Golf is the second major sport in the U.S., behind motor sports, to resume a schedule shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The start was even more quiet than usual on the PGA Tour, only the silence never left over as golf got back to business with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial. Justin Rose and Harold Varner shared the lead at 7-under 63, with Justin Thomas among those a stroke back.
Tom Lehman, a 61-year-old former champion at Colonial, got in on the act with a 65. Sung Kang made a hole-in-one on the 13th hole and didn’t realize it until he was 50 yards from the green. Ryan Palmer, a Colonial member who raised money for COVID-19 relief efforts during the shutdown, was chosen to hit the first official shot on the PGA Tour in three months. Colonial came to a standstill at 8:46 a.m. when everyone on the course honored a moment of silence for the death of George Floyd and the outrage it has sparked worldwide on racial injustice.
The PGA Tour Champions Boeing Classic scheduled to be held in August outside Seattle has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament director says uncertainty about the ability to hold large public gatherings in Washington state led to the decision. The tournament was scheduled for Aug. 17-23 at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge.
In other virus-related sports news:
NHL training camps will open July 10 if the league and players’ union can reach an agreement to resume the season. Setting the date gives the 17% of players overseas time to make arrangements to return in light of U.S. and Canada quarantine regulations. The league and NHLPA said the July 10 start of camps is pending medical and safety conditions and agreeing on getting back to games. Camps are expected to run two to three weeks with games taking place in two “hub” cities without fans. If the league and players finalize a deal to return, games could resume in early August.
The NFL has extended virtual offseason programs for teams through June 26. Although team facilities have opened for key personnel, coaches and players rehabilitating injuries, healthy players have been barred from those complexes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote programs have taken the place of on-site work, and some teams already have announced they are shutting those down. But the league said Thursday it will allow the virtual work for an additional 15 days.
English Premier League players won’t need to wear face masks arriving at stadiums, in dressing rooms or on the substitutes’ bench when the competition’s 100-day coronavirus shutdown ends next week. Clubs agreed Thursday on matchday protocols that include splitting stadiums into red, amber and green zones to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Games will be played without fans so access to stadiums will be limited to around 300 people who will have their temperatures checked on arrival. The season is scheduled to resume on Wednesday with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United and Arsenal playing at Manchester City.
The NFL is committing $250 million over 10 years to social justice initiatives, targeting what it calls “systemic racism” and supporting “the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans.” The league, which has raised $44 million in donations through its Inspire Change program, announced the additional $206 million commitment Thursday. It plans to “work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.” There has been increasing distrust of the NFL since San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest social injustice and police brutality. The message was misconstrued by the league and many team owners as anti-military and anti-flag. That distrust was expressed Wednesday by 49ers star cornerback Richard Sherman who says the league needs to do more than “throw money” and should be “calling out bigotry.”
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll revisited the team’s history with Colin Kaepernick on Thursday and expressed regret for not signing Kaepernick when given the opportunity. Seattle brought Kaepernick in for a workout during the 2017 offseason and had another visit a year later canceled. At that time, Carroll said Seattle chose not to bring Kaepernick aboard because he was viewed as a starter, not a backup. Carroll is reiterating that stance but says that in hindsight, he wishes he would have given Kaepernick a shot even if it meant a potentially awkward role as Russell Wilson’s backup. Carroll indicated that he believed Seattle passing on Kaepernick gave him a shot to be a starter elsewhere. Seattle is believed to be the only team to have brought Kaepernick in for meetings and a workout since he last played in the league in 2016.
In other NFL news:
The Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes and Tyrann Mathieu, are putting together a voter registration program in response to the social unrest that has gripped the nation. The details of the drive are still in the works, but the 24-year-old quarterback and 28-year-old safety wanted to make sure they were at the forefront of affecting change. And the best way to do that was making sure people had a voice when the November elections come around.
The Detroit Tigers took a few more big swings at rebuilding their lineup. And, they hope sooner rather than later. After selecting Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson to open the Major League Baseball amateur draft Wednesday night, the Tigers used all five of their picks Thursday on hitters they envision joining him in Detroit. Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler led off the draft’s second day as the No. 38 overall selection. The Tigers then took LSU outfielder Danny Cabrera 62nd overall, and Rice shortstop Trei Cruz 11 picks later. Cruz is the son of former big leaguer Jose Cruz Jr. and grandson of Jose Cruz. Detroit went back to Arizona State in the fourth round, taking Torkelson’s switch-hitting teammate Gage Workman. Both were drafted by the Tigers as third basemen. So was fifth-rounder Colt Keith out of Biloxi High School in Mississippi. His selection ended Detroit’s run on college position players, but the Tigers remained focused solely on hitting talent.
The Astros had to wait a while to make their first selection in this year’s draft after having their first- and second-round picks stripped by Commissioner Rob Manfred as part of the team’s punishment for breaking rules against using electronics to steal signs during games.
While Detroit focused on adding offense, Miami went all pitching — already considered the strength in the upper levels of its system — with its six selections. Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer was the No. 3 overall pick to the Marlins. They followed with Oklahoma high school lefty Daxton Fulton (No. 40), Ball State righty Kyle Nicolas (No. 61), Coastal Carolina right-hander Zach McCambley (No. 75), Vanderbilt lefty Jake Eder (No. 104) and USC righty Kyle Hurt (No. 134).
The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals took college pitchers with four of their six overall picks, taking Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli at No. 22 overall, and then going with two other righties — LSU’s Cole Henry and UCLA’s Holden Powell — before selecting San Jacinto College North lefty Mitchell Parker with their final pick.
A feel-good story surfaced in the final round of baseball’s amateur draft when the New York Mets selected University of New Orleans pitcher Eric Orze. The two-time cancer survivor missed part of 2018 and the entire 2019 season to recover from multiple operations while fighting off testicular cancer and skin cancer. Mets vice president of international and amateur scouting Tommy Tanous said Thursday night the 22-year-old Orze is “a kid that will not quit.” At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Orze went 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings before this season was stopped because of the coronavirus. The right-hander was chosen in the fifth round, 150th overall out of 160 total picks.
The NCAA football oversight committee has finalized a plan for an extended preseason that would include an additional two weeks for teams to hold walk-throughs. The proposal goes to the Division I Council, which meets Tuesday, and is expected to be approve. A proposed schedule permits teams to conduct the maximum six hours of unpadded walk-throughs per week while also requiring two days off for the players. The extra two weeks of walk-throughs, weight training, conditioning and film study will be limited to 20 hours per week total and can begin 14 days prior to the start of normal 29-day preseason practice. Teams are allowed to begin preseason practice 29 days before their scheduled first game. Most major college football teams are set to kick off their seasons around Labor Day weekend, with a handful starting as early as Aug. 29.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
A former gymnast at the University of Michigan said he tried to talk to his coach about being assaulted by a campus doctor during a routine physical in 1969 but was brushed off with a sneering smile that signaled “we’re changing the subject.” Ward Black, a member of the 1970 national championship team, spoke exclusively to The Associated Press about being molested by Robert Anderson. He’s the latest to reveal that university coaches decades ago apparently were aware of allegations about the doctor but didn’t take the complaints higher. Black, now 68, is suing the university and has been interviewed by a law firm that was hired by the school to investigate complaints, which now exceed 300. Anderson worked at Michigan from the mid-1960s through 2003. He died in 2008. The university has said it believes he assaulted athletes, and it wants to compensate victims outside court. During his time as a gymnast, Black said he was molested during four annual physicals and two visits for toe and ankle injuries. He said Anderson insisted on checking his prostate before addressing injuries.
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