Jason Day leads wire-to-wire in winning Players Championship

Two 15-foot birdies over the next three holes restored his margin and sent him on his way. The last hurdle was finding land on the island-green 17th, and he cleared the water with about 10 feet to spare.

Day’s seven victories dating to the Canadian Open include the PGA Championship, The Players, a World Golf Championship and a pair of FedEx Cup events, all some of the strongest fields in golf. Day became the first wire-to-wire winner in 16 years at Sawgrass, and he joined Tiger Woods, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson as the only players to go wire-to-wire twice in the same season, dating to 1970.

Day finished at 15-under 273 and earned $1.89 million, the richest payoff in golf.

Kevin Chappell, who finished one shot behind Day at Bay Hill, was 5 under over his final 10 holes for a 69. He picked up a consolation check of $1,134,000 and moves just outside the top 30 in the world, which gives him a spot in the next two majors.

“That’s getting a little old,” Chappell said of his two runner-up finishes to Day. “I’m not sure what Jason’s scrambling stats were, but they were much better than mine on the week.”

Day got up-and-down 85 percent of the time this week, the best at Sawgrass. He now has won 10 times on the PGA Tour. Only Rory McIlroy, with 11, has won more among players in their 20s.

“It’s no coincidence he’s No. 1 in the world,” Justin Thomas said after closing with a Sunday-best 65 to tie for third. “He drives it extremely far, extremely straight. He hits it to the moon, so he can access pins that most people can’t. His short game is ridiculous. I think I’ve pretty much covered it all there when it comes to the golf.”

Day is the third No. 1 player to win The Players Championship, joining Greg Norman (1994) and Woods (2001 and 2013).

Thomas, who started 11 shots behind, stuck around Sawgrass to see if 10-under 278 would have a chance. He wound up tied for third with Matt Kuchar (68), Colt Knost (69) and Ken Duke (72).

Hideki Matsuyama, playing in the final group with Day, was 3 over after three holes and quickly out of the mix.

The pressure didn’t come from anyone else. Day brought it on himself. He hit only three greens on the front nine and let evil thoughts of blowing the lead creep into his head until he steadied himself with the bogey putt on No. 9 and two birdies on the 10th and 12th holes.

In the world rankings, Day now has a large lead over Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut, and McIlroy at No. 3, who was never a factor on Sunday at Sawgrass. Dating to his 81 to miss the cut last year at The Players, Day has finished out of the top 10 only seven times in his past 20 starts.

Adam Scott referred to his run as “Tiger-esque.”

“That’s one of the hardest things to do: when you are hot like that, to keep pushing,” Scott said. “But he has a very strong desire to achieve so much, and I think probably his goals are changing throughout this period, and he’s expecting more and more of himself. He’s got that ability to push himself and accomplish.”

Toronto fans chanted, ‘We want Cleveland!’ in the final seconds. They got it.

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points, DeMar DeRozan had 28, and the Raptors beat the Miami Heat 116-89 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Bismack Biyombo added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Raptors. They’ll open the Eastern Conference finals in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

“It’s great to hear the home crowd,” DeRozan said. “This organization deserves it, this country deserves it — to see them get to the next step, somewhere they haven’t been. But we’re not done yet.”

Strong San Jose Sharks’ effort trumped by St. Louis Blues’ scoring depth in Game 1

ST. LOUIS — It is a matchup the St. Louis Blues will take over seven games, and this thing sure has the look of seven: Jori Lehtera’s winner Sunday night coming with the San Jose Sharks’ third line on the ice.

No offense to Chris Tierney’s unit for the Sharks, which played well the previous round against the Nashville Predators, but if the Blues can get Lehtera’s unit — with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz out there, or any of their top three lines — matched up against San Jose’s third line, this is an area St. Louis can exploit throughout the Western Conference finals.

This is a series pitting two evenly matched teams. Games will be won by a hair, the way it was Sunday with the Blues prevailing 2-1 in Game 1 and the Sharks perhaps unlucky after outshooting the hosts 32-23 and owning the larger share of Grade A looks.

Sam Bradford returns to work, says he’s committed to the Eagles

More good news: He’s going to make a ton of money, regardless if he wins the starting gig. It’s really not too hard to be “committed” to someone when that someone is paying you $22 million for your commitment.

First base options: Brandon Belt, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto

First base pick: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

The anchor for baseball’s best team is “only” hitting .274, but he sports a gaudy .419 OBP and .605 slugging with 10 homers and 29 RBI. There are other good options, but no great ones after Rizzo this season.

Second base options: Josh Harrison, D.J. LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Jean Segura, Chase Utley, Neil Walker, Ben Zobrist

Second base pick: Daniel Murphy, Nationals

When the Ravens drafted Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds this past weekend, they knew they were taking a gamble on a developmental prospect who is likely to change positions at the next level. They also knew that Reynold’s future in the NFL could be impacted by his requirement to serve in the Navy for five years.

