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Saturday, 5-Nov-2011 10:12 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Fredrik Jacobson eyes Ryder Cup place after maintaining form to

Swede Fredrik Jacobson leads the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai after a second-round 66 today took him to 11 under par, one ahead of Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen.
The 37 year-old has based himself in America since 2004, the year he just missed out on selection for the match in Detroit, and achieved his first PGA Tour victory in June.
Now, poised as he is for a return to the world's top 50, making a debut under Jose Maria Olazabal in Chicago next September is on his radar.
"I just went through a few years where I didn't really focus on the Ryder Cup as much," Jacobson said after leaving Lee Westwood four back and Rory McIlroy six adrift.
"The kids were so small and I felt America was a big enough challenge, which I still think it is.
"But the kids are slightly older, so I do feel that Ryder Cup would be one of my main goals for next year.
"I'm starting to get into a lot of the tournaments where I can create points both on the European list and when it comes to world ranking points.
"But first things first. To keep getting better and keep playing well is my goal and if it comes to it where I'm close on the points I'll probably sneak over and play a few when it comes to that time.
"I might get my European Tour card back from the few tournaments that I play this year. That gives me more options."
Jacobson, third in Malaysia last weekend, did not drop a stroke as he took over at the top from American Keegan Bradley, who with a two under 70 slipped back to fourth spot.

"It's been a great couple of days," added the former Volvo Masters champion. "I feel I've been striking the ball well and taking advantage of the greens playing a little bit softer after that rain we had."
The two lowest rounds of the day came from the pair in joint second place, however.
South African Oosthuizen had a nine-birdie 63 which brought back memories of his seven-shot victory in The Open at St Andrews last year.
Scott, meanwhile, set up the chance of a second successive World Golf Championships win with a 65. He also birdied half the holes on the 7,266-yard Sheshan course, but had bogeys on the seventh and 15th.
England's Paul Casey matched Jacobson's 66 to move up from 17th to joint fifth with American Bo Van Pelt on nine under.
Hampered first by a foot injury and then by illness, Casey lost his PGA Tour card last month and said: "That's one of the best rounds I've had in a long time. The golf I played is the golf I remember playing.
"I'm trying to keep my right foot down as long as possible. It doesn't hurt as much and it makes a massive difference - I can suddenly control where the golf ball is going.
"I felt relaxed on the course as well. I don't like struggling. It's not enjoyable.
"Ryder Cup points are already starting and this is a WGC event, so the season's not over yet. There's a lot to play for."
Westwood birdied three of the last six holes for a 68 and the last of them edged him ahead of a group which includes English colleagues Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Simon Dyson as well as Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.
McIlroy improved only one position to joint 17th with a 69 that contained seven birdies, but also four bogeys.
"I was just always trying to play catch up," the 22-year-old US Open champion stated. "I'll need to do something pretty good over the weekend if I want to try and win this tournament."

Friday, 8-Apr-2011 08:10 Email | Share | | Bookmark
2011 NFL Mock Draft: Philadelphia Eagles Draft Take

The Philadelphia Eagles had a very impressive 2010 season, despite it being the first year since 1999 without Donovan McNabb as the starting quarterback. Kevin Kolb was expected to be the franchise quarterback, but he got knocked out in the first game and Michael Vick took over as the starter. One of the youngest teams in the league, the Eagles should only get better as their young players get more experience.

Michael Vick turned in an MVP type season after taking over for Kolb, and he looks to have a strong hold on the starting spot for the time being. Kolb may be used as trade bait this offseason, but I think that they’ll hang onto him so that they have a solid backup in case of an injury to Vick. LeSean McCoy broke out in 2010, as he showed just how valuable he is in both the run and pass game. He could develop into a top back in the NFL, but the depth behind him is suspect so an injury to McCoy could damage this team’s championship aspirations. DeSean Jackson is one of the league’s most electric players and a great vertical threat. Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are also very good wide receivers, and they give Vick a nice array of weapons in the passing game. Brent Celek had a down year, but he is still a solid starter at the tight end position. The offensive line struggled in 2010, giving up a total of 50 sacks. Jamal Jackson went down with an injury in week one, and Mike McGlynn just wasn’t very good at center. The left side is good with Todd Herremans and Jason Peters, but look for the Eagles to upgrade the right side of the line.

