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 Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.