February 13, 2014

Associated Press


GOLD COAST, Australia — Cheyenne Woods won the Australian Ladies Masters on Sunday for her first major professional tour victory, holding off 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee by two strokes.

The 23-year-old Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, closed with a 4-under 69 at Royal Pines to finish at 16-under 276. Lee also shot 69 in the event sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.

Woods birdied the par-5 15th to open a two-stroke lead, hitting a wedge from about 120 yards to 4 feet. On the par-5 18th, she matched Lee with a birdie, holing out from 1½ feet.

“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” Woods said. “The European Tour has been great to be able to play this past year. I’ve been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members ... to be able to come out here and compete with them and come out on top was huge for me.”

From Phoenix, Woods is the daughter of Earl Woods Jr., Tiger Woods’ half brother.

Woods turned professional in 2012 after an All-America career at Wake Forest and her only previous pro victory came in 2012 in a SunCoast mini-tour event. In December, she missed the cut in the LPGA Tour’s qualifying tournament in a failed bid to earn a spot on the circuit.

“I’ve been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting,” she said. “It’s nice now to say to people that I can play and I’m not just a name. Growing up with the last name of Woods, there’s a lot of expectations and pressure and spotlight on you but I always knew that I was able to win. I always knew I’d be able to compete with these ladies, so now it’s kind of a weight off my shoulders because now everybody knows not just me.”

Woods earned $51,000 and a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour. She will play next week in the LPGA Tour-sanctioned Women’s Australian Open in Victoria.

South Africa’s Stacy Lee Bregman and Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth tied for third at 12 under. Bergman closed with a 72, and Lenmarth had a 70.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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February 13, 2014

Associated Press


NEW YORK — Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter says he will retire after this season “with absolutely no regrets,” ending one of the greatest careers in the history of baseball's most storied franchise.

The 39-year-old New York captain posted a long letter on his Facebook page Wednesday saying that 2014 will be his final year.

A 13-time All-Star who has led the Yankees to five World Series championships, Jeter was limited to 17 games last season while trying to recover from a broken left ankle sustained during the 2012 playoffs.

“I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball,” he wrote.

“I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets,” he said.

Jeter was the last link to the powerful Yankees teams that won three straight World Series crowns from 1998-2000. Longtime teammates Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retired after last year.

“Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee of his era,” Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press. “He was the face of one of the greatest teams ever.”

But Jeter’s joyride hit a big speed bump recently.

“Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle,” Jeter wrote. “The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.”

“So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100 percent sure,” he wrote.

“And the thing is, I could not be more sure,” he wrote.

Jeter hit just .190 with one homer and seven RBIs last season.

His agent, Casey Close, said Jeter wanted to declare his intentions before the Yankees start spring training later this week so that his future status wouldn’t be a distraction.

“I’m excited for him. It’s kind of nice to see him go out on his own terms,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said at spring camp in Glendale, Ariz.

Mattingly finished up his All-Star career with the Yankees in 1995, the same season Jeter made his big league debut.

“I saw him when he first showed for spring training. I always think about spring training when I think about him, just because he was this 17-year-old kid right out of high school who looked out of place. He was skinny, but he was tough. He's been winning since the day he got there,” Mattingly said.

Jeter is the Yankees’ career hits leader with 3,316. He is a lifetime .312 hitter in 19 seasons, with 256 home runs and 1,261 RBIs.

Jeter has scored 1,876 runs and stolen 348 bases. He also is a five-time Gold Glove winner.

Added up, his numbers put him among the greats in Yankees history, with fans often invoking the names of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and others when mentioning Jeter’s legacy.

As for rating Jeter’s place with the Yankees, Mattingly said: “It’s hard. You’re talking about DiMaggio, Gehrig and Mantle. But he’s right there. He’s got to be one of those.”

Plus, No. 2 is defined by so much more than his numbers. His backhanded flip in the playoffs, his diving catch into the stands, his speech to close old Yankee Stadium and his home run for career hit No. 3,000.

As for rating Jeter’s place with the Yankees, Mattingly said: “It’s hard. You’re talking about DiMaggio, Gehrig and Mantle. But he’s right there. He’s got to be one of those.”

An October presence for so many years - he’s a career .321 hitter in seven World Series - he also became Mr. November in 2001. His winning, 10th-inning homer came shortly after midnight in a Game 4 that began on Halloween.

