New Zealand's world number one Lydia Ko fired a record-equalling second-round 62 on Saturday to seize a share of the lead with Morgan Pressel at the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship. Pressel posted her low round of the year with a bogey-free eight-under par 63 on the Friday at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. The two go into the final round of the 54-hole event with a two-stroke lead over China's Yan Jing, and Canadian Alena Sharp, who carded 65s,and Taiwan's Candie Kung, who signed for a 66.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A massive wildfire burning out of control in the foothills of central California has left at least 150 homes in ruins and damaged another 75, officials said on Saturday, warning that more residents may be forced to flee the advancing flames. The so-called Erskine fire, which broke out on Thursday some 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Bakersfield in Kern County, has already claimed at least two lives, sent three firefighters to the hospital and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. More than 1,100 firefighters have been deployed to battle the blaze, which has blackened some 35,700 acres and was zero percent contained as of Saturday afternoon.
(Reuters) - World number one Lydia Ko finished birdie-eagle for a tournament-record tying nine-under-par 62 to charge into a share of the second-round lead with Morgan Pressel at the Arkansas Championship on Saturday. Former major winner Pressel held the clubhouse lead after a bogey-free 63 for a 14-under total of 128 in the 54-hole event at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers before being caught late in the day by the fast-finishing Ko. "I've played well here the past few years and had the opportunity to play here as an amateur," Ko told Golf Channel.
Washington (AFP) - Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State forward Harrison Barnes have agreed to play for the United States at the Rio Olympics, completing the American roster, ESPN reported Saturday.
Ernie Els, a four-time major winner trying to end a three-year title drought, fired a six-under par 65 and leaped into second place after Saturday's third round of the PGA National. "The way I'm hitting it now, the way I'm swinging, I'm getting more confidence," Els said. Els finished on 13-under par 200 after 54 holes, two strokes behind leader Billy Hurley, a 607th-ranked resident of nearby Annapolis who fired a bogey-free 67 to stand on 198, a three-round event record, in search of his first PGA crown.
(Reuters) - Local favorite Billy Hurley III moved one step closer to a first PGA Tour victory as he seized a two-shot lead after Saturday's third round of the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland. PGA Tour veteran Ernie Els, seeking a 20th win on the U.S. circuit but his first in four years, was alone in second after shooting a bogey-free 65 with joint second-round leader Jon Rahm of Spain (70) a further stroke back at 12 under. South African Els, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at the 2012 British Open, holed out from 157 yards to eagle the par-four 12th, then sank a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-four 14th to surge up the leaderboard.
Local favourite Billy Hurley III moved one step closer to a first PGA Tour victory as he seized a two-shot lead after Saturday's third round of the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland. PGA Tour veteran Ernie Els, seeking a 20th win on the U.S. circuit but his first in four years, was alone in second after shooting a bogey-free 65 with joint second-round leader Jon Rahm of Spain (70) a further stroke back at 12 under. South African Els, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at the 2012 British Open, holed out from 157 yards to eagle the par-four 12th, then sank a 24-foot birdie putt at the par-four 14th to surge up the leaderboard.
West Virginia's three most devastated counties and possibly others will receive federal assistance after the state's worst flooding in more than a century killed at least 24 people, officials said on Saturday. President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for West Virginia and ordered federal aid to affected individuals in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties that could include grants for temporary housing, repairs and other programs. Obama spoke with West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on Saturday afternoon to give his condolences and make sure the governor has the federal resources he needs, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose father was murdered by a violent Islamic group in 1984, has made a passionate plea for stronger background checks on US gun purchases. Kerr spoke Friday on a podcast by San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Tim Kawakami about the Warriors' loss to Cleveland in the NBA Finals then took the conversation into politics. "Our government is insane," Kerr said, for failing to pass gun control legislation.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A massive wildfire burning out of control in the foothills of central California has left at least 150 homes in ruins and damaged another 75, officials said on Saturday, warning that more residents may be forced to flee the advancing flames. The so-called Erskine fire, which broke out on Thursday some 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Bakersfield in Kern County, has already claimed two lives, sent three firefighters to the hospital and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. More than 1,100 firefighters have been deployed to battle the blaze, which has blackened some 35,700 acres and was zero percent contained as of Saturday afternoon.
