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Spain out; Netherlands cruising; Africa struggles
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:03 PM

By JOHN LEICESTER

Associated Press

 

RIO DE JANEIRO — The king is dead. The World Cup will have a new champion.

And the Netherlands look increasingly like credible pretenders for that newly vacated crown.

Just like France in 2002 and Italy in 2010, defending champion Spain is going home tail between its legs.

Chile delivered the mortal blow to an uninterrupted 6-year era of dominance for Spain, the European and world champions whose dazzling footballers ran out of puff in Brazil. They were made to look vulnerable last week in losing 5-1 to the Netherlands and then simply plain ordinary in a 2-0 loss to a physical and quick Chilean side.

The Netherlands, 3-2 winners against Australia on Wednesday, and Chile are now both sure to advance to the next knockout round having won their two first matches. They will now play each other Monday to determine which of them tops Group B and avoids a possible encounter with host Brazil in the first knockout game on June 28.

In Wednesday’s evening game, Croatia ensured Cameroon won’t go further, delivering a 4-0 thumping to the African side whose injured star, Samuel Eto’o, didn’t come off the bench.

This is shaping up as another tough World Cup for Africa. Only Ivory Coast has won so far — its opener, 2-1, against Japan. It plays Colombia in Group C today, with the other matches Uruguay vs. England in Group D and Japan vs. Greece in Group C.

With strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic both scoring and midfielder Ivan Perisic getting a goal, too, Croatia presents a tough challenge for Mexico in their last Group A match Monday. Mexico needs at least a draw to guarantee a place in the last 16. In the other Group A match, Brazil should have little difficulty against the feeble Cameroon side that was reduced to 10 men after 40 minutes against Croatia when Alex Song was shown red.

At the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, fevered Chile fans yelling “It’s over! It’s over!” taunted Spanish supporters, some of them in tears, bitterly contemplating the end of an era for one of football’s greatest ever teams. Its success — back-to-back European titles and the World Cup in 2010 — has provided succor in brutal economic times for Spaniards.

“The only happiness we’ve had in recent years has been football,” said Beatriz Corral, who came to Rio from Madrid to cheer for Spain. “Now the crisis is complete. We don’t have bread or the circus.”

 
Defending Sonoma winner Truex wants repeat
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:02 PM

Associated Press

 

Martin Truex was the toast of wine country when he left the road course of Sonoma a winner for the first time in six years.

Truex returns this weekend aiming for another win, but so much else has changed.

He’ll bring a new team, different car and new sense of desperation as he tries to force his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Truex was booted from the Chase last season in the aftermath of the Richmond scandal. In his first season driving the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, Truex hasn’t come close to sniffing a checkered flag, buried at 25th in the points standings with only three top-10 finishes and no top fives.

He posted consecutive top-10s and Dover and Pocono before an early-race accident last weekend at Michigan knocked him out of the race.

“We just need to start a new streak in Sonoma,” said Truex. “We’ve had way too much bad luck so far but we will keep plugging away and hope what goes around comes around.”

Truex’s previous only Sprint Cup Series win had been at Dover in 2007 and he was on a 218-race winless streak before winning at Sonoma for Michael Waltrip Racing. He led 51 out of 110 laps, though it was far from the breakthrough victory he hoped it would become.

He lost his sponsor and job following Richmond — a trifecta of bad news that left him scrambling for a ride late in 2013. Truex didn’t strike a deal with Furniture Row until November.

Furniture Row, a 1-car operation based in Denver, far removed from NASCAR’s North Carolina hub, had amazing success last season with Kurt Busch. Busch turned the organization into championship contenders, helping them become the first single-car team to earn a berth in the Chase.

Under the revamped Chase rules, Truex can do the same with a victory. He’d love for a win to jump-start a rough season that has been far from expected from one of last season’s top drivers.

 
Golf Glance
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:02 PM

Associated Press

U.S. GOLF ASSOCIATION

U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN

Site: Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Schedule: Today-Sunday.

Course: Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, No. 2 Course (6,649 yards, par 70).

Purse: TBA ($3,175,000 in 2013). Winner’s share: TBA ($585,000 in 2013).

Television: ESPN2 (Today-Friday, 4-7 p.m.) and NBC (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).

Last year: Inbee Park won at Sebonack in New York for her third straight major title and the last of her six 2013 LPGA Tour victories. She finished at 8 under for a 4-stroke victory. Park also won in 2008 at Interlachen.

Last event: Park won the Manulife Financial Classic on June 8 in Waterloo, Ontario, for her first LPGA Tour title since her victory at Sebonack. She closed with a 10-under 61 for a 3-stroke victory.

Notes: Lucy Li, at 11, is the youngest player in tournament history. She qualified at Half Moon Bay in California with rounds of 74 and 68. … Lexi Thompson won the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco in California in April. She was the previous youngest player at 12 in 2007. … Top-ranked Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda, Karrie Webb and Anna Nordqvist are 2-time winners this year. … Michelle Wie won in Hawaii in April and has eight top-10 finishes in 12 events this year. … South Korean players have won the event the last three years. So Yeon Ryu won in 2011 and Na Yeon Choi in 2012. … Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open on the course Sunday. He shot 65-65-72-69 to finish at 9 under and win by eight strokes. … The 2015 tournament will be played at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania. … The NW Arkansas Championship is next week in Rogers, Arkansas.

Online: http://www.usopen.com/women

 
Same course, new cast of players at Pinehurst
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:00 PM

By DOUG FERGUSON

Associated Press

 

PINEHURST, N.C. — The sounds at Pinehurst No. 2 were the first indication that the second week of U.S. Open golf would not be exactly the same as the first one.

Players arrived on the first day of practice to hear clanging from workers tearing down half of the grandstands around the 17th and 18th greens. They heard the whoosh of water coming from a hose that watered the greens to keep them softer.

That didn’t make the stage for the U.S. Women’s Open feel any smaller.

“We play good golf courses but sometimes we don’t play great golf courses,” said Juli Inkster, playing the Women’s Open for the 35th time. “It seems the men play great golf courses week in and week out. I think when we come here, we’re maybe a little more appreciative of playing a great golf course. It’s in fabulous shape. I really didn’t know what to expect, us playing after the men. And it’s turned out great.

“You can’t even tell that the men were here the week before — except for the huge tents and everything.”

The U.S. Women’s Open gets started today in golf’s version of a doubleheader. Just four days after Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open with the second-lowest score in history (271), it’s the women’s turn.

Everyone from the 53-year-old Inkster to 11-year-old Lucy Li will get a crack on a Donald Ross course fresh on the minds of golf fans who watched the U.S. Open last week.

“Last week with the men, they proved that under par is possible,” defending champion Inbee Park said. “So yeah, we should go out there and try to shoot under par.”

It’s the first time the men and women have competed on the same golf course for a major in back-to-back weeks.

Pinehurst No. 2 will play at 6,649 for the women — just over 900 yards shorter than for the men — though it most likely won’t play as long as the card indicated, just as it didn’t a week ago.

 
MLB Glance
Written by Staff Reports   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 7:54 PM

Associated Press

National League

East Division

W L Pct GB

Washington 36 33 .522 —

Atlanta 36 35 .507 1

Miami 36 35 .507 1

Philadelphia 32 38 .457 4½

New York 32 40 .444 5½

Central Division

W L Pct GB

Milwaukee 43 29 .597 —

St. Louis 39 33 .542 4

Cincinnati 34 35 .493 7½

Pittsburgh 34 36 .486 8

Chicago 30 40 .429 12

 
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