Nationals

Woods wrapping up a busy season

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Woods wrapping up a busy season

Tiger Woods hasn't been this busy on the golf course in seven years, a season that will wrap up in California with his annual World Challenge.

Still to be determined is whether he'll keep playing that many events.

On Wednesday, Woods announced the 18-man field for the World Challenge, to be played the week after Thanksgiving at Sherwood Country Club. Woods is the defending champion, outlasting Zach Johnson to end a two-year drought.

The field features 13 players from the Ryder Cup - all but Phil Mickelson from the United States, only Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter from Europe - along with Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, Bo Van Pelt, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. All of them are among the top 30 in the world.

For Woods, the World Challenge will be his 24th tournament of the year, which includes the Ryder Cup and the exhibition he played last week in Turkey. That's his busiest schedule since he played 25 times in 2005, not including the Skins Game and PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

``It was nice to be able to - other than one setback at Doral this year - to be healthy enough to where I have the opportunity to play as much as little as I want,'' Woods said in a conference call. ``It wasn't something I was forced to sit on the sidelines, forced to rehab and get myself back into a position where I can compete. I was able to compete and play as many tournaments as I wanted to. So that was a positive.

``We'll see going forward what that holds.''

Woods added four tournaments to his 2012 season that he had never played as a pro - Abu Dhabi on the European Tour, the Honda Classic, the Greenbrier Classic and the CIMB Classic next week in Malaysia, which is unofficial.

In his last full season - without coping with injury or chaos in his personal life - he played 20 times in 2009.

Woods appeared to downplay the notion that he would consider taking up membership on the European Tour. The European Tour is expected to start counting the Ryder Cup (and Presidents Cup) toward the minimum 13 tournaments required. Woods, in response to a question last week in Turkey, said he would look into it.

Luke Donald last year became the first player to win the money title on both tours in the same season, and Rory McIlroy is poised to win both titles this year. Woods would have won the European Tour money title multiple times except that he wasn't a member and didn't play the minimum events, which at the time was 11.

``They asked me the question whether or not I would entertain it, and I said, `Yeah, I entertained it early on in my career,' because at the time there was only 11 events ... and I played once or twice in Europe, and that put me at nine or 10. Now it's at 13 - 13 is a little bit more difficult to get to, but that's one of the reasons why I think they implemented the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup as events that count towards that number.

``I certainly can see the benefits and also see the negatives of playing that much golf,'' he said. ``But going forward, I don't know.''

The Abu Dhabi Championship announced earlier Wednesday that Woods and McIlroy will headline the field next January. It was held this year the same week as Torrey Pines, and Woods missed the San Diego event for the first time since 1997 when he was healthy. Next year, Torrey Pines is the week after Abu Dhabi.

Woods didn't rule out playing Torrey Pines, but said he won't map out a schedule until after the World Challenge.

``I'm going to sit down over my offseason and before the new year for sure and plan out everything and see how many events I'm going to play in and whether this year was a good amount, I can play more, I can play less, travel more, travel less and really get a good balance and really analyze what I need to do or what I want to do,'' he said.

The World Challenge is without a title sponsor for the first time since it began 13 years ago. The tournament said Northwestern Mutual, a longtime supporter of the Tiger Woods Foundation, has stepped in as the presenting sponsor, which should defray some of the operating costs.

The tournament is not official, although it began awarding world ranking points in 2010.

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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

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USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.

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Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

As June minicamp concluded, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pulled no punches when asked about expectations for new quarterback Alex Smith. 

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said of Smith. 

While that might not sound overly demanding, remember this is Smith's first season in Washington. The QB will be playing with new teammates and implementing new terminology. 

Still, Smith is a veteran with a lot of experience, and frankly, it seems like Gruden isn't worried about a transition period. 

"We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now," the coach said. "This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

Gruden made things quite clear. He expects the best from Smith, yesterday. 

Those comments created headlines, but there was something else the coach said about his passer that also stood out. Asked about Smith's veteran presence, Gruden talked about what the quarterback might mean for his teammates. 

"The whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody," Gruden said. "He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs."

The coach continued, and things got a bit more interesting.

"He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out."

Redskins fans are often a weirdly divided bunch. Many liked former QB Kirk Cousins but plenty did not think he was worth the type of money he was paid the last two seasons. Along the way, some fans will read Gruden's comments about making something happen and taking responsibility as a jab at Cousins. That's probably wrong. 

Remember, Trent Williams played through a serious knee injury last season. Asked why, Williams said he wanted to be out there to protect Cousins. Guys played for Cousins. 

The responsibility comment might mean something else, though. Their was a rather hostile back-and-forth last season between Gruden and Cousins last season, when the QB and coach disagreed about taking more risks with the football. A quick reminder of the scene: Cousins told a reporter that he would throw 20 interceptions if he played like Gruden wanted. The coach responded that while the interceptions might pile up, the QB would also throw 60 touchdowns. (Relive it here)

Throughout his career, Smith has thrown less interceptions than Cousins. But that doesn't mean Smith doesn't take risks or put his receivers in position to make plays. 

It's entirely possible Gruden simply expects Smith, a veteran, to be a responsible player and leader. And it's likely that comment had nothing to do with the Redskins previous quarterbacks. 

The bottom line is that Smith better be ready to go Week 1, and his coach made that clear. And if Smith isn't, Gruden expects his quarterback to take responsibility. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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