Capitals

New year brings new equipment to some players

New year brings new equipment to some players

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Nick Watney was in the local Honolua Store at Kapalua earlier this week when he saw a familiar face and quickly placed his hand over his chest, covering up the swoosh on his shirt. Add that to the files of worst-kept secrets.

Nike made it official Tuesday with separate announcements that it has signed Watney and Kyle Stanley to equipment deals. Both had been with Titleist.

The biggest Nike acquisition in the offseason, off course, was Rory McIlroy. Nike will make that announcement in Abu Dhabi, where McIlroy will start his season in a couple of weeks. It also landed S.Y. Noh of South Korea.

The bigger surprises were Stewart Cink, who in October said he had one year left on his Nike deal, switching over to TaylorMade. Also going to TaylorMade were former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (formerly Nike), Ryan Moore (formerly Adams Golf) and John Huh, who had been playing Ping last year but didn't have an endorsement until well after he won the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Chris Kirk and Gary Woodland (both formerly Titleist) are headed to Callaway.

Watney will be using a high-speed cavity back driver and Nike VR Pro Combo irons, a similar look to the AP2 irons he used at Titleist. Stanley is using blades.

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WORLD MONEY LIST: Rory McIlroy is atop the world money list published each year in the ``The World of Professional Golf,'' the comprehensive golf annual that was started by IMG founder Mark McCormack. The list includes money earned from every golf tournament, even unofficial events such as the Father-Son Challenge and PGA Grand Slam.

McIlroy's five wins included the PGA Championship and two FedEx Cup playoff events. He finished with $11,301,228.

Justin Rose was No. 2 with $7,897,818, even though he won only once on the PGA Tour at the Cadillac Championship at Doral. Rose also won the Turkish Airways World Golf Final, the medal-match exhibition that attracted a world-class field of eight players. Rose beat Lee Westwood in the final match to earn $1.5 million.

Tiger Woods, with three wins, was at No. 3 with $7,388,061. He was followed by Luke Donald (three wins) and Louis Oosthuizen (two wins).

Rounding out the top 10 were Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Westwood, Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley. Watson (Masters) and Bradley (Bridgestone Invitational) were the only players in the top 10 who had only one win last year.

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LATE ARRIVAL TO DEATH VALLEY: Kyle Stanley grew up in Washington state and now bleeds orange after playing golf at Clemson. So imagine the surprise when he revealed Tuesday that he went to his first Clemson game this year when the Tigers played rival South Carolina.

First game this year? No, first game ever.

``I just never wanted to take a day off,'' Stanley said, who thus gave new meaning to the phrase ``strong work ethic.'' That's right - all those years at Clemson, and he was pounding golf balls on Saturday.

Safe to say Lucas Glover never fell into that trap.

As for the game?

``We're sitting up there in the stands and I started thinking, `Man, this is kind of fun,''' Stanley said.

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GOLF DIGEST LIST: Pine Valley is back to No. 1 in Golf Digest magazine's biennial list of the top 100 courses in the world. The private club in southern New Jersey, designed by George Crump and Harry Colt, had been replaced in the previous list by Augusta National, which this year is No. 2.

The top five remained the same, though there was some reshuffling. Cypress Point went from No. 5 to No. 3, Shinnecock Hills went from No. 3 to No. 4, and Oakmont dropped from No. 4 to No. 5.

Rounding out the top 10 were Merion (East), site of this year's U.S. Open; Pebble Beach, Winged Foot (West), Sand Hills and Fishers Island Club, which was the only newcomer to the top 10 for the 2013 list. Fishers Island replaces National Golf Links, which slipped one spot to No. 11.

Oak Hill, which will host the PGA Championship this year, moved up four spots to No. 17.

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WILD RIDE: Jonas Blixt ended his rookie season with over $2.2 million and a win at the Frys.com Open, allowing him to start his season on Maui.

But the worst is still ahead of him.

When he played golf at Florida State, Blixt became good friends with Torstein Neavestad of Norway, and they decided a few years ago they needed to lose some weight. The deal was to eliminate soda for one year, and whoever cracked first had to ride a roller coaster uninterrupted for two hours.

Blixt hates rollers coasters, but he loves his job. So when he was going nowhere on the Nationwide Tour two years ago, he called Neavestad and conceded.

``I made 95 percent of my money that year after I started drinking Coke again,'' Blixt said.

As for the bet?

Blixt, who clasped both sides of his face at the mere mention of roller coasters, was supposed to make good during the final event of last season at Disney. Just his luck, he found out Disney wouldn't allow someone to go two hours straight, and Neavestad headed home to Norway.

``I'm trying to get out of it,'' Blixt said. ``He's coming back over in a couple of weeks. I still have to do it.''

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DIVOTS: K.J. Choi offered to fly to Maui to take part in the Tournament of Champions pro-am because a few extra players were required to fill out the 30-man field. Korean-based Hyundai is the tournament sponsor. Jerry Kelly also is playing in the pro-am. He flew in from Wisconsin, and that much was clear Monday when he unzipped his golf bag and removed hand warmers. ... Paul Tesori, the caddie for U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, had shoulder surgery and did not make the trip to Kapalua. Simpson instead is using Adam Hayes, who usually works for Jonathan Byrd. He has time on his hands because Byrd had surgery on his left wrist during the offseason and is not expected to return until the Florida swing. ... Rickie Fowler will hit the opening tee shot of the 2013 season, in the first group at Kapalua with Jason Dufner. In the penultimate group is Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, which should come in handy when Golf Channel unveils a ``yardage line'' that looks similar to the yellow first-down line in football telecasts. This will measure drives on the downhill 18th hole at Kapalua.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans and Europeans account for 40 of the top 50 players in the world ranking.

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FINAL WORD: ``I sit here very humbled and very proud of the position I sit in here, very much so.'' - Colin Montgomerie, on being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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