(Reuters) - The PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, scheduled to be played next month in West Virginia, has been canceled due to the devastating flooding caused by record rainfall in the state, organizers announced on Saturday. The Old White TPC, the host course at White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, suffered extensive damage from the flooding and is beyond reasonable repair to conduct the tournament, PGA Tour officials said. "We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump played down market turmoil in the wake of Britain's decision to leave the European Union on a visit to his Trump International golf course in Aberdeen on Saturday. Wearing an open-necked shirt, a suit and a white baseball cap with his slogan "Make America great again", Trump was asked if he was worried about the volatility in financial markets following Britain's vote to leave the EU on Thursday. Trump, whose mother was Scottish, was greeted by around a dozen protesters at the course waving Mexican flags, rainbow flags for Gay Pride day and signs that read "Donald stop the hating" and "Shame on you for ruining a beautiful landscape." Trump last year proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States as a response to Islamist attacks in Paris and California, causing a furor in Europe.
Dominican shortstop Jose Reyes, who started the Major League Baseball season on a 51-game suspension related to a domestic violence incident, signed a minor-league contract Saturday with the New York Mets. The 33-year-old spent his first nine major league seasons with the Mets and was a free agent for only minutes after being waived by the Colorado Rockies before the Mets inked him to a deal. Reyes was set to join the Brooklyn Cyclones, three levels below the major leagues, for what would likely be a tuneup stint before rejoining the Mets since Reyes has not played this season.
(Reuters) - Hundreds of firefighters were struggling on Saturday to contain a massive wildfire that has killed two people and burned at least 100 homes while ravaging lakeside communities in central California. The so-called Erskine Fire, which broke out on Thursday afternoon in the foothills of Kern County about 42 miles (68 km) northeast of Bakersfield, has exploded to char more than 30,000 acres, making it one of the worst in an already intense fire season in drought-stricken California. The National Weather Service issued a "red-flag warning" for the area at least into Saturday morning, forecasting high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds that could whip up the blaze's intensity as it cuts through the bone-dry brush and grass.
(Reuters) - Spain's Jon Rahm kept up his impressive professional debut by posting a four-under-par 67 to share a three-shot, second-round lead with local favorite Billy Hurley III at the Quicken Loans National on Friday. Overnight leader Rahm, the former Arizona State golfer who was the low amateur at last week's U.S. Open at Oakmont, held sole possession of the lead before missing a four-foot par putt at the last in Bethesda, Maryland. Hurley, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who calls nearby Annapolis his home, fired a six-under 65 to join playing partner Rahm on 11-under-par 131 at Congressional.
(Reuters) - Japan's Ayako Uehara scorched her way to a tournament-record tying nine-under-par 62 to seize a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Arkansas Championship on Friday. Uehara made nine birdies in a bogey-free round to match the 18-hole scoring record set by Jane Park and Angela Park in 2008. "With (my) caddie and trainer, everybody is like a team and so everything is coming together, including the swing coach," Uehara told reporters.
Ayako Uehara tied the tournament scoring record by carding a bogey-free nine-under 62 for a two shot lead after the opening round of the USLPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship. Japan's Uehara matched the tournament record set by Jane Park and Angela Park eight years ago. Uehara is hoping that 2016 will be a breakout year for her as she is playing some of the best golf of her career having made the cut in five of her last six tournaments.
Fiji's Vijay Singh, trying to become the PGA's oldest winner at age 53, and Ernie Els, trying to end a three-year title drought, moved into contention Friday at the National. Unlikely co-leaders Jon Rahm, a 21-year-old Spaniard in his professional debut, and Billy Hurley, a 607th-ranked local product seeking his first PGA win, shared the top spot on 11-under 131 after 36 holes of the Tiger Woods-hosted event at Congressional Country Club. "Us old guys can still play a bit," Els said.
