Questions loom heading into the golf season

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Questions loom heading into the golf season

From Comcast SportsNetKAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) -- Even without the top four players in the world around to kick off the season, every new year in golf is shrouded in mystery like clouds over Molokai across the channel from Kapalua.Among the most pressing question: What will Bubba Watson serve for dinner at the Masters?"When you show up for dinner on Tuesday night, that's when you'll find out," Watson said.One problem. The press isn't invited."That's what I mean," Watson said.With a wink and a smile, he walked over to the first tee and smashed the first of what figures to be several 400-yard tee shots. There were 67 tee shots that went at least 400 yards last year on the PGA Tour, and 41 of them were on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.There are more serious issues going into 2013. What follows is the front nine of what to look for in the new season.------1. EUROPEAN CAPTAIN: The biggest news in Abu Dhabi later this month won't necessarily be the first showdown between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. This is where the European Tour traditionally selects its Ryder Cup captain, and the choice became a little more complicated when the Americans went back in time by picking Tom Watson.Watson is beloved in Scotland, site of the 2014 matches. Does that mean Europe needs to answer with a larger-than-life figure for its captain? That has led to suggestions Colin Montgomerie would return as captain, though Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley were said to be next in line. Clarke would seem a better fit when the matches return to America at Hazeltine in 2016, though McGinley might be dwarfed by Watson's presence.------2. RORY AND THE SWOOSH: Players changing equipment companies is nothing new. It's different when that player is No. 1 in the world.Nikeis not likely to announce its deal with McIlroy until he starts his season in Abu Dhabi, and that's when the scrutiny begins.McIlroy givesNikeanother world-class athlete in its stable. But whatever recognition his clubs receive might be akin to an offensive lineman who gets his name called only when there's a penalty. Remember, McIlroy is known to have a bad patch of two. Even last year, when he won five times and swept all the major awards, he missed four cuts in five starts in the summer. When he plays poorly, critics will blame the equipment. And when he plays great, well, he's Rory McIlroy.------3. SHORT SEASON: The PGA Tour season might feel more like a sprint than a marathon this year. The season, in effect, ends with the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 18, the cutoff for qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs. And once the playoffs end at the Tour Championship, the 2013-14 season starts in October.That might mean more players competing more often, which could put the squeeze on Q-school and Web.com Tour graduates by limiting the number of tournaments they can play to try to qualify for the playoffs. The motto always has been, "Play better." A tweak might be in order this year. "Play better, now."------4. ANCHORS AWAY: The R&A and USGA announced late last year that anchored strokes used for the belly putter and long putter will be banned starting in 2016. The question is whether the PGA Tour, which has the right to set its own rules, will enact the new rule much sooner.There already is evidence of a stigma attached to those who anchor their putters -- Keegan Bradley said a fan called him a cheater at the World Challenge last month -- and it might be in the best interest of the tour to make the change quickly. But when? At the end of the FedEx Cup, meaning a player can use a belly putter in September but not October? At the start of 2013, meaning the rule would change in the middle of a season?------5. MASTERS INVITATIONS:For the last six years, the Masters has been awarding invitations to winners of PGA Tour events that offer full FedEx Cup points. The Fall Series didn't count, nor did the events opposite a major or World Golf Championship.One problem. Starting later this year, there is no Fall Series. When the tour goes to the wraparound season, there will be an additional six tournaments that under the previous policy would award the winner a spot in the Masters.The concern for Augusta National is keeping a small field -- it has not had more than 100 players since 1966. The question is whether the tour's change will mean an end to tournament winners driving down Magnolia Lane.------6. ALL-MALE CLUBS:Just because Augusta National now has two women in green jackets doesn't mean the debate over all-male clubs is going away. If anything, it might be more intense than ever when the British Open returns to Muirfield. There are no female members in the "Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers," nor are there any female members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.That received cursory criticism over the years, though most of the scrutiny was on the Masters. Now that the British Open is the only major played in which the host club has no women on their membership rolls, R&A chief Peter Dawson might have some explaining to do. If he's not too busy talking about changes to the Old Course.------7. DISTANCE DEBATE:Those concerned that distance is ruining the game and making golf courses obsolete might appreciate a prediction in Golf Illustrated magazine that if the "carrying power of golf balls is to be still further increased all our golf courses will be irretrievably ruined as a test of the game."That was in 1910, and the game has been evolving since.The R&A and USGA have leaned on their "Joint Statement of Principles" in 2002 when it comes to distance. Even so, Dawson sounded an ominous tone while announcing the ban on anchored strokes."We haven't shelved distance. It's very much on the radar," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. "Anchored strokes are separate. Just because we're doing one doesn't mean we have taken our eye off the other."Stay tuned.------8. MINORS VS. MAJORS:With the PGA Tour starting a new season in October, the only way to earn a card will be through a series of four tournaments called "The Finals" that will include the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour and the next 75 players from the PGA Tour who fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.Privately, the brass at PGA Tour headquarters is curious to see how the Web.com Tour players will fare against the second-tier PGA Tour players who faced stiffer competition and tougher golf courses all year.------9. TIGER: Woods and Jack Nicklaus were talking about rivalries a decade ago when Nicklaus told him it was important to always be part of the conversation. That's never been a problem for Woods. Even with McIlroy assuming the role of golf's No. 1 player, Woods is part of every conversation in golf.The only difference is the context.Can he end a four-year drought in the majors? Can he get back to No. 1? Will he ever dominate as he once did?The new season should provide some answers.

