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In Brief

GOLF

PGA champion Keegan grabs early lead at HSBC Champions

A dream year for PGA champion Keegan Bradley might not be over yet.

Bradley relied on his power off the tee and enough key putts Thursday for a 7-under-par 65 in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai to open the final World Golf Championship with a two-shot lead.

Bo Van Pelt, coming off a big win last week in Malaysia, twice ran off three straight birdies and joined the Swedish duo of Alex Noren and Fredrik Jacobson at 67. The group at 68 included K.J. Choi and David Toms. Defending champion Francesco Molinari was challenging the lead late in his round as a light rain began to fall, but a double bogey-bogey finish sent him to a 70.

Rory McIlroy, with girlfriend-tennis player Caroline Wozniacki following him inside the ropes, made two late birdies to salvage a 70.

What made the opening round at Sheshan International so rewarding for Bradley was the company he kept. He played alongside Lee Westwood and Adam Scott, each of whom had a 69.

"Every week, I’m amazed at who I’m around," said Bradley, who only a year ago had just secured his PGA Tour card.

Also: Tiger Woods believes he’s ready to return to top form after shaking off injuries that have undermined his performance for the past two years.

The former world No. 1 said he has been practicing frequently and getting his playing instincts back.

"The last couple of years, I haven’t really played as well as I’d like," Woods said during a one-day stopover in Singapore. "I made some changes in my swing, and I’ve obviously been hurt, and that kind of added to it.

"Now I’m healthy, playing again, playing more and playing consistently."

Woods hasn’t won a tournament since 2009 and has fallen out of the top 50 for the first time since he was a 20-year-old rookie in 1996. Woods played at the Frys.com Open last month and tied for 30th. He is scheduled to play in the Australian Open from Nov. 10 to 13.

Woods chalked up his recent struggles to the "cyclical" nature of a golfer’s career. "You look at everyone’s career, you have these ebbs and flows," he said. "We don’t play well all the time."

U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples shot a 3-under 68 for a share of the lead with assistant captain Jay Haas after the first round of the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Championship in San Francisco.

David Frost and Michael Allen were one stroke back.

pro BASKETBALL

Unified NBA players union set to resume talks with owners

NBA players and owners will start negotiating again Saturday, and the union’s leaders say they’re unified as they seek to resolve the lockout.

President Derek Fisher, executive director Billy Hunter and executive committee members said after meeting for about three hours in New York that reports of a rift among them were untrue.

"We’ve had no problems, and that’s the reality," Hunter said.

Hunter said they spent no more than 10 to 15 minutes total on a conference call earlier this week and during Thursday’s gathering discussing the reports.

"The battle is not within our union," Bucks guard Keyon Dooling said. "Derek Fisher is the best president our union has ever seen. We’ll stand as committee members — I’m the first vice president, and I stand behind him."

Owners and players haven’t met since talks broke off last Friday.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

BCS head: Obama was unlikely to challenge system’s legality

The head of the Bowl Championship Series told college and university presidents last year that the Obama administration was unlikely to challenge its legality.

Bill Hancock, the BCS executive director, also argued that even if the system for setting up college football’s postseason were to be found illegal, so would a playoff.

Hancock made the assurance in a Feb. 4, 2010, memo to the BCS presidential oversight committee. The memo was sent a few days after the Obama administration said it was considering several steps to review the legality of the BCS.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the BCS memo from a state open-records request filed with Western Kentucky University, whose president, Gary Ransdell, serves on the oversight committee.

Also: NCAA president Mark Emmert said university leaders across the country are "adamant" about never allowing student-athletes to be paid for playing.

Emmert spoke to the Houston Economic Club, a week after the Division I Board of Directors approved a set of sweeping reforms. The move included an option to add $2,000 annually to scholarship offers.

Critics view the stipend as the first step toward eventually paying student-athletes to compete. Emmert said the money simply is meant to close the gap between a scholarship — which only covers tuition, room and board and books — and the "full cost of attendance," which includes other expenses incurred by athletes during the season.

The UNLV volleyball team lost its fourth straight Mountain West Conference match, a 25-20, 25-21, 25-23 setback to Texas Christian at Cox Pavilion.

Kristen Hester had 14 kills and Sloane Sunstrum 10 for the Horned Frogs (21-4, 8-3), and teammate Megan Munce had 37 assists and 11 digs.

Candice Thomas, Madeline Westman and Makenzie Moea’i had nine kills apiece for the Rebels (11-14, 3-8), and Stephanie Thelen had 35 assists.

UNLV tennis player Aleksandra Josifoska lost to 25th-ranked Anna Bartenstein of Miami, Fla., 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the first round of the USTA/ITA Women’s National Indoor Championships in White Plains, N.Y.

Josifoska dropped into consolation-round play today.

Wyoming freshman forward Lekan Ajayi no longer is a member of the men’s basketball team. No reason was given for his departure.

Ajayi played prep basketball at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., and averaged 9.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks his senior year.

MISCELLANEOUS

World Series of Bowling starts with winner-take-all tourney

The 17-day PBA World Series of Bowling begins today at South Point with a unique $45,000 winner-take-all competition for eight PBA members.

Tour winners Chris Barnes, Tommy Jones, Sean Rash, Bill O’Neill, Chris Warren and Brian Himmler will be joined by tour veteran Ronnie Russell and regional player Joe Paluszek in the unique match.

The eight will compete in three two-game elimination rounds to start at 3:30 p.m.

More than 200 of the best bowlers from around the world will compete for eight PBA Tour titles from Saturday to Nov. 20.

For information: PBA.com.

Also: Court documents show Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt must pay his former wife, Jamie, $131 million by the end of April as part of their divorce settlement.

The terms of the binding settlement were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. If McCourt comes up with the money before April 30, $1 million per month will be shaved from his tab.

David Reutimann will not return to Michael Waltrip Racing next season, the team announced.

MWR is expected to announce today at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth that Mark Martin will take over the No. 00 Toyota next year.

Team co-owner Waltrip said Reutimann forever will be part of the MWR heritage. He has been with the team since its inaugural 2007 season and gave MWR its first victory in 2009.

Novak Djokovic cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Lukasz Kubot of Poland in the second round of the Swiss Indoors in Basel, Switzerland.

The top-ranked Serb needed just 55 minutes to defeat the 64th-ranked qualifier and improve to 66-3 on the season.

Wranglers forward Eric Lampe was named ECHL Player of the Month after scoring 10 goals and totaling 13 points in eight games.

 

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