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Nick Watney shoots 61 to win in Malaysia

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Nick Watney shoots 61 to win in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Nick Watney took a few peeks at the leaderboard, and heard the echo of raucous cheering at regular intervals in the distance as Tiger Woods was commencing his last-round charge. Watney, starting two groups behind Woods, knew it was going to take a very special kind of round Sunday to win the $6.1 million CIMB Classic.

Hole-by-hole, birdie after birdie, the 31-year-old American could feel the momentum gathering pace. At the 13th hole, when he moved into a tie for first spot, he started to believe he could win the tournament in Malaysia. After the 14th hole, he started honing in on a rare round of 59.

With 11 birdies in 17 holes, including six on the back nine, he went to the par-4 18th needing a birdie for a 59, but decided he was playing only for the win. He made a bogey at the last, still good enough for a course record round of 10-under 61 and a 22-under-par total 262 to hold off defending champion Bo Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus by one shot to claim the $1.3 million first prize.

``I saw Tiger got off to a good start, so I wasn't really thinking about winning when I teed off,'' said Watney, who started the day four shots off the pace and in a share of seventh place. ``But the round sort of built momentum and things just kept getting better and better. I'm thrilled to have come away with the win.''

After five birdies on the first seven holes, Woods finished with a 63 to tie for fourth at 19 under with Chris Kirk and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge.

And by the time Woods finished - the 14-time major winner opened with three birdies and had eight in all, including at the 16th and 17th to put pressure on the leaders - all the attention was on Watney.

``I really wanted to finish strong ... but winning the tournament was more important than a 59 for me,'' said Watney, who drove into the left rough, failed to reach the green with his approach and left his long birdie pitch just short of the putting surface.

Watney won the FedEx Cup opener at Bethpage Black in August for his fifth official PGA Tour title. Sunday's victory won't add to his PGA Tour record - the Malaysian tournament which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour won't become a full-fledged PGA Tour event until next year when the tour begins its new season in October after the FedEx Cup. But the experience of winning his first title in Asia will help.

Van Pelt and Garrigus each carded 66 after starting the round tied for the lead.

Needing a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, Van Pelt saved par after hitting into a greenside bunker. On Saturday, needing a closing birdie for a 59, he made a double bogey for a 62.

The players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways for the last three rounds because the course was soaked by overnight tropical storms.

The heat, humidity and rain on the par-71 course combined to make it a unique win for Watney and his support team.

He needed his wife, Amber, to carry his bag for the last hole of the first round when caddy Chad Reynolds needed treatment for heatstroke Thursday. Watney used a local caddie Friday and Reynolds came back for the weekend. Amber, the daughter of seasoned tour caddy Rusty Uresti, will get credit for one hole on the bag at short notice.

Watney said he didn't even think about winning until he walked to the 13th tee with a share of the lead on the last day.

He opened with two birdies, adding more at the sixth, eighth and ninth to turn in 30. He birdied three straight from the 11th to take the outright lead at 20 under from Van Pelt.

Watney stretched the margin with another three consecutive birdies from the 15th, including a 25-foot putt from the edge of the green at the 16th. He settled for a birdie on the par-5 17th after missing an eagle putt, then ran into trouble on 18 when he found the rough off the tee and appeared to mis-hit his second shot.

``So the 59 went out the window right there,'' he said. ``I was more concerned with just winning the tournament.''

Five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events. Al Geiberger did it in the 1977 Memphis Classic, Chip Beck in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, David Duval in the 1999 Bob Hope Invitational, Paul Goydos in the 2010 John Deere Classic and Stuart Appleby in the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa has the lowest round on a major tour, shooting a 12-under 58 to win the 2010 Crowns on the Japan Tour.

Woods knew he'd need something in the low 60s to have any chance of winning in his first trip back to The Mines since he won the individual and team titles at the 1999 World Cup.

``I needed to get to 20-plus,'' said Woods, who signaled his intentions with a massive drive on the 358-yard first hole. ``That was the goal score at the end of the day. Looks like Nick went ahead and put it to us.''

The crowd following Woods and 2010 champion Ben Crane was the biggest yet at the tournament and the loud trampling of long grass around the tee box as spectators clamored for a glimpse and the regular noise sometimes disturbed the 14-major champion to the point where he had to stop after addressing the ball - twice before his approach at the 9th and again on the 10th tee - and reset himself.

Woods lamented some wasted opportunities in his third round that put him just about out of contention.

``I had to shoot 9-under today to have any kind of chance - yesterday's last nine holes, that's what put me in a spot where I couldn't win the championship.''

