850,500 contract on Friday.

Silfverberg had 10 goals and 13 assists in 52 games during his first season with the Ducks, who acquired the two-way forward from Ottawa last summer in a trade for Bobby Ryan.

After scoring four goals in his first four games with his new team, Silfverberg missed 24 games early in the season with a broken right hand. He added two goals in 13 postseason games for the Pacific Division champions.

The 23-year-old Silfverberg also won a silver medal with Sweden at the Sochi Olympics last February.

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