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Langley debuts with 62, leads Sony Open by 1 shot

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Langley debuts with 62, leads Sony Open by 1 shot

HONOLULU (AP) Scott Langley made a rookie debut on the PGA Tour he won't soon forget.

Russell Henley wasn't too shabby, either.

Langley thrived on a penetrating ball flight and a pure putting stroke Thursday for an 8-under 62, giving him a one-shot lead over Henley in the first round of the Sony Open. Henley played in the same group as Langley, and they put on quite a show at Waialae Country Club.

Henley made five birdies on the back nine, holing 15-footers with confidence. But the Georgia grad couldn't keep on the par-5 18th hole when his chip from short of the green came out hot and he had to settle for a two-putt par from 30 feet.

``I'm a young guy, but I'm old enough to know that we have a lot of golf left. We've barely started, and I'm excited about the next few days,'' Langley said.

Langley, a former NCAA champion from Illinois, played bogey-free in a steady wind - nowhere near the gusts of Kapalua last week - and made a couple of long putts.

He holed from 55 feet across the green for eagle on the par-5 ninth, and then took the outright lead on the 16th when a fairway bunker shot landed on the front part of the green, and he rapped in a 30-footer for birdie.

His final birdie came on the 18th with a tough flop shot over a bunker that settled about 6 feet away. He made that for birdie, just like he made putts from similar length for par to keep his round intact.

Scott Piercy had a 64 in the morning, and Tim Clark matched that in the afternoon.

Dustin Johnson, trying to become the first player in 10 years to sweep the Hawaii swing after his win last week at windy Kapalua, finished with a pair of bogeys for a 70.

Langley was not entirely new to big-time golf. He qualified for two U.S. Opens and tied for low amateur - with Henley, no less - at Pebble Beach in 2010.

But considering the nerves he felt on the first tee, and going around this tight course without a bogey, he didn't hesitate to call this round his best ever as a pro.

Adding to the dream day was being alongside Henley, one of his closest friends.

Henley also has a strong pedigree, having won on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur and twice more last year to earn his card.

As they walked up the 16th fairway late in the afternoon, the sun starting to slide toward the Pacific horizon and the skinny palms swaying in the wind, they couldn't help but think back to one year ago.

They were playing in a Hooters Tour event in Florida, Henley missing the cut and Langley barely making it.

``We were on the range trying to help each other find it,'' Langley said. ``We were just walking up 16. You could see the ocean behind, PGA Tour signs everywhere. We looked at each other and realized this is pretty cool. To look back one year ago and to know that we weren't here ... we were in a far different place.''

And now they're the top names on the leaderboard after one round of the first full-field tournament of the year.

They also had company.

Morgan Hoffman, another rookie, opened with a 66 in the morning. Ben Kohles, who turned pro last summer and won his first two starts on the Web.com Tour, had a 67.

There was room for veterans, too.

Piercy made it look like a breeze, especially compared with the vicious gusts last week at the Tournament of Champions that didn't start until Monday and ended 29 hours later on Tuesday. In a more gentle breeze, and on more traditional greens of Waialae, he played bogey-free and had a pair of two-putt birdies from inside 12 feet for a 66.

Clark was the runner-up at the Sony Open two years ago, the last time he was fully healthy. He suffered a mysterious elbow injury that effectively knocked him out for a year. He showed up with minimal expectations at the first tournament of the year for him, and was pleasantly surprised to get around in a bogey-free 64.

``It's going to be an exciting year for me because I do feel like I'm healthy again and can play a full schedule,'' Clark said. ``I'm obviously doing a lot better than I was last year.''

But even Clark couldn't help but notice the names on the leaderboard, mainly because he didn't know who they were. There's always a few rookies to get off to a quick start at the Sony Open. It was rare to see them leading, and with such low scores.

There was a comfort level in Langley's group, however. He and Henley became fast friends after leaving Pebble Beach as low amateurs and flying to Northern Ireland together for the Palmer Cup. Also in their group was Luke Guthrie, who was Langley's roommate at Illinois.

``I think there was a lot of nerves for me the first few holes and I think playing with Scotty and Luke was huge for me, and watching them play well kind of gave me a goal to try to keep up with them, so it was definitely fun feeding off them,'' Henley said.

One group failed to finish before darkness. Seventy players in the 144-man field broke par, a group included a pair from the Champions Tour. Russ Cochran, who won the Senior British Open in 2011, had a 68 and Fred Funk was at 70.

Piercy, the Canadian Open champion, was among 20 players who started their season last week on Maui, even though it took until the fourth day - when the Tournament of Champions was supposed to end - that the tournament actually began.

Then, he was at the course Wednesday for more than eight hours, mostly on the putting greens. ``Seven three-putts and a four-putt last week,'' he said before leaving.

