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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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MLB putting new rules in place to curtail sign stealing

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MLB putting new rules in place to curtail sign stealing

Major League Baseball is putting new rules in place this season to guard against high-tech sign stealing, according to an SI.com report.

After several incidents of alleged stealing of catchers’ signs last season, including during the postseason, commissioner Rob Manfred had promised to have new directives in place this year to curtail the practice.

MLB already had a rule in place that prohibited sign-stealing from any place other than a runner on second base. That rule would now be updated to include measures that address the use of new technology to gain an advantage on opponents.

Among the new rules, according to the SI.com report, would be:

  • A ban on in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole.

  • Live broadcasts limited to each team’s designated replay official, who in turn will be monitored by a security expert.

  • Having all other TV monitors, such as those in the clubhouse and bullpens, on an eight-second delay.

Penalties for violation of the rules would include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money, according to the report.

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Top seed Thiem knocked out of Rio Open in first round

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Top seed Thiem knocked out of Rio Open in first round

FILE PHOTO – Tennis – Australian Open – Second Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2019. Austria’s Dominic Thiem in action during the match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Top seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out the Rio Open in the first round on Tuesday, going down 6-3, 6-3 to Laslo Derje, a result that gave the unheralded Serbian his first victory over a top 10 player in his career.

The world ranked No. 90 broke Thiem’s serve five times in what was a surprisingly lackluster display from a man who has won eight ATP titles on clay.

Thiem served five double faults in a tournament he won in 2017.

“He played a bit worse than normally I think, to be honest,” Derje said. “But I had a great day. I felt the ball really well, hitting well from the baseline and then attacking well when it was time for that.”

“The biggest win in my career so I’m really happy right now.”

In another upset, third seed Marco Cecchinato was beaten 7-5, 7-6(1) by Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Cecchinato was on a high after winning the Argentina Open on Sunday but he never hit the same heights against the unseeded Bedene.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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NFL notebook: Brown, Steelers decide to part ways

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NFL notebook: Brown, Steelers decide to part ways

After meeting with team president Art Rooney II on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown announced on Twitter that both sides have decided to part ways.

FILE PHOTO – Dec 23, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown prior to kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“Had a great meeting with Mr. Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin,” Brown tweeted.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and vice president Omar Kahn joined the meeting.

“Everyone agreed the trade will be for the best,” a source told Schefter.

—All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is still mulling over whether to retire or return to the New England Patriots for a 10th NFL season, Rosenhaus said.

“He’s thinking it through, he’s giving it a lot of thought,” the agent said on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” adding, “I imagine a decision will happen in the next couple of weeks.”

NFL Network’s Mike Giardi tweeted Tuesday afternoon that “Gronkowski told multiple teammates/associates that he wanted to win another ring in the first few days following the Super Bowl.”

—The Kansas City Chiefs are likely to apply the franchise tag to linebacker Dee Ford, according to multiple reports.

The franchise tag period opened and will run until March 5. The linebacker tag for 2019 is expected to be $15.78 million, according to ProFootballTalk.

In the 2018 regular season, Ford played in 16 games and recorded career highs in sacks (13), tackles (55), tackles for loss (13) and QB hits (29). The 27-year-old told WFNZ in Charlotte on Monday that he wouldn’t object to playing under the franchise tag while a longer deal is worked out between the sides.

—The New York Jets are not picking up the options on three defensive players, the team officially announced.

Defensive tackle Mike Pennel, safety Terrence Brooks and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis will become free agents.

The Jets had a deadline of Tuesday to pay a $1 million bonus to Pennel, 27, who signed a three-year contract last March. Had the team paid the bonus, the final two years of the contract would have been activated.

—New York Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo will interview Thursday for the Cincinnati Bengals’ vacant defensive coordinator position, according to multiple reports.

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and Anarumo, 52, worked together on the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff from 2012-15. Anarumo was interim defensive coordinator with the Dolphins in 2015 but otherwise he only has coached defensive backs during his seven seasons in the NFL.

He spent more than 20 years in college coaching prior to moving to the NFL.

—Tight end Scott Simonson re-signed with the Giants, the team announced.

The 26-year-old played in 16 games (four starts) in 2018 and caught nine passes for 86 yards and one touchdown in his first season with the Giants.

Simonson, who attended Assumption College, signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He then spent two seasons with Carolina before spending the 2017 season on injured reserve with a back injury.

—The Arizona Cardinals signed former Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay to a one-year contract.

The Bills released Clay last week, with the eight-year veteran heading into the final year of a five-year $38 million contract. His deal with Arizona is worth up to $3.25 million, including a $350,000 signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

—The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a three-year extension with offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo, the team announced.

Sambrailo, 26, started the last four games of the 2018 season for Atlanta, playing both left guard and right tackle. His contract was set to expire next month. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

—The Jacksonville Jaguars hired 31-year NFL coaching veteran Dom Capers as a senior defensive assistant, the team announced.

NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski makes a catch during the fourth quarter. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Capers, who was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator from 1999-2000, most recently served as the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator from 2009-17.

Capers, 68, has been the head coach of two NFL expansion teams — the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and Houston Texans (2002-05). He was named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 1996.

—Field Level Media

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