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Scott, Oosthuizen share lead at HSBC Champions

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Scott, Oosthuizen share lead at HSBC Champions

SHENZHEN, China (AP) Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott shot 7-under 65s to lead the HSBC Champions after the first round Thursday.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, played a bogey-free round with seven birdies, while Scott finished his round with two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole.

Two-time HSBC Champions winner Phil Mickelson was in a tie for third one shot back, along with Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry.

Both Oosthuizen and Scott took advantage of the pristine conditions and the five par-5 holes on the Jose Maria Olazabal-designed course at Mission Hills. Oosthuizen birdied all five, while Scott had four birdies to go along with his eagle.

``It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day,'' Scott said. ``With five par-5s, it kind of sets up well for my game and the plan is to just take advantage of the 5s and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week.''

The Australian, ranked sixth in the world, is still looking for his first tournament win of the year. He nearly captured his first major at the British Open in July before blowing a four-shot lead over Ernie Els with four holes to play.

His best finish since that collapse was a tie for sixth place at the BMW Championship in September.

Oosthuizen also said the key to his game was hitting solidly off the tee on the par-5s, something he'll need to do all week if he's going to stay atop the leaderboard.

``If I can keep doing what I'm doing on the par-5s, you know, hitting the fairways and leaving myself with the irons or a 5-wood or something, you've got a good chance,'' Oosthuizen said.

Hanson backed up his big win at the BMW Masters in Shanghai last weekend with a superb opening round in Shenzhen, making seven birdies against one bogey.

The Swede is second on the European money list, within striking distance of leader Rory McIlroy. If Hanson wins the $1.2 million paycheck at Mission Hills this weekend, he will overtake McIlroy with only four events left on the calendar.

``It's nice to get off to a good start, of course, coming off last week. You try to save a bit of energy the last couple of days and try to be ready for today,'' Hanson said. ``I've been on the road now for three or four weeks. Just need to keep your head fresh and this is a very demanding golf course. You can make some easy mistakes around here,'' he said.

Mickelson was further off the pace before sinking a 25-foot putt for eagle on the same hole as Scott - the par-5 ninth - to finish off his round of 66.

``It was a great way to finish with an eagle. I was hoping just to make birdie on the last hole,'' Mickelson said. ``I think the reason I was so calm today was I drove the ball extremely well and hit every fairway.''

Lowry, meanwhile, stuttered down the stretch. After making birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to take a two-stroke lead over the field, the Irishman had bogeys on his final two holes - missing near-identical 10-foot putts - to drop him back into a tie for third.

``Felt like I had the ball on a string all day and felt like it came very easy to me today,'' Lowry said. ``Just to bogey those last two was disappointing.''

Dustin Johnson shot a 67 to sit two strokes off the lead with Thailand's Prom Meesawat.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer was in a group of seven golfers tied for ninth at 4 under, along with England's Luke Donald and American Jason Dufner.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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