Recapping the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft

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Recapping the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft

The first 98 selections of the 2016 NFL Draft are in the books. Here's a look at the second and third round choices made Friday night.

(Click here for a recap of Round 1)

Round 2

32. Cleveland Browns: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

33. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

34. Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

35. San Diego Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

36. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Baltimore): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

37. Kansas City Chiefs (via San Francisco): Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State

38. Miami Dolphins (via Baltimore via Jacksonville): Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Noah Spence, LB, Eastern Kentucky

40. New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

41. Buffalo Bills (via Chicago): Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

42. Baltimore Ravens (via Miami): Kamalei Correa, LB, Boise State

43. Tennessee Titans (via Philadelphia via Los Angeles): Austin Johnson, DL, Penn State

44. Oakland Raiders: Jihad Ward, DL, Illinois

45. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles): Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

46. Detroit Lions: A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

47. New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

48. Green Bay Packers (via Indianapolis): Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

49: Seattle Seahawks (via Chicago via Buffalo): Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

50. Houston Texans (via Atlanta): Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame

51. New York Jets: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

52. Atlanta Falcons (via Houston): Deion Jones, LB, LSU

53. Washington Redskins: Su'a Cravens, LB, USC

54. Minnesota Vikings: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

55. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

56. Chicago Bears (via Seattle): Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State

57. Indianapolis Colts (via Green Bay): T.J. Green, DB, Clemson

58. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sean Davis, DB, Maryland

59. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Kansas City): Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State

60. New England Patriots: Cyrus Jones, DB, Alabama

61. New Orleans Saints (via New England via Arizona): Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State

62. Carolina Panthers: James Bradberry, DB, Samford

63. Denver Broncos: Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

THIRD ROUND

64. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Byard, DB, Middle Tennessee State

