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Game Story

Bruins continue slick play

By Fluto Shinzawa

Globe Staff / February 28, 2011


EDMONTON, Alberta — Here in the prairies, the preferred meat is Alberta beef. But during this three-game Western Canada swing, it’s been all about 220 pounds of Vancouver prime.

Last night, Milan Lucic, looking more like fellow British Columbian Cam Neely every night, grabbed the game by the collar and imposed his will on the Oilers. On Boston’s first two goals, Lucic barged into the real estate above the Edmonton crease and stated, in his not-so-subtle manner, that the space was all his.

By engaging goalie Devan Dubnyk and the Edmonton defensemen with his presence, Lucic opened up space for Michael Ryder and Nathan Horton to wipe out a 1-0 Edmonton lead.

With Lucic leading the way, the Bruins scored a 3-2 win before 16,839 at Rexall Place to sweep their Western Canadian tour. They are 5-0-0 on their six-game road trip, which concludes tomorrow at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

On Saturday, Lucic scored the deciding goal in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over Vancouver. He was stationed in front of Roberto Luongo, in perfect position to shovel in the rebound of a Dennis Seidenberg shot. Earlier in the night, Lucic helped open up space for a Horton strike on Luongo.

“If you look at the last game and this game, the goal I scored and the goal Horty scored, he was in front of the net with traffic both times and we were able to get the two goals,’’ Lucic said. “Tonight, I was in front of the net creating traffic, and we were able to score. Those are the ways most goals are scored. We’ve got to keep that up if we want to keep scoring goals. It’s great. All three games here, we’ve been able to score goals against three pretty good teams.’’

In the last three games, Lucic has three goals and three assists.

“It’s because he’s out West,’’ coach Claude Julien said, with a laugh, of Lucic’s recent net-front domination. “We’ve been encouraging him to go there. When you watch practice, you see him working on tipping pucks and banging those away. He’s starting to feel more and more comfortable in that area. It’s something that I don’t think he’s done that often in his career. It’s something he’s growing into. I’m liking that part of his game.’’

In the third, when Jim Vandermeer protested Lucic’s swipe at a puck under Dubnyk’s right pad, the powderkeg exploded. After both combatants’ gloves went flying, the two chuckers landed big-time bombs in one of Lucic’s longer slugfests.

“It was up there,’’ said Lucic, bearing a scrape on his forehead for his troubles. “The one with [Jarkko] Ruutu a couple years ago was long as well. It was good to get in one like that again. It’s been a while since I had a real good fight like that. Looking at all the fights, they haven’t been as entertaining as that one. So it’s nice to get in one like that.’’

In the first, Lucic screened Dubnyk on an Adam McQuaid shot. McQuaid’s shot never got through, but with the Oilers busy with Lucic, Ryder flung the puck into the net at 15:30 to tie the game at 1-1.

The Bruins grabbed the lead late in the first. This time, Lucic engaged Jason Strudwick in front of the net and opened up space. David Krejci dished the puck to Horton, and with Dubnyk out of position, the right wing found the back of the net at 18:39 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

It was another in-your-face effort from Horton, the ex-Panther who’d been prone to too many stretches of irrelevance earlier this season. In the first, after Theo Peckham decked Krejci, Horton challenged the Edmonton defenseman. They engaged in a brief scrap. But it was long enough for Horton to do some heavy damage to Peckham. He clobbered Peckham with a thunderous right to end the fight, and Peckham sat out the rest of the game.

Horton and Lucic combined for 10 shots. During the trip, they have played with power, speed, skill, and nastiness to form a lethal No. 1 line with Krejci centering the thump-first bookends.

“He’s been playing with an edge the last few games,’’ Julien said of Horton. “That makes a big difference in his game. I like the way he’s been playing lately. Hopefully that continues. We talk about the timing of players playing well. This time of year, you want your players to start pushing hard. He’s doing that.’’

Rich Peverley scored his first goal as a Bruin to give his new club a 3-1 lead at 19:08 of the second. After playing give-and-go with Ryder, Peverley took a return pass and cut through the crease. He faked backhand, then pulled the puck to his forehand. With Dubnyk nowhere in sight, Peverley had an easy tap-in.

“I thought he was really good tonight,’’ Julien said of Peverley (18:07 workload, 8 for 13 on the draw), who trailed only Krejci in ice time among Bruins forwards. “With the winner, it was nice to see him do that. I thought that line played really well tonight.’’

