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Westwood grabs share of lead at HSBC Champions

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Westwood grabs share of lead at HSBC Champions

SHENZHEN, China (AP) Lee Westwood made 11 birdies in a round of 61 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead with Louis Oosthuizen after the third round of the HSBC Champions.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, came into the weekend with a five-stroke lead over the field, but struggled with his putting and had a 70.

The South African had a chance to retake the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, but missed by inches - the last of many near misses throughout the day.

Westwood and Oosthuizen were at 18-under 198. Phil Mickelson (66) made seven birdies and was three shots back.

Ernie Els briefly surged into a share of the lead on the back nine before dumping his ball into a reservoir on the tricky 15th hole and taking a double bogey. He finished with a 69 and was tied for fourth with Bill Haas (66) and Ian Poulter (65) at 202.

Westwood, a former world No. 1, has long been considered one of the most consistent golfers, yet he's never broken through to win a major, finishing runner-up twice - at the Masters and British Open in 2010.

He's also played in more World Golf Championship events than any other golfer (41), but his best result is second place on three occasions, most recently at the HSBC Champions in 2010 when he lost to Francesco Molinari by one stroke.

``It does surprise me that I've played more than anyone else. I didn't realize I was that old,'' the 39-year-old Englishman said. ``I know I've played a lot. I've never won one.''

It was the second time in three weeks Westwood shot a 61 - he also had one to beat Charl Schwartzel in the semifinals of the World Golf Final exhibition in Turkey in mid-October.

But as good as his score was Saturday, it wasn't even the low round of the day. That belonged to American Brandt Snedeker, who had a chance at a 59, but just missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole and settled for a 60 - a new course record - and a 203 total.

``You don't get a chance to shoot 59 too often, maybe a couple of times in your career,'' he said. ``I'd love to have that putt again.''

Starting the day back in 12th place, Westwood began his charge up the leaderboard with three consecutive birdies on the first three holes.

He then birdied the fifth and seventh holes and sunk a 10-foot putt for another birdie on the 573-yard par-5 ninth hole to make the turn at 13 under, four strokes back. The Englishman kept up the pressure on the back nine, closing his round with four more birdies to catch Oosthuizen and Els.

``I just wanted to come out fast and try to get some momentum,'' Westwood said. ``That's just been missing from my game the last couple of weeks. I came out quick as you like with three birdies and that got me going and the hole started to look bigger.''

After two rounds of nearly flawless golf, Oosthuizen was five strokes up on the field and looked to be comfortably in control going into the weekend. His two-round score of 16-under 128 was the lowest through 36 holes at any World Golf Championship event since they began in 1999.

But cracks began to appear in his putting game early on Saturday. After making a nice chip shot from the bunker on the third hole, he missed a routine 5-footer for birdie - the first par-5 hole of the tournament he's failed to make birdie or better.

Oosthuizen then three-putted on the par-3 fifth hole for bogey - just his second bogey of the tournament - and let another birdie chance slip away on the sixth when his 25-foot putt stopped short of the hole by inches. He narrowly missed two more birdie putts within 10 feet on the eighth and ninth holes, settling for par on both.

``Early I didn't play really well and then started to find a little bit of form on the back nine, but just didn't make any putts,'' Oosthuizen said. ``The putter went cold on me today.''

While Oosthuizen was missing his putts, Els was sinking his: a 7-foot birdie putt on the fourth, a 3-foot shot for eagle on the par-5 seventh and another 3-footer for birdie on the ninth to pull within one stroke at the turn.

Els' solid round came undone, however, on the 580-yard, par-5 15th hole, which presents golfers with two paths to the hole: a safe route down the length of the curving fairway or a riskier, 250-yard jump over a reservoir straight to the green.

Els took the latter option and paid the price, plunging his second shot into the water. He managed to clear it with his next shot, but then missed an easy 5-footer on the green. He had been bogey-free up to that point in the tournament.

After his remarkable 12-under performance, Snedeker moved up from a tie for 38th place to seventh going into the final day, one shot behind Els. Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar, ranked 108th in the world, also had a surprisingly strong round, birdying nine times for a 63. He jumped from 27th place to a tie for eighth.

1.16.18: Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner

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USA TODAY Sports

1.16.18: Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner

By Rick Horrow

Podcast editor: Tanner Simkins

Rick Horrow sits down with Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner, and takes you through the biggest stories in sports business.

  • LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE.
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    • Ahead of this weekend’s big matchups, the NFL and Intuit Inc announced that as part of their multi-year official sponsor partnership, Intuit TurboTax Live will serve as the first-ever presenting sponsor of both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. As a part of the sponsorship, TurboTax Live branding will be featured during the 2019 AFC and NFC Championship Games as well as within ancillary programming and content across league broadcast and digital media platforms. “We’re proud to have Intuit as the NFL’s first-ever presenting sponsor for both AFC and NFC Championship games,” said Renie Anderson, NFL Senior Vice President, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products. “Intuit has a longstanding reputation as a leader in the financial and accounting software industry that NFL fans recognize and trust this time of year.” Beyond the presenting sponsorship of both 2019 AFC and NFC Championship games, Intuit also becomes the NFL’s official sponsor for financial and accounting software, as well as tax preparation services.
    • This year’s Indianapolis 500 “will pay special tribute” to Mario Andretti and the 50th anniversary of his only Indy 500 win in 1969. According to the Allentown Morning Call, Andretti’s 50th anniversary celebration will include a “commemorative logo that will be used on the cover of the race program, on special merchandise and other places to celebrate the anniversary,” and the “coveted bronze badges that have long served as credentials that allow garage and pit lane access will feature Andretti.” Beginning May 1, the IMS Museum “will feature a special Andretti section devoted to his entire career.” Because Andretti is “still so involved in IndyCar Series racing,” he will “be around IMS almost all of May.” IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that he "hopes to make a formal announcement” about a new series title sponsor next month; NTT Data reportedly is in talks as a potential replacement for Verizon. Andretti Autosport, home of rising IndyCar star Zach Veach, will obviously be front and center throughout the May celebration.
    • Thuuz Sports, using their custom designed algorithms to measure real time global event excitement, determined that the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints were the most exciting teams throughout the NFL regular season. The Kansas City Chiefs’ record-setting game with the Los Angeles Rams was the most exciting regular season game of 2018. In terms of most exciting teams, the Eagles and Saints were the only teams to have eight games register as “GREAT” on the excitement scale. KC had seven Great Games make the list, while three non-playoff teams – Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay – joined the Rams with six Great Games each. The measurement scores were done on a 0 to 100 scale and take into consideration game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz, and historical context. Coming soon: Thuuz’ evaluation of this year’s thrilling NFL post season matchups, as well as Super Bowl LIII.

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Capitals vs. Islanders: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Islanders: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Making his return to Capital One Arena, Barry Trotz will lead his New York Islanders against the Washington Capitals. 

It will be the first time Trotz sees the Stanley Cup banner in person and the second time that he will go at odds with his former team. 

But as things stand for both teams, they are going in opposite directions. The Isles are one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of 12 of their last 16 contests.  Washington quite possibly has hit their post-Stanley Cup hangover, and is 4-4-2 in their last 10. 

These two teams met up earlier this season and they already gave Trotz his ring, but the Caps got the victory. With the way the two teams are trending right now in the Metro division, Trotz may get his revenge. 

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders Game 47 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Islanders game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Islanders on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at ISLANDERS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:30 PM: Capitals vs. Islanders
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Christian Djoos (leg, Injured Reserve)

Islanders: Thomas Hickey (upper body, day-to-day), Andrew Ladd (lower body, Injured Reserve)

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G, Capitals (17-10-2, 2.80 GAA): Holtby missed the past two games for Caps due to an eye injury he suffered on Jan. 12 against Columbus. His status is still up in the air for this matchup, but in the past 150+ minutes (2.5 games) without Holtby the team has allowed 12 goals.

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (33 G, 19 A, 52 Pts): As much as the defense has struggled, so has the offense. Four goals in the past three games is all the Caps can muster, with one of the four coming off of the stick of Ovechkin. He has not been the reason for the lack of the offense, but Ovi needs to get them out of the funk. 

Robin Lehner, G, Islanders (13-7-3, 2.16 GAA): Dominating is all that Lehner has been doing for the Isles as of late and is a huge part of their comeback. When he's made it on the ice, the team has won nine of their last 10. His GAA is tops in the NHL and his save percentage (.928) is second. Not a good recipe for a Caps team that has trouble finding the net. 

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 252 (37 postseason)

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead 124-115-13

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead 108-94-13

Playoff Record: Islanders lead 21-16

Last Meeting: Caps win 4-1 OT (11/26/18)

Last 10: Capitals lead 6-4

MORE CAPS NEWS: