Meet the hottest young couple in sports

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Meet the hottest young couple in sports

From Comcast SportsNet Wednesday, August 31, 2011
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) -- U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy said his relationship with top-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki can help him become No. 1 in golf. After spending two "great" weeks together in the United States, McIlroy believes he and the 21-year-old from Denmark can be good for each other's careers. "I think we definitely spur each other on. She's number one in the world and I've got a major, and we sort of both want what each other have," the sixth-ranked McIlroy said Wednesday before the European Masters. "It's a big goal of mine. I want to become the best player in the world." McIlroy is playing his first tournament since injuring his right arm at the PGA Championship three weeks ago. While recuperating, the 22-year Northern Irishman accompanied Wozniacki to tournaments in Cincinnati and New Haven. She is bidding for a first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open, which began this week. McIlroy said he was impressed with Wozniacki's dedication and picked up pointers on improving his game. "She's got a great work ethic and it's something I can probably learn a lot from. It's a lot more physically demanding than golf," said McIlroy, adding he's a longtime tennis fan. "They do put the work in, they really do. It's just amazing how they can get up each morning and keep doing the same thing, putting their bodies through that. It's pretty impressive." McIlroy said the couple is "taking a day at a time," knowing tournament schedules leave few chances to meet this year. He watched on television Tuesday night when his top-seeded girlfriend opened at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Spain's Nuria Llagostera-Vives. Wozniacki is scheduled to play Thursday, after McIlroy completes his first round at the European Masters. It counts as the first points-scoring event toward representing Europe in the 2012 Ryder Cup. McIlroy's goal is chasing No. 1 Luke Donald of England, who plays in the United States this weekend. "I don't think it's achievable in the short term, Luke is quite a long way ahead," McIlroy said. He calculates he can rise to a career-high No. 3 with victory at the Crans-sur-Sierre club, and if other results fall his way. Fifth-ranked Martin Kaymer of Germany is in the European field, while Americans occupying third and fourth spots -- Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson -- play at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. McIlroy will look for inspiration from "one of the most beautiful places in the world," where he almost got his first professional win as a 19-year-old. He took a four-stroke lead into the final round in the Swiss Alps but lost in extra holes to Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin. "I still think about that playoff in 2008," said McIlroy, who has yet to win in Europe as a pro. His sole European Tour victory was at Dubai in February 2009. McIlroy said his injured right arm is less of a factor. He was injured after hitting his club on a tree root just three holes into his PGA challenge. The damage spread from his wrist to shoulder as he compensated for the pain. "Now it's not painful. It's more like a numb sensation, like if someone gives you a dead arm," he said after a morning practice Wednesday. "It's nearly 100 percent and I'm happy with it." Second-ranked Lee Westwood, who won in 1999, is in the strong field that includes British Open winner Darren Clarke and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez. As the only tournament in Europe sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours, 30 players will participate from the other circuit, including money leader Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point over the last month, the Giants quietly stopped playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the late innings of games they trail. 

It’s unclear exactly when it started, or who made the decision. A number of team employees, surveyed over the past week, had noticed. But nobody knew the exact details. Perhaps the longtime staple of AT&T Park was shelved on July 9, when FanGraphs dropped the playoff odds to 0.00 percent for the first time in a lost season. Maybe it was during a bad loss before that or a bad loss after that. You can take your pick. This season has been filled with so many of them it’s hard to keep track. 

Friday’s stood out, in part because this was the kind of night where Journey briefly made sense. The Giants gave Jeff Samardzija a 4-0 lead in the first inning against a Padres team that spent the early innings kicking and throwing the ball all over the field and making mistakes on the bases. It was 5-1 after three innings. By the sixth, the Padres had tied it. By the seventh, they had the lead. By the eighth, it was a three-run lead. 

Before the bottom of the eighth, the in-stadium crew played Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for a crowd of a few thousand. Last weekend, Huey Lewis was the fill-in for Journey. On Wednesday, a game the Giants actually came back to win, the scoreboard played a singalong game to “Happy Together” by The Turtles. 

On this night, the Giants actually would come back. Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, tying the game and sending it into extras. The Giants had trailed by three with one out remaining, but the momentum provided by Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Gillaspie was just a blip. The Padres scored three in the 11th off George Kontos, who has pitched five times over the last eight days and was supposed to get a night to rest. 

Kontos was the last to give up runs in a 12-9 loss, but hardly the only one. Samardzija took blame after failing to get through five with a big early cushion. That put pressure on the tired bullpen, and the relievers blew it over and over again. The Padres scored runs in six consecutive innings at one point and had 20 hits. 

“We couldn’t stop them,” Bruce Bochy said, shaking his head. 

Nothing can apparently stop this skid. The Giants are 37-61 and six games behind the Padres. They are much closer to the No. 1 draft pick than they are to fourth place in their division. 

“Don’t Stop Believin’” survived the 2013 season. It survived 2015 and the second half of last year. Nothing can survive this season.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A few hundred, maybe a few thousand, stayed to watch the Giants late Friday night. The Giants did not make it worth the effort. 

Conor Gillaspie’s two-out homer in the ninth sent the game to extras, but the Giants lost 12-9 in a game that lasted nearly five hours. The Giants had trailed by three with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. They tied it. Instead of carrying that momentum over, they suffered yet another demoralizing loss. 

They have dropped both games of this series and they trail the Padres -- who had 20 hits -- by six games in the race for fourth place. Those are facts. Here are five more, mostly from earlier, when a young man harbored dreams of leaving a ballpark before 1 a.m. … 

—- Hector Sanchez took Jeff Samardzija deep to lead off the fourth, and at this point it’s flat-out hilarious. Sanchez has seven homers this season and three have come against his former team. He hit two homers at AT&T Park in 296 plate appearances as a Giant, and the fourth-inning blast gave him three in 11 plate appearances as a Padre. He also doubled in a run and singled. It’s an all-time revenge tour. Just go along for the ride. 

—- There were a ton of scouts on hand to watch two starting pitchers who could move in the next 10 days, and they left disappointed. Trevor Cahill gave up six earned on seven hits and four walks and lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Jeff Samardzija gave up eight hits and five earned in 4 1/3 innings. 

—- I dunno man, it’s really hard getting to five of these every night. Sam Dyson was good again. 

—- Gillaspie's pinch-hit homer was the sixth of his career. He's a hero around these parts, but perhaps Bobby Evans should see if a team out there was watching Friday and remembers his October run. Gillaspie could help a contender. 

—- When MLB inevitably introduces a pitch clock and pitchers start complaining, this will be the game I tell them to sit down and try to watch start to finish.