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Golf Capsules

SHENZHEN, China (AP) Ian Poulter won the HSBC Champions on Sunday for his first victory of the season, overcoming a four-stroke deficit with a 7-under 65.

The English Ryder Cup star finished at 21-under 267 on Mission Hills' Olazabal Course for a two-stroke victory. The victory was his second in World Golf Championship play, following the 2010 Accenture Match Play Championship.

``I've only been one season without a victory and I certainly didn't want to go another one,'' the 36-year-old said. ``As well as I've played this year, it would have been a disappointment personally to have gone that year without winning.''

Phil Mickelson (68), Jason Dufner (64), Scott Piercy (65) and Ernie Els (67) tied for second. Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, tied for the third-round lead, shot 72 to drop into a tie for sixth at 18 under.

CHARLES SCHWAB CUP CHAMPIONSHIP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Tom Lehman won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship to become the first Champions Tour player to win the season points title two straight years.

After shooting 68-63-62 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round, Lehman birdied four of the last five holes for a 5-under 65 and a six-stroke victory.

Lehman finished at 22-under 258 on Desert Mountain's par-70 Cochise Course to break the Champions Tour record for the lowest numerical score in a 72-hole event. Jack Nicklaus set the previous record of 261 at par-72 Dearborn Country Club in Michigan in the 1990 Mazda Senior TPC. Lehman also tied the tournament record for relation to par set by John Cook in 2009 at the par-72 Sonoma Golf Club in California.

Lehman received a $1 million annuity in the Charles Schwab Cup points competition and earned $440,000 for the tournament victory.

Jay Haas shot a 69 to finish second.

MIZUNO CLASSIC

SHIMA, Japan (AP) - Stacy Lewis rallied to win the Mizuno Classic for her LPGA Tour-leading fourth title of the year, birdieing the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke victory.

The Texan, seven strokes behind South Korea's Lee Bo-mee entering the round, had 10 birdies and two bogeys to finish at 11-under 205 at Kintetsu Kashikojima.

Trying to become the first American to win the player of the year award since Beth Daniel in 1994, Lewis moved 58 points ahead of South Korea's Inbee Park in the player of the year standings with two events left. Each victory is worth 30 points.

Lewis made a 25-foot birdie putt on 16, then moved into a tie for the lead with a 12-footer on the 17th. She took sole possession of the lead with another 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole, then claimed the $180,000 winner's prize when Lee's long birdie putt on 18 went long. Lee shot a 72 to finish second.

Lewis also won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in April, the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June and the Navistar LPGA Classic in September. She has five career victories, winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.

ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR

BANGKOK (AP) - Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific Championship, making the 14-year-old Chinese star the youngest player to qualify for the Masters.

Guan closed with a 1-under 71 at Amata Spring Country Club, needing a par on the 18th hole to beat Taiwan's Pan Cheng-tsung. Guan, an eighth-grader who weighs 125 pounds, couldn't reach the par 4 in two shots. He chipped to 5 feet and made the putt.

Guan will be the youngest player at Augusta National in April. He easily surpasses the mark set by Italy's Matteo Manassero, who was about to turn 17 when he played in 2010. It's the second straight year a 14-year-old from China will play in a major. Andy Zhang qualified for the U.S. Open last summer.

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Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

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USATSI

Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky dodges trade rumors like Indiana Jones escaped giant rolling stones.

When Burakovsky made it through the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline still with Washington it appeared he was here to stay a while longer. He even played better down the stretch. But that might not have been enough to save him. 

Multiple NHL sources said Wednesday that Burakovsky would likely be dealt at this weekend’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. There is no question he is drawing interest from teams around the league.  

“We'd like to keep him around, but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a conference call on Thursday. “But we're not going to move him unless we get something we're comfortable with back.”

MacLellan, as blunt a general manager as there is in the NHL, might be employing semantics there. The Capitals are trying to get what they can and won’t undercut their own leverage by saying Burakovsky is out the door.

Burakovsky has frustrated coaches and executives alike in Washington. He flashes great potential and has the pedigree to be a solid middle-six forward. But he’s been stuck on 12 goals three years in a row and can’t seem to find a consistent role. Last year he was a healthy scratch six times. 

