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LPGA creates global competition with new event

LPGA creates global competition with new event

SAN DIEGO (AP) Two years before golf returns to the Olympics, the LPGA Tour is creating a tournament to determine the best in the world.

The International Crown will start in 2014 and be played every other year. It will feature four days of team matches among eight countries that can field the strongest four-player teams based on the world rankings. The inaugural event will be in late July at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore.

``We have a tour designed to identify the best player in the world. The Olympics will award the best female golfer and country,'' LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said Thursday. ``But we have nothing that addresses which country is building the best stable of women's golfers.''

He announced the new event at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

As much as the International Crown has an Olympic flavor, it might be more closely related to the Solheim Cup, which for years did not include the best players in women's golf because it was only for Americans and Europeans. Among those who never played were Karrie Webb of Australia, Se Ri Pak of South Korea, Lorena Ochoa of Mexico and Yani Tseng of Taiwan.

Whan said the players would be in uniforms of their country, free of corporate sponsorships. The purse will be $1.6 million, with $400,000 going to the winning team. It also will be played in the middle of the LPGA Tour season, when players are in form for the majors and media interest is higher than it would be at the end of the year.

The tournament also brings a new format to golf, breaking away from the routine of 72-hole events.

The eight teams will be divided into two brackets, and every team in each bracket will face each other over three days of fourball matches. Five teams will advance to the final round of singles matches, with the points carrying over.

The fifth team will be determined by a playoff between each of the countries that finish third in their brackets. Each country will be required to submit a name in an envelope of the player who would compete in the playoff - to determine the fifth finalist, and if a playoff is needed to determine the overall winner.

``At the LPGA, we celebrate great players from all over the world on a weekly basis, but this is the first time we'll pit country versus country for global bragging rights,'' Whan said.

Still, the International Crown inevitable will shut out some of the best players.

Suzann Pettersen is No. 6 in the world, but Norway only has two players among the top 500 in the world, and thus would not be eligible if it were held this year. Sheshan Feng, the first Chinese player to win a major last year, also would not have enough teammates to be one of the eight countries.

Based on this week's world ranking, three players from the top 15 would not be eligible - Pettersen, Feng and Catriona Matthew of Scotland.

``I was talking about this last year with Suzann Pettersen and she said, `I like the idea, but aren't you building something I'm not going to be in?''' Whan said. ``It's an interesting situation. But we don't need another event to identify the best in the world. Our tour does that.''

The LPGA Tour years ago had the Lexus Cup, which was designed for the players who couldn't compete in the Solheim Cup. It never gained much traction, however, with Asia competing against the rest of the world. Whan found it to be far more compelling to have players competing for their own country.

``I've been asked many times whether we should add other countries or regions to the Solheim Cup,'' he said. ``One thing you learn quickly as commissioner when you go to the Solheim Cup is you're not going to mess with that. ... Korea wants to play Japan, not be teammates. This gives the fans what they want.''

While it will be a global competition, it likely will be staged in the United States.

After the inaugural event Caves Valley, it will move to Rich Harvest Farms west of Chicago - site of the 2009 Solheim Cup - for 2016. Whan said it would be played in July, which is the heart of the LPGA Tour's domestic schedule.

``Our tour is so global and we need this type of event,'' said Stacy Lewis, the LPGA Tour's player of the year. ``People always want to know why golfers from Asia are so good. Well, now we can see how all the countries stack up.''

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Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

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Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

The NBA offseason has been nothing short of entertaining.

Overnight ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a deal to acquire forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs in a trade package that includes guard DeMar DeRozan. 

Leaving San Antonio with Leonard is Danny Green, while the Raptors are dealing DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, according to the report

As of early this morning, only DeRozan had been informed of the trade. This trade has reportedly been in talks for several weeks, almost falling through multiple times. 

According to sources of ESPN's Chris Haynes, Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto while DeRozan was told he would not be traded by members of Toronto's front office during summer league in Las Vegas. 

Leonard was open early into the offseaosn about wanting to be traded away from the Spurs and there were even talks of the Wizards being interested in him. 

DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, has three years $83 million left on his contract that includes an early-termination option for the 2020-21 season. .

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10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

The Redskins had to improve the defensive line this offseason. The defense ranked dead last against the run in 2017, and without improvement up front defensively, the playoffs would again be out of reach in 2018. 

And for the second straight season, Washington tried. 

The team selected Daron Payne out of Alabama with their first-round pick and Tim Settle out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round. The front office also waived under-performing Terrell McClain in the offseason and moved on from veteran A.J. Francis.

Perhaps most important, the team should have 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen completely healthy this fall. He and Matt Ioannidis looked like a strong front in 2017 before a foot injury shut down Allen for the year in Week 5. Add in Anthony Lanier, who flashed big-time sack potential, and the Redskins have a strong, young nucleus.  

But how does it all work?

In the base 3-4 scheme, Payne might have the strength to play nose tackle. Settle definitely has the size for the nose. Both are rookies, however, and will need to learn a lot, and fast, to start Week 1. Veteran Stacy McGee, coming off groin surgery, might be able to hold off the rookies if he is fully healthy. When a nose is on the field, expect Allen and Ioannidis to line up at the defensive tackle spots. If he's not playing nose, Payne will rotate in at tackle as well. Another veteran, Ziggy Hood, will provide depth at tackle, if he makes the team. 

In the nickel package, which the team deploys more than half of their snaps, expect to see a healthy rotation of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis and Lanier. Keeping those players fresh should allow interior pocket pressure, and that could be great news for Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith

With Payne and Allen the headliners, and Ioannidis and Lanier valuable, and Settle capable at the nose, the Redskins have five D-line roster spots about locked down. 

Last year, the team kept six defensive linemen coming out of camp. If McGee is healthy, that spot will be his. If he's not, Hood likely hangs on. It's also possible the team keeps seven D-linemen, particularly as they monitor McGee's groin injury. 

The good news is last year, due to injuries and the talent on the roster, a number of players were forced into spots they didn't truly belong. Hood doesn't have the true size to play nose, but he was forced into the position. Lanier is best served as an interior pass rusher, but was forced to be a run stuffer. 

With more investments on the line, and better luck in the training room, the 2018 Redskins D-line should have more people playing where they belong. And that could go a long way. 

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