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Woods back in Asia, preparing for next stage

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Woods back in Asia, preparing for next stage

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Tiger Woods has already rated 2012 as a good year.

He won't consider it a great year, because it's missing one essential ingredient - a major victory - but he's becoming more confident that 2013 can be.

``I've always said winning one major championship turns a good year into a great year,'' he said on Wednesday ahead of the CIMB Classic, his first event in Malaysia in 13 years. ``We place so much emphasis on them. It's very similar to what tennis has with the Grand Slam events. Guys can have seven, eight, nine-win seasons, but if they don't win a Slam, it's not a great year.

``I remember playing back in `99; I had a really good run there, won a bunch of tournaments, but didn't win a major championship until the last one, the PGA. That all of a sudden changed the whole year.''

Asked about the doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong, Woods said golf couldn't be compared with cycling, not only because it was more individual, but also because of its ingrained code of honor.

``This is a sport where we turn ourselves in on mistakes,'' he said. ``A ball moves in the trees, the guys call penalties on themselves. I think that's one of the neat things about our game, and I think with the (anti-doping) testing, it's only enhanced that respectability throughout all of sport.''

Woods is back at The Mines Resort and Golf Club for the first time since he won the individual and team titles at the 1999 World Cup.

That, by his standards, was one of many great years until his life and career spiraled out of control in 2009 because of a string of infidelities that led to the breakdown of his marriage.

His three wins on the PGA Tour this season have restored the confidence that was missing during his long title drought - 27 starts in official tournaments - and he says he's ``absolutely'' targeting more major titles to challenge Jack Nicklaus' record of 18. He's also got Sam Snead's record for most wins on the tour still in his sights. He moved into second place this year with his 74th win, eight shy of Snead.

``There are things that are certainly more important, and fatherhood is No. 1,'' he said. ``Golf has always been a high priority in my life, but family has always been No. 1. So that hasn't changed. So, for me, I certainly want to break Jack's record and catch Snead's record. Those are all things that I would love to do ... but being the best father I can possibly be to my two great kids, that certainly is No. 1 in my life.''

There's not a lot riding on the CIMB Classic for Woods, apart from the $1.3 million first prize and the chance to keep refining his game. It's a 48-man, no-cut tournament on the par 71, 6,917-yard course at The Mines that is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, though it is not an official event on the PGA Tour. Woods can still earn world ranking points.

After Malaysia, Woods will duel with Rory McIlroy in China on Monday before finishing his season in the exhibition World Challenge next month.

He said he had been improving with his driver, but still needed to work on that and other parts of his game.

``I'm excited about turning some of my weaknesses into strengths,'' he said. ``I haven't driven very well in a very long time, and this year is probably the best I've driven in my entire career,'' he said. ``But my iron game wasn't as sharp, and neither was my short game.

``Certainly I need to get my iron game back to where it used to be.''

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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