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Pettersen starting to heat up in Naples

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Pettersen starting to heat up in Naples

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) Suzann Pettersen can't win the LPGA Tour money title or the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. Players can't go eight months and 20 tournaments before winning and hope to be in the running for any of the big awards.

She might have to settle for being the hottest player in women's golf.

Pettersen won back-to-back tournaments in Asia, and allowed herself to think about yet another trophy Thursday when she played bogey-free around the TwinEagles Club on her way to a 6-under 66. That gave her a share of the lead with So Yeon Ryu and Sun Young Yoo after the opening round of the Titleholders.

``I still feel like I have my best golf ahead of me,'' Pettersen said.

Too bad it's the end of the road.

The Titleholders is the final tournament of the year, and about all Pettersen can do is add to her 11 career wins on the LPGA, add to her bank account and perhaps pack away some momentum going into next year, even though that won't start for another three months.

So what took her so long to get going this year?

``It takes some time to get this machine going,'' she said with a smile on the eve of the Titleholders.

It was purring in the opening round, where Pettersen picked her spots and turned it on at the end of the round. She birdied two of her last three holes, the exception coming on the 17th hole when a birdie putt caught the lip.

Ryu already has clinched LPGA rookie of the year. She won the U.S. Women's Open last year before she was an LPGA member. Yoo had a five-shot lead until losing three shots on the last two holes with a pair of three-putts, one of them a double bogey on the par-3 eighth when her tee shot bounced over the green and down a steep slope.

Stacy Lewis, the LPGA player of the year, needs to win the Titleholders to have any chance of winning the money title. She was within two shots of the lead after an eagle on the par-5 13th, but the 27-year-old American dropped two shots coming in and had to settle for a 70.

For now, Pettersen looks like the player to beat.

``I still feel like I have the best golf ahead of me,'' she said. ``I'm not too worried if it's season 2012 or season 2013. My big goal now is to prepare and be well for 2013 and hopefully come out strong the way I finish, and hopefully get another three rounds together and see where that takes me for this tournament.''

She played in the same group with Cristie Kerr, whose win last week in Mexico was her first in two years. Kerr opened with a 67 and was one shot behind, along with U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi.

``I played awesome last week and carried that into this week,'' Kerr said.

It was a long walk with a lot of rides at the TwinEagles Club, which winds through residential neighborhoods where several homes are under construction. Players had to ride in carts from green to tee on about half the holes, which was the easy part. The test came on the expansive greens, some shaped like boxes, others like crescent rolls.

The warm weather and gentle breeze allowed for good scores, with 48 players at par or better among the 73 in the field. There were a few exceptions, starting with Michelle Wie. She was wild with her first tee shot, and it finally caught up to her on the back nine en route to an 81.

Yani Tseng's struggles returned. After winning three times in her first four tournaments, the No. 1 player in the women's world ranking tapered off in a big way, and she didn't look capable of turning that around in the final event of the year, opening with a 75.

Pettersen suddenly looks unstoppable.

``We play the game to win, don't we?'' she said. ``I'm in it to win. That stays it all. I feel like my shoulders are fairly freed up after winning two in Asia. I don't feel like I really have to go out and do anything. That makes the game that much easier.''

Her biggest thrill Thursday was beating Kerr, with whom she has a friendly rivalry. They matched birdies on three holes until Pettersen got her at the end.

``I just tried to birdie the last so I didn't have to be paired with her tomorrow,'' Pettersen said. ``We're competitive. I know she probably wants to have the low round in the group. You just know it's going to annoy her when you kind of take it right at the end there. But we had a good day.''

Lewis and Ryu are gearing up for the awards dinner Friday night, with both having to give a speech - Lewis as the player of the year, Ryu as the top rookie. Ryu won the U.S. Women's Open last year, but she was not an LPGA member.

Yoo won a major this year, even if the runner-up was far more memorable. That was the Kraft Nabisco Championship, when I.K. Kim had a 12-inch putt to win at Rancho Mirage and missed it, and then lost to Yoo in the playoff.

This time, the stunning finish belonged to Yoo. She was on the verge of building a big lead until her 4-iron over the green, a fat chip that barely got onto the green and three putts for a double bogey. She compounded that with another three-putt on the ninth, which brought her back to the field.

``I hit the ball great all day, but I'm a little disappointed how I finished the last couple of holes,'' Yoo said. ``But still, 6 under was a good score. ... I still have 54 holes to play, so I feel good.''

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as according to a new report by ESPN, they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard.

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

When Manny Machado returns from the 2018 MLB All-Star Break, he will not be donning a Baltimore Orioles uniform. 

The All-Star shortstop is expected to be traded from Baltimore to the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring any last-minute changes, according to multiple media reports. 

That being said, the Machado trade talks remain fluid and both the Phillies and Brewers are still trying to work a trade for the 26-year-old third baseman, according to Jon Heyman. The Diamondbacks are also reportedly trying to lure the four-time All-Star to the desert, while the Yankees decided to pull out of the Machado sweepstakes just prior to the All-Star festivities in Washington, D.C. 

While the details of the trade have yet to be revealed, the Dodgers will reportedly include top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz in the Machado trade, according to Heyman.

According to Jim Bowden, when regular-season play returns, Machado will be in the National League, although which team he plays for is still up in the air.

With the Orioles sitting a historically awful 39.5 games out of first place at the All-Star Break, trading Machado is the first major step toward a complete overhaul. The Orioles drafted Machado out of Brito High School in Miami, Fla., with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Since then, Machado has drawn comparisons to iconic third basemen Brooks Robinson and Alex Rodriguez, despite being moved to shortstop full-time this past season, and is widely considered one of the three best position players in professional baseball.

Machado is currently batting .315 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs.

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