Nationals

Woods makes short work at Torrey Pines

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Woods makes short work at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO (AP) Tiger Woods never looked so irritated winning a golf tournament so comfortably.

His record eighth victory at Torrey Pines was all but over when Woods ripped a 5-iron from 244 yards over the corner of a bunker and onto the green at the par-5 13th hole, setting up a two-putt birdie that gave him an eight shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.

At least he had plenty of time to savor this victory. The final five holes felt like they took forever.

Woods twirled his club on the tee and leaned on it in the fairway as the final round dragged on. He lost rhythm and appeared to lose interest, and it showed. A bogey from the bunker on the 14th. A tee shot that caromed off a eucalyptus tree on the 15th hole that led to double bogey. A tee shot he popped up on the 17th hole that left him 50 yards behind the other players and led to another bogey.

``It got a little ugly at the end,'' Woods said. ``I started losing patience a little bit with the slow play.''

No matter. It only affected the margin, not the outcome. Woods had to settle for an even-par 72 that gave him a four-shot win over defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater, who each had a 69.

For a tour that has been criticized for slow play, this wasn't an ideal start to the network portion of its schedule. With Woods virtually a lock to win, CBS Sports wanted the final round to resume Monday later than normal so that it could be televised in late afternoon on the East Coast. Play was so slow that CBS went over its allotted time.

Woods, meanwhile, had the ideal start to his tour season.

Only a week earlier, he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, in part because of a two-shot penalty assessed after his second round for taking an illegal drop. Woods had never missed the cut on the European Tour, and he had never started his season with the weekend off.

He might have been the only one who didn't panic.

Woods seized control with a 65 on the North Course at Torrey Pines, the spent the rest of the week pulling away from the field until no one could catch him.

``I don't know if anybody would have beaten him this week,'' said Nick Watney, who got within five shots of Woods when the tournament was still undecided until making three bogeys on his next five holes. ``He's definitely on his game.''

It's still too early to figure out the state of his game, especially in relation to Rory McIlroy, who also missed the cut in Abu Dhabi.

Torrey Pines is a public course that Woods treats like his private domain. He won the tournament for the seventh time, one short of the PGA Tour record for most wins in a single event. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Woods won for the eighth time at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, and that's a PGA Tour record that Woods previously shared with ... himself. He also has won seven times at Firestone and Bay Hill.

``I think he wanted to send a message,'' said Hunter Mahan, who shares a swing coach with Woods. ``I think deep down he did. You play some games to try to motivate yourself. There's been so much talk about Rory. Rory is now with Nike. That would be my guess.''

And it was his 75th win on the PGA Tour, seven short of the record held by Snead. Woods has won 23 of those tournaments by at least four shots.

``I'm excited the way I played all week,'' Woods said. ``I hit the ball well - pretty much did everything well and built myself a nice little cushion. I had some mistakes at the end, but all my good play before that allowed me to afford those mistakes.''

Woods mostly had reason to be excited about his short game.

In the third round Sunday, he was furious with himself for going long on the par-3 eighth green, without much green between his ball and the hole. Woods hit a chip solidly, with just enough loft, to leave himself a tap-in par. In the conclusion of the final round Monday, he pulled his tee shot into a bad spot in the bunker on the par-3 11th. The lie was good, but he had to aim well left, meaning his legs were spread wide on the slope of the sand.

He blasted it out with his 60-degree wedge to a top shelf, and then watched it feed down a slope to the right. It lost pace at the end or it might have gone in.

It looked good for television. It was a difficult shot, but not impossible.

But Woods believes those are the shots he wasn't converting a year ago. And that's one reason his outlook was so bright on the rest of the year, even after having to cope with so much fog along the Pacific bluffs.

He played the par 5s in 12 under for the lead - that alone would have been enough to win - and attributed that to his short game.

``My short game was back to how I know it can be,'' Woods said. ``My shots that I hit, especially out of these nasty little lies, I hit some really good ones this week. And that allowed me to save some pars, make some birdies, and move my way up the board. And basically, that's what I did.''

Woods figures his swing change under Sean Foley took root at some point last year, but that he had devoted so much time to the swing that he neglected his wedges. Now that he is practicing more on his short game, he expects better results - turning a 74 into a 70, and not losing leads at the majors, like he did twice last year.

Still, the season is young.

