AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP)Tiger Woods playing the Masters again, his shirt as pink as the azaleas at Augusta National, would have been enough reason to celebrate.
It felt that way to him, too.
Woods twirled his club after good shots, and there were enough. He pumped his fist after his longest birdie putt. And then normalcy gave way to reality when he used his wedge as a walking stick for his once-battered and now weary legs for a final climb toward the 18th green.
Another par save for a 1-under 71, four shots behind Sungjae Im.
But this wasn’t just about a score. Woods was competing in a major, the first time in 508 days since a car crash some 14 month ago that shattered his right leg. Still to come is Friday, the first time he will have walked 18 holes at Augusta National on consecutive days since the accident with what he described as ”lots of ice” in between.
Im, the 24-year-old South Korean known for rarely missing the center of the club face, ran off three straight birdies at the start, recovered from a pair of bogeys with a 12-foot eagle putt on the 13th and added a late birdie for a 5-under 67. He was one shot ahead of Cameron Smith.
Dustin Johnson, who held off Im and Smith when he won the Masters in November 2020, was in the large group at 69, along with former Masters champion Danny Willett, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Joaquin Niemann.
NEW YORK (AP) – Two Black coaches joined Brian Flores in his lawsuit alleging racist hiring practices by the NFL when there are vacancies for coaches and general managers.
The updated lawsuit in Manhattan federal court added coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton.
The lawsuit said Wilks was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 when he was hired as a ”bridge coach” but was given no meaningful chance to succeed, while Horton was subjected to discriminatory treatment when he was given a sham interview for the Tennessee Titans head coach position in January 2016.
Flores also criticized the NFL in the rewritten lawsuit for its response to the lawsuit he brought against it and its teams several weeks ago.
The lawsuit added the Houston Texans to the teams Flores has alleged discriminated against him, saying the Texans engaged in ”blatant retaliation” by removing him from consideration for its head coach vacancy after he sued the league.
In a release from the lawsuit’s attorneys, Wilks said he hoped the lawsuit would help bring racial equality to the league. Arizona replaced Wilks with Kliff Kingsbury, a white man with no NFL coaching experience, and gave a white general manager an extension despite a drunk driving conviction.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Shohei Ohtani was outstanding for five innings on the mound, and he looked dangerous all night at the plate.
Framber Valdez and his Houston Astros were just a bit better everywhere while extending a remarkable decade of opening day dominance.
Valdez outpitched Ohtani with 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball, and the Astros tied the longest opening day winning streak in major league history with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Alex Bregman had an early RBI single and a late homer as the Astros won their 10th straight season opener. That matches the mark posted in the late 19th century by the Boston Beaneaters – now the Atlanta Braves.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Bobby Witt Jr. capped his highly anticipated big league debut with his first hit, a go-ahead double with two outs in the eighth inning, sending the Kansas City Royals to a 3-1 victory over the rechristened Cleveland Guardians.
Andrew Benintendi drove in Witt after his clutch hit, giving Royals reliever Scott Barlow a cushion. And after a perfect eighth, Barlow struck out Myles Straw with runners on the corners in the ninth to end it.
In a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners, Cleveland ace Shane Bieber and erstwhile Royals star Zach Greinke dueled to a 1-all stalemate before turning the game over to the bullpens on a cold day at Kauffman Stadium.
It remained tied until the eighth, when the Royals’ Michael Taylor worked a walk off Triston McKenzie and then took second on Nicky Lopez’s sacrifice bunt. McKenzie struck out Whit Merrifield before Witt, regarded by many as the No. 1 prospect in the game, roped a double down the left-field line to give Kansas City its first lead.
Jose Ramirez had an RBI double for the Guardians a day after agreeing to a $124 million, five-year deal to stay with Cleveland.
ATLANTA (AP) – Tyler Mahle allowed only an unearned run in five innings to outpitch Max Fried, Brandon Drury hit a three-run homer and the Cincinnati Reds beat Atlanta 6-3 to spoil the Braves’ World Series celebration.
The Braves unveiled their World Series pennant in right field in a pregame ceremony after two parachutists landed in the outfield carrying championship banners. Fried, the winning pitcher in the World Series-clinching Game 6 win over Houston, couldn’t repeat that success in his opening-day start.
Fried allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He left the game with two runners on base before Drury’s homer off Collin McHugh, making his Braves debut, landed in the Reds’ bullpen behind the left field wall.
Austin Riley hit a two-run homer for Atlanta off right-hander Dauri Moreta in the eighth.
Mahle was sharp in his first opening-day start, allowing only three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Tony Santillan pitched a perfect ninth to earn his first career save.
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday each scored 29 points and the Milwaukee Bucks edged the short-handed Boston Celtics 127-121 to take over second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bucks (50-30) scored the game’s final nine points to move a half-game ahead of the Celtics and a full game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Milwaukee withstood a triple-double from Jaylen Brown, who had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. Brown’s 11 assists matched his career high.
BOSTON (AP) – Reggie Lutz scored to break a second-period tie and Minnesota State scored three times in the third in the Frozen Four semifinal to beat big-city rival Minnesota 5-1 and advance to the national championship game.
Minnesota State will play for its first NCAA hockey title Saturday night against Denver.
Benton Maass, Ondrej Pavel, David Silye and Brendan Furry also scored for Minnesota State, and Hobey Baker Award finalist Dryden McKay stopped 16 shots. Justen Close made 27 saves before he was pulled for an extra skater with 3:51 left, but the Gophers could not convert and Furry delivered an empty-netter.
BOSTON (AP) – Carter Savoie scored with 14:53 gone in overtime, converting on his own rebound to lead Denver past Michigan 3-2 in the Frozen Four semifinal and into the NCAA championship game.
The Pioneers will play for the title Saturday night against Minnesota State. It would be Denver’s ninth hockey championship, tying Michigan for the most in NCAA history.
Magnus Chrona made 19 saves for the Pioneers, who twice went ahead in regulation, on goals from Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright. But both times Michigan tied it – on goals from Jimmy Lambert and Thomas Bordeleau, the latter with 11 minutes left in regulation.
It stayed that way until Michigan failed to clear the puck from its own zone, with two Wolverines skating past the puck near the blue line, each leaving it for the other. The puck found its way to Hobey Baker finalst Bobby Brink in the corner.