“Just as DiMaggio represented his era, Mantle represented his era and Ruth represented his era. And Reggie represented the 70s teams,” Steinbrenner said.

Jeter was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996, the season the Yankees won their first World Series and re-established themselves as a major force. He was the MVP of the World Series.

Jeter has said he's fully ready for spring training this year and set to play.

Jeter worked out at the Yankees’ spring training complex on Wednesday and left around noon, giving no hint that he was about to announce his plans.

Commissioner Bud Selig said that during his tenure, “Major League Baseball has had no finer ambassador than Derek Jeter.”

“Derek has represented all the best of the national pastime, on and off the field,” Selig said in a statement. “He is one of the most accomplished and memorable players of his - or any - era.”

“Derek is the kind of person that generations have emulated proudly, and he remains an exemplary face of our sport,” he wrote.

A staple for so long in the Yankees’ lineup, Jeter missed the first 91 games last year after setbacks in spring training and the early months of the season.

Even after his 2013 debut, things didn't go well. Jeter felt pain in his right quadriceps when he returned July 11 and again went on the disabled list.

Jeter returned July 28 for three games, but strained his right calf. He played from Aug. 26 through Sept. 7, leaving for a pinch runner after hitting a single against Boston. Four days later, the Yankees said Jeter was done for the year.

The Yankees will open the 2014 regular season on April 1 in Houston. Their home opener is April 7 against Baltimore.

Like Rivera last year, Jeter is sure to be saluted wherever he goes in this final season.

“Now it is time for the next chapter,” he wrote. “There are many things I want to do in business and in philanthropic work, in addition to focusing more on my personal life and starting a family of my own. And I want the ability to move at my own pace, see the world and finally have a summer vacation.”

“But before that, I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship,” he said.

AP freelance writers Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., and Norm Frauenheim in Glendale, Ariz., contributed to this report.

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Category: Sports

February 06, 2014

Nineteen outstanding high school seniors and one transfer graduate student have signed national letters-of-intent, grants-in-aid and/or offers of admission to UCLA, Bruin head football coach Jim Mora announced today. Thirteen of the prep players attended high school in the state of California, three in Texas, and one each from Louisiana, Colorado and Indiana. The class is ranked No. 18 by Rivals.com, No. 19 nationally by Scout.com, and No. 27 by ESPN.

Cameron Griffin – Linebacker, View Park Prep HS in Los Angeles, CA 6-3, 215

Three-star recruit according to rivals.com … Rivals’ No. 69-ranked prospect in the state of California … Three-stars from scout.com … Scout’s No. 33-rated middle linebacker nationally, the No. 68 overall prospect in the state of California and No. 95 recruit in the West … PrepStar All-West Region … CalHiSports.com 1st team All-State Small Schools … First-team CIF Los Angeles City Division III and Player of the Year … As a running back, he ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns in the 2013 City Section Division III championship game … Invited to participate in the Semper Fi Game.

Mossi Johnson – Defensive Back, Crenshaw HS in Los Angeles, CA 6-0, 180

A three-star recruit according to both scout.com and rivals.com in 2013 who enrolled at UCLA in January of 2014 … The No. 57-ranked cornerback in the nation according to scout.com … No. 13-ranked corner in the West … PrepStar All-West Region … Selected to play in the Offense-Defense Bowl in Houston … Listed No. 84 on the scout.com West 150 … Rated No. 91 prospect in the state of California by rivals.com … As a senior, he made 55 tackles, seven interceptions and scored 18 touchdowns … As a junior, he made 40 tackles … Had 10 punt returns for 231 yards and 10 kickoff returns for 179 yards … Rushed for 493 yards and six touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown … Coached by Robert Garret.        

Jordan Lasley – Wide Receiver, Serra HS in Gardena, CA 6-2, 190

Three-star recruit according to rivals.com … Rivals’ No. 55-ranked wide receiver in the country and the No. 44-rated recruit in the state of California … Three stars from scout.com … Scout’s No. 69 wide receiver nationally, the No. 40 recruit in the state of California and No. 59 recruit in the West … PrepStar All-West Region … Three-star athlete according to 247Sports … As a senior, he caught 34 passes for 833 yards and 14 touchdowns … First-team All-CIF Western Division.

