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National

  • McIlroy takes early lead at Open

    HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Tiger Woods is back at the majors.
    Seems like he was never away.
    After a shaky start to the British Open, Woods ripped through Royal Liverpool on Thursday much like he did eight years ago, when he won the claret jug for the third time. A 30-foot birdie from the fringe of the 11th green got him going. Four more birdies in the next five holes carried Woods to a 3-under 69, leaving him just three shots behind Rory McIlroy.
    Not bad for a guy playing his first major of the year, who went months without being able to swing a club after back surgery.
    “I’m only going to get better,” Woods said. “I’m getting stronger, I’m getting faster, I’m getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again. And those are all positive things.”
    For McIlroy, it was another blistering start.
    The question now: Can he keep it going?
    McIlroy took advantage of the prime scoring conditions more than anyone, a 66 putting him in the familiar position of first-round leader. He has played the opening round in a cumulative 55-under par this year, including three 63s and a course-record 64 at last week’s Scottish Open.

  • Woods tries to get back to form at Open

    HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Tiger Woods was an hour into his practice round Tuesday at the British Open when he stood on the fifth tee with a foreign object in his hand.
    In golf vernacular, it’s called a driver.
    Woods smashed it into the wind on the 528-yard hole and didn’t need to watch where it landed to realize it was in the middle of the fairway. Later in the round, he hit another driver off the tee. That’s twice as many than he hit over 72 holes when he won at Royal Liverpool eight years ago.
    “This is a different golf course when what we played in ‘06,” Woods said. “It was hot, ball was flying. It was very dusty. Now we’re making ball marks on the greens, which we weren’t doing then.”
    So much has changed in so many areas.
    Royal Liverpool, green and thick this time around, is still a firm and bouncy test of links golf. But it’s nothing as it was in 2006, when the fairways were so baked and brown that Woods hit only one driver in four rounds. That was on the 16th hole of the first round, and the ball wound up in the 17th fairway.
    He still made birdie.
    But it’s not just the golf course.

  • Kirk, Cavs start tourney Thursday

    It’s been an interesting last few days for the Cleveland Cavaliers, to say the very least.
    With nothing else going on, it’s been a productive, noteworthy first few days for Cleveland at the NBA Summer League, winning three pool play games ahead of a tournament-play format coming up at the NBA’s workouts in Las Vegas, Nev.
    In most years, that would be what Cleveland fans would be gabbing about.
    But this isn’t most years.
    Friday, it was announced that LeBron James, the dominant player in the NBA, would be returning from a four-year stint in Miami to Cleveland, where he spent the first seven years of pro career.
    Come this fall, he and former Los Alamos standout Alex Kirk could find themselves teammates in Cleveland.
    Kirk, who graduated from Los Alamos High School in 2010 and played for the University of New Mexico until his graduation this past May, is on Cleveland’s Summer League roster. Kirk was offered a spot on the roster after he went undrafted in the June NBA draft.
    While the NBA Summer League is rather informal, Kirk and other young players hoping to nab a roster spot would like to impress coaches and scouts during these games for a crack at playing pro ball full time.

  • Fans can pour own beer at All-Star Game

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It's BYOB at the home of the Minnesota Twins for this week's All Star Game.
    As in, Be Your Own Bartender.
    Just in time for the Home Run Derby, Target Field in Minneapolis put in two self-serve beer machines in the stands behind first and third base, letting thirsty fans pick a brew, pour and pay by the ounce. The pour-your-own stations are unique among the 100-plus stadiums and arenas in the four major professional sports in the United States — though not the first of their kind, a concessions consultant said.
    They're not about boosting sales, cutting labor costs or shortening lines, said Delaware North Companies general manager Pete Spike, who provides concessions at Target Field. And it's too early to say whether the machines are the future of beer concessions — or even whether Target Field will add more.
    For now, they're just something new.
    "It's a novelty. That's one thing that parks have lost over the years," Spike said. "You used to be able to get ice cream in a special package you couldn't get anywhere else. Now, you can get it everywhere. This is merely something fun."

  • LeBron heading back to Cleveland

     

    CLEVELAND (AP) — If LeBron James was going to win another NBA title, heal broken hearts and continue building his legacy, he knew there was only one place to go.

    To Ohio. Home.

    Four years after he left for Miami, a widely criticized departure that damaged his image and crushed a long-suffering city's championship hopes, James is coming back to play for the Cavaliers to try and end Cleveland's half-century title drought. He's returning to his basketball roots, to the people who know him best to make good on a promise.