The defensive line has a lot of talent, but it wasn’t all that impressive last year. Trent Cole and Juqua Parker are both solid pass rusher, but hopefully Brandon Graham can come back from his injury and make more of an impact. Antonio Dixon and Mike Patterson are above average starting defensive tackles, and Broderick Bunkley is still solid despite losing his starting job. The linebacker group could use some work, but some of the rookies looked good last season. Ernie Sims was a big disappointment and he needs to be replaced. Stewart Bradley is a very talented player, but he has had problems with injuries in the past, and it remains to be seen what position he plays moving forward. The cornerback group is led by Asante Samuel, who remains one of the top cornerbacks in the game. However, with the loss of Ellis Hobbs, this unit is a problem spot. Dmitri Patterson and Joselio Hanson are adequate corners, but they probably shouldn’t be starters in the NFL. Look for the Eagles to upgrade this position. The safety group also may have some questions, with Quintin Mikell being a free agent, and Nate Allen coming off a serious injury despite a very successful rookie season.

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Friday, 25-Mar-2011 06:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Heels stars keep NBA thoughts private

NEWARK, N.J. Some online mock NBA drafts project North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes and sophomore John Henson as lottery picks. The Tar Heels' 7-foot junior Tyler Zeller is showing up on some of the lists, as well.

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It's difficult, though, to get a direct answer about their pro plans from college players during the NCAA tournament. Partially, it's because they don't want their words to be a distraction for their current team, and partially because how they play in the tournament could have an impact on whether they ultimately decide to leave school early.

But for the record, each of the trio of UNC starters said Thursday they haven't yet started thinking about whether they'll leave after this season. Second-seeded UNC plays No. 11 seed Marquette in the NCAA regional semifinals tonight (7:15 p.m., CBS).

"The NCAA is my biggest focus right now, but that's a question I'll address with Coach and my family after this season,'' said Barnes, a second-team All-ACC selection. As for the potential of an NBA lockout, he said, "I think it will have an effect on the draft, but me, personally, I haven't thought about it all that much.

Henson, the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year, said, "It's not even in the back of my mind; I haven't even talked to my parents about it. I'm just thinking about winning right now."

For his part, Zeller, a first-team Academic All-America said, "I actually haven't even thought about it. It's one of those things - we've got to look at this season, see what happens, and then see what happens with all of my teammates."

Zeller, at this point, seems the least likely to go, and Henson's father said in an interview recently that his son isn't just concerned about getting to the NBA, but with staying there. The wild card could be Barnes, who indicated from the beginning of the season that he wasn't planning on being a one-and-done player. None have apparent pressing financial concerns that would push them to leave early, so it could depend on how far UNC - and their stock - advances this weekend, and perhaps next.

ASSIGNMENT BARNES: Marquette wingman Jimmy Butler said Thursday he will get the defensive assignment on Barnes, UNC's star freshman.

Johnson, a 6-foot-7 senior from Tomball, Texas, is rated among the top defenders in the Big East.

Barnes has been on a scoring binge of late - 40 points against Clemson in the ACC Tournament and an average of 23 points in NCAA games against Long Island and Washington last weekend in Charlotte.

"He's a really good player," Butler said. "He can do it all... But you just have to make him uncomfortable... You have to pick up his space and make him feel like he has to work for every dribble and every move that he makes."

Barnes is used to those tactics, of course.

"When someone is all about denying you, you have to turn to other things - getting to the boards, working the angles, moving all the time when you don't have it (the ball)," he said.

GOOD KNIGHT: Although Ohio State is the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament, the Buckeyes know they will have to stop Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight tonight or will end up saying "Hello, Columbus," a lot earlier than they would like.

"He's just a great point guard," said Ohio State's David Lighty. "There's so much he does to hurt your defense, to break you down."

Added teammate Jon Diebler, "We have to find a way to slow him down in transition."

Knight is one of three freshman point guards playing prominent roles in the East Regional semifinals. UNC starts freshman Kendall Marshall, and the Buckeyes rely heavily on sixth-man Aaron Craft.

PATIENCE: Kentucky coach John Calipari said that when he took the Wildcats job before the 2009-10 season, he was told by several people to "get rid" of DeAndre Liggins.

A 6-6 junior from Chicago, Liggins nicknamed himself "The Big Ticket" as a youngster and had a reputation for being a locker room problem.

"But I'd recruited him some when he was high school, so I wanted to see what he would do under difference circumstances (new coach)," Calipari said.

"He's turned out to be one of the best kids on the team and a big plus for everyone on the squad."

Entering tonight's game against Ohio State, Liggins is averaging 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and is generally rated as the Wildcats' best on-ball defender.

TURNING POINT: An 85-72 loss to Seton Hall in the Prudential Center in the final game of Marquette's regular season triggered a long postgame team meeting by Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams and his players.

"It got us on the right track again," Eagles forward Joseph Fulce said. "We had played a bad game against a good team, and there were things that we had to change."

Added Williams: "It was not a kumbaya meeting, not a prayer meeting... We were about to come back to New York for the (Big East) tournament. Our season was on the line."