Tuukka Rask allowed a third-period goal at 3:14 to Gilbert Brule. But Rask had to face only 17 total shots to earn the win.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.



A stay-at-home defenseman

Boychuk familiar with surroundings

EDMONTON, Alberta — The way Johnny Boychuk gives the directions, he grew up right down the street from Rexall Place, a drive that might not take 10 minutes.

So naturally, last night was a big deal for the Edmonton native and the 100-plus guests he was expecting. It was the first time Boychuk had played an NHL game in his hometown rink. He recorded three shots in 22:20 of ice time in the Bruins’ 3-2 win.

“It’s just nice to be able to play in front of family and friends,’’ Boychuk said before the game. “Then be able to see them after the game.’’

Boychuk, born in 1984, missed the Oilers’ glory years. That didn’t stop Boychuk, like the rest of the people in this area, from following the only show in town.

“They’re close to last place and they’re sold out every game,’’ Boychuk said. “That just shows what kind of fan support they have. Even when they’re doing bad, they know they’re going to have a sold-out crowd no matter what and there’s going to be a lot of fans behind them every game. It’s great to see, especially when they’re not doing as good as they want to be doing. They still have the fan support.’’

As meaningful as last night’s game was for Boychuk, it wasn’t always a guarantee he’d be on the ice instead of in the press box. The second-year NHLer hasn’t been as consistent as he was as a rookie. Boychuk’s timing and decision-making with the puck were a tick off. His shot, perhaps his most dangerous weapon, wasn’t getting through blockers or landing on net with enough consistency.

On Feb. 15 against Toronto, Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. After appearing in the following game against the Islanders, Boychuk was scratched again, this time to make room for Tomas Kaberle in Boston’s 4-2 win over Ottawa.

Boychuk has dressed for the last three games. In Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Vancouver, Boychuk landed four shots on Roberto Luongo. Boychuk, paired with Zdeno Chara, helped keep the No. 1 line of Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin off the scoreboard.

“The first [healthy scratch] fired me up,’’ said Boychuk. “The second one really sent a message to me. I probably deserved it. I’ll try not to take anything for granted anymore, that’s for sure. It was a big motivational thing for me.’’


Event/Game story

A sour note for the Vols with 30-27 loss

Sound of Music for Vols: Ugh in second OT, 30-27

By Mike Strange

Originally published 10:56 p.m., December 30, 2010
Updated 01:06 a.m., December 31, 2010

NASHVILLE – It ain’t over til it’s over. Nobody knows that better than Tennessee in 2010.

Derek Dooley’s first season at Tennessee ended on a sour note Thursday night, a heartbreaking 30-27 double-overtime loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl.

North Carolina’s Casey Barth kicked a 39-yard field goal after one second had been put back on the clock at the end of regulation to forge a 20-20 tie.

Then Barth won it with a 23-yard field goal in the second overtime after North Carolina had ended Tennessee’s possession with an interception.

Tennessee finishes 6-7 after losing a second game in which the opponent was allowed to run an extra play at the end of regulation time. The first was a 16-14 loss at LSU on Oct. 2.

The Vols appeared to have won this game 20-17 when the Tar Heels failed to get off a play at the Tennessee 18 as the clock ran out in the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t celebrate this time,” said Dooley. “I’d been there before.”

Officials reviewed the last play and put one second back on the clock, ruling Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates had spiked the ball before time expired.

North Carolina was penalized for having too many men on the field but was still in range for Barth’s field goal that forced overtime.

Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime – UT’s came on a 20-yard Tyler Bray pass to Luke Stocker.

But then Bray’s third interception of the game killed Tennessee’s possession in the second overtime.

The Tar Heels ripped off a 16-yard run, then won with the field goal, Barth’s third of the game.

“I hurt for that whole football team,” said Dooley. “There’s a bunch of guys in there crying.

“I’m proud of ’em. They’ve been fighting like heck since November and they put up a good fight against a real good team tonight.”

Bray’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter with 5:16 to play in the fourth quarter put the Vols up 20-17.

However, Daniel Lincoln’s extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving Tennessee with a three-point lead instead of four.

That gave the Tar Heels (8-5) the chance to tie it with a field goal rather than having to score a touchdown to win.

Tennessee’s defense stopped one North Carolina drive on downs with 1:36 to play. The Vols, however, couldn’t make a first down and punted back to the Tar Heels.

Carolina started at its 20 with only 31 seconds to play but got a 43-yard chunk on first down – a 28-yard pass on which UT’s Janzen Jackson was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul.