The Ravens just needed to look at the Patriots to see how that five-year requirement can impact a player. A year ago, the Patriots drafted Navy long snapper Joe Cardona, who was able to play last season while simultaneously satisfying his Naval requirement. Unfortunately for the Patriots, that might change this year and beyond.

— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 6, 2016
Amendola was previously scheduled to count $6.8 million against the cap in 2016, per ESPN.

“It’s an honor to play for this franchise and with this group of guys,” Amendola told Garafolo in a statement. “We have one goal — to win another championship and that’s all we care about.”

While the Patriots didn’t outright confirm the news, they did write an article about Garofalo’s report on their own website, which is either their way of confirming it or they’re really doing their best to mislead us. Never rule out anything when it comes to Bill Belichick.

In all seriousness, retaining Amendola at their price is a big-time move for the Patriots. Amendola proved to be especially valuable last season when Julian Edelman missed a chunk of games. In 14 games, Amendola brought down 65 passes for 648 yards and three touchdowns.

He might not be Brady’s top option, but he’s a dependable third or fourth target behind Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, and a solid returner. With the addition of Martellus Bennett, who gives the team a scary tight end combination, the Patriots shouldn’t see a decline in their offensive production — well, after Brady is done serving his Deflategate suspension.

1. New York Jets

It’s kind of difficult not to start here.

Geno Smith would be the guy to start if they had to play a game tomorrow, and he’s also the most likely guy to be gone the moment Ryan Fitzpatrick comes to his senses and signs a contract. But even if Fitzpatrick signs, the Jets have made it clear they won’t do a long-term deal with big guaranteed money.

They’re hedging their bets, considerably.

Starting Christian Hackenberg in Week 1 would be perilous, though the second-rounder might well be their guy for 2017. Regardless, it’s impossible to take glance at a quarterback window one year out from now and not start here.
geno-smith-ryan-fitzpatrick.jpg

Geno Smith, not Ryan Fitzpatrick, would be the guy to start if the Jets had to play a game tomorrow.

GERRIT COLE OUTDUELS JON LESTER, SHUTS DOWN CUBS

“It was a well-pitched game on both sides,” Lester said. “Cole probably didn’t pitch the way he wanted to the last time he faced us and came back with a little bit of vengance there. He really threw the ball well today.

“It sucks sometimes. The old cliche of, ‘tip your hat to the other guy,’ but when you don’t allow any, it gives you a chance to win that ballgame. He did that today and sometimes you have to tip your hat on the other side. The other guy threw the ball better than I did today.”

Kang later added a solo homer in the ninth inning off Cubs closer Hector Rondon.

The Cubs mounted a rally in the ninth when Fowler walked and Jason Heyward singled to lead off the inning. After Kris Bryant popped out to shallow center, Anthony Rizzo drove home Fowler with a sacrifice fly to right field.

But Zobrist grounded into the shift in shallow right field to end the threat and the game.

The Cubs are off Monday before hitting the road for 10 days beginning Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

NEW YORK — After playing record-breaking defense for a dozen games, the White Sox defense made its first error of the month on Sunday.

Ironically, it came back to hurt them.

Second baseman Brett Lawrie’s throw on a sixth-inning Jacoby Ellsbury grounder pulled Jose Abreu off the base and snapped a 12-game stretch — the longest in club history, according to Elias Sports — in which the White Sox defense didn’t commit an error.

Two batters later, Carlos Beltran gave the New York Yankees a one-run lead in a game they ultimately won, 7-5. Beltran’s two-run homer, the 400th of his career, off reliever Zach Duke put New York up 5-4 on the White Sox.

If he continues to put together weeks similar to the last, Triple-A shortstop Tim Anderson should reach the majors this season.

As it is, general manager Rick Hahn said in spring training he wouldn’t be surprised if Anderson, the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America, contributed to the big league club this season. However, Hahn also stressed patience with Anderson, 22, who is in his third full professional season, given how inexperienced he was when they drafted him out of community college in 2013.

Bears WR coach: Kevin White reminds me of Andre Johnson

“They’re both big and physical and fast. That doesn’t all go together sometimes. But when you see a big guy who is physical, fast and athletic, you just wonder how good this guy can really be?”

White led West Virginia in receiving with 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, his final collegiate season.

That caught Johnson’s attention. The veteran has spent a combined 15 years coaching the receiver position at the University of Miami (1996-2005) and for the New Orleans Saints (2006-11). Johnson was head coach at Tulane the past four years before Bears coach John Fox hired him to replace Mike Groh.

“[White] has hands similar to Reggie Wayne,” Johnson said of Chicago’s top 2015 draft pick, who missed all of last season after suffering a stress fracture in his left shin. “So he was one of those guys where when you looked at the draft and watched television, you say this guy is going to be a bona fide player.”

