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Golf: Couples, Stricker and Johnson to assist Woods at Presidents Cup

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Golf: Couples, Stricker and Johnson to assist Woods at Presidents Cup

(Reuters) – United States captain Tiger Woods has appointed Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker as three of his captain’s assistants for this year’s Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour announced on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. golfer Tiger Woods talks with team captain Fred Couples (L) during the first practice round for the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Woods still has the option to name one final assistant for the Dec. 12-15 event at Royal Melbourne in Australia, where the biennial competition pits a 12-man team from the United States against a lineup of international players from outside Europe.

Couples is a four-times Presidents Cup participant who has also led the U.S. team as captain on three consecutive occasions (2009, 2011, 2013) and has served as a captain’s assistant in the last two editions of the event.

“Freddie and I go way back in the Presidents Cup,” Woods said in a statement. “And we’re basically coming full circle at Royal Melbourne. He and I teamed up in one of our matches in ‘98, I was a captain’s pick in ‘11 and now we get to return there as two leaders of this team.

“We’re going to have some fun, but we’re there to win.”

Stricker, who captained the victorious 2017 U.S. team at Liberty National where Woods served as one of his assistants, will be making his second stint as a captain’s assistant.

A five-times Presidents Cup competitor (1996, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), Stricker boasts a 14-10 record and finished with a 2-2 record the last time the Presidents Cup was played at Royal Melbourne in 2011.

“I can’t say enough about the opportunity to serve as an assistant for Tiger’s first captaincy,” said Stricker.

“Tiger was such a valuable member of our team in 2017 and I’m humbled that he sees me as an asset to the 2019 team. I look forward to helping him in any way he may need with his captaincy just like he helped me in 2017.”

For Johnson, it will mark his first stint as a captain’s assistant after four appearances as a player, including in 2007, 2009 and 2013 when he was a team mate of Woods.

Johnson, a 12-times PGA Tour winner, delivered his most impressive Presidents Cup performance in 2015 with a 3-0-1 record, which included two victorious fourball matches with partner Phil Mickelson and a singles win over Jason Day.

“Having competed with Tiger in the Presidents Cup in the past, I’ve always admired the pride he takes in these team events,” said Johnson.

“I’m thrilled he’s chosen to trust me with this important role, and I look forward to doing my part to help the team succeed.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

After a difficult season culminated by a crucial missed field goal on a potential game-winning field goal in the NFC playoffs, kicker Cody Parkey will be released by the Chicago Bears when the new league year begins in March.

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) watches his field goal during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports on Friday, the team intends to cut ties with Parkey once the NFL free agency period begins on March 13.

Parkey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, endured an inconsistent season in Chicago after inking a four-year, $15 million contract last winter following the team’s release of Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Parkey, a five-year veteran, not only missed a career-high seven field-goal attempts and three extra points during the regular season, but his 43-yard attempt in the final seconds of the NFC wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles first hit the upright then the crossbar before bouncing back on the field.

Despite the NFL later ruling that the kick was partially blocked, Parkey took much of the public blame for the Bears’ season ending.

Parkey began his career with the Eagles in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, scoring a franchise-record 150 points while making 32 of 36 field-goal tries. In two seasons with the Eagles, Parkey never missed an extra point.

Parkey later kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and Miami Dolphins in 2017.

In January, the Bears signed Tulsa product Redford Jones after conducting a workout that reportedly included multiple hopefuls. Jones made 50 of his 67 field-goal attempts at Tulsa from 2015-17, and he does have a kick on his resume where he hit both uprights. Unlike Parkey’s double-doink, though, that 2016 attempt against Cincinnati ended up going over the crossbar for three points.

“We need more production out of that position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month after signing Jones. “We know we need to get better there, and it will be an area of focus.”

—Field Level Media

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

Belinda Bencic secured a spot in the final by stunning two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 22, 2019 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during the Semi Final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Bencic trailed 5-3 in the final set before recovering to defeat the sixth-seeded Svitolina. She will face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the championship match after the Czech Republic star defeated Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I think I’m always the most proud of how I fight,” Bencic said after posting the victory. “Even when I lose, I learned myself to just look in the mirror and be proud of myself when I’m fighting, when I’m giving my all, when I’m trying to do what I have to do.”

Bencic won eight consecutive points after Svitolina was in position to close out the match. Then the Switzerland native carried the momentum into the tiebreaker to notch one of the biggest victories of her career by outdueling the Ukrainian.

“Basically, I stayed in the zone, even in (the) tiebreak,” Bencic said. “I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Bencic will be seeking her third career title when she squares off with Kvitova, who will be shooting for her 27th.

Kvitova dropped the first set on Friday before recovering to win the last two.

“It was a tough one today, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn’t play great at the end of the first.

“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set. I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don’t know. It was something weird.”

Kvitova overcame eight double faults to claim the victory.

Hungarian Ladies Open

Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Budapest.

Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, will face fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis. The Russian dispatched third-seeded Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will face Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other semi. Vondrousova outlasted Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 while the 17-year-old Potapova fought past Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 2 hours, 50 minutes.

—Field Level Media

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlor, police in Florida said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft was one of 25 people involved in the alleged solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach County, told ESPN that the nature of any charges that the 25 people face will not be released until next week.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

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