The Golden Eagles defeated Providence and West Virginia in the Big East tournament before losing to Louisville in the third round.[url]

Wednesday, 16-Mar-2011 06:22 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NFL lockout could make LSU a refuge for draft hopefuls and forme

Former LSU middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard hasn't stopped during the past few months.
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The menacing 250-pound linebacker made his mark in LSU's Cotton Bowl win with eight tackles. Since then, he has been traveling the country, trying to impress NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
But Sheppard's life could change drastically after April's NFL Draft, where he is projected to be a third-round pick.
If the NFL's labor unrest isn't settled by then, he could transform from a former captain to a mere spectator.
"I'd be right here [if a labor agreement isn't reached]," Sheppard said Monday at LSU's Pro Day. "I wouldn't miss a game."
At least Sheppard would be in good company. Many former LSU players plan to return to Baton Rouge if the NFL needs more time to settle its labor dispute.
"I'd be here with the guys I've come here with," Sheppard said of the 11 others who participated in Pro Day. "We'd be here working out every day. We'd be spectators and fans up until the lockout's over."
The NFL Players Association filed an antitrust suit after decertifying last Friday, requesting for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. The trial will be held April 6.
Players can't sign contracts until a new labor agreement is reached, even though the NFL Draft will be held April 28. But some agents have been known to front money to draftees until they sign deals.
Running back Stevan Ridley said he'll also remain in Baton Rouge if he can't practice with an NFL team.
"I'll just be hanging out," Ridley said. "It's the most free time I'll have since ... second grade."
Ridley has an alternative outlook on the grim situation.
"I don't look at it in a bad way at all," Ridley said. "I can come up here and work out. I have one priority, and that is to work out every day, study some film, and the rest of the day is mine."
Kicker Josh Jasper said he's optimistic a deal will be struck soon, but if not, he said he'll join the swarm of players in Baton Rouge.
"More than likely I'll come back here to live and do what I'm doing now," Jasper said.
LSU coach Les Miles has always welcomed back previous players. He could see a record number of alumni this spring.
Dan Graff, a former LSU special teams standout, said many other past players, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn and San Francisco 49ers defensive back Curtis Taylor, will call Baton Rouge their home again in the coming months if no deal is complete.
"Curtis told me it's so expensive where he is that it's cheaper just to move back to Baton Rouge," Graff said.
Former Tiger running back Jacob Hester, a three-year player for the San Diego Chargers, understands the reality of a possible sustained lockout.
"We can't talk to coaches. We can't talk to players. We can't go to the facilities," Hester said. "So what you have to do is be strong willed and do it yourself."
Once business returns to normal, Hester said rookies will have a disadvantage compared to veterans like himself.
"May, June, July — those [organized team activities] are where you really learn the playbook," Hester said. "You'll be behind, and it could hinder your chances to be a starter."
Current Tigers who have their eyes set on the NFL in the coming years are also taking notice.
"That's the scariest thing for me as a guy that is leaving next year," said senior left guard Josh Dworaczyk. "Is the NFL going to be what is just watched? Is it going to be the same? That's the kind of stuff you have to look at."

Thursday, 3-Mar-2011 00:52 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Agents: Alabama WR Jones will have weekend surgery on foot

Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones will have surgery on his fractured foot this weekend, his agents, Pat Dye Jr. and Jimmy Sexton, said Wednesday.

Jones' fracture was discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last weekend, but he participated in all drills and was one of the event's outstanding performers.
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Dr. Bob Anderson, a noted orthopedic surgeon, will perform the operation Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
Jones' injury is similar to that suffered by current San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree at the 2009 combine. Recovery time is projected to be 6 to 8 weeks, according to Dye.

NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly first reported Monday that Jones will have a screw inserted in the foot.

The surgery might not allow Jones to work out before the NFL Draft in late April, but the likely first-round draft pick is believed to be in line for a complete recovery.

Jones was impressive during the gauntlet drills Sunday, showing fluidity, good hands and body control while maintaining focus. And while his broad jump was best among receivers (11 feet, 3 inches -- 2 inches below the combine’s best since 2000), what caught notice was Jones posting the third-fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.39 seconds. Impressive, given that Jones measured in at 6-foot-2 3/4 and 220 pounds.

Jones' Alabama teammate, quarterback Greg McElroy, will not have a cast removed from his broken right hand until next week -- roughly one week later than initially thought -- according to his agent, Eric Metz.

McElroy, who fractured his hand during the Senior Bowl in late January, won't be able to participate in Alabama's pro day Wednesday and is hoping to schedule a separate workout in early April. McElroy participated in field drills at the combine, but he wasn't able to throw.

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