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Thursday Sports in Brief

May 20, 2022 GMT

GOLF

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Rory McIlroy has the first-round lead in the PGA Championship with an opening 65.

Tiger Woods played alongside him at Southern Hills and shot a 74. They played two different games.

McIlroy was blasting away with drivers and taking advantage of his length. Woods was picking his spots and not helped by less-than-stellar iron play. He also says his leg is feeling a lot more sore than it did early on at the Masters.

McIlroy has a one-shot lead over Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge. Justin Thomas played in the tougher afternoon conditions and was among those at 67.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Southeastern Conference spring meetings will be held in person for the first time since 2019 in a little less than two weeks. It is unlikely two of the SEC’s superstar coaches will be chumming around Destin, Florida, together.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher called Nick Saban a “narcissist” on Thursday after the Alabama coach accused the rival Aggies of using name, image and likeness deals to land their top-ranked recruiting classes.

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Saban apologized a few hours later but generally stuck to his stance and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey followed soon after with a public reprimand for both.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Mets pitcher Max Scherzer is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a strained oblique muscle in his left side, the latest blow to a New York pitching staff already missing ace Jacob deGrom.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, had an MRI on Thursday, a day after he pulled himself from a start against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 1-1 count on Albert Pujols in the sixth inning after feeling “a zing” in his left side.

New York said the scan detected a moderate-to-high grade strain of the internal oblique, a musle on the side that causes pain over the ribcage.

NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators have extended the contracts of coach John Hynes and his assistants through the 2023-24 season, trying to build on a season with several individual successes for a franchise that wound up being swept in the playoffs for the first time.

General manager David Poile announced Thursday that Hynes and his assistants have agreed to the extensions.

Poile hired Hynes in January 2020 to take over as Nashville’s third head coach all-time, replacing Peter Laviolette. Hynes has won only three playoff games with the Predators, who have not won a postseason series since the first round in 2018 after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with Laviolette.

TENNIS

PARIS (AP) — Naomi Osaka’s return to the French Open will be a tough test against the player who beat her at the Australian Open, No. 27 Amanda Anisimova.

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion who used to be No. 1 in the rankings, but has slipped to No. 38 in part because of a lack of activity. That included time off for a mental health break after she withdrew from Roland Garros ahead of her second-round match a year ago, revealing that she has dealt with anxiety and depression.

In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic could meet Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, and the winner of that might face teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals. The tournament starts Sunday.

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SOCCER

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Everton has secured its Premier League survival by recovering from two goals down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 Thursday in the penultimate match of the season.

It looked as if Everton’s fate would go down to the wire on Sunday after Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew scored in the first half for Palace. But Michael Keane started the comeback in the 54th, Richarlison tied the game in the 75th and Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed Everton in front in the 85th minute.

The win ensured that Everton’s stay in the top division will extend to 69 years.

GENEVA (AP) — Female referees will make World Cup history this year by working games at a major men’s tournament for the first time in Qatar.

Three female referees and three female assistant referees were announced Thursday by FIFA among 129 officials selected for World Cup duty, including one man who caused controversy when refereeing a chaotic African Cup of Nations game in January while suffering with heatstroke.

French referee Stéphanie Frappart already worked men’s games in World Cup qualifying and the Champions League, after handling the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. She also refereed the final of the men’s French Cup this month.

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SWIMMING

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Olympic champion Zac Stubblety-Cook set a world record in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke at the Australian swimming championships on Thursday.

Stubblety-Cook finished in 2 minutes, 05.95 seconds in the final to improve on the previous mark of 2:06.12 set by Russian swimmer Anton Chupkov at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

The 23-year-old Stubblety-Cook set an Olympic record in winning gold at last year’s Tokyo Games.

MMA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Baseball great Alex Rodriguez is taking a swing at mixed martial arts as an investor and board member for the Professional Fighters League.

The PFL announced the addition of the former Yankees superstar to its board of directors Thursday.

Rodriguez’s investment is part of what the PFL says is $30 million in new funding to back its global expansion and the establishment of a pay-per-view super-fight division. The funding round was led by Waverley Capital, investor Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s media-focused venture capital fund.

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