The Tar Heels attempted three more plays, the third of which was a run to the UT 18. North Carolina couldn’t get organized to run another play and time expired, touching off a Tennessee celebration on the field and in the stands, where a crowd of 69,143 was dominated by orange.

But just like LSU, it was a premature celebration.

The Tar Heels got their extra second and kicked the field goal.

“This is gonna have to be a game ESPN Classic will be showing a hundred years from now,” said North Carolina coach Butch Davis.

And UT’s four-game winning streak was over.

Bray threw TD passes to Gerald Jones of 29 yards and Da’Rick Rogers of 45 yards in the first half.

North Carolina led 17-14 at intermission, thanks to a 58-yard TD run by Shaun Draughn, a 28-yard Barth field goal and a 39-yard pass from Yates to Erik Highsmith.

Nobody scored in the second half until the Vols moved downfield and got the go-ahead touchdown from Bray to Hunter.

But it wasn’t followed by the extra point and that turned out to be a problem.

Bray finished 27-of-45 passing for 312 yards. Jones had nine catches for 89 yards in his final Tennessee game.

The lack of a running game, predictably, was a handicap.

The Vols managed 27 net yards on 29 carries. Tauren Poole cleared 40 yards to finish his junior year at 1,036 yards.

Draughn, the game MVP, rushed for 160 yards for the Tar Heels.

Yates passed for 234 yards and was intercepted once, by UT’s Jackson in the end zone to prevent a North Carolina touchdown.

Yates also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the first overtime, a possession in which the Tar Heels started at the Tennessee 12 instead of the 25. UT had been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct – Gerald Williams removed his helmet – on the field goal at the end of regulation.



No defense for ending in fourth or second OT

By Andrew Gribble

Friday, December 31, 2010

NASHVILLE – The recorders were set and it was his time to explain what was on his mind after the hectic, deja vu end to Thursday’s 30-27 Music City Bowl double overtime loss to North Carolina, but Derek Dooley needed a second.

Instead of lamenting on the loophole North Carolina was able to utilize to score an extra play at the end of regulation, the Tennessee coach centered his focus on how the Vols could have avoided an ending that was ultimately put in the hands of the officials.

“There were a lot of opportunities before the end to win the game,” he said. “Anytime the result doesn’t go your way, the first you thing you should do is say ‘What could we have done differently to change the outcome?’

“There were a lot of things there, especially down the stretch.”

Prodded for a more visceral reaction, Dooley chuckled, then stuck to his earlier instincts.

“What do you say?” he asked. ‘We had a lot of chances prior to that.”

Those opportunities occurred as early as the first quarter and as late as the second overtime, when the Vols couldn’t keep the Tar Heels off the board following freshman quarterback Tyler Bray’s interception on the preceding possession.

North Carolina came into Thursday’s game much like the Vols: all pass, no run. But even without starter Anthony Elzy, who was academically ineligible, the Tar Heels were able to gash the Vols early, as Shaun Draughn blew by a number of would-be tacklers on his way to an early, crowd-quieting 58-yard touchdown run.

The Vols appeared to have momentum in hand going into halftime when freshman Da’Rick Rogers hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 to play in the second quarter, but the Tar Heels, who struggled to do much of anything after Draughn’s big run, found new life against soft UT coverage. T.J. Yates’ 39-yard touchdown pass to Erik Highsmith came on a broken play where cornerback Prentiss Waggner was a good 10 yards behind Highsmith.

Daniel Lincoln’s missed extra point on UT’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter set the Tar Heels up for the hectic final seconds, allowing them the luxury to use a field goal to send the game into overtime. It was his third and final missed of his career.

“We kick a ball low on an extra point,” Dooley said matter-of-factly as he shook his head.

Though the Vols stopped the Tar Heels on their initial possession following the Vols’ fourth quarter score, the defense was summoned back on the field late for the fateful possession because UT couldn’t pick up a first down to run out the clock. The Vols came into Thursday’s game ranked as one of the worst rushing teams in the country, and they didn’t do anything that surprised Dooley, gaining just 27 yards on 29 carries.

“How much did the running game affect? It’s the same as every other game,” Dooley said. “Inadequate. Inept.”

Given an opportunity to pin the Tar Heels deep in their own territory, Chad Cunningham sailed a punt into the end zone, giving North Carolina the ball on its 20-yard line with 31 seconds to play.

