GOLF

Corey Conners surged into the lead with a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th hole – his second eagle on that hole in two days – and shot a 3-under 69 Friday to take a one-shot lead after the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida.

Martin Laird, a former champion of the event at Bay Hill, was alone in second after a 67.

Rory McIlroy hit a couple of loose drives that led to bogeys then closed with five straight pars for a 71 that left him two shots behind, along with Viktor Hovland and Lanto Griffin, who each had a 68.

LPGA: Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst each 5-under 67 for the second straight day to share the lead in the Drive On Championship at Ocala, Florida.

A day after playing most of the back nine with a migraine that blurs her vision, Kupcho, a 23-year-old former NCAA champion, had six birdies and a bogey. She’s seeking her first LPGA title.

Carlota Ciganda of Spain had the best round of the day, a bogey-free 65, and was alone in third at 8 under.

Nelly Korda, tied for the first-round lead with Kupcho and Ernst, was three strokes back after a 70.

HOCKEY

OLYMPICS: A member of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. hockey team has died at a treatment center for mental illness.

Officials in Anoka County, Minnesota, confirmed that Mark Pavelich, 63, died at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on Thursday morning. The cause and manner of death are still pending.

Pavelich was undergoing treatment at the home as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minnesota, in August 2019, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. He was charged with felony assault, but Judge Michael Cuzzo found he was incompetent to stand trial because he was mentally ill and dangerous. According to the judge’s order from December 2019, a psychologist found Pavelich was suffering from delusions and paranoia. Another psychologist found he suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

Pavelich starred at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and assisted on Mike Eruzione’s winning goal against the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. That U.S. went on to win the gold medal.

Pavelich spent five seasons with the NHL’s New York Rangers and played briefly for the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks. He sold his gold medal for more than $250,000 in 2014, two years after his wife, Kara, died in an accidental fall.

TENNIS

QATAR OPEN: Petra Kvitova and Garbiñe Muguruza advanced to the final, one winning in straight sets and the other without even playing a point.

Muguruza advanced when Victoria Azarenka pulled out because of a back injury. Kvitova beat Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-4, winning the final four games after trailing 4-2 in the second set. Pegula, who reached the quarterfinals at last month’s Australian Open, was playing her seventh match in as many days after coming through qualifying in Doha.

ABN AMRO: Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from a break down in the deciding set to beat Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, and reach the semifinals in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The No. 2 seed set up a semifinal against fourth-seeded Andrey Rublev, who was pushed hard by qualifier Jeremy Chardy in a 7-6 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-4 win.

Borna Coric and Marton Fucsovics will meet in the other semifinal. Coric hit 11 aces in a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) win over Kei Nishikori, and Fucsovics won 6-4, 6-3 over Tommy Paul.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO GAMES: The new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has begun holding weekly news conferences hoping to win over a doubting Japanese public, with the postponed games opening in just under five months.

Seiko Hashimoto is trying to assure everyone that the Olympics will be safe and secure, a phrase she repeated a dozen times Friday in her inaugural news conference.

Polls show about 80% of Japanese think the games should be postponed again or canceled amid the pandemic.

“The situation around coronavirus doesn’t go easy on us,” Hashimoto said. “I understand there are a lot of people in Tokyo and in Japan who have concerns about the games in Tokyo this summer. I’d like to share my thoughts and alleviate some of those concerns.”

She also needs to ease fears about the torch relay, which is set to begin on March 25 from the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. The relay involves 10,000 runners and goes to every corner of Japan.

The Olympics open on July 23, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. They will include 11,000 Olympians, 4,400 Paralympic athletes and tens of thousands of judges, officials, sponsors, volunteers, VIPs, media and broadcasters.

“People need to start to build confidence in the safety of the games,” Hashimoto said. “It will be very difficult without that.”

SKIING

MEN’S WORLD CUP: The first men’s downhill following the world championships was stopped because of fog after nine racers had completed their runs.

Low clouds in the upper part of the course in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria, initially forced organizers to use a reserve start lower down the hill. They interrupted the race when the fog bank moved down the mountain and affected visibility for the racers.

The race was a replacement for the classic downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, that was canceled in January amid the coronavirus pandemic.

AUTO RACING

FORMULA ONE: The Portuguese Grand Prix will be held May 2, and Formula One remains hopeful some fans can attend.

“We hope to welcome fans to Portimao again this season in a safe way,” F1 president Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.

Last year, the Portimao Circuit in the southern Algarve region hosted an F1 race for the first time in 25 years. There were 27,000 spectators to see Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton make F1 history with his 92nd victory.

But allowing so many fans to congregate at last year’s event amid the pandemic prompted an outcry in Portugal, and the Portuguese government is wary of easing the country’s current lockdown after it recently spent several weeks as the world’s worst-hit nation by size of population.

At the same time, Portuguese authorities are keen to bring back tourists, especially to the Algarve’s beaches, this summer.

• No fans will be allowed at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix on June 6 because of ongoing coronavirus concerns, organizers said.


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