Sweden's Carl Petterson had 10 birdies - narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 17th - and a bogey in a round of 62 to finish seventh at 18 under. Scott Piercy also had a 62 to tie for 10th.

Woods will face top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who finished second Sunday in the BMW Masters in Shanghai, in a one-on-one match in China on Monday.

``We'll both probably be a little bit tired,'' Woods said. ``But we're going to try and put on a good show, shoot a low round and have a little bit of fun.''

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5 keys for the Caps to win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final

5 keys for the Caps to win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final

It all comes down to this.

The Eastern Conference Championship is on the line Wednesday as the Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa. Here are five keys for how the Caps can win and advance to face the Vegas Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

Score first

Game 7 is in Tampa Bay, the Lightning are deeper offensively and defensively and have a goalie capable of shutting down an offense.

Oh, and the Lightning are 8-1 when scoring first this postseason.

The Capitals are at their best when they are dictating the play. They want to play physical, trap the blue line and counter against the Lightning. None of those are particularly great strategies for chasing a game.

That makes the first goal critical.

The Lightning fans have seen their team lose twice at home already this series and fail to close out the Caps in Game 6. They have watched their team reach the conference finals two straight years in 2015 and 2016, fail to win the Stanley Cup in either year and fail to even make the playoffs in 2017.

Not only does playing with a lead better suit their game plan, but if Washington scores first that crowd is going to get very uncomfortable very quickly.

Gauge the referees

The Caps were very physical in Game 6 and they found success with that game plan. You would expect them to have a similar approach to Game 7, but they need to be careful.

In Game 6, it was clear the referees had put away the whistles. There were a few questionable plays on both sides that the referees let go. In a Game 7, you would hope the referees take the same approach, but they may not.

Tampa Bay’s power play is very good and the Caps cannot afford to give them many opportunities, but Washington will still want to play a physical style. It’s a fine line to walk so the Caps will need to quickly figure out how strictly the referees are calling the game and adjust accordingly.

Win the goalie matchup

In this series, Andrei Vasilevskiy has had two bad games and four good ones. He lost both of his bad games and won three of his good ones. He did not win the fourth, however, because he was outplayed by Braden Holtby.

Vasilevskiy was great in Game 6, but Holtby matched him save for save as both teams battled to get on the board. When the Caps finally did, Holtby shut the door to make sure the Lightning could not climb back. Vasilevskiy allowed just two goals on 32 shots, but Holtby turned away all 24 of the shots he faced for the shutout.

This is Game 7. There is no Game 8 just because you run into a hot goalie. If Vasilevskiy is on his game again on Wednesday, Holtby will have to be just as good if not better to make sure the Caps win.

Beat the fourth line

Playing at home in Game 6 allowed the Caps to get away somewhat from the Alex Ovechkin vs. fourth line matchup the Lightning have found success with. At 5-on-5, Chris Kunitz played 6:55 against Ovechkin, Ryan Callahan played 6:22 and Cedric Paquette played 6:12, considerably less than the 13:04, 13:46 and 13:42 each respectively logged in Game 5.

With Game 7 in Tampa, Barry Trotz will not be able to get away from that matchup. That means Ovechkin will just have to beat it.

That does necessarily mean he has to score a hat-trick. Ovechkin was one of the team’s top performers in Game 6 despite not logging a point as he helped establish a physical tone that ignited the team. But he has to make sure at the very least that his line is not outscored by the fourth like it was in Game 5 when Paquette and Callahan each scored.

Have a short memory

If you have a bad game in Game 1, you know you can bounce back in the series. A Game 7, however, is winner take all. If there’s a bad bounce, a bad call by the referees, a bad play, a missed save, whatever it may be, the Caps have to be able to put it out of their minds quickly.

There is no room for the “here we go again” mentality on Wednesday. The fate of this season will be determined within 60 minutes. If Holtby is not on his game, the Caps will have to battle through it. If Ovechkin has a bad night, the Caps will have to battle through it. If the referees decide they are going to call everything down to the letter of the law, the Caps will have to battle through it.

If something goes against them, they cannot allow it to bog them down mentally as we have seen at times in Game 7s of the past.

Likewise, if things go well they need to put that out of their heads as well. Desperation will grow among the Lightning as the game goes on. This is not the time to sit on a lead or circle the wagons.

Washington can’t let mistakes or success go to their head until the clock hits 00:00.

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that hit the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side but since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact, there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball, but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat, the whole offense will be harder to defend.

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

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