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Varner III grabs 1-shot lead over Spieth at Charles Schwab Challenge

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June 12 (UPI) — Harold Varner III shook off a triple bogey to take a 1-shot lead over a red-hot Jordan Spieth in the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge on Friday at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Varner started on the back nine and had his opening tee shot fly through the trees and land on a bridge, leading to a one-shot penalty. Three putts from 50 feet away gave him a triple bogey to start his second round after ending in a first-place tie with Justin Rose on Thursday.

Varner answered with eight birdies and wound up with a 66 for a one-shot lead over Spieth atop the leaderboard.

“Obviously not the start I wanted, but it’s just a part of golf,” Varner said. “If I would have tripled the last [hole], it would have added up the same. … You just can’t live in the past. It’s not a great place to be and it’s hard to learn from there.”

Spieth, who began the day tied for seventh after he shot 5-under par in the first round, continued his hot streak by hitting 7 of 7 fairways and 8 of 9 greens on the back nine to start his second round of the tournament.

He sank four birdies on the back nine to shoot 4-under par through his first nine holes. He then made back-to-back birdies on the front nine to move to 11-under par.

Spieth carded a double bogey on No. 3 and a bogey on the next hole to slip back to 8-under par. He responded with birdies on hole Nos. 5 and 6 to sit in a second-place tie with Bryson DeChambeau, who played bogey-free for his 65.

Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele (66) and Collin Morikawa (67) were tied for fourth at 9-under 131, with Justin Thomas (68) and Rose (69) among those a shot back.

Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar were among those who failed to make the cut Friday. Tom Lehman, a 61-year-old former champion at Colonial, shot a 5-under 65 Thursday to sit two strokes behind the leaders, but he failed to make the cut after a 74 Friday.

Golf became the second major sport in the United States — behind motorsports — to resume its season Thursday after a 91-day shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the tournament began, golfers, caddies and other essential personnel were required to be tested for the virus, with all 487 tests coming back negative.

Third round play begins at 8 a.m. EDT Saturday in Fort Worth.



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U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who won the 2020 U.S. Open last week, announced Thursday night that she will skip this month’s French Open.

Osaka — ranked third in the world — said she decided to withdraw from the upcoming major because of a lingering left hamstring injury and a lack of preparation time on the clay surface.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” Osaka wrote on social media. “My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay — these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time. I wish the organizers and players all the best.”

The French Open is set to begin Sept. 27 in Paris after being rescheduled from its traditional spring dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka, 22, has never advanced past the third round of the French tournament.

Osaka, who had her hamstring taped throughout the U.S. Open, earned her third major title in New York after a three-set comeback win over Victoria Azarenka.



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Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota Twins to clinch AL playoff spot

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Chicago White Sox are back in the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade after earning a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

With the victory, the White Sox clinched their first postseason berth since 2008. It is only the franchise’s second trip to the playoffs since the club won the World Series in 2005.

The White Sox are the first American League team to clinch a spot in the 2020 postseason. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first NL club to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

“Everybody in there is extremely happy,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work over the years. Hopefully, it’s just a first step, and we continue to move forward.”

White Sox slugger Jose Abreu fueled the win with his 17th home run of the season. The homer — which tied the game at one run apiece in the fourth inning — gave Abreu 50 RBIs in the team’s first 50 games this year, making him the first MLB player to reach 50 RBIs in 2020 and the first to do it in 50 contests since the Detroit TigersMiguel Cabrera in 2013.

Abreu tied the game again in the seventh inning when he legged out an infield single to score Jarrod Dyson from third. That sequence set up the winner — a line drive double to left field by Eloy Jimenez to plate pinch runner Yolmer Sanchez.

“For me, that was a really special moment,” Jimenez said. “It’s really fun, you know. At the beginning of the year, I would have been disappointed if we didn’t make the playoffs. Now, we’ve made it, and we have to continue to play hard and win our division.”

“We’re not done,” Renteria said. “This is just one phase of it. Hopefully, we’re continuing to be better.”

This week in Major League Baseball

New York Yankees Luke Voit (L) celebrates with Aaron Hicks after hitting a solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York City on Thursday. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 10-7. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Miami Heat rally past Boston Celtics for 2-0 series lead

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Miami Heat mounted another comeback to beat the Boston Celtics 106-101 and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night.

The Heat were down by as much as 17 points in the second quarter and trailed the Celtics by 13 at halftime before exploding for 37 points in the third frame. Miami had been 0-21 in postseason games when trailing by at least that many at the half.

The Heat are now 1-21 in such games and sit two wins away from their first NBA finals since 2014.

“We like to make it hard on ourselves,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “We like being down double digits and being the comeback kids.”

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 25 points and five assists. Bam Adebayo, who had a clutch block in the closing seconds of Game 1, recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range to end his offensive woes. In the Heat’s last two playoff games, he was 2 of 9 from deep and scored a combined eight points.

Butler finished with 14 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Jae Crowder scored 12 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 off the bench.

Kemba Walker had a team-best 23 points for the Celtics, who also got 21 apiece from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Brown failed to make a corner 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 15 seconds left, and Butler sealed it with two free throws with 7.4 seconds left.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is set for Saturday.



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