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner – Defensive Line, St. John Bosco HS in Bellflower, CA 6-3, 265

Four-star recruit according to scout.com, the nation’s No. 110  prospect, the No. 11-ranked prospect in the state of California and No. 20 recruit in the West … Scout’s No. 14 defensive end prospect nationally … First-team All-CIF Pac-5 Division …  Four stars according to rivals.com … Rivals’ No. 15 weak side defensive end in the nation and the No. 32 prospect in the state of California … PrepStar All-West Region … Credited with 108 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a senior … Named to Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first-team defense … Led team to undefeated season and the Open Division Bowl Game title.

Jaleel Wadood – Defensive Back, St. John Bosco HS in Bellflower, CA 5-11, 175

A four-star recruit according to rivals.com and the No. 80 recruit in the nation … Four-star recruit according to scout.com, the nation’s No. 97 recruit, the No. 10-rated prospect in the state of California and No. 19 prospect in the West … Scout’s No. 8-rated safety prospect nationally … Rivals’ No. 7-ranked cornerback prospect in the nation and the No. 8-rated recruit in the state of California … Four-star athlete and ESPN.com’s No. 288-rated recruit in the nation … First-team All-CIF Pac-5 Division and Defensive Player of the Year … Second-team MaxPreps All-America selection … PrepStar All-West Region … L.A. Times Player of the Year … Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year … Caught 78 passes for 1,293 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior … On defense, he recorded 144 tackles and picked off three passes … Helped team win the CIF-SS Pac-5 championship and the 2013 State Open Division title … Selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Dwight Williams – Linebacker, Serra HS in Gardena, CA 6-1, 212

Three-star recruit according to rivals.com and scout.com … Rivals’ No. 25-ranked outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 41-ranked recruit in the state of California … Scout.com’s No. 42 prospect in the state of California and No. 61 recruit in the West … Scout’s No. 36 outside linebacker prospect nationally … Listed as a four-star athlete and the No. 180 prospect in the nation by ESPN.com … PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team … First-team All-CIF Western Division … As a senior, he made 91 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks and five interceptions … Selected to play in U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

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Category: Sports

February 06, 2014


Associated Press


Magic Johnson was back at the Staples Center, dishing an assist to the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

The former Lakers great is part of a group buying the Sparks and keeping league MVP Candace Parker and the team in LA.

“The leaders of this great city came together quickly to keep this franchise right where it belongs — in the city of Angels,” Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday outside Staples Center. “Thanks to my sister, Evelyn, playing college basketball, I have a great appreciation of the talented players that represent the WNBA. Our group will now work together to bring our loyal fans another WNBA championship.”

Johnson is joined in the ownership group by Mark Walter, the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and co-owners Todd L. Boehly, Robert L. Patton and Stan Kasten. The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the purchase of the Sparks by the ownership group.

“We’re totally thrilled,” WNBA President Laurel Richie told The Associated Press. “When Magic chooses to enter into a partnership with a WNBA team, that's a great thing. He’s a legend within basketball. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. He’s a larger-than-life personality. He’s an extremely successful business man. He cares about the community the way that the WNBA does.”

Johnson and Walter teamed with a group of investors to buy the Dodgers in 2012 for a record $2 billion and combined with outgoing owner Frank McCourt to buy land surrounding Dodger Stadium for $150 million.

It will be the same group owning the Sparks, minus Peter Guber, who owns a stake in the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Richie said Walter and Johnson discussed the idea on a cross-country flight and by the time they landed on the West Coast they had decided they wanted to own the Sparks.

“Earvin came to me and said we need to help save the Sparks and keep them in Los Angeles,” Walter said. “The decision was quite easy for our investment group due to the passion Magic has for this city, these great athletes and our phenomenal fans. This team and its great players should remain a part of the sports fabric of this wonderful city.”

Previous Sparks owner Paula Madison informed the league in late December that she wouldn't be able to run the team. She told The Associated Press that her family had lost $12 million, including $1.4 million last season, operating the franchise since buying it from the Buss family in 2007.

Johnson was a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers for a decade before selling his share in 2011.

While the franchise hasn’t been successful financially, the Sparks have been one of the WNBA's best teams on the court and led the league in attendance the past two seasons. They won WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002 and made it to the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. They were knocked out in the opening round by Phoenix last season.

Los Angeles, one of only four original WNBA franchises left, also has one of the league’s marquee players in Parker. She led the team with an average of 25.7 points last season. She’s joined by All-Stars Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who headline a talented roster.

