Memphis, Tenn, Phil Mickelson wasted no time firing up fans with birdies on the opening two holes. Then came a sliced tee shot into the water and a nearly four-putt green. He birdied two of the last three holes. A typical round for one of golf’s most unpredictable stars.
Returning to work for the first time since disclosing last month that wife Amy has breast cancer, Mickelson got off to a solid start in the St. Jude Classic with a 2-under 68 that left him four shots behind Brian Gay. Mickelson wore a pink ribbon stitched into the side of his white cap and at times looked fatigued.
Jose Maria Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, was the day’s surprise. Still coping with arthritis pain, the Spaniard shot a 66 to finish in a group that included Rich Beem and Graeme McDowell.
John Daly, playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since a six-month suspension for off-course activities that brought unwanted publicity, shot a 72. Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland also posted a 72.
Gay has narrowly missed out on qualifying for the first two majors, although he has one chance left. Having won at Hilton Head last month, a victory this week would get him into the U.S. Open. He led by one shot over Jimmy Walker.
Castrale leads LPGA
Havre De Grace, Md. — Nicole Castrale birdied six of the first nine holes and finished with a 7-under 65 to take a one-shot lead over rookie Anna Nordqvist after the opening round of the LPGA Championship.
Castrale’s 6-under 30 was the lowest score on the front nine at Bulle Rock since the tournament moved from DuPont Country Club in 2005.
China’s Shanshan Feng was third at 67. Michelle Wie shot a 70, Lorena Ochoa had a 72, defending champion Yani Tseng was at 73, and Brittany Lincicome, seeking to win a second straight major, had five bogeys and a double bogey en route to a 75.
Houston names AD
Houston — The University of Houston has hired Mack Rhoades to be the school’s athletic director. Rhoades had been the athletic director at the University of Akron since 2006 and takes over for Dave Maggard.
Alabama handed probation
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The NCAA placed Alabama’s football program and 15 other of the school’s athletic teams on three years probation for major violations due to misuse of free textbooks.
The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions said Thursday the football team must forfeit an unspecified number of wins in which any of seven players took part during 2005-2007. The university identified the seven as “intentional wrongdoers.”
The NCAA said that 201 student-athletes in the 16 sports, including men’s basketball, obtained “impermissible benefits” by using their scholarships to obtain free textbooks for other students. It also found the university guilty of “failure to monitor.”
The university was ordered to pay a $43,900 fine, close to the total value of the books.
Alabama identified 22 of the student-athletes as “intentional wrongdoers” who knew they were receiving improper benefits.
Crew chief suspended
Charlotte, N.C. — The crew chief for Nationwide Series driver Brendan Gaughan has been suspended indefinitely for using a racial slur about rival driver Marc Davis, who is black. Bryan Berry was angry with Davis during Saturday night’s race at Nashville Superspeedway because of a pit-road collision with Gaughan. Davis was headed to the garage during and turned into Gaughan’s car as Gaughan attempted to pit.
Vols forward to return
Knoxville, Tenn. — Tennessee forward Tyler Smith says he will withdraw his name from consideration for the NBA Draft and return for his senior season with the Volunteers. In his two seasons at Tennessee, Smith has never missed a game and has averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
Bills release five
Orchard Park, N.Y. — Linebacker Blake Costanzo was one of five players waived by the Buffalo Bills after the team concluded its final spring minicamp session on Thursday. Costanzo appeared in all 16 games last season. Also waived were defensive linemen John Faletoese and Gerald Washington, offensive lineman Joel Bell and defensive back Kyle Ward.
Leaf to surrender in Texas
Canyon, Texas — Ryan Leaf’s lawyer says indicted the former NFL quarterback will surrender on drug and burglary charges in Texas. Bill Kelly told The Associated Press late Thursday that Leaf was “not a fugitive from justice” and would return next week. Prosecutor Lacy Miller says a warrant was issued May 20 when Leaf was indicted. Miller says Leaf has been working in British Columbia.
McNabb, Eagles agree
Philadelphia — Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to restructure the final two years of his contract. The five-time Pro Bowl was due to make $9.2 million this season and $10 million next season.
Donaghy reports attack
Tallahassee, Fla. — Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was attacked in prison by a fellow inmate who claimed he had ties to the New York mob, a spokesman for Donaghy said Thursday. The attacker hit Donaghy in the right knee with a stick or club in November at a minimum security federal prison camp in Pensacola, said Pat Zaranek of Executive Prison Consultants.
Rose: Photo was mistake
Chicago — Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said he used “extremely poor judgment” in posing for a photo flashing a gang sign. The NBA’s Rookie of the Year said in a statement that the photo circulating on the Internet was taken at a party he went to while at the University of Memphis.
Ex-player Held dies
Cleveland — Woodie Held, a shortstop/outfielder who played 14 years in the majors and was traded for future home run king Roger Maris, died Thursday. He was 77. The Cleveland Indians announced Held’s death. He died in Dubois, Wyo., after a long bout with cancer.
Stars name veteran coach
Dallas — The Dallas Stars hired Marc Crawford as their new coach Thursday, bringing in a well-traveled NHL veteran to replace the fired Dave Tippett.