65. Cleveland Browns: Carl Nassib, DL, Penn State

66. San Diego Chargers: Max Tuerk, OL, USC

67. Dallas Cowboys: Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

68. San Francisco 49ers: Will Redmond, DB, Mississippi State

69. Jacksonville Jaguars: Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Maryland

70. Baltimore Ravens: Bronson Kaufusi, DL, BYU

71. New York Giants: Darian Thompson, FB, Boise State

72. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida

73. Miami Dolphins: Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

74. Kansas City Chiefs (via Tampa Bay): KeiVarae Russell, DB, Notre Dame

75. Oakland Raiders: Shilique Calhoun, DL, Michigan State

76. Cleveland Browns (via Tennessee via Los Angeles): Shon Coleman, OL, Auburn

77. Carolina Panthers (via Cleveland via Philadelphia via Detroit): Daryl Worley, DB, West Virginia

78. New England Patriots (via New Orleans): Joe Thuney, OL, N.C. State

79. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State

80. Buffalo Bills: Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State

81. Atlanta Falcons: Autin Hooper, TE, Stanford

82. Indianapolis Colts: Le'Raven Clark, OL, Texas Tech

83. New York Jets: Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia

84. Washington Redskins: Kendall Fuller, DB, Virginia Tech

85. Houston Texans: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

86. Miami Dolphins (via Minnesota): Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

87. Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State

88. Green Bay Packers: Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State

89. Pittsburgh Steelers: Javon Hargrave, DL, South Carolina State

90. Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

91. New England Patriots: Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State

92. Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Williams, DB, Texas A&M

93. Cleveland Browns (via Carolina): Cody Kessler, QB, USC

94. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver): Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

95. Detroit Lions: Graham Glasgow, OL, Michigan

96. New England Patriots: Vincent Valentine, DL, Nebraska

97. Seattle Seahawks: Rees Odhiambo, OL, Boise State

98. Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons, DB, Boston College

Bears' 3rd rounder Florida DE Jonathan Bullard to add pass rush to front three

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Bears' 3rd rounder Florida DE Jonathan Bullard to add pass rush to front three

The Bears had to cut ties with defensive end Julius Peppers a couple of years ago, only to see him change from a 4-3 end to 3-4 linebacker hybrid for the Green Bay Packers. In the third round of this year’s draft, the Bears added a player whose goal is to emulate Peppers, which would be more than fine with the Bears.

“Julius Peppers is my favorite player,” Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard said at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

Bullard was selected by the Bears with the 72nd pick of this year’s draft.

“My oldest brother actually wore No. 90 because of Julius and I wore No. 90 because of my brother but it was actually Julius," Bullard said. "We all watched him play growing up. My brother also played at a D-2 school and I wore 90 in high school.”

No. 90 came available last year when the Bears released defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. It was taken over by Greg Scruggs when he was signed on Dec. 30 for Game 16, but could be Bullard’s in the foreseeable future, particularly if Bullard plays to his self-description.

“I would say my disruption,” Bullard said of his specific strength. “I had a lot of disruption and I make things easier for my teammates to make plays, also.”

They may be very pleased with the progress of Ego Ferguson’s rehab and recovery from season-ending knee surgery but that did not stop the Bears from adding internal pressure on the defensive line with the selection of Bullard.

“We see him as a 3-4 defensive end,” said GM Ryan Pace. “He played defensive end [at Florida], bulked up and played more of a three-technique position for them.

“When you watch tape on him, there’s one thing you can’t coach, and that’s get-off. His get-off is excellent and I think there’s a lot of advantages from just that alone.”

Bullard, 6-3, 285, had 6.5 sacks in 2015 along with 17.5 tackles for loss, good enough to be a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. He started eight games at defensive end in 2013, then all 12 games in 2014 and 14 his senior season.

“My junior year I started back out at end…but most of my senior year it was 3-technique,” Bullard said.

With the Bears set at nose tackle with Eddie Goldman and defensive end with Akiem Hicks, Bullard is expected to be part of a rotation inside in sub packages, which the Bears operated out of some 60 percent of the time in 2015, per GM Ryan Pace.

“I think because off my versatility,” Bullard said. “I can do whatever you want me to do on your defensive line, inside to outside, quickness to hold the point. So I think I’m going to bring a lot to your team.’’

Avisail Garcia tweaks hamstring late in White Sox loss

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Avisail Garcia tweaks hamstring late in White Sox loss

BALTIMORE — Avisail Garcia could be the latest member of the White Sox afflicted by an injury.

The White Sox designated hitter tweaked his right hamstring late in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles and will be re-evaluated Saturday. Earlier in the day, the White Sox placed reliever Daniel Webb on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow flexor inflammation. That comes after catcher Alex Avila and Kevan Smith also went on the DL earlier in the week.

“He looked like he twinged something in his hammy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But everybody seems to be having something, so we’ll re evaluate and see him tomorrow.”

Garcia tweaked his right leg on the final play of the game as he tried to avoid the tag of Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. An injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Garcia, who tripled in a run in the second inning to keep a hot streak alive. Garcia is 8-for-18 on the road trip with four RBIs and has raised his average from .135 to .214.