Bjorn holds 1-stroke lead at Singapore Open


Bjorn holds 1-stroke lead at Singapore Open

SINGAPORE (AP) Denmark's Thomas Bjorn had to wait more than 36 hours to tee off in the second round of the rain-soaked Singapore Open. The delay may have done him good.

Bjorn shot a 67 Saturday to move into the lead and held on to a one-stroke advantage over England's Chris Wood in the third round before play was halted due to darkness.

Tropical downpours caused havoc with the schedule this week, forcing golfers to finish the second round early Saturday and then hurriedly start the third round hours later. Officials are still planning to play 72 holes unless storms cause more delays on Sunday.

Bjorn was at 9 under after completing three holes in the third round. South Africa's George Coetzee was in third place at 7 under, one stroke ahead of Italy's Francesco Molinari and Thailand's Chapchai Nirat.

Rory McIlroy was at 4 under overall, five strokes behind the leader. McIlroy started to make a run at the start of the third round with a birdie and an eagle on the par-5 4th hole, but he hit into the water off his tee shot on the sixth and took a double bogey. He was in a tie for 13th after completing nine holes.

``I'll need to go out and try to make a few birdies in the morning and get myself within a couple shots of the lead, or a few shots of the lead, going into the fourth round - if it ever happens,'' McIlroy said. ``The more golf we play, the better chance I have of winning.''

Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson barely made the cut after the second round, holing a birdie on the 18th to salvage a 70 for a 133 total through 36 holes.

Stormy weather has caused lengthy delays for the second straight year. A year ago, rain forced organizers to shorten the tournament to 54 holes and a playoff to decide the winner still had to be held Monday morning.

Bjorn made six birdies to shoot a 66 in the first round Thursday, then didn't get on the course at all Friday because of the rain. The long wait didn't throw off his rhythm as he put together four more birdies, sinking a 20-foot putt on the par-3 14th for the last, in a bogey-free round.

The 41-year-old Dane captured three tournaments on the European Tour and finished fourth at the British Open last season, but he's yet to hoist a trophy so far this year.

``This course can very quickly bite you, especially if you don't drive the ball well. The numbers can run up on this golf course, so you got to stay with what you're doing,'' Bjorn said. ``I've got two good rounds in the bank, but there's ways to go.''

Wood and Coetzee were in striking distance of their maiden wins on the European Tour. The two have had 17 top-10 finishes each, but are yet to win a title.

The 24-year-old Wood birdied four of his last five holes to finish his second round with a 65 in the morning and then added another birdie when he started the third round as the sun was setting.

``It's been a long week, but obviously when you're in contention that's where you want to be, so however long it is, I don't mind,'' he said.

McIlroy still has a chance to clinch the European Tour money title this week. A third-place finish would all but assure he'll finish the year atop the list, no matter how he fares at the Dubai World Championship.

He is trying to emulate Luke Donald's 2011 feat of winning both the PGA Tour and European money titles in the same season. He's already clinched the PGA title with more than $8 million in winnings.

His girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, has been waiting out the rain delays with him in Singapore and will travel with him next week to Hong Kong.

``This is her offseason. This is sort of a chance to take a break, but getting up at 5 a.m. to watch me play golf isn't exactly my idea of a holiday so hopefully after tomorrow or whenever we're done we can get a couple of days off,'' he said.

Mickelson needed some heroics just to make the cut. He got into trouble on the par-5 7th hole in the second round where he carded a double bogey to go to 4 over.

He got two strokes back with a couple of birdies on the back nine, then hit a delicate chip shot between two palm trees from the rough to get on the green on the 18th and sank a 6-footer for another birdie.

``It's a tough course for me to make birdies,'' he said. ``I hit the ball really well on the backside to give myself a lot of opportunities, but struggled getting the ball in the hole.''

Troubled two-time major winner John Daly withdrew before play began Saturday, citing fatigue. Daly, who received a sponsor's invitation to play in the event, was sitting at 11 over through 1 1/2 rounds.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.