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Minus Long Putter, Bradley Tied for Second at World Challenge

Thousand Oaks, Calif. — Sure enough, putting was all the rage yesterday in the World Challenge.

One day after golf’s governing bodies proposed a new rule that will ban the anchored stroke used for long putters, Keegan Bradley talked about someone on Twitter telling the PGA champion to send in his resume to Burger King in 2016, when the rule goes into effect. Bradley, a Woodstock, Vt., native, got so fed up with the teasing over his belly putter this week that he grabbed Tiger Woods’ putter and made three out of four from 10 feet.

The rule doesn’t affect Nick Watney. He made five birdies on his last 10 holes — including his first birdie ever on the 14th hole at Sherwood — for a 5-under 67 that gave him a two-shot lead.

Woods’ putting saved his round, even though most of them were for par. That included a 12-foot putt on the 15th and an 8-footer to avoid bogey on the par-5 16th. It added up to a 70, which left him very much in the hunt at an 18-man event where he is more than just a tournament host. Without a title sponsor, Woods is underwriting most of the cost.

Bradley and a pair of past champions at this tournament — Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell — were two shots out of the lead at 69. Woods was in the group at 70 that included Bo Van Pelt, whom Woods beat this year at Congressional, and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

But the buzz remained over the belly.

Bradley was the first player to win a major using the belly putter at the 2011 PGA Championship, and then Simpson and Ernie Els followed this year. Bradley is not happy about the rule, though he has been respectful toward the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient in their right to set the rules.

College Football

Louisville 20, Rutgers 17

Piscataway, n.j. — Banged-up Teddy Bridgewater came off the bench to throw two-second half touchdown passes, and John Wallace kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:41 left to send Louisville to the BCS with a victory against Rutgers last night.

In a game between one team headed to the Big Ten and another bound for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East handed out its second-to-last bid to a school that entered the league during its last massive rebuild in 2005 and watched its athletic program blossom.

The Cardinals will be going to the BCS for the second time, first since 2006.

Louisville (10-2, 5-2) will share this Big East title with Rutgers (9-3, 5-2), Syracuse and possibly even Cincinnati, but the BCS bid will be all theirs. The BCS standings will be used to break the tie and there is no doubt Louisville, with the best overall record in the conference, will be on top.

C-USA Finds Replacements

Murfreesboro, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic will join Conference USA, leaving the Sun Belt as part of the ever-changing college landscape.

Conference USA announced the addition of its new members yesterday, just two days after Tulane and East Carolina left Conference USA for the Big East.

When the two schools join Conference USA by 2014, the league will consist of 14 schools in 10 states.

Middle Tennessee President Sidney McPhee said universities have been in “constant movement” to align themselves. The Blue Raiders have won eight all-sports Sun Belt trophies in 12 years and McPhee said their desire is to compete with the best.

Florida Atlantic athletic director Pat Chun called it a “momentous day.” The move puts the Owls in the league with rival FIU, which joins C-USA in 2013.

Baseball

Nationals Add Outfielder

Washington — The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer, giving the reigning NL East champions a leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Span is a career .284 hitter with 23 home runs, 230 RBIs, 90 steals and a .357 on-base percentage during five seasons with the Twins.

The acquisition of Span allows the Nationals potentially to move 20-year-old Bryce Harper to left field, with Jayson Werth staying in right. Michael Morse could then move to first base — the position played by free agent slugger Adam LaRoche.

Meyer went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA at Class A this year.

NHL Hockey

Wild Goalie Has MS

St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Wild confirmed yesterday that Harding is undergoing treatment for the disease, which attacks the body’s immune system and affects the central nervous system. The Star Tribune first reported the news.

General manager Chuck Fletcher said he knows the “competitive fire” Harding has used in his hockey career will help him fight this challenge.

MS symptoms can include problems with balance, vision and fatigue. The 28-year-old Harding told the Star Tribune he plans to keep playing.

Soccer

MLS Names MVP

New York — San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski was voted Major League Soccer’s MVP yesterday after scoring 27 goals to tie the season record set by Tampa Bay’s Roy Lassiter in 1996.

The 29-year-old received 91 percent of MLS club management votes, 97 percent of media votes and 71 percent of player votes for a combined 259 percent.

Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls was runner-up with a combined 14 percent and Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City was third with 7 percent.

World XI Nominees Named

Zurich — Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic head the list of candidates for selection as forwards in a FIFPro World XI.

Neymar and Uruguay teammates Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are also among 15 nominees for three places in the world lineup.

Contenders from South America include Radamel Falcao and Sergio Aguero.

Manchester United teammates Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, and Aguero’s Manchester City colleague Mario Balotelli represent the Premier League.

Africa has Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o in contention. France’s Karim Benzema and Mario Gomez of Germany complete the list.

Candidates for other positions were previously announced.

The FIFPro World XI, chosen by 50,000 members of the global players union, will be announced on Jan. 7 at the FIFA Ballon D’Or gala in Zurich.