Safety Janzen Jackson, who made a highlight-reel interception in UT’s own end zone earlier in the half, was at the center of controversy on the final drive’s first play. As Todd Harrelson caught a 28-yard pass near the sidelines, Jackson launched his body into Harrelson’s back and was flagged for leading with his helmet. The net gain of the play was 45 yards and the Tar Heels were all of a sudden in UT territory.

“I didn’t quite understand that but I guess that’s the rule,” Dooley said.

And though the game was officially announced over – before it wasn’t again – senior defensive end Gerald Williams lost his cool after Casey Barth’s game-tying field goal, as he tossed his helmet in disgust on his way off the field. The 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allowed the Tar Heels to start their first overtime possession on the Vols’ 10, leading to an easy touchdown that pinned the Vols against the wall.

“Our guy lost his cool and the game wasn’t over,” Dooley said.

Dooley, however, did not lose his cool after the final chaotic chapter of his first season at UT.




Event/Game story

By Colin Stephenson/The Star-Ledger

With a giant image of their new star, Deron Williams, newly installed on the back of the Robert Treat Hotel — clearly visible to motorists driving on Route 21 on their way to Prudential Center — and with fans at the game wearing the crisp white, Deron Williams T-shirts the Nets handed out before the game, The Rock was rocking Monday night.

Williams, acquired by the Nets last Wednesday from the Utah Jazz in a trade that sent Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Utah, fought off injuries to his right wrist and left hand to put up another double-double and bring the Nets back from seven points down with three minutes left in regulation to force overtime against the Phoenix Suns.

But Channing Frye hit a 3-point shot from above the foul circle with 6.6 seconds left in the OT and that turned out to be the winning basket in the Suns’ 104-103 triumph over the Nets, who lost for the sixth straight time. Williams did have one last chance to engineer a win, but he missed a driving shot with time running down, and Kris Humphries’ tip-in came a split-second after time expired.

“It would have been a storybook ending for Deron’s shot to go down,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “They trapped him, he beat the trap, made a strong move to the basket and his shot just rolled out and Humphries’ shot went in but just a tenth of a second too late.”

Williams, who finished with 13 points and a season-high 18 assists, became the first Nets player to post a double-double in each of his first three games with the team. And his 47 assists in the three games broke the NBA record for most assists by a player in his first three games with a team. The old mark had been 44, set in 1966 by the Chicago Bulls’ Guy Rogers.

“The fans were great tonight,’’ Williams said of his first home game as a Net. “I’m still looking for a sellout, but it was great. We tried to get them a win, but we just came up a little short.’’

Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets — his fourth double-double of the season. But he missed the second of two foul shots with 9.3 seconds left in the overtime when he could have put the Nets ahead by three points. Instead, the Nets had to protect a 103-101 lead, and then the Nets lost track of Frye, who scored just seven points in the game. Lopez took responsibility for that breakdown as well.

“I missed the switch,” he said. “That’s definitely on me. ‘Hump’ (Humphries) got screened by my man. I missed the switch.”

It was the second overtime loss the Nets (17-43) have suffered to the Suns (31-27) this season. They dropped a 118-109 decision in Phoenix on Jan. 12.

Marcin Gortat’s 17 points led six Phoenix players into double figures, and Hakim Warrick added 16, while Steve Nash had 10 points and 15 assists. The Nets got 22 points from Anthony Morrow — whose three free throws with 2.7 seconds left forced the overtime – and Humphries had 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Williams, who is battling through strained tendons in his right (shooting) wrist, got hit on the left hand by a knee, causing the hand to swell and forcing him to leave the game for a period in the fourth quarter. X-rays of the left hand, taken after the game, came back negative.

When he returned, with 3:02 left in regulation time, the Nets trailed, 88-81.

But he went to work immediately, setting up Humphries, Lopez (twice) and Morrow for baskets (Morrow’s was a 3-pointer) that pulled the Nets within 92-90, with 22 seconds left.

After Nash made a pair of free throws, Morrow hit another 3-pointer to pull the Nets within 94-93. Frye’s dunk with 8.5 seconds left made it 96-93, but Williams found Morrow on the left side and Nash fouled him while he attempted a 3-pointer. The ball nearly went in, which would have tied the game and given Morrow a chance at a four-point play to win it.

But it stayed out, and Morrow had to settle for the three free throws to tie.



