BC-Weekend Sports Briefs
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka took his place in PGA Championship history with a victory, minus the style points.
In a raging wind that turned Bethpage Black into a beast, Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead Sunday. He lost the brutal Long Island crowd, which began chanting “DJ!” for Dustin Johnson as Koepka was on his way to a fourth straight bogey. But he delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys, closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958.
His 74 was the highest final round by a PGA champion in 15 years.
Koepka returned to No. 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf’s biggest events. He becomes the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, having won a second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills. He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983.
And what stakes his claim as one of the best in his generation was a third straight year winning a major. He joins a most elite group — only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have done that since the Masters began in 1934. He now has four majors in his last eight, a streak not seen since Woods won seven out of 11 in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Robby Shelton got up-and-down from a bunker to save par on the 18th hole Sunday for an even-par 71, giving him a one-shot victory in the Knoxville Open and his second Web.com Tour victory of the year.
Shelton started the final round at Fox Den Country Club with a two-shot lead and fell behind early with consecutive bogeys as Zhang Xinjun made two early birdies. Shelton started the back nine with back-to-back birdies to regain control. Shelton finished at 15-under 269.
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) — Helen Alfredsson of Sweden closed with 13 straight pars for a 1-over 72, giving her a two-shot victory in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles.
Tied for the lead with Trish Johnson of England going into the final round, Alfredsson made double bogey on the par-3 fifth hole to fall two shots behind. That was her last mistake, and Johnson dropped too many shots to keep up. Alfredsson finished at 1-over 285.
BALTIMORE (AP) — After finishing well out of the money in the Kentucky Derby from the No. 1 post, War of Will charged to victory after again starting from the rail on Saturday to win the 144th Preakness.
Everfast finished second and Owendale took third.
Bodexpress reared up from the starting gate and threw jockey John Velazquez immediately as the race started. Bodexpress completed the race minus Velazaquez, who said he was OK.
Improbable, the 5-2 favorite, finished far back.
For the first time since 1951, the Preakness was without any of the top four horses that crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable finished fifth before being bumped up to fourth following the disqualification of Maximum Security.
NEW YORK (AP) — Deontay Wilder emphatically got back into the win column Saturday night, knocking out Dominic Breazeale with an overpowering right hand in the first round to defend his heavyweight title.
Wilder hurt Breazeale with a right to the head early in their fight at Barclays Center, but the challenger had recovered from that early onslaught. But there was no coming back from the right later in the round that immediately dropped Breazeale, who was trying to get up as referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 2:17 of the round.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) was coming off his draw against Tyson Fury in December, the first fight of his pro career that wasn’t a victory. He wanted a rematch with Fury or a unification match with fellow champion Anthony Joshua, but when those couldn’t be made settled for a mandatory defense of his WBC title. He ended it quickly, finishing off Breazeale (20-2) after being pushed hard in each of his last two fights.
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson got a push to the front from Kevin Harvick in the final stage, then held off the defending champion to win the NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday night.
Larson wasn’t part of the elite field when the day began, racing his way in by winning the Monster Energy Open earlier at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Now, he’s got $1 million for the win and plenty to celebrate in a season where he’s had only three top 10s and his biggest highlight was a frightening, airborne crash at Talladega Superspeedway last month.
Larson did it with a decisive shove through the pack by Harvick, a two-time All-Star champion who was eager for a third. Larson was sixth in the next-to-last restart with 12 laps left when he found enough space to squeeze between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Harvick jumped on Larson’s bumper and powered him into the lead. Harvick was second, Busch was third and Logano was fourth.
Soon after Larson took the checkered flag, pole sitter Clint Bowyer ran to Ryan Newman’s car and began raining punches through the window before the two were separated by a crew member. Newman said Bowyer “chopped” him on the track and hit him once more later in the race.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Simon Pagenaud earned his first career Indianapolis 500 pole by posting a four-lap average of 229.992 mph. He barely edged out three-time pole winner Ed Carpenter for the top spot in next week’s race.
Carpenter will start second after going 229.889. Spencer Pigot took the final front-row spot with an average of 229.826. Pigot had the top seed in the nine-car pole shootout after posting the best speed in Saturday’s qualifying.
ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal is right back where he wants to be. After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.
It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game — otherwise known as a bagel. In all, Nadal had a career-high four bagel sets in this tournament.
The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.
In the women’s final, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced his retirement from football, ending an 11-year NFL playing career that included winning two Super Bowl titles and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Long posted his decision Saturday night on Twitter, saying it has “been a hell of a journey” and adds that “I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it.”
The 33-year-old Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, had 70 career sacks and 15 forced fumbles in stints with the Rams, Patriots and Eagles. He won back-to-back championships with the Patriots (2017) and Eagles (2018). Long was selected last February as the league’s Walter Payton Award recipient for his outstanding community service.
In 2017, Long donated his entire salary to support education in cities where he has played: St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Last year, Long climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with other NFL players and some U.S. military veterans to raise money to build clean water wells for East Africa.