Weekend Sports in Brief
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Daniel Berger was playing some of the best golf that no one noticed. Three months away because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow his momentum.
The PGA Tour made a healthy return to golf at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a somewhat sickly finish. Berger saved par from behind the 17th green on the first playoff hole Sunday and won when Collin Morikawa missed a 3-foot par putt.
Berger closed with a 4-under 66, his 28th consecutive round at par or better dating to Oct. 11 at the Houston Open.
Berger won for the third time — all victories during this week on the calendar, just not in circumstances like this. It was the first PGA Tour event since March 12 when the spread of the new coronavirus shut down golf and other sports.
Since graduating from Cal a year ago, Morikawa had made every cut, a streak now at 21 events, the longest streak by a newcomer since Tiger Woods. He took a share of the lead with a 50-foot putt on the 14th hole. It was the short ones that hurt. Morikawa also missed a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 18th hole in a 67.
Berger was the only one who delivered, making a 10-foot birdie on the final hole that put him at 15-under 265. The last time Berger was in a playoff, Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to beat him at the Travelers Championship.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Denny Hamlin found the magic at Homestead-Miami Speedway, once again.
Hamlin went to the lead for the final time with 30 laps left and held off Chase Elliott for his record-tying third NASCAR Cup Series victory at Homestead.
Former drivers Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle are the other three-time winners. Hamlin is in the club now, after battling Elliott most of the night.
“This one was real special,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin raced to his third victory of the season and 40th overall. He opened the season with a victory in the Daytona 500 and won at Darlington last month.
At Homestead, he led 137 of 267 laps on the 1 1/2-mile track in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11 Toyota, finishing 0.895 ahead of Elliot.
Ryan Blaney was third in the race delayed by rain and lightning. Tyler Reddick finished fourth.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Chase Briscoe lost much of his team and got a win for them.
Briscoe survived two late cautions and a frantic overtime finish to prevail in an Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway — while adding to a nightmarish weekend for Noah Gragson, who saw a huge lead slip away in the final laps for the second consecutive day.
Briscoe was without crew chief Richard Boswell, car chief Nick Hutchins and engineer DJ Vanderley, all of whom began serving four-race suspensions for a safety violation that happened Saturday. So Briscoe — a big Tony Stewart fan growing up — got Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli to fill in as his crew chief and prevailed.
MIAMI (AP) — Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Trucks Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night, his 58th career win on the circuit and his eighth victory in his last 10 trucks starts.
He’d been winless in his last two outings, which — by his standards behind the wheel of a truck — constitutes a drought.
Busch hadn’t gone winless in three consecutive trucks starts since 2017. He was about five seconds clear of the field when the second stage ended at Lap 60, part of a dominant night where he led 82 of the 134 laps.
There were a few challenging situations, though nothing derailed Busch for long.
Busch had to start at the back of the field, then serve a pass-through penalty on top of that, after failing pre-race inspection. But he managed to stay on the lead lap, then worked his way to the front and made it all seem easy.
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball appears headed to its shortest season since the 1870s.
Continuing a contentious back-and-forth in a bitter dispute over pay, baseball players told the commissioner’s office on Saturday night that additional talks to start the season during the coronavirus pandemic are pointless and said owners should order a return to work.
The union’s action might lead to a season of about 50 games rather than the 82 initially proposed by MLB. The Major League Baseball Players Association could respond by filing a grievance that would be heard by arbitrator Mark Irvings, arguing players are owed hundreds of millions of dollars in damages due to a shorter season.
Overall, this all could spark lengthy litigation over money and a renewal of the sport’s labor wars. It could even prompt some star players to sit out.
MLB responded with a statement accusing the union of not negotiating in good faith and cited the March agreement that called for prorated salaries but did not obligate teams to play in empty ballparks. Clubs could file a grievance claiming the union did not meet its “good faith” obligation.
While the NBA, NHL and MLS have figured out deals to return in this summer of the coronavirus, baseball has descended into the fractious labor strife that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to kneel during the national anthem this upcoming season to support protests of social injustice, police brutality and racism.
In answering a post from a fan on his Instagram account Saturday that pleaded with him not to kneel, Mayfield responded: “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.″
Mayfield has been outspoken about the need for more understanding and justice in the nation following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
mayfield wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt while working out. Later, he posted another message outlining his stance on kneeling.
DALLAS (AP) — Timing favored the NFL over other major pro sports leagues in trying to figure out how to keep the coronavirus pandemic from wrecking the 2020 season.
America’s most popular sport has another big advantage if the games are played: TV money.
While NFL owners could lose billions collectively with limited capacities in stadiums or no fans at all, the league is well-positioned financially because of lucrative media contracts approaching $10 billion in a full 2020 season.
And so far, the NFL is on pace to play games this fall.
Over the past two weeks, as college athletes have returned to campuses to work out and prepare for sports later this year, a handful of them have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Arkansas State. Houston. Boise State. Iowa State. Oklahoma State. More than a dozen schools in all.
Just how many positive tests isn’t known, however, because college officials are debating exactly what to tell the public. Nearly half the 66 Football Bowl Subdivision members that responded to an Associated Press inquiry last week said they were still deciding whether to disclose the number of athletes with positive tests — and just over half aren’t going to release numbers at all.
The inconsistency has been apparent since football players began returning to campus this month for voluntary workouts. Auburn confirmed three players had tested positive; a few days later, rival Alabama declined to confirm reports that as many as eight were positive, citing privacy laws. Boise State said only that a number of athletes had tested positive without providing details.