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Champions Tour stops in Texas, Couples out

Champions Tour stops in Texas, Couples out

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Fred Couples is sidelined by a back injury, leaving Mark Calcavecchia as the top returning finisher in the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship.

``Last year I played about as good as I could,'' Calcavecchia said Thursday, ``and lost by seven.''

If it wasn't for Couples, Calcavecchia would have won by two strokes over John Cook and Tom Lehman.

Calcavecchia, Cook, Lehman, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk are among the favorites in the 54-hole event starts Friday on TPC San Antonio's Pete Dye-designed Canyons Course.

Couples shot a 62 in the second round last year finished at a tournament-record 25-under 193.

``I don't see anybody shooting 25 under,'' Calcavecchia said. ``I hope not, because it ain't going to be me.''

Calcavecchia, despite winning once this year and having nine other top-10 finishes, isn't in form to shoot 25 under. He won the Montreal Championship in late June for his second Champions Tour victory, and had a string of four top-10 finishes snapped when he couldn't crack the top 30 at the SAS Championship and the Greater Hickory Classic in his last two starts.

Calcavecchia had surgery on his right hand seven weeks ago to repair trigger finger under his ring finger. It's a condition that limited motion in his finger so much that when he bent it, he had to grab the finger with his other hand to straighten it out.

``Not to mention it hurt,'' Calcavecchia said. ``And it still hurts. I can't hit 10 or 15 balls on the range. But I take a couple of pain-killers before I play, and once I get out on the course I forget about it.''

Calcavecchia played six rounds between those two tournaments and broke 70 once. That was the last one he played, so maybe he's about to rebound.

It would come at a good time.

The top 30 on the money list after the tournament will qualify for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship next week at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mark McNulty is 30th, $32,506 ahead of No. 31 Tom Kite.

Langer leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings, 111 points ahead of Lehman. The winner will get a $1 million annuity.

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For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

Winners of six of their last nine games, the Washington Wizards have breathed new life into their season, now with revitalized hopes of making the playoffs. On Monday, they will get a shot at one of the teams standing in their way.

With a 2 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington, the Wizards host the Detroit Pistons in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. The Wizards are 10th in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are ninth.

With a win over the Pistons, the Wizards would move into a tie for ninth, just one spot out of the playoff picture. Though more than two months remain in the regular season, the Wizards can gain some valuable ground.

Whether that is on their mind going into the match-up depends on whom you ask.

"It's definitely too early to talk about it," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"I think there are some very important games [coming up] where we go head-to-head against the guys who are around us in the standings," guard Tomas Satoransky said, singing a different tune.

Satoransky doesn't just see an opportunity against the Pistons on Monday, he mentioned Friday's game against the Magic as well. Orlando is one spot behind the Wizards in 11th.

The standings are one thing. Even more important for the big picture is head-to-head records, which determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding. The Wizards are 0-1 against the Pistons, having lost in Detroit on Dec. 26. 

A win on Monday would tie the season series with only one meeting left, on Feb. 11. If the Pistons win on Monday, they would lock up the tiebreaker.

The Wizards have reasons to be confident going into this meeting with the Pistons. While they are playing their best basketball of the season, Detroit has been in a tailspin. Going back to Dec. 3, they are 7-18. Only the Cavaliers have more losses during that stretch.

In those 25 games, the Pistons have been 28th in the NBA in offensive rating (103.6) and effective field goal percentage (49.6). They have committed the third-most turnovers per game (15.6).

Injuries haven't been the reason, but the Pistons have a few to report entering Monday's game. All-Star center Andre Drummond missed their last game on Saturday with a concussion and is considered day-to-day. Guard Ish Smith is also day-to-day after missing Saturday's game with a groin injury.

The Wizards have a chance to beat a reeling team and gain some control of their playoff hopes. We'll see if they take advantage.

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

Thanks to Antonio Brown, we have the hopes and dreams of a splashy off-season for the Washington Redskins in one tidy four-second video.

Brown, the NFL’s best receiver, is angling for a trade out of Pittsburgh.

Kyler Murray is the reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback and a projected 2019 first round pick.

During the NFC Championship game, the Steelers wide receiver tweeted out a clip of him hauling in a deep pass from the University of Oklahoma product. Yes, that’s going to draw some eyeballs, perhaps especially from fans of a team with quarterback uncertainty and lacking offensive playmakers.

Another OU standout, wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown”, joined his cousin Antonio and Murray for the workout. This isn’t the first time all three shared a field.

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The best rolled thru today, appreciate you @ab 📞

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Marquise Brown, a true speed threat, could become the first wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft.

There’s no way for the Redskins to land all three. Even two seems highly unlikely considering the two prospects are projected first-round selections and acquiring Brown would cost a No. 1 and plenty more. It’s still cool to dream. Considering the quarterback concerns with Alex Smith, Jamison Crowder entering free agency and the need for more pieces regardless, even landing one of them would work.

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