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Woods back in Asia, preparing for next stage

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Woods back in Asia, preparing for next stage

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Tiger Woods has already rated 2012 as a good year.

He won't consider it a great year, because it's missing one essential ingredient - a major victory - but he's becoming more confident that 2013 can be.

``I've always said winning one major championship turns a good year into a great year,'' he said on Wednesday ahead of the CIMB Classic, his first event in Malaysia in 13 years. ``We place so much emphasis on them. It's very similar to what tennis has with the Grand Slam events. Guys can have seven, eight, nine-win seasons, but if they don't win a Slam, it's not a great year.

``I remember playing back in `99; I had a really good run there, won a bunch of tournaments, but didn't win a major championship until the last one, the PGA. That all of a sudden changed the whole year.''

Asked about the doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong, Woods said golf couldn't be compared with cycling, not only because it was more individual, but also because of its ingrained code of honor.

``This is a sport where we turn ourselves in on mistakes,'' he said. ``A ball moves in the trees, the guys call penalties on themselves. I think that's one of the neat things about our game, and I think with the (anti-doping) testing, it's only enhanced that respectability throughout all of sport.''

Woods is back at The Mines Resort and Golf Club for the first time since he won the individual and team titles at the 1999 World Cup.

That, by his standards, was one of many great years until his life and career spiraled out of control in 2009 because of a string of infidelities that led to the breakdown of his marriage.

His three wins on the PGA Tour this season have restored the confidence that was missing during his long title drought - 27 starts in official tournaments - and he says he's ``absolutely'' targeting more major titles to challenge Jack Nicklaus' record of 18. He's also got Sam Snead's record for most wins on the tour still in his sights. He moved into second place this year with his 74th win, eight shy of Snead.

``There are things that are certainly more important, and fatherhood is No. 1,'' he said. ``Golf has always been a high priority in my life, but family has always been No. 1. So that hasn't changed. So, for me, I certainly want to break Jack's record and catch Snead's record. Those are all things that I would love to do ... but being the best father I can possibly be to my two great kids, that certainly is No. 1 in my life.''

There's not a lot riding on the CIMB Classic for Woods, apart from the $1.3 million first prize and the chance to keep refining his game. It's a 48-man, no-cut tournament on the par 71, 6,917-yard course at The Mines that is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, though it is not an official event on the PGA Tour. Woods can still earn world ranking points.

After Malaysia, Woods will duel with Rory McIlroy in China on Monday before finishing his season in the exhibition World Challenge next month.

He said he had been improving with his driver, but still needed to work on that and other parts of his game.

``I'm excited about turning some of my weaknesses into strengths,'' he said. ``I haven't driven very well in a very long time, and this year is probably the best I've driven in my entire career,'' he said. ``But my iron game wasn't as sharp, and neither was my short game.

``Certainly I need to get my iron game back to where it used to be.''

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

Andre Burakovsky will be sidelined for the remainder of Washington's first-round series vs. Columbus, but he isn’t necessarily out for the remainder of the playoffs, Coach Barry Trotz said on Friday.

Burakovsky suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the Capitals' Game 2 overtime loss and has not been on the ice since.

Trotz said the 23-year-old top-six winger needs “minor” surgery.

That procedure, however, will not preclude Burakovsky from returning to the Caps’ lineup in subsequent rounds, should Washington advance.

“That's why I said minor surgery,” Trotz added, asked if Burky might return at a later date.

This latest surgery is the second for Burakovsky this season. In late October, he had a procedure to repair a broken left thumb and missed the next 20 games.

Since his departure in Game 2, Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson have taken turns replacing Burakovsky on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks remarked after Game 2 and following practice on Thursday that he was partly to blame for Bradley Beal's modest scoring output through two games in the team's playoff series against the Raptors. They weren't just throwaway lines, a coach trying to make his star player feel better for struggling in the playoffs.

No, Brooks truly meant what he said and followed up those comments with an apology face-to-face. Brooks met with Beal and John Wall in between Games 2 and 3 to see how they can get Beal going and reiterated that some of it all was on the coach.

"He apologized to me, which was weird because he's somebody who always holds me accountable for stuff," Beal said after Friday's shootaround. "I guess he figured I wasn't shooting the ball enough and he thought it was his fault. I don't know."

Beal, who is averaging 14.0 points in two games and scored only nine in Game 2, came away from the meeting with a good understanding of what he needs to do to get back on track. After apologizing, Brooks laid out a strategy in hopes that he, Wall and Beal can all be on the same page moving forward.

They need to get their All-Star shooting guard back to form on the offensive end.

"He just basically challenged me. He challenged me to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive end," Beal said.

What has made Beal's scoring troubles through two games particularly surprising is how well he played against the Raptors during the regular season. He averaged 28.8 points in four games against Toronto and all were without Wall.

Beal shot 50 percent against the Raptors both from the field and from three. So far this series he's shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from long range.

Asked whether there is anything he can draw from the regular season to apply to the playoffs, Beal said it's not as easy as it may seem.

"Those games are different. The matchups are different to an extent. It's totally different in the playoffs because you have more time to prep and prepare and gameplan for us," he said. 

"I think the biggest thing is them being physical. They are real physical with me. Whenever I'm standing around on offense or moving around, they are grabbing me. I just need to be physical back with them. Keep moving off the ball and especially if Kyle [Lowry] is guarding me. Tire him out as much as possible. Continue to be aggressive."

Coaches use all sorts of leadership tactics to motivate players. Perhaps an apology will do the trick.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

HISTORIC ODDS FOR TEAMS THAT GO DOWN 0-2

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3