(Reuters) - South African Branden Grace joined a growing list of leading golfers withdrawing from the Rio Olympics on Friday due to concerns about the Zika virus. The world number 11, who is South Africa's top ranked golfer, joins compatriots Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in pulling out of the August Games, which will see the sport return for the first time in 112 years. "After serious consideration, it is with regret that I have decided to withdraw myself from the Olympic competition due to the risk posed by the Zika virus," the 28-year-old, who is engaged to Nieke Coetzee, said in a statement.
South African Branden Grace joined a growing list of leading golfers withdrawing from the Rio Olympics on Friday due to concerns about the Zika virus. The world number 11, who is South Africa's top ranked golfer, joins compatriots Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in pulling out of the August Games, which will see the sport return for the first time in 112 years. "After serious consideration, it is with regret that I have decided to withdraw myself from the Olympic competition due to the risk posed by the Zika virus," the 28-year-old, who is engaged to Nieke Coetzee, said in a statement.
Basketball fanatic Barack Obama named legendary center Shaquille O'Neal as sports envoy to Cuba on Friday, in a new sign of thawing ties between Washington and Havana. When the imposing seven-foot one-inch player was dominating courts for the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat in Florida he was just a short hop from the island state. The United States and Cuba finally restored ties last year and officials from both countries are gingerly negotiating a new relationship, even as parts of the embargo fall away.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said Friday he has declined the chance to play on the US Olympic team of NBA stars that will seek a third consecutive gold medal in August at Rio. Beal announced on Twitter that he would join a growing group of players saying no to Rio, including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, James Harden and John Wall.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britain's stunning vote to leave the European Union, buoyed by a frenzy of nationalism and populist anger, was a crushing rejection of the political elite. Republican Donald Trump hopes it is also a preview of November's U.S. presidential election. The referendum result reverberated immediately in a U.S. presidential campaign dominated by Trump's rapid rise to capture the nomination, fueled by a similar brew of anti-establishment and anti-globalization sentiment.
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A fast-moving central California wildfire that more than doubled in size on Friday has killed two people and destroyed 100 structures, authorities said. The so-called Erskine Fire broke out on Thursday afternoon in the foothills of Kern County about 42 miles (68 km) northeast of Bakersfield, and three firefighters were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, officials said. The fire has led hundreds of residents to evacuate and the Kern County Fire Department said on Friday afternoon two people had died, though it did not identify the people or release further details.
NFL officials will interview players named in a report by Al-Jazeera America alleging the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but retired Denver Broncos star Peyton Manning will not be among them. A posting on the NFL's website said NFL senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFL Players Association that the talks would be conducted in July, when teams begin training camps for the season that launches in September. A memo from Birch outlines plans to interview Green Bay Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison on the first day of their team's training camps, July 26 for Green Bay and July 29 for Pittsburgh.
Henrik Stenson fired a flawless seven-under-par 65 on Friday to surge into a tie for the lead at the halfway stage of the BMW International Open in Germany. The Swede joins overnight leader Raphael Jacquelin and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat atop the leaderboard on 11 under par after carding seven birdies in Pulheim. Stenson's playing partner and Masters champion Danny Willett missed the cut by one stroke, despite partially recovering from a poor first round to reach level par.
By Steve Holland TURNBERRY, Scotland (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump thrust himself into the heart of Britain's vote to leave the European Union on Friday, calling it a "great" development and drawing parallels to his own insurgent campaign. In Scotland to reopen a golf resort he owns, the wealthy New York businessman wasted no time interpreting the outcome of the "Brexit" vote as an example of a global uprising against the established order. You see it with Europe, all over Europe," Trump, 70, the presumptive Republican nominee, told a news conference at the Trump Turnberry golf course.
By Steve Holland TURNBERRY, Scotland (Reuters) - Donald Trump flew all night from New York to Scotland to talk about his renovated Turnberry golf course and, given the chance to open up on the topic, he was rhapsodic. At a news conference, the Republican's opening ode to Turnberry was what greeted American cable TV viewers as they woke to the news that Britain had voted to part ways with the European Union. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee talked plenty about the "Brexit" vote.
