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Sports news briefs — Feb. 1

Compiled from wire reports


Massive crowd sees
high jinks in desert

• A desert critter saved leader Bubba Watson a stroke Saturday in the Phoenix Open. Some pigskin play cost Phil Mickelson to the chagrin of the rowdiest fans in the largest crowd in golf history.

The estimated 189,722 fans had a lot to see at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. Watson’s drive on the par-5 13th went into a desert bush and fell into a animal hole, giving him a free drop. He saved par on the way to a 3-under 68 and a 2-stroke lead at 15 under.

Mickelson double bogeyed on the par-3 16th hole, the 20,000-seat stadium hole where he “lost focus” thinking about throwing footballs into the crowd. He had a 72 to drop to 3 under.

• Defending champion Stephen Gallacher had seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine to surge past Rory McIlroy and take a 2-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic in United Arab Emirates. Gallacher equaled the European Tour record for the lowest nine-hole score with an inward 28 for a 9-under 63. That gave him a 16-under total of 200, with McIlroy in second after 69. Tiger Woods was 11 shots back.

• American Anya Alvarez had six birdies in an unblemished 66 to take a 2-stroke lead after the second round of the New Zealand Women’s Open. Alvarez moved to 8-under 136 in the Ladies European Tour event. World No. 4 Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot a second straight 69.


Maria Sharapova
falters in semifinal

•  Top-seeded Maria Sharapova lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Anastasia Pavl­yuchenkova in an all-Russian semifinal of the Open GDF Suez in Paris. Pavlyuchenkova will play third-seeded Sara Errani of Italy for her first final since the Korea Open in September. Errani outlasted Alize Cornet of France 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (5).

• Kei Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama beat Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor of Canada 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 to give Japan a 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup World Group clash in Tokyo.

• Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet beat Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-5 in La Roche-sur-Yon, France, to give France a 3-0 lead over Australia and a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

• Germans Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 7-6 (7), 6-3 in Frankfurt doubles to secure Germany’s place in Davis Cup quarterfinals.

• Italy took a 2-1 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup first round by winning a four-set doubles in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli defeated Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-4.


Pitcher Bruce Chen
is back with Royals

• The Kansas City Royals signed veteran pitcher Bruce Chen to a $4.25 million, one-year deal. Chen, 36, became a free agent last year after going 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 15 starts and 19 appearances out of the Royals bullpen.

• Pitcher Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a contract, avoiding arbitration. Fister was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a trade this offseason.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract. Ellis drove in 52 runs last season.

— From wire reports


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