Any measure of Woods likely will have to wait until the road to the Masters gets going during the Florida Swing. Woods headed home to Florida on Monday night and is not expected to return until the Match Play Championship in Arizona a month from now. McIlroy also isn't expected to play until then, and match play being such a fickle format, the better gauge could come in the Honda Classic and at Doral.

Woods, however, likes where he is headed.

Torrey Pines is a good omen for the rest of his year. Whenever he starts a PGA Tour season with a win at Torrey, he tends to have big years - eight wins and two majors in 2006, seven wins and a major in 2007, four wins in only six starts in 2008.

Where will this lead?

``Does it feel good? Yes. Does it give me confidence? Absolutely,'' Woods said. ``But as far as the other stuff, as I said, I'm excited about this year. I'm excited about what I'm doing with Sean and some of the things that I've built. This is a nice way to start the year.''

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MLB investigating report 2017 World Series champion Astros stole signs, broke rules

MLB investigating report 2017 World Series champion Astros stole signs, broke rules

Major League Baseball has expanded its investigation into the Houston Astros after The Athletic website reported the team stole signs during home games in 2017 by using a camera positioned in center field.

The report Tuesday quoted pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for the Astros that season, and three other unidentified people with the club. The Astros won the World Series that year -- two sources told The Athletic that Houston used the system into the playoffs while another source said the system ended before the postseason.

The website said the process was started by a struggling hitter and a coach, neither of whom was identified. The camera at Minute Maid Park was connected to a television monitor in the tunnel between the Astros' dugout and clubhouse, The Athletic said, and team employees or players would communicate expected pitches by banging a trash can to signal off-speed pitches.

"I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they're going in there not knowing," Fiers told the website.

The Astros said in a statement the team "has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball" and declined additional comment.

Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow declined to talk about specifics.

"We take the allegation seriously and we're going to look into it. If you're not following the rules, it's a serious matter," he said Tuesday at the annual GM meetings. "I'm not going to get into exactly what I knew or anybody knew at this point. So I'm just going to have to wait and see. But I'm sure there will be an appropriate time to answer that question directly."

Luhnow said he hoped the allegations wouldn't put a damper on Houston's recent run of success, which includes the team's first World Series title in 2017 and an AL pennant this season.

"Teams are competing with one another and everybody's trying to find an edge," Luhnow said. "But we all have to follow the rules and the rules are set by Major League Baseball. We all agree to follow them and if you don't there's ramifications to that. We want to follow the rules and we want to compete and win. That's what every other club does, as well."

Danny Farquhar, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox twice at Minute Maid Park in September 2017, told The Athletic of `"a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a changeup signal got put down." He said after Chicago changed to more complex signals "the banging stopped."

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Carson Smith added to the sign stealing allegations on Twitter, saying that the Astros bullpen catcher would send signs to certain batters. He added that the "Astros went to extreme measures, undoubtedly still do, and it's paid off for them."

MLB strengthened its rules against sign stealing before the 2019 season, instituting procedures attempting to ensure teams did not use video to steal signs.

"After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps," MLB said in a statement.

Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Wednesday there was "scuttlebutt" that the Astros were stealing signs during the 2017 World Series, but "we certainly did not know anything definitive at the time." The Dodgers lost to the Astros in seven games.

"There are things that have kind of existed since the beginning of time. And then there are other things that are even more egregious and clearly across the line," he said. "And I think there are enough people involved in it, it would be pretty brazen to do certain things. And when you do, I think people are going to find out about it."

MLB already is investigating the Astros. Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired for directing inappropriate comments at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration after the team beat the New York Yankees to win the AL pennant on Oct. 19. The team issued and then retracted a statement accusing a Sports Illustrated reporter of trying to "fabricate a story." Taubman was fired by the Astros on Oct. 24.

Luhnow said he didn't think the Taubman situation and the sign stealing allegations are related.

"I don't think they're tied together, but they obviously have come one after another it seems like the last few weeks," Luhnow said. "It's disappointing. If there is an issue that we need to address, we'll address it."

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10 reasons why the Redskins are about to end their touchdown-less streak

10 reasons why the Redskins are about to end their touchdown-less streak

The last time the Redskins scored a touchdown, Netflix was sending people movies in the mail, Jack Bauer was beating up bad guys every second of every day in 24 and Dwayne Haskins was throwing footballs at recess.

Oh, it's only felt that long? OK. Got it.

In reality, Washington hasn't found the end zone in 13 quarters. Terry McLaurin was the last Burgundy and Gold player to notch a six-pointer, and that happened all the way back on Oct. 13. They've somehow dragged this thing out for a month.

