Wizards

New year brings new equipment to some players

New year brings new equipment to some players

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Nick Watney was in the local Honolua Store at Kapalua earlier this week when he saw a familiar face and quickly placed his hand over his chest, covering up the swoosh on his shirt. Add that to the files of worst-kept secrets.

Nike made it official Tuesday with separate announcements that it has signed Watney and Kyle Stanley to equipment deals. Both had been with Titleist.

The biggest Nike acquisition in the offseason, off course, was Rory McIlroy. Nike will make that announcement in Abu Dhabi, where McIlroy will start his season in a couple of weeks. It also landed S.Y. Noh of South Korea.

The bigger surprises were Stewart Cink, who in October said he had one year left on his Nike deal, switching over to TaylorMade. Also going to TaylorMade were former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (formerly Nike), Ryan Moore (formerly Adams Golf) and John Huh, who had been playing Ping last year but didn't have an endorsement until well after he won the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Chris Kirk and Gary Woodland (both formerly Titleist) are headed to Callaway.

Watney will be using a high-speed cavity back driver and Nike VR Pro Combo irons, a similar look to the AP2 irons he used at Titleist. Stanley is using blades.

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WORLD MONEY LIST: Rory McIlroy is atop the world money list published each year in the ``The World of Professional Golf,'' the comprehensive golf annual that was started by IMG founder Mark McCormack. The list includes money earned from every golf tournament, even unofficial events such as the Father-Son Challenge and PGA Grand Slam.

McIlroy's five wins included the PGA Championship and two FedEx Cup playoff events. He finished with $11,301,228.

Justin Rose was No. 2 with $7,897,818, even though he won only once on the PGA Tour at the Cadillac Championship at Doral. Rose also won the Turkish Airways World Golf Final, the medal-match exhibition that attracted a world-class field of eight players. Rose beat Lee Westwood in the final match to earn $1.5 million.

Tiger Woods, with three wins, was at No. 3 with $7,388,061. He was followed by Luke Donald (three wins) and Louis Oosthuizen (two wins).

Rounding out the top 10 were Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Westwood, Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley. Watson (Masters) and Bradley (Bridgestone Invitational) were the only players in the top 10 who had only one win last year.

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LATE ARRIVAL TO DEATH VALLEY: Kyle Stanley grew up in Washington state and now bleeds orange after playing golf at Clemson. So imagine the surprise when he revealed Tuesday that he went to his first Clemson game this year when the Tigers played rival South Carolina.

First game this year? No, first game ever.

``I just never wanted to take a day off,'' Stanley said, who thus gave new meaning to the phrase ``strong work ethic.'' That's right - all those years at Clemson, and he was pounding golf balls on Saturday.

Safe to say Lucas Glover never fell into that trap.

As for the game?

``We're sitting up there in the stands and I started thinking, `Man, this is kind of fun,''' Stanley said.

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GOLF DIGEST LIST: Pine Valley is back to No. 1 in Golf Digest magazine's biennial list of the top 100 courses in the world. The private club in southern New Jersey, designed by George Crump and Harry Colt, had been replaced in the previous list by Augusta National, which this year is No. 2.

The top five remained the same, though there was some reshuffling. Cypress Point went from No. 5 to No. 3, Shinnecock Hills went from No. 3 to No. 4, and Oakmont dropped from No. 4 to No. 5.

Rounding out the top 10 were Merion (East), site of this year's U.S. Open; Pebble Beach, Winged Foot (West), Sand Hills and Fishers Island Club, which was the only newcomer to the top 10 for the 2013 list. Fishers Island replaces National Golf Links, which slipped one spot to No. 11.

Oak Hill, which will host the PGA Championship this year, moved up four spots to No. 17.

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WILD RIDE: Jonas Blixt ended his rookie season with over $2.2 million and a win at the Frys.com Open, allowing him to start his season on Maui.

But the worst is still ahead of him.

When he played golf at Florida State, Blixt became good friends with Torstein Neavestad of Norway, and they decided a few years ago they needed to lose some weight. The deal was to eliminate soda for one year, and whoever cracked first had to ride a roller coaster uninterrupted for two hours.

Blixt hates rollers coasters, but he loves his job. So when he was going nowhere on the Nationwide Tour two years ago, he called Neavestad and conceded.

``I made 95 percent of my money that year after I started drinking Coke again,'' Blixt said.

As for the bet?

Blixt, who clasped both sides of his face at the mere mention of roller coasters, was supposed to make good during the final event of last season at Disney. Just his luck, he found out Disney wouldn't allow someone to go two hours straight, and Neavestad headed home to Norway.

``I'm trying to get out of it,'' Blixt said. ``He's coming back over in a couple of weeks. I still have to do it.''

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DIVOTS: K.J. Choi offered to fly to Maui to take part in the Tournament of Champions pro-am because a few extra players were required to fill out the 30-man field. Korean-based Hyundai is the tournament sponsor. Jerry Kelly also is playing in the pro-am. He flew in from Wisconsin, and that much was clear Monday when he unzipped his golf bag and removed hand warmers. ... Paul Tesori, the caddie for U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, had shoulder surgery and did not make the trip to Kapalua. Simpson instead is using Adam Hayes, who usually works for Jonathan Byrd. He has time on his hands because Byrd had surgery on his left wrist during the offseason and is not expected to return until the Florida swing. ... Rickie Fowler will hit the opening tee shot of the 2013 season, in the first group at Kapalua with Jason Dufner. In the penultimate group is Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, which should come in handy when Golf Channel unveils a ``yardage line'' that looks similar to the yellow first-down line in football telecasts. This will measure drives on the downhill 18th hole at Kapalua.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans and Europeans account for 40 of the top 50 players in the world ranking.

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FINAL WORD: ``I sit here very humbled and very proud of the position I sit in here, very much so.'' - Colin Montgomerie, on being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

Just one week after announcing that he had entered the NCAA transfer portal, University of Houston QB D'Eriq King has reportedly chosen Miami over Maryland.

The Athletic's Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro reports that King has informed Canes coaches of his decision and intent to start classes Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

At the same time, Mark Berman of Fox26 reported that King has not made a final decision but did indeed like Miami.

 

King was scheduled to visit Miami Friday night and Maryland on Saturday, but Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports reports that King may have cancelled his visit to second-year head coach Mike Locksley and company last minute after liking Miami. Berman reports that King is still "planning" on visiting College Park.

The Terps struggled to finish 3-9 with Josh Jackson and Tyrell Pigrome under center, combining for 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Under first-year head coach Manny Diaz, Miami went 6-7 over 2019.

King redshirted this season after playing the maximum four games allowed under new NCAA rules in order to preserve eligibility and transfer for  his senior season. In those four games, King tallied 663 passing yards and six touchdowns. 

The sought-after QB is also just one of three in FBS history that have recorded at least 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

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