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Tiger Woods Off to Hot Start at 2020 Masters After Shooting 4-Under in Round 1 – Bleacher Report

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David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Tiger Woods may have saved his best for last this year.

Woods carded a four-under 68 in a stellar first round at the 2020 Masters Tournament, putting him in a tie for fourth place going into the clubhouse after his best opening round ever at Augusta: 

He’s three strokes behind leader Paul Casey, who turned in a seven-under round.

Starting his day on the back nine, Woods began with a trio of pars before turning on the jets for a run of three birdies in four holes from Nos. 13-16. He took advantage of the soft conditions on the par-fives at Nos. 13 and 15 before nearly holing out on an excellent approach at No. 16.

After nailing another birdie at No. 1 to get to four under, Woods likely feels he left a few strokes on the course with a run of two-putt pars. Had a couple of those close calls gone in, Woods would be in contention for the lead alongside Casey.

There was clearly a sense of growing frustration with his putter near the end of the round, as he let a deep breath of exasperation go as he missed a final makeable birdie putt on No. 18. Woods finished with 30 strokes on the short surface overall.

More telling is the fact that Woods hit the 30-putt mark despite not having a single three-putt.

The 15-time major winner has struggled mightily since returning to play in July. He has finished no better than a tie for 37th in any event, recently missing the cut at the U.S. Open and finishing 72nd in his defense of the Zozo Championship.

This is Woods’ best score relative to par in an opening round since his victory at the 2019 Zozo.

While the round did not quite finish in the way he hoped, Woods has to be nothing short of thrilled with his drives and iron play. His 10 fairways hit is a solid number around the field’s average, and he hit 15 of his 18 greens in regulation.

Winning a sixth green jacket will be an uphill climb given the status of his game heading into this week, but he’s well within contention.

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Raptors 905 announce Mutombo as head coach, Mahlalela to re-join Nurse – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse’s staff.

Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutumbo will take over as coach of Raptors 905, a G League team.

Raptors assistants Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett also will join the Raptors 905 staff.

Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans. Previously, he was an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16).

Prior to his time in the NBA, Finch guided Rio Grande to two consecutive appearances in the G League final, including a championship in 2010.

Finch also was head coach of the British men’s national team at the 2012 Olympics, with Nurse serving as one of his assistants.

Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming head coach for Raptors 905 the past two year.

A native of Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Raptors open training camp this weekend in Tampa, Fla.

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NHL considering mid-January start, 56-game season: reports – CBC.ca

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The NHL is now considering a mid-January start date for an abbreviated 56-game regular season, multiple outlets reported Friday.

The league and NHL Players’ Association discussed multiple options for the upcoming campaign Thursday night.

The Jan. 1 start date both sides had been shooting for is no longer realistic given the time needed for training camp and other preparations. TSN reported that Jan. 15 or 16 is a more likely target, with the NHL looking to wrap up the Stanley Cup Final by early July.

A 52-game season was discussed, but sources told The Athletic, which CBC Sports has not independently verified, that both sides would prefer 56 games for obvious revenue reasons.

Training camps for all 31 teams would begin around Jan. 2.

There are still several financial issues that need to be worked out. Surges in COVID-19 numbers could also force further delays to the calendar.

The 2019-20 NHL season was interrupted in March by the pandemic. The hockey season eventually was completed over the summer in two bubble locations: Edmonton and Toronto.

The Stanley Cup Finals concluded Sept. 28 with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in six games.

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Devils’ Jack Hughes won’t be released to Team USA for world juniors – Sportsnet.ca

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The New Jersey Devils will not release Jack Hughes to Team USA for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton, saying they want Hughes to focus on the upcoming NHL season instead.

“We need Jack to concentrate on the Devils,” Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald told NHL.com. “The silver lining for Jack [and all of our young players] during this pandemic was a lengthy opportunity to gain strength and weight to compete in the NHL when we start.”

The first-overall pick from the 2019 NHL Draft scored 21 points in 61 games as a rookie last season. Hughes played for the U.S. at the 2019 world juniors where he had four points in four games.

The Devils were one of seven teams that did not return to play this summer and the team has not played a game since a March 10 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

USA Hockey announced its preliminary roster for the 2021 world juniors Monday, which includes top prospects Jake Sanderson, Cole Caufield and Nick Robertson, among others. The team will hold its selection camp at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., from Dec. 6-13.

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