Well, fortunately for everyone who's languished during the drought, the touchdown-less streak is coming to an end this Sunday against the Jets. It's lasted a little more than three full games, but it's not making it through a fourth.

So, why should there be confidence that the 13-quarter stretch is about to wrap up? Here are 10 reasons for confidence.

1) They HAVE to be due for one

This one's simple: THEY HAVEN'T CARRIED A FOOTBALL ACROSS THE GOAL LINE AND INTO THAT RECTANGLE AT THE END OF THE FIELD IN 195 MINUTES OF ACTION. THIS CAN'T GO ON FOR ANOTHER 60 MINUTES. IT SIMPLY CAN'T.

2) They're starting their most talented QB

Haskins clearly isn't as experienced as Case Keenum or Colt McCoy, but going back to OTAs in May, he's shown that he has more raw talent than those two vets.

Perhaps versus New York, he'll dial up a throw those two aren't capable of making, or he'll break through a sack those two would've taken and then generate a chunk play those two couldn't have generated that sparks a drive.

Odds are, Haskins will miss a protection call or a run audible that Keenum or McCoy wouldn't, but right now, it feels like the offense at least has a higher ceiling than it did with the other two under center.

3) That talented QB should be feeling really good about where he's at

Before his first start in Buffalo, Haskins' teammates and coaches noticed a more prepared No. 7, due to the fact he finally took all of the reps with the starters in the Redskins' practices.

After his first start in Buffalo, Haskins told the media he felt better and more comfortable as the matchup went along. 

And since that first start in Buffalo, Haskins has taken even more of those precious reps, been named the starter for the rest of 2019 and was given a bye week to review his effort in Buffalo while also getting ready to take on the Jets.

In short: This should be the most at ease, sure of himself and ready he's been as a pro.

4) The offense will (hopefully) employ a more aggressive approach

In naming Haskins the team's starter, Bill Callahan explained that he wants to "expand" the playbook and intends to do so "going forward."

Now, that doesn't mean he's about to abandon his beloved running game in favor of 40 passes, but hopefully it means more downfield passing, play-action shots and general creativity, which in turn should lead to more scoring.  

5) Derrius Guice is returning

Look, it's difficult to expect a ton from Guice in his return from injured reserve, considering he's played in two preseason games and one regular season game and he got hurt in 66-percent of those appearances. Whether he's just been unlucky so far or is incredibly injury-prone remains to be seen.

However, if — and feel free to highlight, underline and bold that if — he can get through Sunday healthy, he should make the offense more dangerous. Even if he just spells Adrian Peterson, Guice provides the group with another option who could potentially make quite a difference.

6) The J-E-T-S defense isn't exactly G-O-O-D

Adam Gase's squad just let Daniel Jones throw for four touchdowns and, overall, they allow 26.4 points-per-game, which ranks 26th in the NFL. That's a unit that should contribute to some Dustin Hopkins PATs, as opposed to Dustin Hopkins field goals.

7) Terry McLaurin is going to break out again soon

McLaurin has cooled off lately, as he's posted just 11, 39 and 39 yards in his last three times out on the field. Those are easily his three lowest totals from his first eight contests in the league.

Getting him going must be a focus in Week 11, and if it is, expect the third-rounder to produce in a major way. 

8) Sam Darnold's ball security is lacking

Haskins has definitely dealt with enormous turnover issues so far, but it's not like his counterpart, Darnold, keeps the ball locked up in a bank vault.

The second-year QB has been picked off nine times in six starts and has also put it on the ground three times, meaning Greg Manusky's defense will be looking to give the Redskins' offense a short field or two by forcing a turnover. In fact, they could possibly just take one back to the house and destroy the 13-quarter streak on their own.

9) There won't be any monsoons on Sunday

Part of the reason this TD-less stretch exists is because of that monsoon that completely altered the Redskins-49ers game. FedEx Field should be monsoon-free for Redskins-Jets.

10) Washington is coming off a bye

The franchise's bye week won't just benefit Haskins, who will have a few more days to settle in. It should benefit everybody.

On Monday, Trey Quinn walked the media through how refreshed he feels thanks to the time he took during the bye. Quinn and Co. are a lowly 1-8, but at least they had a minute to reset.

Maybe they'll feel a little more excited and upbeat about playing on Sunday now that they stepped away from football for a bit, as opposed to going into the afternoon feeling totally beaten down. 

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