Suns see benefit of Nets’ Deron Williams trade

Published: Monday, February 28, 2011, 11:07 PM     Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 1:00 AM

By Zach Berman/The Star-Ledger

The Suns were the opponent on Feb. 11 when the Jazz played their first game after tenured Utah coach Jerry Sloan resigned, sending ripples around the NBA and casting an unsought shadow on then-Jazz point guard Deron Williams.

During the game Williams — whose argument with Sloan was believed by some to be the cause of Sloan’s departure — was the most scrutinized player on the court. Afterward, Suns coach Alvin Gentry figured he would not need to prepare to play Williams again this season.

Gentry never imagined that the two would meet less than one month later, when Williams was again the highlight of the evening — this time in his Prudential Center debut as the Nets’ new franchise player.

“It gives (the Nets) an anchor,” Gentry said of the Williams trade, before the Suns’ 104-103 overtime victory over the Nets on Monday night.

“He’s got eight, nine more years of good basketball to play. He takes good care of himself. He’s not a guy who’s hurt very often. It gives you a great foundation. Having a great point guard will attract other players, I think.”

Gentry looked at the Nets’ two best players — Williams and center Brook Lopez — as a positive step in the team’s hopes of restoring legitimacy because they fill the “two positions that are pretty key to build a team.”

He described Lopez as a “very legitimate center” and Williams as arguably the best point guard in the NBA.

Nobody on the Suns watches the Nets more than Robin Lopez, Brook’s twin brother who catches as many games as possible.

He’s seen Brook’s development in 2½ seasons and has frequently played against Williams in the Western Conference during that same span.

Robin believes Williams’ presence can elevate his brother’s production while also alleviating pressure from Brook.

Robin has seen Brook forced to take shots late in the shot clock, but Williams will now likely supersede Brook as the primary offensive option.

Williams will also assume the team’s spotlight — however bright it might become — while providing the Nets what they’ve sorely lacked in the past few seasons: a bona fide superstar.

“He can focus more on just playing,” Robin said of his brother.

Both Robin and Gentry watched as Williams and former Nuggets stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups joined the Eastern Conference, with the Knicks.

It was another step in the shifting balance of power that Gentry has no issue in observing.

The Suns made the Western Conference finals in three of the past six seasons and missed the 2009 postseason while watching Williams and Anthony in the playoffs.

“We got to get Kobe and those guys back East, too. … Durant, put him in the East,” Gentry said.

“Obviously it takes two really, really good players out of that conference. But more so than anything, it makes the East that much tougher.”

Zach Berman: zberman@starledger.com




Event/Game story

Playing like Daniel of old – Hall of Famer takes lead with 65

Blade, The (Toledo, OH) – Saturday, July 9, 2005



Beth Daniel didn’t look like a 48-year-old Hall of Famer yesterday at Highland Meadows. Well, the fame part, yes. The 48-year-old part, no.

With so much attention these days on the LPGA Tour’s impressive young talent and with the golf world focused on 15-year-old Michelle Wie’s bid to keep up with the boys on the PGA Tour, it was one of the game’s elder statesmen who stepped to the top of the leaderboard in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Daniel fired a 6-under 65 to take sole possession of the lead at the midway point of the Farr with a 7-under-par 135 total.

She is one stroke up on U.S. Open champion Birdie Kim and her Korean countrywoman, Hee-Won Han, while defending champion Meg Mallon heads a group of six at 5-under 137.

It would be easy to say that Daniel turned back the clock with four birdies in a five-hole stretch late in her round. But she would disagree.

“Unfortunately, the years never melt away,” Daniel said.

And she insisted she didn’t get any magical thoughts as she passed one player after another in her climb up the leaderboard.

“You’re working so hard you don’t have time to entertain those thoughts,” Daniel said. “You just try to stay in the present and stay focused. Plus, it’s a little early in the tournament to get sentimental.”

Sure enough, there’s a lot of golf to go, 36 holes to be exact, but Daniel has positioned herself to contend for a 34th career victory, albeit just her second in the past decade.

“It’s nice to have my heart rate going and feeling a little something,” Daniel said. “There’s a part of me that still likes the competition when I’m in the competition.”

She’s in the heart of it at the Meadows, thanks to two hot stretches yesterday.

Daniel got all the bad stuff out of the way on the first hole, getting a bad hop off the fairway into a tough lie in the rough, then hitting a tree and the cart path en route to a bogey.

But she answered with two straight birdies – her 6-iron shot to No. 2 checked up one foot from the cup – and then really turned it on late in her round.

