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Michael Phelps signs golf deal with Ping

Michael Phelps signs golf deal with Ping

Michael Phelps is getting serious about his golf game.

The winner of a record 18 gold medals in Olympic swimming, Phelps signed on with Ping to provide his clubs starting with an appearance Wednesday in the Phoenix Open pro-am.

Phelps got a tour of Ping's Arizona facilities, where he was fitted for a set of clubs that accommodate his 6-foot-4 height, long arms and large hands. He's already noticed a big improvement in the flight of his ball.

``It's pretty wild,'' he told The Associated Press. ``It's crazy to think this sport is so technical. A lot of sports are very technical, but one of the (Ping) guys said there's 50-something different shafts they can put on the clubs. I'm used to having a pair of goggles, a small, medium or large swim cap, and a jammer to put on, and that's it.''

Ping added a few special touches to Phelps' clubs, including accents in both gold and red, white and blue.

``We've custom-built his clubs to ensure he has every chance to improve, and we believe he'll dedicate himself to golf with the same intensity he gave to swimming,'' said John A. Solheim, the company's chairman and CEO. ``His global presence as a golfer will bring Ping tremendous exposure and just as importantly, shed additional light on the game in general.''

Phelps played with Masters champion Bubba Watson in the pro-am.

``You can see he's an athlete and he's competitive, so he could be good if he practiced and put some time into it,'' Watson said. ``Any athlete of that level has a chance to be good at another sport.''

Phelps' tee shot on the par-3 16th hit the green, but rolled off the front amid boos from the rowdy fans on the stadium hole.

``I just feel like heartbeat firing through my shirt,'' Phelps said. ``I felt my heart was going to jump out of my chest. It was something that was pretty cool, something I've never seen before and something I've never experienced.

``I was very nervous and my club was like shaking as I'm over the ball. I just pretty much had to try to swing the club as fast as I could. But it's wild. I have never heard people boo you, but I'm sure it's happened, my face is just under water. So it was a little different experience. Hopefully, I have a chance to come back and play again.''

Phelps has been working with renowned coach Hank Haney for an eight-episode series on the Golf Channel that begins Feb. 25. While the swimmer-turned-golfer is not sure how far his new sport can take him, he's sure enjoying the ride so far.

``You can't put limits on anything,'' Phelps said. ``There's so much I could do. Maybe I can get good enough where I can make the Olympics in golf.''

The sport is joining the Olympic program at the 2016 Rio Games.

``Hey, you never know,'' Phelps said, chuckling. ``Being a golfer at the Olympics would be kind of fun.''

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AP Sports Writer John Nicholson in Scottsdale, Ariz., contributed to this report.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49

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What Adrian Peterson did on Sunday really is absurd

What Adrian Peterson did on Sunday really is absurd

FEDEX FIELD -- Coming into Sunday's game, the Redskins listed Adrian Peterson as questionable for the game against the Panthers. 

And why wouldn't they?

The future Hall of Famer separated his shoulder last week in a loss to the Saints. In that same game, he got blasted in the knee on a play that many thought would cost Peterson the season. And before the Redskins bye, in a 120-yard effort in a win over the Packers, Peterson took a helmet directly off his ankle. 

Calling AP banged up for the Panthers game is unfair to banged up players. 

Peterson was hurt, from top to bottom. 

Yet, despite the injuries, he still went out and rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries, good for a 5.7 yards-per-carry average. 

"I had already made up in my mind Friday, 'Hey, I'm going to give it a go,' and I know it's going to be painful but it's mind over matter and keep pressing," Peterson said following the 23-17 Redskins win. 

"So that's what I ended up doing."

In a remarkable endeavor, Peterson was the most consistent player on the offense. Alex Smith played fine but not necessarily good.

The Redskins offense needs more from Smith, but couldn't even ask for anything else from Peterson. 

"I can't say enough about what he did today, playing through the pain of the shoulder and the knee," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said of Peterson. "What a pro. What a pro he is."

In the second half, when the Redskins pass game really fell apart, Washington leaned on Peterson even more. It wasn't pretty, but the team got enough to eat up possession and pad the lead with field goals. 

"Adrian Peterson ran hard," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "I think he created the opportunity for them down the stretch to control the clock a little bit."

Rivera is right. 

Without Peterson, the Redskins probably don't win on Sunday. 

And it's even more remarkable that none of this was supposed to happen. The Redskins seemed reluctant to even give Peterson a tryout after rookie Derrius Guice went down in the preseason. Guice was the plan, and Peterson wasn't even really the backup.

Back then, Gruden explained that Peterson was simply too impressive in his August workout for the team to do anything but sign him to the active roster. 

Now, five games into the season, averaging well more than 4 yards-per-carry and on pace to lead the Redskins in rush yards, it's hard to imagine what Washington's offense would look like without Peterson. 

Sure, he's 33-years-old, but he's also the Redskins most consistent offensive threat. 

Asked what surprised him during his team's loss, Rivera inadvertently summed up the Peterson experience.

"I don't think there was anything surprising. They're a good football team. They run the ball extremely well with Adrian."

Rivera is right.

The Redskins run the ball extremely well with Peterson.

Even with the separated shoulder, the busted knee, the bruised ankle. On Sunday, the Redskins ran the ball extremely well with Peterson.

And that says a lot about Adrian Peterson. 

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