  • Brazilian fans deal with aftermath of loss

    SAO PAULO (AP) — It wasn’t just a bad dream. Brazilians woke up Wednesday to dreadful headlines describing the humiliation of their soccer team’s historic defeat of 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup’s semifinal.
    There were also reports of violence breaking out right after the game with many buses being torched in the country’s biggest city. At least one store selling electronics and household appliances was sacked, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
    The country’s leading soccer publication stated simply: “A day to forget.”
    “It was the most shameful performance of all times,” said Almir Rogelio, 32, who was waiting at a newspaper stand for a friend. “I honestly woke up and didn’t even want to remember what happened.”
    During Tuesday’s match, Germany scored faster than partying fans could keep count. Later, tears smudged the faces of children painted in Brazil’s colors of canary yellow and green. Brazil coach Felipe Scolari buried his face in his hands.

  • Could LeBron return to the Cavs?

    CLEVELAND (AP) — There was no eye contact, nothing to indicate any reconciliation. The breakup of LeBron James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was beyond bitter.
    But now, as James considers a return to the team he abandoned four years ago with an entire region breathlessly awaiting a homecoming it couldn’t imagine in its wildest dreams, it appears there has been some healing between the NBA superstar and his former boss.
    Once aligned as basketball partners, James and Gilbert could barely stand the sight of each other during Miami’s games in Cleveland the past four years.
    Time may have fixed their fractured relationship. Most of the rest of the city has already forgiven James.
    Cleveland, without a major sports championship to celebrate in almost 50 years, is praying for a reunion. On Sunday, Cavs fans flocked to social media to feverishly track one of Gilbert’s private jets as it flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the plane’s occupants dodged reporters and TV cameras.
    It’s not known if Gilbert was on the jet, but that didn’t douse the free-agency firestorm. As James’ decision nears, there’s a renewed hope the prodigal son will come home.
    But in the backdrop looms the James-Gilbert relationship.

  • LeBron to try free agency

    MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James delivered his message loud and clear, without actually saying a word.
    He's willing to leave Miami, if that's what it will take to win more championships. And what happens next will likely be up to not just the Heat, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well.
    Through his agent, James informed the Heat on Tuesday that he has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract, a move that means he becomes a free agent on July 1. He will be able to sign with any team, including Miami, and Heat President Pat Riley said he "fully expected" James to take advantage of his early termination option.
    "We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together," Riley said.
    The Heat have been preparing for this for some time. James, Wade and Bosh all got six-year contracts when they teamed up in Miami in July 2010, the last time free agency was accompanied by the sort of frenzy that will envelop the league over the next few weeks. But each of those deals came with options to leave either this summer or in 2015, in part to allow both the players and the team to have financial flexibility.

  • Uruguay advances with win

    Underscoring a power shift away from Europe, Uruguay fought — and apparently even bit — its way to a 1-0 victory over Italy Tuesday to move to the World Cup's next round with Costa Rica, which sent England home without a single victory after a goalless draw.
    South America's strength was further highlighted when Colombia capped its perfect record in Group C with a 4-1 win over Japan. Europe did get one team through when Greece converted an injury time penalty for a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast which eliminated the African team.
    The evening excitement though could hardly match yet another controversy to haunt Uruguay striker Luis Suarez. Around 80 minutes in, Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini tangled, with replays showing Suarez seemingly biting the shoulder of the Italian defender. It would make Suarez, amazingly, a triple carnivorous offender on the pitch in four years.
    "It was absolutely clear. There's even a mark," Chiellini said.
    The referee didn't see a bite, and no foul was called. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez only had eyes on the result. "For me, and for all the people in Uruguay, we had more important things," he said.

  • U.S.-Portugal draws 24.7 million viewers

    NEW YORK (AP) — The United States’ 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal is almost certainly the most-watched soccer game ever in the U.S., an emphatic confirmation of the sport’s rising popularity in a country slower to embrace it than the rest of the world.
    The Nielsen company said that Sunday’s gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 24.7 million U.S. viewers who watched the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.
    ESPN said an additional 490,000 people streamed coverage of the game on their mobile devices through the company’s app. Streaming numbers for 2010 weren’t immediately available, but it’s very unlikely they were that high because streaming apps were not as sophisticated then.
    Many factors were in place to make it so popular: It was an exciting game, interest in the U.S. team was high because of the first-game victory against Ghana and World Cup viewing in general has been high. The Sunday evening time slot also meant many Americans were available to watch.
    “It indicates that a large group in our audience is really following the story of the World Cup, which is really terrific,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president of programming.