Olrando, Fla. Davis Love III is trying not to look ahead and concern himself only with the tournaments on his schedule. He gave himself reason to hope Thursday that the Masters might still be on the list.
Love chipped in twice during a five-hole stretch he played in 6 under early in his round, then finished strong with a 45-foot birdie and an 8-foot par putt that felt just as good for a 6-under 66 and a share of the lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
J.B. Holmes, among the early starters, played bogey-free in calm conditions and also had a 66 on the revamped Bay Hill course.
Love is in a position that has become all too familiar of late. He has only two weeks left to earn a trip to Augusta National, which he has not played the last two years. His only chance is to win at Bay Hill or next week in the Houston Open.
Love never has won Palmer’s tournament, although he has come close. He finished a shot out of a playoff in 1999, then was runner-up to Tiger Woods a year later.
Mike Weir had a rare moment when he reached a par 5 from a fairway bunker at No. 12 to set up one of his eight birdies on his way to a 67, tied with Henrik Stenson. Ernie Els, playing for the first time since his victory at Doral, was in the group at 68 that included Robert Allenby, who was atop the leaderboard at 6 under until putting his approach into the water and making double bogey. Steve Stricker had a 69, while Phil Mickelson and Innisbrook winner Jim Furyk were among those at 71.
Two share lead in Spain
Malaga, Spain — Defending champion Soren Kjeldsen and Paul Lawrie shot 5-under 65s to share the first-round lead in the Andalucia Open.
Min’s 66 good for lead
Carlsbad, Calif. — Na On Min shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the inaugural Kia Classic at La Costa, the first U.S. stop on the LPGA Tour this season. Na Yeon Choi was one stroke back while Seon Hwa Lee and Inbee Park were two back, tied with Catriona Matthew of Scotland.
Yankees decide on Hughes
Tampa, Fla. — Phil Hughes has been selected as the New York Yankees’ fifth starter, beating out four others, including Joba Chamberlain.
Hughes said he was “happy” with the decision, which was announced by manager Joe Girardi before the Yankees played a road game Thursday against Baltimore.
Girardi said Chamberlain will be given an opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen and is in the mix for the eighth-inning set-up role for closer Mariano Rivera.
The other contenders were Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves and Chad Gaudin, who was released by the team earlier Thursday.
Ex-LB Alexander dies
Dallas — Former NFL linebacker Elijah Alexander has died after a nearly five-year battle with cancer. He was 39.
Medical City Hospital spokeswoman Bianca Jackson said Alexander died Wednesday night at the Dallas facility. She declined to comment on cause of death.
Alexander was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, in 2005, four years after his career ended in Oakland.
The former Kansas State player spent nine seasons with four teams. After one year with Tampa Bay in 1992, Alexander spent three seasons each in Denver and Indianapolis.
Police: Miami RB failed test
Atlanta — A police report shows Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown had a blood alcohol level that was nearly twice the legal limit when he was arrested on a DUI charge in suburban Atlanta over the weekend.
The report, obtained by the Associated Press through an open records request, says Brown failed a field sobriety test and had a blood alcohol level of .158 when given a breath test. The limit to legally drive in Georgia is 0.08.
Leaf agrees to plea bargain
Lubbock, Texas — The attorney for former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf says a plea deal has been reached in his Texas drug and burglary case. Bill Kelly said Thursday that Leaf has agreed to plead guilty to seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of delivery of a simulated controlled substance.
Owner supports Pritchard
Portland, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen issued a statement affirming his support of general manager Kevin Pritchard as rumors fly concerning Pritchard’s future with the team.
“I support everyone who works for me, including Kevin Pritchard, and that’s why he’s our general manager,” Allen’s statement said. “We all have the same goal — to bring another NBA championship to the great fans of Portland.”
Pritchard is a former Kansas University player.
Michigan coach sued
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has been sued along with several business partners by a company that says it has yet to be repaid for a $1 million loan. The suit filed in federal court last month by the West Columbia Trading Company of South Carolina claims a corporation formed to develop 60 condominiums near Alabama’s football stadium owes more than $995,000 plus interest on a $1 million loan for the project made in 2006.
Busch switches races
Martinsville, Va. — A sponsorship opportunity has prompted Kyle Busch to give up his seat in this weekend’s Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Brian Ickler will make his first start in a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck in Saturday’s race at Martinsville.
Ickler was scheduled to make his KBM debut next weekend at Nashville. Busch will now race in that event instead of Ickler. Ickler is scheduled to drive 10 races this season for KBM. The organization runs a full schedule for Tayler Malsam in one truck, and Busch and Ickler were scheduled to split the season in the second entry.
Ivanovic wins opener
Key Biscayne, Fla. — Ana Ivanovic defeated French qualifier Pauline Parmentier, 6-4, 6-3, in her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open. The Serbian’s victory over the 106th-ranked Parmentier on Thursday ended her four-match losing streak.