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Eight top golfers decline invites from World Match Play

By wire services
Published August 31, 2005


WENTWORTH, England - The richest prize in an official golf tournament was not enough to make Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson want to play in the World Match Play Championship.

Along with losing the top three players in the world rankings, the 16-man field - which offers $1.78-million to the winner - will be without defending champion Ernie Els, who is recovering from knee surgery.

Sergio Garcia, Masters runner-up Chris DiMarco, Fred Couples and Davis Love III also decided not to play the HSBC World Match Play Championship. No Americans are in the field, which was finalized Tuesday.

The tournament will be played Sept. 15-18 at Wentworth.

Singh, who withdrew Tuesday from this week's Deutsche Bank Championship because of back spasms, is scheduled to defend his title that week at the 84 Lumber Classic in western Pennsylvania, while Mickelson, DiMarco and Couples also plan to play the PGA Tour event.

All of them, along with Woods, will be playing in the Presidents Cup the following week in northern Virginia.

CYCLING: L'Equipe editor denies anti-American claim

The editor of the French sports daily L'Equipe denied that his newspaper had accused Lance Armstrong of doping because he is American. "If Lance Armstrong was a French rider and we were in possession of the same information, we would have done the same thing," Claude Droussent told France's LCI television station. L'Equipe reported last week that Armstrong used the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO to help win the 1999 Tour de France - the first of his record seven straight titles. Armstrong vehemently denied the accusations.

GYMNASTICS: Future of Romanian gymnastics in danger

The future of Romania's storied gymnastics program is in question after two top gymnasts violated their contracts by leaving a training camp over the weekend to attend a birthday party. Catalina Ponor, winner of three gold medals at last year's Olympics, and teammate Floarea Leonida were seen at a birthday party for a male gymnast Saturday night. That led Romania's gymnastics federation to disband its women's team. Adrian Stoica, the federation's secretary general, said all gymnasts would now train at their own clubs.

ET CETERA

AUTOS: Busch Series driver Reed Sorenson's crew chief, Brian Pattie, was suspended for six races and fined $35,000 for soaking tires at Bristol Motor Speedway. Sorenson was docked 50 points in the series standings.

NHL: Restricted free agent defenseman Hal Gill re-signed with the Bruins, agreeing to a one-year deal. Defenseman Brian Muir signed a contract with the Capitals.

OLYMPICS: Chevalier Nusuyev, a former Russian sports official allegedly linked to the fixing of figure skating results at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, was shot and killed, said the top prosecutor in southwest Moscow.

WNBA: Tamika Catchings had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Tully Bevilaqua added 14 to lead the Indiana Fever over the New York Liberty 63-51 in the opener of their playoff series. ... The Houston Comets overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit but couldn't stop the visiting Seattle Storm 75-67 in its series opener.