No two courses are more different in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour than these two - the Plantation Course at Kapalua build on the side of a mountain, with dramatic changes in elevation and fairways some 80 yards wide, the other built along the shores of Oahu, with tight fairways that wind through skinny palms.

And then there was the wind.

``The wind wasn't even blowing today compared to last week,'' Piercy said. ``I just played solid today, hit it in a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens, made two fairly key putts and took care of the par 5s.''

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7 stats that define John Wall's history-making career (so far)

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7 stats that define John Wall's history-making career (so far)

This week is Wall Week at NBC Sports Washington. We are rolling out content each day centering around the Wizards' five-time All-Star point guard. Today, we take a deep dive into the numbers to illustrate Wall's career in Washington so far...

**Wall's career averages of 19.0 points and 9.2 assists put him in elite company. Only three other players in league history have averaged at least 19 and nine with at least 500 games played; Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas. Only Johnson and Robertson have also averaged at least four rebounds in addition, like Wall has.

**Wall is already well-represented on the Wizards/Bullets franchise's all-time leaderboards. He is first in career assists (5,282) and steals (976), second in free throws (2,456), third in points (10,879) and minutes played (20,545) and fourth in threes made (539). He is already third all-time in VORP (value over replacement player), a cumulative stat similar to WAR (wins above replacement) in baseball. Only Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes accrued more while in Washington.

**Wall has also put up some of the best individual seasons in franchise history. He has the No. 1, 3, 4 and 7 highest assist totals with his best year the 2016-17 season when he dished out 831. 

**Wall's 2016-17 campaign was also the only season in franchise history where a player averaged 20-plus points and 10-plus assists. He has 111 20-point, 10-assist games in his career which is by far the most in franchise history. Second on the list is Rod Strickland with 43. Gilbert Arenas is third with 24.

**Wall has 396 career blocks. Only six guards in NBA history have recorded more. Those six are Dwayne Wade (885), Clyde Drexler (719), Dennis Johnson (675), Jason Kidd (450), Kendall Gill (432) and Latrell Sprewell (399). Only Johnson and Kidd played most of their time at point guard, so Wall is third all-time at his position.

**Wall's 5,282 career assists are fifth among active players. Only Chris Paul (9,181), LeBron James (8,662), Rajon Rondo (6,975) and Russell Westbrook (5,701) have more.

**Unfortunately, injuries have significantly affected Wall's last two seasons. He has played a combined 73 regular season games the past two years. For context, he has played the same amount of games as Gordon Hayward, who appeared in just one game in 2017-18. And DeMarcus Cousins, despite going through a full rehab from a torn Achilles during that time, played in more games (78) than Wall.

NBA.com and Basketball Reference were used in this research

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Joe Ross exits game with leg injury

Washington Nationals Roundup: Joe Ross exits game with leg injury

A massive hot streak has the Nationals trending in the right direction with a month left in the regular season. They scored another 13 runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday in an all-around impressive offensive showing for the Nats. 

Player Notes:

SP Joe Ross exited Monday's game early in the fourth after being struck by a grounder on his right leg. Before the injury, he continued his incredible stretch of starts as he was through 3.1 innings with three hits and no runs. His last four starts have resulted in four wins for the Nationals and in the process, he's only yielded one run. His performance was so strong that he was making the case to be the team's fifth starter when Max Scherzer comes back later this week.

OF Juan Soto had a perfect night at the plate against the Pirates. Finishing 4-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and four runs scored he's continued his incredible sophomore campaign. In this outing, his OBP went up a whole six points to .404.

3B Asdrubal Cabrera had himself a career day with the Nationals in their 13-0 win over Pittsburgh. A two-run home run, a double and a sac fly supplied five of the Nats 13 runs. Those five RBIs were a new personal best for Cabrera, according to MASN. He's been a great add for the Nationals with an 11-for-29 plate performance in his nine games. 

INF Adrian Sanchez was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg to give some infield depth with the temporary absence of Brian Dozier. In 24 MLB games this year he is 6-for-27.

2B Brian Dozier placed on the paternity list and is expected to miss part of the Nats' series in Pittsburgh. He and his wife are expecting their first child.

Injuries:

2B Brian Dozier: Healthy, Paternity leave, day-to-day

SP Max Scherzer: Back, 10-Day IL, maybe back August 22

RP Roenis Elias: Hamstring, 10-Day IL, maybe back in mid-August

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, 10-Day IL, maybe back in late-August

SP Austin Voth: Shoulder, 10-Day IL, maybe back in late-August

RP Sean Doolittle: Knee, 10-Day-IL, out indefinitely 

RP Jonny Venters: Shoulder, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-Day IL, out indefinitely

Coming Up:

Tuesday 8/20: Nationals @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park
Wednesday 8/21: Nationals @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park 
Thursday 8/22: Nationals @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park

via Rotoworld

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