In Brief: Duval Makes Push at Nelson Championship
Irving, Texas — Peter Hanson made his only back-nine birdie with a 6-foot putt at the 18th hole Thursday, closing out a 5-under 65 for a one-stroke lead over David Duval and two others after the first round of the Byron Nelson Championship.
Duval, ranked 890th in the world 15 years after being No. 1, birdied his last three holes — Nos. 7-9 — after pitching in from 57 feet for another birdie at the fifth hole. He’s winless since the 2001 British Open.
Marc Leishman and Tim Wilkinson matched Duval at 66.
The 42-year-old Duval almost withdrew before the round because of a muscle issue in his right elbow that made it painful to hit balls and practice this week. About a half-hour before teeing off, he still wasn’t sure that he was going to play because his arm was hurting again.
Martin Kaymer, The Players Championship winner Sunday, was among eight players at 67. Keegan Bradley shot a 70.
Williamsburg, Va. — Azahara Munoz and Austin Ernst had strong finishes to share the first-round lead in the Kingsmill Championship at 6-under 65.
The former NCAA individual champions completed their morning rounds on the front nine at Kingsmill’s River Course, with Munoz birdieing four of her last seven holes, and Ernst closing with birdies on No. 7 and 9.
Birmingham, Ala. — Jay Haas, Mark Calcavecchia, Olin Browne and Chien Soon Lu shared the first-round lead at 3-under 69 in the Regions Tradition, the first of the 50-and-over tour’s five majors.
With windy, unseasonably cool conditions at Shoal Creek, it was the highest score for first-round leaders at the Tradition since three players tied at 3-under in 1990 at Desert Mountain Club in Arizona.
Nadal Pushed to 3 Sets Again
Rome — Rafael Nadal was pushed to three sets for the second consecutive match before ultimately prevailing on Thursday to set up an Italian Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray.
The top-ranked Nadal dropped behind a set and a break against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, then took 11 of the final 12 games to win 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 on another windy day at the Foro Italico.
Murray eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 7-6 (1), 6-4 to celebrate his 27th birthday, and Novak Djokovic fell behind 4-0 in the opening set before rallying for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
In an upset, the seemingly ageless Tommy Haas beat third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
On the women’s side, Maria Sharapova’s 12-match winning streak — which included titles in Stuttgart and Madrid — ended with a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Ana Ivanovic.
Showing no signs of trouble from the left thigh injury that forced her to withdraw from Madrid, defending champion Serena Williams cruised past fellow American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-2.
Rivers Welcomes Fine
Los Angeles — Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his $25,000 fine for criticizing officials is money well spent.
In fact, two people on the Clippers’ front-office staff volunteered to help Rivers pay the bill after he ripped a key call in Los Angeles’ 105-104 loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series.
“My assistant, Ann Marie, got two calls from employees downtown that wanted to do a payroll deduct of $100 each to help me pay for the fine, which we obviously denied,” Rivers said with a grin.
The NBA levied the fine several hours before the Clippers faced playoff elimination in Game 6 against Oklahoma City at Staples Center on Thursday.
“I thought it was deserved,” Rivers said. “It’s one of the rare times you actually earned one. I don’t mind that.”
Rivers still hasn’t changed his opinion of a last-minute call that abetted the Thunder’s comeback from a 13-point deficit in the final 3:53 of Game 5. The veteran coach criticized the officials’ reasoning while claiming the Clippers “were robbed” — and he hasn’t backed down from that assessment.
The Clippers had a two-point lead with 14 seconds left when Chris Paul made a turnover while attempting to draw a shooting foul. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson then drove the lane and went up for a shot while defended by Matt Barnes, who appeared to hit Jackson’s hand.
No foul was called as the ball flew away from Jackson and out of bounds with 11.3 seconds left. But officials awarded the ball to the Thunder and upheld their call on video replay.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn issued a statement Wednesday affirming the officials’ call.