Off the wire


Theegala out front in Phoenix

Sahith Theegala returned from a lengthy weather delay to finish off a 6-under 65, taking the early lead in the unfinished first round of the Phoenix Open on Thursday. Five days after weather shortened the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to 54 holes, storms followed the PGA Tour to the desert. A chilly morning gave way to wind and heavy rain that left pools of water on the greens at TPC Scottsdale. The Stadium Course was deemed unplayable around noon, leading to a delay of 3 1/2 hours. About half the field was able to finish following the delay, leaving the rest to return Friday morning to resume their first rounds. Theegala returned to sink an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 sixth hole and closed with two pars. His closest pursuer was Andrew Novak, who was 5 under through nine holes. S.H. Kim eagled the par-5 13th and got to 6 under with consecutive birdies starting on No. 5, but closed with two bogeys to shoot 67, matching Shane Lowry. Jordan Spieth shot 68.

Del Solar sets tour record

Cristobal Del Solar of Chile set the Korn Ferry Tour record on Thursday with a 13-under 57 in the Astara Golf Championship in Bogota, Colombia, the lowest round in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event and matching the record on tours that are part of the Official World Golf ranking. Del Solar, a 30-year-old who played his college golf at Florida State, played such a flawless round on the Pacos course at Bogota Country Club that he made par on his final three holes and still shot a 57. He made two eagles, one of them on the 330-yard ninth hole to go out in 8-under 27, tying the Korn Ferry Tour record for nine holes. The Pacos course is 6,254 yards at some 8,500 feet of elevation. Del Solar broke the previous Korn Ferry record of 58 held by Stephan Jaeger from the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic in 2016. David Carey was the first player with a 57 in the 2019 Cervino Open on the Alps Tour.

Varner: From last to first

Harold Varner III made an impressive turnaround in one week, going from last place in the LIV Golf season opener to a 7-under 63 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with Paul Casey. LIV Golf Las Vegas is being held the same week as the Super Bowl and drew a reasonable turnout at Las Vegas Country Club, despite temperatures that barely cracked 50 degrees when the shotgun start began. Varner opened with two consecutive birdies and closed with two birdies on his last three holes. He began the season last week at the Mexican resort of Mayakoba and finished last in the 54-man field, 26 shots out of the lead. Varner said he got in some work with Butch Harmon, the esteemed swing coach who lives in Las Vegas and doesn't travel much. Key to his round was not having to take penalty drops when he hit a few wayward tee shots.

Two share Qatar lead

South African golfer Zander Lombard maintained his strong start to 2024 by shooting 5-under 67 to take a share of the lead after the first round of the Qatar Masters on Thursday. Lombard was bogey-free around Doha Golf Club and was tied with Ashun Wu of China. The No. 100-ranked Lombard was second at the Bahrain Championship last week, sixth at the Dubai Invitational in his first event of the year and finished in the top 20 in the two tournaments in between -- the Dubai Desert Classic and the Ras Al Khaimah. The Qatar Masters is the fifth consecutive European tour event in the Middle East. Wu also had five birdies and no bogeys like Lombard, who rolled in a 6-footer for birdie at the last after also picking up a shot on the short par-4 16th when he drove onto the green and two-putted from 25 feet.


Garcia avoids arbitration

Adolis Garcia and the Texas Rangers agreed Thursday to a $14 million, two-year contract that could be worth as much as $20.25 million, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing between the AL Championship Series MVP and the World Series champions. Garcia will have a base salary of $4.75 million this season, and his $9.25 million salary in 2025 could increase a maximum of $6.25 million to $15.5 million, depending on several salary escalators. The Cuban outfielder, who turns 31 next month, made $747,760 last season when he set career highs with 39 home runs and 107 RBI in 148 games, up from 27 home runs and 101 RBI in 2022. He can become a free agent after the 2026 season. An emotional leader with a big bat for the Rangers, Garcia hit .357 with 5 home runs and series-record 15 RBI in the ALCS against Houston. He was the first player with RBI in six consecutive games within a postseason series.

Davis wins arbitration case

Utilityman J.D. Davis became the seventh consecutive player to win in salary arbitration, beating the San Francisco Giants on Thursday and getting a raise from $4.21 million to $6.9 million rather than the team's $6.55 million offer. Players lead teams 7-2 with eight cases pending. Davis hit .248 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI last year in his first full season with the Giants, who obtained him from the New York Mets on Aug. 2, 2022. A third baseman, first baseman and outfielder, Davis is eligible for free agency after this year's World Series.


Chargers hire Roman as OC

Jim Harbaugh is bringing in another familiar face to direct the Los Angeles Chargers' offense. The Chargers announced on Thursday that Greg Roman has been hired as offensive coordinator. Roman was Harbaugh's coordinator during his four-year tenure with the San Francisco 49ers and was associate head coach under Harbaugh at Stanford in 2009 and '10. Los Angeles also announced that Marcus Brady will be the passing game coordinator. Roman was offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens under Jim's brother, John, from 2019-22. He was out of the league this season. While the Chargers have one of the league's best quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, Roman's calling card has been strong rushing offenses. The 49ers averaged 139.3 rushing yards per game in the four seasons under Roman and Harbaugh, which ranked second in the league during that period.


Surgery for Knicks' forward

OG Anunoby has undergone right elbow surgery and will miss at least three weeks, leaving the New York Knicks without their entire starting frontcourt through the All-Star break. The Knicks said Thursday that Anunoby had a loose bone fragment removed from his elbow in the procedure. They didn't say when it was performed and Coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn't know. Anunoby has missed the last five games with what the team originally called right elbow inflammation before changing it to bone spur inflammation in their injury report for their game Thursday against Dallas. The Knicks said Anunoby would be evaluated in three weeks. All-Star forward Julius Randle is sidelined by a separated shoulder and center Mitchell Robinson is recovering from ankle surgery and set to begin doing work on the court after the break, which starts Feb. 16. Anunoby's acquisition from Toronto sent the Knicks soaring up the standings, as they went 14-2 in January after he made his debut in the starting lineup on New Year's Day. Anunoby has averaged 15.6 points in 14 games since the deal that sent RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to the Raptors.

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