Masters to limit crowd
Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said Tuesday the club intends to allow a limited number of spectators for the Masters on April 8-11, provided it can be done safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. In other areas, the Masters in April will be a lot like the last one in November. Ridley said it will be conducted with similar health and safety standards. Those standards included mandatory testing for the coronavirus and masks being worn to prevent its spread. Ridley said holding the Masters with only essential personnel made the club confident in its ability to stage a major championship with limited fans. The Masters was played Nov. 12-15 -- the first time in the autumn since it began in 1934 -- because of the pandemic that forced golf to reconfigure its major championship season and led to the cancellation of the British Open. Ridley did not indicate how many spectators will be allowed. The Masters does not publicize how many tickets it sells or how many people typically are on the grounds. Dustin Johnson set the scoring record at 20-under 268 to win by five shots for his first green jacket at the Masters in November. The Augusta National Women's Amateur, which was canceled last year after its debut in 2019, and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, will also be held with a small number of spectators.
Steele joins Vols staff
Tennessee Coach Jeremy Pruitt has hired Kevin Steele as a defensive assistant coach, bringing him back to the program where the former Auburn defensive coordinator started his coaching career. Pruitt announced the hiring Tuesday. Steele was coordinator at Auburn the past five seasons with his defenses ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense in four of those seasons. Steele's defense also produced 12 NFL draft picks. Tennessee ranked 69th in scoring giving up 30.1 points a game as the Volunteers went 3-7. It's a finish that has had Pruitt's job security in question with Tennessee running an in-house investigation into questions about recruiting. Pruitt said he has respected and admired Steele for a long time and had a chance to work and learn from the longtime defensive coach when both worked at Alabama in 2007-08. Steele graduated from Tennessee in 1981 after transferring from Furman following his freshman season. He was a student assistant coach for Johnny Majors in 1980, a graduate assistant in 1981 and coached outside linebackers in 1982. Steele has spent 13 of his 38 years in coaching in the SEC, 10 as a defensive coordinator.
Seahawks make moves
The Seattle Seahawks fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on Tuesday after a season in which the team set several offensive records, but Coach Pete Carroll had clear issues with how the offense operated. Seattle announced the move, citing "philosophical differences." The Seahawks had the highest-scoring team in franchise history, Russell Wilson threw a career-high 40 touchdowns in the regular season, and wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both set club records for receiving. Still, the Seahawks regressed offensively in the second half of the season, and Wilson and Carroll both made comments following Seattle's 30-20 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that indicated concerns with the lack of adjustments by the offense late in the season. Schottenheimer, 47, completed his third season with the Seahawks after previously serving as the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams. Earlier Tuesday before Schottenheimer's firing, the Seahawks agreed to a contract extension with General Manager John Schneider that will keep him tied to the franchise through the 2027 draft. The new deal keeps him on a similar timeline with Carroll, who signed a contract extension through the 2025 season last year. The Seahawks have reached the postseason in nine of the 11 seasons Schneider and Carroll have been in Seattle, including their fifth NFC West title this past season.
Raiders hire Bradley
The Las Vegas Raiders hired Gus Bradley as their new defensive coordinator Tuesday with the task of turning around one of the league's worst units. Coach Jon Gruden decided to bring on the experienced Bradley to fill the role Paul Guenther had for the first two-plus seasons on his staff before being fired after Week 14 in December. Bradley got his start in the NFL on Gruden's staffs in Tampa Bay from 2006-08 before heading to Seattle, where he served as defensive coordinator for four seasons. He helped build a dominant defense for the Seahawks that went on to win the Super Bowl the year after he left for a head coaching job in Jacksonville. Bradley struggled with the Jaguars, going 14-48 before getting fired late in his fourth season. He then returned to a defensive coordinator role the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. Since Gruden returned in 2018 with Guenther as his defensive coordinator, the Raiders allowed the most points in the NFL, had the fewest sacks, the second-fewest takeaways and allowed the second-most yards per play.
UConn to miss 2 games
Hours after announcing the postponement of Saturday's game against Villanova, No. 4 UConn said it also must reschedule tonight's women's basketball game against Seton Hall. The Huskies said they are making the move as a precaution because of a coronavirus outbreak at Providence, a team the Huskies beat last weekend. The Villanova game was postponed because the Wildcats also are dealing with COVID-19 issues within their women's basketball program. The game between UConn (7-0, 6-0) and Seton Hall had been moved to tonight after the Huskies had to cancel a trip to Xavier because of coronavirus issues in the Musketeers' program. The Huskies' next scheduled game is against Butler on Jan. 19. Teams must play 13 games this season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Korda to face Hurkacz
American Sebastian Korda advanced to his first ATP Tour final by beating Cameron Norrie of Britain 6-3, 7-5 Tuesday night at the Delray Beach Open in Delray Beach, Fla. Korda's opponent in the final Wednesday will be No. 4-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, who beat American qualifier Christian Harrison 7-6 (4), 6-4. Korda, 20, came into the tournament ranked 119th, and in first career quarterfinal beat No. 2-seeded John Isner on Monday. Against Norrie, Korda squandered two match points serving at 5-4 and lost the game, but broke back and then easily served out the match. He lost only seven points on his first serve. Hurkacz's only other career final came in 2019, when he won at Winston-Salem to become the second Polish tour-level champion in the Open era.