Parker tweeted her reaction on Wednesday: “Words cant describe how pumped I am. I aspire to do what youve done @Magic Johnson win championshipS.”

Former LA star Lisa Leslie and coach Carol Ross also attended the announcement with Johnson at the Staples Center.

“I do know they were very attracted to this team not just because they were in L.A. and their incredible history, but also their performance over the last few years,” Richie said. “The players, Candace being MVP, Carol being Coach of the Year, their knowledge and experience — they recognize what an incredible franchise it is at this moment.”

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Category: Sports

January 30, 2014

LAWT Wire Services


JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Beast Mode was Least Mode again.

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch abruptly ended his media availability – again – walking away from a throng of reporters while escorted by a member of the New Jersey State Police on Wednesday after about 7 uncomfortable minutes in which he answered just a few questions.

The elusive Lynch, who created a stir at media day Tuesday by talking for only 6-1/2 minutes, writhed in his seat and leaned his head back at times. A few dozen reporters, lined up as much as five deep, tried to ask questions during the players’ 45-minute availability at the team hotel.

“I really don’t have too much to say, boss,” Lynch said in a tone barely above a whisper. “I really don’t. I appreciate it, but I don’t get it. I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss. That’s the only reason I’m here.”

Earlier this month, Lynch was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with the Seattle media. The NFL put that fine on hold, saying it would be rescinded if he complied with media obligations. During media day, Lynch spoke for 6-1/2 minutes before leaving, then returning to speak to Deion Sanders for NFL Network, to the Seahawks website, and to Armed Forces Network – and acknowledged he was trying to avoid being fined by the league for not meeting his media requirements.

It didn’t appear Lynch would be fined, for either Tuesday or Wednesday.

“Players are required to participate and he participated,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press. “His comments of the past two days have been widely circulated.”

In a statement before Tuesday’s media session, the Pro Football Writers of America said it was “extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access” to Lynch at media day. The PFWA added that several “long-standing and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch's conduct and refusal to answer any questions.”

The organization also called the statement by the league that Lynch participated Tuesday “an affront to our membership,” but added that it was “encouraged” that the NFL would continue to monitor the situation.

Players have clauses in their contract requiring them to cooperate with the media.

Fullback Michael Robinson, one of Lynch's buddies who was seated to his left, even poked fun at the situation by asking Lynch a question of his own.

“What do you think of your fullback?” Robinson said, laughing. “Is he a pretty cool brother?”

“No,” Lynch responded.

“What?” Robinson asked incredulously.

“No,” Lynch repeated.

“That’s messed up,” a smiling Robinson said. “We went to dinner last night and everything, man.”

After Lynch was short with his answers to a few questions, Robinson moved the microphone in front of himself and began answering questions for Lynch.

“I’m going to slide up in this thing,” Robinson said with a smile, “and break up the monotony a little bit. Uhh, Marshawn ain’t going to try to say nothing to you guys, so you can direct your questions toward me.”

Robinson used the running back’s “boss” figure of speech to end each sentence.

One reporter asked how Lynch was feeling.

“He just wants to play ball, boss,” Robinson said.

Robinson was then asked how he would define “Beast Mode.”

“It’s a lifestyle, boss,” Robinson responded as Lynch, wearing headphones on top of his head, sat back in his chair smiling.

Lynch was asked if he was concerned he could be fined for not showing up at the availability, and he handled that one himself.

“I’m here, man,” Lynch said. “So, I don’t have to pay the fine, boss.”

Lynch said it was a “false” assumption that he doesn’t like talking to the media because he was once misquoted. He also said that it's not hard balancing being a private person and a football star because the fans don’t mind how he goes about his business.

“The media has a problem with it,” Lynch said. “It’s a problem if they choose to take something away from me for not doing it.”

A reporter reminded Lynch that it’s the NFL that issues the fines.

“Well, reporters have to call it in,” Lynch said. “So, it starts somewhere, right?”

At one point, Lynch looked up at a team staffer and asked, “What’s up with that time?” A few moments later, a reporter tried to ask a question, shouting, “Hey, Marshawn!” Lynch got up, climbed over a few chairs and made his way through the crowd of reporters and disappeared through an area restricted to team personnel.

“He gets it done on game day,” Robinson said after Lynch left. “If you’re looking for somebody who’s going lead by example, all you have to do is watch him run the ball and you know what time it is.”

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