Injuries played some role in that in previous years. But Burakovsky hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, either. Yet he has also come up with some incredible goals. Three times he’s scored in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. No one can forget his goals against Tampa Bay in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final that secured Washington’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s also entering his age-25 season and had 17 goals in his second season in the NHL. 

But with a $3.25 million qualifying offer due Monday and the salary cap possibly tighter than expected, Washington might not have a choice even if it has a last-second change of heart on trading Burakovsky. 

It’s not know exactly what kind of deal the Capitals are pursuing: A one-for-one deal with a player who has his own issues? A mix of draft picks and prospects who won’t contribute to a team in “win-now” mode? Washington could always pull back – as they did at the deadline. But without knowing what MacLellan feels he needs from a Burakovsky trade it’s hard to know what would give him another chance to stay.

MacLellan wouldn’t even commit to tendering Burakovsky that $3.25 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline. He said Washington will take a look at the salary cap once the NHL gets around to announcing it hopefully by Saturday at the draft. Then they’ll check back with the agents of all their RFAs – Jakub Vrana is safe - and decide how to proceed. 

But if they don’t qualify Burakovsky, the one other RFA they have the rights to who would draw interest around the league, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere. Hard to see how that benefits the Capitals to lose an asset they claim to value for nothing. Time is running short.

“Andre had a frustrating year this year, but I think he finished it up well,” MacLellan said. “I think from the trade deadline on, I thought he had a good playoffs. We like the player. There's been some inconsistencies there, but when he's on his game, he's a good player.”

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Uncertainty over NHL salary cap has Caps GM Brian MacLellan frustrated

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Uncertainty over NHL salary cap has Caps GM Brian MacLellan frustrated

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan had a number in his head. It is the most important one for any NHL executive heading into the offseason: $83 million. 

That was the expected salary cap for the 2019-20 season and – with some small margin for error – the amount MacLellan and his staff used to formulate their offseason plan. But it is June 20 and the number that was originally at $83 million could drop to as low as $81.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. 

Given that Washington has some carryover for bonuses and overages from last season worth about $1.150 million, it could be working with a cap number as low as $80.35 million. That is not ideal for a team where every dollar could spell the difference between upgrading its middle-six forwards or adding a veteran fourth-line player. 

The NHL is expected to come to an agreement with the NHL Players’ Association soon and let teams know the number by Saturday, the second day of the entry draft in Vancouver. That’s a few days later than normal, however, and forces GMs to make decisions during the draft regarding trades and picking prospects they otherwise might not.   

"It's frustrating. We've been projecting using that 83 (million dollars) number for the last part of the year,” MacLellan told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. “At some point, we switched back to the 82.5 because there was some rumblings there, and now it seems to be going back a little further. I know it seems like it's not a large amount of dollars, but it does impact teams that are right at the number as far as salary.”

On an $82 million cap, the Capitals have about $9.7 million in room according to the great web site CapFriendly.com. But they need to sign restricted free agent Jakub Vrana and add four other bottom-six forwards and a depth defenseman. That is an extremely tight fit and might rule out some free agent options MacLellan had interest in. 

The free-agent “interview” period begins Sunday when teams can talk to agents of pending free agents and gauge what their demands will be and if they are a fit when the market opens on July 1. 

That, in turn, effects negotiations with Vrana and any other RFAs (Andre Burakovsky, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos) that Washington might want to bring back. Burakovsky is likely to be traded at the draft this weekend, according to multiple NHL sources with knowledge of Washington’s thinking. A further budget crunch would seem to seal his fate.  

MacLellan wouldn’t confirm that and even said “we like the player.” But Burakovsky is due a $3.25 million qualifying offer by Monday so the decision might have been made for them. If the cap is the worst-case scenario ($81.5 million) the Capitals are in a real bind. But they’d like to know for sure.   

“When you see it go down to maybe 81.5, I think there's a pause on our part,” MacLellan said. “We want to see the number before we move forward because it's going to affect our roster decisions even on the bottom end - on fourth line and what we have to do going forward because the margins are that slim for us."

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