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U.S.’s Wambach Breaks Hamm’s Goals Mark

Harrison, n.j. — Abby Wambach broke Mia Hamm’s record for international career goals by a soccer player, scoring four times in the first half against South Korea last night to push her total to 160.

Wambach tallied three times in the first 29 minutes to break Hamm’s mark of 158 international goals, and she added another in injury time to give her a nice round number. The U.S. won, 5-0.

The historic 159th came on a line-drive header that ripped into the twine in the back of the net off a corner kick by Megan Rapinoe.

The 33-year-old Wambach turned and ran a couple of steps in the direction of the U.S. bench, then stopped as Rapinoe jumped into her arms. The Rochester, N.Y., native was then mobbed by teammates on the field and those who streamed off the bench as the crowd at Red Bull Arena cheered wildly.

After the hugs, Wambach turned to the stands and blew a kiss toward her parents, Judy and Peter.

Chants of “Ab-bee, Ab-bee, Ab-bee,” cascaded through the stadium as officials got the ball and gave it to the U.S. bench.

“I’m just so proud of her,” Hamm said. “Just watching those four goals, that’s what she is all about. She fights for the ball, she’s courageous and she never gives up. Her strength and perseverance is what makes her so great and it’s what defenders and opposing teams fear.

“From being her teammate early in her career, I know all she ever wanted to do was win, and she continues to do that. I’m just glad I got to share 158 with her. It was short, but it was fun.”

Golf

Hoffman Leads in Conn.

Cromwell, Conn. — Charley Hoffman missed the course record by a stroke, but shot 61 yesterday to take the lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship, a year after he blew a two-stroke advantage on the tournament’s final two holes.

In his latest round, Hoffman hit a 126-yard approach shot within 3-feet of the pin to help him birdie 18 and separate himself by a stroke from Hunter Mahan, who posted an early 62. Bubba Watson was two strokes back.

Hoffman said he thought he might have a chance to go even lower, and was flirting with 59 after making eagle on 10 and 12, and going to 8-under par with a birdie on 16. His 28 on the back nine was the lowest 9-hole score on Tour this year.

Hoffman, Mahan and Watson all have interesting histories in Connecticut.

Hoffman finished tied with Watson for second last year after it seemed he had the tournament sewed up. He made double bogey on 17, then bogeyed the 18th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker, handing Marc Leishman the title.

Basketball

Rapper Now an Agent

New York — Jay-Z is now in the player agent business.

The rap mogul has been certified by the NBA players association, spokesmen for the union and Roc Nation Sports said yesterday.

However, it’s unclear exactly what he can do. He would have to sell his minor share of the Brooklyn Nets before he can represent players, according to NBA rules, and a Roc Nation spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether that has been done.

The Sports Business Journal first reported Jay-Z’s certification.

Jay-Z attended only a handful of Nets games this season, but had a major role in the rebranding of the team in its first season in Brooklyn, even debuting the team’s black-and-white uniforms during one of his concerts.

College Football

Penn State Coach Gets Raise

State College, Pa. — Bill O’Brien is getting a nearly $1 million raise after his “tremendous job” in his debut season as Penn State’s football coach.

His contract when he arrived in January 2012 called for a base salary of $950,000. That’s going up to $1.9 million starting July 1, the school said yesterday.

Counting compensation for radio and television work and a Nike contract, O’Brien’s total deal this year would be worth more than $3.2 million.

O’Brien guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record after the program was hit by landmark NCAA sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal and player defections weeks before the start of the 2012 season.

NHL Hockey

Flyers to Buy Out
Veteran’s Contract

Philadelphia — The Philadelphia Flyers are buying out the final two years of forward Danny Briere’s contract.

General manager Paul Holmgren confirmed the move in a statement yesterday. Briere will become an unrestricted free agent as part of the Flyers’ offseason shake-up of their high-priced roster.

The move will shave $6.5 million off their salary cap. Philadelphia had one of the NHL’s most expensive payrolls last season and must shed salary to get under next season’s cap.

Briere is a 15-year NHL veteran, who had six goals and 10 assists in 34 games last season. He’s a seven-time 25-goal scorer, but his production has tailed off as a result of injuries.