Rio de Janeiro will be "the safest city in the world" during the Olympics Games in six weeks time, organising committee spokesman Mario Andrada has insisted. The buildup to the August 5-21 Games have been clouded by health and security worries, after an Australian Paralympic athlete was robbed at gunpoint in the city just days ago, while several high-profile golfers have withdrawn because of fears surrounding the Zika virus. Sailor and wheelchair basketball player Liesl Tesch became the second Olympian to be the victim of an armed robbery in Rio in the last month.
Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki was recognised by Guinness World Records as professional baseball's base hit king Friday after taking his count in Japan and Major League Baseball to 4,257. The 42-year-old Miami Marlins outfielder last week etched his own piece of baseball history, surpassing Pete Rose's fabled MLB record of 4,256 set between 1963 and 1986. Ichiro, one of a few global sports icons predominantly known by his first name, sparked joy back home in Japan after overtaking Rose's total.
By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Basketball has long struggled for attention in Australia's professional sports market but Ben Simmons' selection as the NBA's number one draft pick is another blow for a nation that punches well above its weight in the sport. Not long after Simmons was taken first in Friday's NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, his Sudan-born compatriot Thon Maker was selected 10th by the Milwaukee Bucks. The pair boost an already solid Australian contingent in the world's top basketball league and neither will have to look far for home-grown advice.
By Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A fast-growing wildfire on Thursday destroyed at least 80 homes near the riverside community of Lake Isabella in central California, as a threat to populated areas from five other major blazes across the state diminished, authorities said. The so-called Erskine Fire erupted around 4 p.m. in the foothills of Kern County about 42 miles (68 km) northeast of Bakersfield. Within hours it exploded to cover between 3,000 and 5,000 acres (1,200 to 2,000 hectares)of drought-parched brush and grass, fire information website InciWeb said.
Donald Trump hailed Britain's vote to leave the EU as "fantastic" shortly after arriving in Scotland on Friday for his first international trip since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Ahead of his visit, Trump had told Fox News that he felt Britain should "go it alone" and leave the 28-member EU in a move that could shape the continent. Trump swooped down by helicopter into his Trump Turnberry golf course, where a large Scottish flag flew in front of the picturesque seafront, as protesters gathered nearby.
(Reuters) - First-round selections in the National Basketball Association draft on Thursday at the Barclays Center (tabulate under number of pick, NBA team, player, position, previous team): 1 Philadelphia - Ben Simmons (Australia), forward, Louisiana State University 2 Los Angeles Lakers - Brandon Ingram, guard, Duke 3 Boston (From Brooklyn) - Jaylen Brown, forward, California 4 Phoenix - Dragan Bender (Croatia), forward, Ironi Ramat Gan (Israel) 5 Minnesota - Kris Dunn, guard, Providence 6 New Orleans - Buddy Hield (Bahamas), guard, Oklahoma 7 Denver (From New York) - Jamal Murray (Canada), ...
Philadelphia selected Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, making the Australian forward the first 76ers top pick since Allen Iverson 20 years ago. "It feels amazing, honestly," Simmons said. The Los Angeles Lakers chose small forward Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick and the Boston Celtics made forward Jaylen Brown the third pick at the Barclays Center arena.
By Larry Fine NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Philadelphia 76ers added to their youthful core with a versatile big man by taking Australian Ben Simmons from Louisiana State University with the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft on Thursday. The pick set the tone for a decidedly international night as a record 14 foreign-born players were selected in the first of the two-round draft at the Barclays Center, topping the previous record of 12 in 2013. The 19-year-old forward, an excellent rebounder who thrives in transition as a scorer or passer, joins a Philadelphia team that finished last overall with a 10-71 record during the NBA's 2015-16 season.
Jon Rahm took some advice from legend Jack Nicklaus and it paid off with a seven-under par 64 in his first professional round to seize the US PGA National lead. Rahm, a 21-year-old Spaniard, made a bogey-free start to his pro career at Congressional Country Club to grab a one-stroke lead over Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas at the Tiger Woods-hosted tournament. South Africa's Ernie Els, who won one of his four major titles at Congressional in the 1997 US Open, was in a pack of eight sharing third on 66.