Nationals

Love looking to return to normal on PGA Tour

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Love looking to return to normal on PGA Tour

HONOLULU (AP) The swing remains mechanically sound, and plenty powerful. And for the first time in two years, Davis Love III feels like just another player.

It wasn't until he arrived for the final PGA Tour event of last year that Love realized his two years as Ryder Cup captain had taken a toll. When he wasn't playing golf, he was going around the country promoting golf's version of the Super Bowl. In the final months leading up to the matches, his thoughts were consumed with four picks and his pairings, and he lost track of how much time he spent with the media.

``I felt at the end of the year, it hit me that I'd had a long year,'' Love said. ``I kept saying that it was not distracting me from playing, but it was. It was more mental. I put so much thought into it, and then there's the media and business stuff the PGA of America puts on you.''

Not that he had any complaints, except for the outcome that Sunday at Medinah when Europe rallied to win.

Love turns 49 in April, a time he should be winding down his career and perhaps thinking about the Champions Tour. But there were a couple of moments late last season that caused him to think differently.

He played three rounds with Vijay Singh - who turns 50 next month - in the Frys.com Open. Both felt more than capable of competing with players their sons' ages.

And then came the Father-Son Challenge with his son, Dru, a freshman at Alabama.

``They had this deal at the Father-Son where they asked you the most played song on your iPod, your dream foursome and there's one that you had to say how old you thought you were,'' he said. ``I always feel 39. I feel like I'm getting older, but I still have that drive and that enthusiasm. Sure, I feel a little bit stiffer and it takes me a little bit longer to get going. But I still feel like I have enough power.''

Love is in the field at the Sony Open, which starts Thursday as the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season. It's the start of a full year for him in which he plans to play up to 25 tournaments, just like he has for years.

Even with the Ryder Cup hanging over him, Love still managed to give himself a pair of chances to win last year, including his own tournament, the McGladrey Classic, where he shared the 54-hole lead with Jim Furyk and closed with 71 to tie for fourth. He tied for third earlier in the year at the St. Jude Classic and was 100th on the money list.

In his 27 years on the PGA Tour, Love has never finished out of the top 100 on the money list, a remarkable streak.

But he feels he can do better. And least that's what his son tells him.

``I had chances of would have, could have should have,'' Love said. ``But as Dru Love said, I need a little more practice. I need to be a little bit more prepared. He told me, `Dad, for two years you've been really busy and you really haven't practiced that much. You're hitting it great, but you're short game needs work.'

``I have played a lot,'' Love said. ``But I'm not prepared for it.''

The Sony Open is a lot like spring training in baseball - the fresh breeze off the Pacific is filled with optimism for everyone from the rookies to the veterans.

``The fun part about this week is that everyone is in a good mood,'' Jeff Maggert said Wednesday. ``They're not complaining about how they've been playing.''

Love will play next week in the Humana Challenge, and is contemplating three straight weeks with the Phoenix Open, Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and perhaps Riviera. He is a two-time winner at Pebble Beach, one of his favorite events. He said tournament officials are working on giving him an Augusta National member as his amateur partner - former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He is eligible only for the PGA Championship as a past winner, but said he will try to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open, just like his younger days.

``We did it when we were 20,'' he said. ``Why wouldn't you do it now?''

This won't be easy. Even if he still feels 39, he will be going up against players who are even younger than that. Dustin Johnson, 28, is coming off a season-opening win at Kapalua, making him the first player since Tiger Woods to win in six straight seasons after leaving college.

There are 23 rookies in the Sony Open, and five of them have never played a PGA Tour event.

Love already has 20 wins, making him a lifetime member of the PGA Tour. He would appear to be a lock for the World Golf Hall of Fame, especially after longtime friend Fred Couples - with only 15 wins and one major - was elected this year.

Can he keep winning? Love figures his opportunities are dwindling, but they are still there.

``If I get into that mode without a lot of distraction and if I'm prepared,'' Love said. ``That's what makes Tiger so good. He's ready every time he shows up. Now, coming out of the snow, I'm not quite ready. But the rest of the year, I'm going to be ready when I show up.''

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

The New York Yankees could be without their top relief arm on Opening Night against the Nationals.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future.” Chapman is the third Yankees player to contract the virus after infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Luis Cessa tested positive in early July.

Boone’s announcement comes 12 days before the Yankees are scheduled to take on the Nationals in D.C. to kick off MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season. New York will play three games against Washington in the only series between the two clubs this year.

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However, if any team is built to absorb the loss of its closer, it’s the Yankees. Boone said that reliever Zack Britton would be the “natural guy” to handle ninth-inning duties if Chapman isn’t ready for the start of the season. New York’s bullpen also includes Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, each of whom—like Britton—would be a closer on most other teams.

On Friday, MLB and the players union announced that 28 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one player or staff member test positive for the coronavirus between intake screening and monitoring testing. Overall, 83 of the 11,149 samples collected have come back positive—a rate of 0.7 percent.

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Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

WASHINGTON --More than a week into the Major League Baseball’s reboot, and its gleefully-named and grotesquely-sponsored Summer Camp, the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode.

Two players tested positive for Coronavirus at intake screening. The team is not obligated to release their names and cannot do so without the player’s permission. So, what we do know is Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick are among multiple players not yet in Nationals Park for workouts 12 days before the season is scheduled to begin.

Their health and safety is paramount. However, when they are not working with the team, the organization needs to formulate a baseball-specific plan to go forward without them, should the need arise. And, that time is close because the preparation window is closing.

RELATED: HOW WILL MLB'S NEW EXTRA INNING WITH A RUNNER ON SECOND RULE WORK STRATEGICALLY?

“Right now, we’re taking things one day at a time,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home, so was Robles. I talked to those guys. We talked to the strength-and-conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape. They worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.

“The biggest thing is they can be in great shape, but how much baseball shape have they done? To me, where something happens, if anybody strains an oblique, you’re looking at a significant amount of time. You’re probably looking at almost a whole season here with only 60 games. We got to be careful, we’ve got to see where they’re at. Then once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not.”

The Nationals have three exhibition games scheduled before the season opener against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. They can carry 30 players into that game. Martinez is trying to worry about who is in the stadium since he has no control over the clearances for the players who are not.

“We’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez said. “We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually put them on some kind of workout program and watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too. We don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. We’re also talking about a shorter season where we’ve got to win games right away. We’ll see how these guys come in and for me, it’s the baseball shape....Standing on their feet for seven, eight, nine innings.”

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Catcher Raudy Read played first base during Saturday’s intrasquad workout at Nationals Park. He was there in part because Read could well be a first baseman in the long-term. The Nationals also needed another body at the spot because Eric Thames -- their lone true first baseman available -- played for the opposing side.

The team variations spread across the infield and into the outfield because Soto, Robles and Luis Garcia remain in quarantine.

Martinez said “hopefully” the players in quarantine will be with the team soon. Even if they are, their window to be prepared for Cole is extremely limited, which is going to force the Nationals to start making contingency plans.