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Garcia, Woods Extend Their Competitive Staredown at Players

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, hits from the trees in the rough of the second hole during the third round of The Players championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass, Saturday, May 11, 2013, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, hits from the trees in the rough of the second hole during the third round of The Players championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass, Saturday, May 11, 2013, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — A rift between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia attracted all the attention on a stormy day at Sawgrass. Swedish rookie David Lingmerth quietly went about his business and wound up atop the leaderboard yesterday in The Players Championship.

Lingmerth finished a wild day with an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th and a 10-foot birdie on the island-green 17th to reach 12-under par when the third round was suspended because of darkness. It was delayed nearly two hours because of threatening storms.

Woods, Garcia and Henrik Stenson — all former Players champions — were two shots behind. Eight players had to return this morning to complete the round.

The Woods-Garcia relationship already was frosty, and an incident on the par-5 second hole was sure to add another layer of chill.

Garcia was hitting his second shot from the fairway when he was disrupted by a burst of cheers from the large crowd gathered around Woods in the trees. Garcia snapped his head over to the left and glared.

The cheer was for Woods taking a fairway metal from his bag, a risky shot because he had only a 15-foot gap to escape the woods.

Garcia wound up making a bogey on the second hole to lose the one-shot lead he had at the start of the round. Woods pulled off his shot, and then blasted out of the bunker to about 10 feet and made birdie to take the lead.

Meanwhile, The Players Championship was shaping up to be quite a finish.

Lingmerth, who began his rookie season by losing in a playoff at the Humana Challenge, poured in par putts along the back nine to stay around the leaders, and then he raced by them with his eagle-birdie finish. He returns today to play the 18th hole.

Tennis

Nadal Back
To Madrid Final

Madrid — Rafael Nadal reached his seventh consecutive final since returning from a knee injury, brushing aside wild-card entry Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-4 at the Madrid Open yesterday.

Nadal had little trouble extending his winning streak in clay-court semifinals to 46 matches, quickly finishing his overmatched countryman after winning the first six games.

Nadal can win his fifth title since coming back from seven-month layoff healing his left knee.

The Spaniard will play Stanislas Wawrinka after the 15th-ranked Swiss recovered late to defeat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet for the No. 1 ranking and the women’s title after winning semifinals in straight sets.

NCAA Lacrosse

Yale 10, Penn State 7

State College, Pa. — Colin Flaherty scored three goals during a big second-half run that helped Yale rally from a four-goal halftime deficit to beat Penn State in the first round of the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament.

Conrad Oberback added two goals, and Kirby Zdrill had the go-ahead score with 9:06 left for the Bulldogs (12-4), who won their first tournament game since 1992.

NFL Football

Raiders Exec
Trask Resigns

Alameda, Calif. — Longtime Oakland Raiders chief executive office Amy Trask resigned her position yesterday, ending the tenure of one of the highest-ranking women in American professional sports.

Trask spent 25 seasons with the Raiders starting during their time in Los Angeles and continuing after the move to Oakland in 1995. She became CEO in 1997 and was one of late owner Al Davis’ most trusted advisers before his death in October 2011.

Mark Davis took over the Raiders following his father’s death. He hired general Reggie McKenzie to run the football operations in January 2012 and has been looking for a potential team president this offseason.

Jets WR Sauer Dies

Flroham Park, N.J. — George Sauer had a huge day in the biggest game in New York Jets history, and then surprisingly walked away from football a few years later.

Sauer, a wide receiver on the Jets’ only Super Bowl championship team, has died. He was 69.

The team and Moreland Funeral Home in Westerville, Ohio, confirmed yesterday that he died Tuesday after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sauer played a key role in the Jets’ 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl. He caught eight passes from Joe Namath that day in one of the greatest upsets in pro football history.

He played for the Jets in the AFL and then the NFL from 1965-70, but left the game after the 1970 season still in his prime because, he said at the time, he was unhappy with the way the game treated players. Sauer briefly returned to football in 1974 with the New York Stars and Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League before retiring from playing for good.

Sauer later was an assistant coach for the Carolina Chargers of the American Football Association in 1979.

“We will always remember George Sauer for his role in the New York Jets’ run that culminated with a historic victory in Super Bowl III as well as the strength of his convictions off the field,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as we say goodbye to someone whose unforgettable contributions will always be a part of this organization’s history.”

Sometimes overshadowed by fellow wide receiver Don Maynard, a Hall of Famer, Sauer had an extremely productive career. He was chosen to four all-star teams and was a two-time All-Pro.

His best moment came in the Super Bowl when, with Maynard hampered by a pulled hamstring, Sauer helped lead the Jets past the Colts. His 39-yard catch to the Colts 10-yard line late in the third quarter set up the Jets’ final field goal early in the fourth that gave New York a 16-0 lead.

Current Jets coach Rex Ryan was 6 years old when his father Buddy became an assistant with the team in 1968, and remembers watching Sauer.

“Everybody knew about Don Maynard, obviously, because he was a great receiver, a Hall of Fame receiver,” Ryan said. “But George Sauer stepped up in the biggest moment. He was obviously a tremendous player.”

Sauer had at least 1,000 yards receiving for three straight years from 1966-68, with his best season coming in 1967 when he led the AFL with 75 catches for 1,189 yards and six touchdowns. His 309 career receptions rank him ninth in franchise history, while his for 4,965 yards receiving are sixth on the team’s list.

“RIP George Sauer,” former Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet wrote on Twitter. “One of the heroes on the Jets Super Bowl III championship team.”

Sauer, who was born in Sheboygan, Wis., on Nov. 10, 1943, wrote novels and poetry after football, according to the Jets’ website, and most recently was a textbook graphics specialist in St. Paul, Minn., in the 1990s. His father, George Sr., worked as the Jets’ director of player personnel in the 1960s.

Steelers Great Butler Dies

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame defensive back Jack Butler died Saturday morning following a lengthy battle with a staph infection. He was 85.

Butler’s son John said his father’s heart stopped suddenly. Butler had been hospitalized for several months while dealing with a staph infection that had plagued him off and on since he retired in 1959.

A Pittsburgh native, Butler made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of St. Bonaventure in 1951. He developed into one of the top defensive backs of his era. He played nine seasons with the Steelers, collecting 52 interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl four times and was named to the All-NFL first team three times.

Butler was elected to the Hall of Fame by the senior committee in 2012.