In Brief

GOLF

Woods scores pair of eagles,
leads Chevron World Challenge

Tiger Woods knows he’s playing better than he has in the last two years, and he has the leaderboard to prove it.

Woods hit a half-dozen extraordinary shots Friday in the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on his way to a 5-under-par 67, giving him a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi.

It was the second straight tournament that Woods had the 36-hole lead. Three weeks ago at the Australian Open, he was one shot ahead until a 75 in the third round. Woods wound up third, his best finish of the year. With each round, it looks as though his best might not be too far behind.

Woods had two eagles and nearly had a third with a flop shot from behind the 13th green that he was still talking about long after his round. Not even a double bogey on the par-3 15th hole when a gust knocked his ball into the water could keep him from a comfortable lead after two rounds.

“I want the lead after four days,” said Woods, winless in his last 26 official starts dating to 2009. “Two days is nice, but four days is even better. I know I’m playing better, and it’s nice to see my position on the leaderboard equating to it.”

Woods was at 8-under 136 and will play in the final group today with Kuchar.

Kuchar shot 67 to match Woods and Zach Johnson for the best score of the day in the 18-player event. Choi had a 73.

Also: Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Jason Dufner and Robert Karlsson in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

McDowell birdied two of the final three holes after dropping two strokes with a double bogey on the par-5 14th. He had a two-round total of 7-under 137.

Top-ranked Luke Donald was tied for eighth at 3 under after a 71.

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shot a 1-under 69 for a share of the second-round lead with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros in the Hong Kong Open. Quiros also had a 69 to match McIlroy at 7-under 133.

BOXING

Bad blood boils as Margarito,
Cotto meet in WBA rematch

Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito have sold out New York’s Madison Square Garden, proving there’s plenty of interest in what happens in their rematch tonight.

Even if it often sounds as though they’re still fighting their bout from more than three years ago.

The two boxers spent more time talking about the past than the present in the buildup to their fight for Cotto’s WBA super welterweight title. Margarito (38-7, 27 knockouts) beat Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) in July 2008, but what happened six months later forever changed discussions about that bout.

Margarito was found to have illegal hand wraps before a loss to Shane Mosley and didn’t box again for more than a year. Cotto said he has photos proving that Margarito also used illegal hand wraps in their fight, which Margarito denies.

Also: Muhammad Ali is “well, happy and carrying on with his daily routine” after being treated for dehydration last month, a spokesman for the former heavyweight champion said.

Spokesman Craig Bankey said in a statement that Ali was treated Nov. 19, five days after the funeral of Joe Frazier, whom he fought in three epic fights. He said Ali is back home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bankley added that “early reports were blown out of proportion.” Star magazine reported Ali had been hospitalized last month.

WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was taken to a Duesseldorf, Germany, hospital because of abdominal pains.

Spokesman Bernd Boente told a German news agency that Klitschko was displaying symptoms of renal colic, a pain commonly caused by kidney stones.

Boente said Klitschko’s bout against French challenger Jean-Marc Mormeck on Dec. 10 is not in danger.

Felix Sturm retained the WBA middleweight title, fighting to a draw with British challenger Martin Murray in Mannheim, Germany.

MISCELLANEOUS

Wranglers’ blitz attack comes
up short in loss to Steelheads

The Wranglers outshot Idaho 57-17 but still lost to the Steelheads 3-2 in an ECHL shootout at Orleans Arena.

Idaho (8-9-3, 19 points) won the shootout 2-1 on goals by Marc Rancourt and Jacob Cepis. Chris Francis had the lone shootout goal for Las Vegas (10-6-4, 24).

The Wranglers rallied from an early 2-0 deficit in regulation on goals by defensemen Ryan Weston and Channing Roe.

Earlier, the Wranglers announced defensemen Jason Krischuk had agreed to terms to rejoin the team. Krischuk, who spent last season with the Central Hockey League’s Texas Brahmas, will be playing his fourth season with Las Vegas.

Also: A Penn State accuser who dined with Jerry Sandusky this summer did so only after getting permission from police, the man’s lawyer said as he blasted suggestions that alleged victims remained friendly with the former Penn State coach.

“Police gave their seal of approval for him to attend. They even wanted him to wear an electronic listening device,” attorney Howard Janet said. He also called into question Sandusky’s motives for inviting the man to dinner while the former coach knew he was under investigation.

Sandusky has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years. He is accused of mining the ranks of his Second Mile charity to find underprivileged boys to abuse.

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim apologized for questioning the motives of the men who accused his longtime assistant of molesting them as minors, saying he reacted out of loyalty.

“I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made,” said Boeheim, who spoke slowly and paused frequently during a new conference after the fourth-ranked Orange’s 72-68 win over No. 10 Florida. “I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that, and I regret any harm that I caused.”

Former assistant coach Bernie Fine has been accused of child sex abuse by three men, including two former Syracuse ball boys. Fine, who was fired Sunday, has denied the allegations.

All-Star closer Heath Bell agreed to a $27 million, three-year contract with the Miami Marlins, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The agreement, subject to a physical, is the first free-agent deal for the Marlins since they began courtships last month with several top players.

Bell had more than 40 saves each of the past three seasons for the San Diego Padres. This year he had 43 in 48 chances with a 2.44 ERA.

Left-handed starter Chris Capuano and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a $10 million, two-year contract.

After recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery, the 34-year-old Capuano was 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA for the New York Mets last year, striking out 168 in 186 innings over 31 starts.

In other Dodgers news, Magic Johnson has joined a group bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar and former part-owner said he’s partnering with former Atlanta Braves executive Stan Kasten and wealthy investor Mark Walter to join the auction for the team, which will be sold by Frank McCourt.

Chris Bosio is leaving the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization to become the Chicago Cubs’ pitching coach, where he will work for longtime friend and new manager Dale Sveum.

David Ferrer put Spain on the brink of another Davis Cup title by rallying for a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Juan Martin del Potro to give the host a 2-0 lead over Argentina in the final.

Rafael Nadal earned a dominant win over Juan Monaco in the first match in Seville, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.

The No. 25 UNLV men’s swim team moved from sixth to fifth after the second day of the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational in Austin. The women’s team dropped from sixth to eighth.

The team’s top finish came in the men’s 200-meter medley relay, as Charlie Tapp, David Szele, Cody Roberts and Steven Nelms posted a third-place time of 1 minute, 26.16 seconds.

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