Johnson out front
Dustin Johnson putted for birdie on every hole Friday and shot a 4-under 67, leaving him bogey-free for 36 holes and two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar going into the weekend at the Mexico Championship. Tiger Woods got back in the game with a 65, and one shot from a fairway bunker that dazzled the gallery. He still was six shots behind. Johnson, who won at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City two years ago when he was at the top of his game, was at 11-under 131. McIlroy birdied his first two holes and quickly built a three-shot lead, only to be undone by a four-putt from the fringe at No. 9 that slowed his momentum. He had to settle for a 69. Kuchar had a 67.
Trahan, Lashley lead
D.J. Trahan birdied the final hole Friday at windy Coco Beach Golf and Country Club for a 5-under 67 and a share of the second-round lead with Nate Lashley in the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open. Trahan had seven birdies and two bogeys in his morning round. Also playing in the morning wave, Lashley had six birdies and two bogeys in a 68 to match Trahan at 8 under. Roger Sloan, Martin Trainer, Ben Crane and Roberto Diaz were a stroke back in the event that was canceled last year because of Hurricane Maria. Sloan and Trainer shot 67, and Crane and Diaz had 69s. First-round leader Andres Romero followed his opening 66 with a 73 to drop into a tie for 12th at 5 under. Rafael Campos, the Puerto Rican player who won a Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas in January, rebounded from an opening 73 with a 68 to move into a tie for 19th at 3 under. Clemson senior Bryson Nimmer made the cut in his first PGA Tour appearance, following an opening 69 with a 75. Daniel Berger, at No. 72 has the highest world ranking in the field, was 3 under after a 71. D.A. Points, the 2017 winner, shot a 72 to remain 1 under. The winner will receive a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and an exemption to the PGA Championship, but won't get an invitation to the Masters.
Shin takes lead
South Korean golfer Jenny Shin snatched the lead at the LPGA Thailand with a birdie on the last hole of the second round at Siam Country Club Pattaya on Friday. Shin bogeyed the sixth hole but sunk five birdies in the rest of the round, including the par-5 18th. Her round of 4-under 68 put her at 11 under overall and one shot ahead of the field. Three players were tied for second: Lizette Salas of the United States (68), Minjee Lee of Australia (69), and first-round leader Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea (71). Two-time champion Amy Yang fired a 6-under 66 to be two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth with Americans Austin Ernst (66) and Amy Olson (67). Moriya Jutanugarn set herself again as a strong local contender after her 68 lifted her into a share of ninth place with Carlota Ciganda of Spain, Katherine Kirk of Australia, and Ryann O'Toole of the U.S. They were four shots behind.
Bencic stops Svitolina
Unseeded Belinda Bencic stopped Elina Svitolina's bid for a third consecutive title at the Dubai Championships by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals Friday. The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row against a top-10 opponent and will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in today's final at the hard-court tournament. Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019. Bencic is seeking her third career title, Kvitova her 27th. Against No. 6 seed Svitolina, Bencic trailed 5-3 in the third set. This was her latest in a string of comebacks. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then erased a set deficit to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.
Gonzalez gets $21M deal
Versatile Marwin Gonzalez and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a $21 million, two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the agreement is subject to a successful physical. Gonzalez would receive $12 million this year and $9 million in 2020 under the contract. An infielder and outfielder who turns 30 next month, Gonzalez spent the last seven seasons with the Houston Astros. He hit .247 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI last year, down from career bests of a .303 average with 23 home runs and 90 RBI in 2017, when the Astros won their first World Series title. He played 73 games as a corner outfielder last year plus 29 at shortstop, 32 at second and 24 at first.
Kershaw not 'right'
Clayton Kershaw has been shut down indefinitely because Manager Dave Roberts said the Los Angeles Dodgers ace "didn't feel right" after two discouraging outings on the mound. Kershaw worked out indoors Friday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., but didn't play catch. Roberts wouldn't speculate on the left-hander's next bullpen session. Kershaw said he's just taking a couple days to reset and believes he'll be playing catch soon. Roberts was unclear as to what exactly is going on with the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, but told reporters in Arizona "no one is alarmed or worried about it." Kershaw signed a $93 million, three-year contract in November and was named the opening day starter for the ninth consecutive year earlier this week.
Clock to be phased in
A 20-second pitch clock will be phased in in three stages during spring training, with the start of ball/strike penalties depending on negotiations with the players' association. Major League Baseball said Friday that the pitch clock will not be enforced this weekend and that beginning early next week umpires will issue reminders to batters and pitchers who violate the clock. MLB did not give a date for when it might start ball/strike penalties. Management proposed a regular-season pitch clock after the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but the players' association refused to agree. Talks are ongoing about possible 2019 regular-season use. Management has the right the impose a clock without an agreement, but Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he prefers a deal.
Texas' Roach suspended
Texas senior guard Kerwin Roach II has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Roach is the leading scorer for the Longhorns and the suspension is his second this season and the third of his career. He was suspended for the season opener and the 2016-2017 season opener. Each instance was described as a violation of team rules. The school released no details Friday about the latest suspension. Roach averages 15 points and has 74 assists for the Longhorns (15-11. 7-6 Big 12). Texas has won three of its last four games and plays at conference rival Oklahoma today.
The NCAA will experiment with eliminating one-and-one free throws and change the way bonus free throws are awarded at this year's NIT. The experimental rules announced Friday also will include an extended three-point arc, a wider free throw lane and new shot clock rules after offensive rebounds -- rules all used at last year's NIT. Team fouls will be reset at the 10-minute mark of each half and two free throws will be awarded after the fifth team foul of each segment. If a team doesn't reach five team fouls during a segment, two bonus free throws will be awarded after the second team foul committed in the final two minutes of each half. The shot clock also will be reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound and the three-point arc will be moved to 22 feet, 1.75 inches to match the FIBA line used in international competition. The free throw lane will be widened from 12 to 16 feet, the same width used by the NBA.
Sports on 02/23/2019
Print Headline: Off the wire