The captains were voted on. The teams were selected. And the sweaters have been unveiled.

Both the black and white version of this year’s jersey features the NHL logo highlighted in Nashville Predators’ gold, as an acknowledgment of the host city. The three stars at the neck are a tribute to the Tennessee state flag and the All-Stars, according to the NHL.

The names and numbers on the sweaters will be a modern interpretation of traditional country music poster lettering, the league said in a release.

The All-Star Game will be played at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 31. The skills competition is Jan. 30.

The bad news is that they all share a common flaw: Adidas has put its signature triple-stripe design on the sides of each jersey, making the countries feel like they’re all playing for Team Adidas and chipping away at their individual identities. Let’s hope Adidas doesn’t do this when it takes over the NHL’s uniform contract for the 2017-18 season.

There’s one other frustration, at least for now: Adidas and the NHL have so far released only the jersey designs — not the full uniforms. Obviously, a jersey is the most important component of a uniform, but it’s hard to assess a jersey without seeing how it works with the uniform’s pants, socks and helmet. Here’s hoping we get to see the rest of these elements soon.

The Buffalo Bills will retire Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith’s No. 78 during halftime of their home opener Sept. 15 against the New York Jets.

Smith will join quarterback Jim Kelly, whose No. 12 was retired in 2001, as the only Bills players whose jersey numbers have been officially retired by the team.

This Is The 6,000-Pound Fish Tank Jimmy Butler Wanted in His River North Mansion

The two initially offered up a basketball-themed tank, which Butler immediately put the kibosh on.

“Terrible idea!” Butler said. “Terrible! The basketball idea is not the right idea for this situation.”

He went on to push them in the music direction, saying, “I’m a really big music guy.” What might be unexpected to some is that the Bulls star is big into country music.

Butler’s reaction to his new massive old-school boom box tank, which they surprised him with on his way back from Bulls practice, was nothing short of amazement.

“OH! This is beautiful man!” Butler said. “This is better than I could have ever imagined … This is big time.”

The team even put 50 fish inside the tank in honor of the Chicago Bulls’ 50th anniversary.

The full “Tanked” episode airs on Animal Planet Friday, Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. CT.

Back in July, Butler reportedly signed a $90 million, 5-year-contract to stay with the team.

NFL quarterback Michael Vick got the celebrity treatment as he visited the state Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for a bill to help protect cats and dogs from being left in unattended vehicles.

The bill would shield first responders from liability for any property damage they cause when rescuing animals from unattended cars and trucks in extreme heat that endangers their health and well-being. Leaving a cat or dog in an unattended vehicle under such conditions would be summary offense under the bill.

“I hydroplane, slam into the median, get blasted in the face by the air bags,” said Weatherford, whose face was bruised in the crash. “My rental is totaled and I walked out without a scratch.”

Merullo later scouted for the Cubs. His grandson, Matt Merullo, played six years in the majors, mostly with the Chicago White Sox.

“While I have experienced many joys as owner of this great franchise, one of the most memorable was meeting Lennie last season,” Ricketts said.

“When the Cubs last appeared in a World Series in 1945, Lennie was a 28-year-old shortstop. Nearly 70 years later, he brought the same youthful spirit and excitement,” he said. “To his family, friends and loved ones, our organization will never forget him.”

Spadaro: Eagles ‘Typically Do Not Order Jerseys’ For Players On One-Year Deals

They were so impressed with Harbaugh’s hardwood skills, Adidas has made him his own Kansas jersey.

Unfortunately there’s a zero percent chance Harbaugh wears this.

But what if you want to rep the jersey of new Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford? Well, those you have to purchase online. Bradford jersey’s are not available at those Eagles Pro Shops.

Why?

“With Bradford, as well as somebody like Walter Thurmond, one year contracts. Typically, the Eagles have not ordered jerseys,”Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro explained Wednesday afternoon on the 94WIP Innes And Bruno Show. “You contact Nike with a minimum order, of whatever it is—a couple of hundred jerseys—and they will see if they can make the jerseys.”

Bradford is the starting quarterback, though. Not a fringe-starting cornerback, like Thurmond.

The aforementioned conspiracy is, of course, the Marcus Mariota theory. Many have speculated that Chip Kelly will find a way to acquire his former college quarterback in the NFL draft some way, some how.

“I would have a pretty good sense of what’s happening,” Spadaro said. “When I found out about Nick Foles…I was floored, stunned, shocked. I certainly would know before Fanatics or the Pro Shop would know.

“If Marcus Mariota drops, by some crazy full-moon scenario and he’s there at [No.] 15 then you think about it,” he continued. “But the expectation, fully, among people in the NFL is that Marcus Mariota will be a top one-to-six pick and in that case the Eagles will not attempt to move up.”

On Wednesday night Jim Harbaugh rocked the highlight-show world by stepping onto the court with the Kansas Jayhawks and tossing down a halfcourt shot.