Daniel hit a pitching wedge to four feet at No. 13, a 5-iron to within six feet at the 14th hole, and a 7-iron to set up an eight-foot putt for a third straight birdie at No. 15.

She added another birdie at the par-5 17th on a 15-foot putt and had the same opportunity at No. 18. But the siren sounded stopping play because of lightning in the area before she could putt. After sitting out a 1-hour, 55-minute delay, she missed it on the low side and settled for her 65.

Daniels headed a group of 75 players who made the cut at 2-over 144. Among them were Brittany Lang (68-137), who is competing in her first tournament as a professional, and 17-year-old amateur Morgan Pressel (73-143).

Lang is in a group at 5-under that includes Mallon, Dorothy Delasin , Jeong Jang, Gloria Park, and veteran Marilyn Lovander, who’s playing very well in the Farr for the second straight year.

There are 26 players under par, including Heather Bowie (4-under), first round co-leader Becky Morgan (3-under), Paula Creamer (2-under) and World Match Play champion Marisa Baena (1-under).

Daniel, who became the LPGA’s all-time oldest champion when she won the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003, says she has been contemplating retirement for a while.

“Actually, I would call myself semi-retired now based on the schedule I’m playing,” Daniel said. “It’s tough for any athlete to know when to stop. You’ve got to play a certain amount just to stay sharp. But I’ll admit, when I’m home I don’t want to be on tour. So maybe that’s a little insight into my thinking.”

Birdie Kim’s thinking after an even-par 71 was that she wasn’t going to complain after scoring bogeys on three of her first four holes.

“I liked my play after a hard start and I think my game is still OK,” Kim said. “My swing was too fast, I think, and it wasn’t easy today to find the fairways.”

Han also was spotty off the tee, but recovered to hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and made five birdies against a lone bogey.

“I changed my putter this week and it gave me a good feeling,” said Han, a three-time LPGA winner over the past two years. “It made me a little more comfortable.”

Caption: Beth Daniel and her caddie, Dale Jones, haven’t turned the Farr into a laugher just yet. But something amused them before Daniel capped her 65 with a par on No. 18 after a rain delay. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Golfers, from left, Hee-Won Han, Se Ri Pak and Becky Morgan cross a bridge on the 18th. Han is tied for second at 6 under. THE BLADE/HERRAL LONG



Delasin is back in the swing of things

Blade, The (Toledo, OH) – Saturday, July 9, 2005



In the past year, Dorothy Delasin has taken on a demanding task for a pro – changing her swing. But the tougher thing, she has discovered, is keeping her patience.

A former LPGA rookie of the year, Delasin has traveled a long road back after making a major overhaul in her game in 2004. Yesterday at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, she experienced a tiny bit of redemption. Delasin shot a 4-under par 67 to finish at 5-under after two rounds. She is tied for fourth with five other players.

Delasin hit just eight of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation, but relied on her putter to move her closer to the top.

“I’m in a really good position for the weekend,” Delasin said. “It’s going to be exciting. Hopefully my putter will stay hot.”

Delasin , 24, turned pro just after she graduated from high school in 2000. She won the Giant Eagle Classic in Warren, Ohio, that year, two tournaments in 2001 and one in 2003.

But Delasin ‘s desire to be one of the top players in the world, to win majors and be in the Hall of Fame, led her to leave behind her trusty swing of 15 years for a tighter, more stable one on the recommendation of her swing coach.

“When you change your swing, you ask, why fix something that’s not broken?” Delasin said. “But it’s something I had to do to be a top player week in and week out and not just have streaks.”

The change made the second half of last season a trying time for Delasin . She finished tied for 49th on the money list last year – she had never finished lower than 31st – and missed the cut in three of the four majors.

Thirteen months later, Delasin feels her swing is close to being “just there” rather than something she has to worry about. She has three top-10 finishes this season. Her goal is to have the swing feel normal by the Solheim Cup in September.

“It’s slowly but surely coming around. I’m starting to see the results,” Delasin said. “It’s still not quite there yet. It’s something I’ve got to keep working on.”

Last season, Delasin finished tied for 13th in the Farr Classic, her best finish since her rookie year, when she tied for 11th. Yesterday she was tied for second until play resumed after the two-hour weather delay, when she bogeyed the seventh hole (her 16th). It was her only bogey of the day.

Caption: ‘I’m in a really good position for the weekend,’ says Dorothy Delasin , who was the LPGA’s rookie of the year in 2000. THE BLADE/LORI LING



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