Sports Briefs 2-18-13

DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Published:

LOS ANGELES -- John Merrick doesn't remember the year he first came to Riviera as a fan, though his memories from his days down the street at UCLA are vivid.

He was wrapped up in rain gear, standing behind the ropes about 10 feet away from Robert Allenby when he laced a 3-wood to about 5 feet away from a back left pin on the 18th hole to win a record six-man playoff in 2001. He was there when Mike Weir overcame a seven-shot deficit in 2003 and won in a playoff.

Merrick created a fresh batch of memories on Sunday, the best kind.

His own.

On the course he once dreamed of playing as a pro, Merrick took advantage of a good bounce off a eucalyptus tree, a fortunate break between two trees and a clutch shot with a 3-iron he punched under the trees. Finally, it was a wedge with no room for error that stayed on the 10th green for a par that ultimately gave him his first PGA Tour win Sunday.

• Golf

Match Play seeds: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will face some familiar players in the opening round of the Match Play Championship.

McIlroy, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, is the No. 1 seed at Dove Mountain north of Tucson, Ariz. He will play Shane Lowry of Ireland, who got in when Phil Mickelson chose not to play. Woods is the No. 2 and will play Charles Howell III, the first time they have squared off in this format since Woods beat Howell in the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur.

The tournament begins Wednesday.

Langer wins: Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 72 and won his second ACE Group Classic title in three years by one stroke on Sunday.

Langer two-putted from 50 feet on the 18th for par to finish at 12-under 204, ahead of Jay Don Blake at TwinEagles Club's Talon Course.

• Basketball

Gray injured: Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie says point guard Chelsea Gray will miss the rest of the regular season with a right knee injury.

Speaking after the fifth-ranked Blue Devils' 81-70 win over Wake Forest on Sunday, McCallie said Gray suffered a dislocation. The coach says an MRI is scheduled and if there are no torn ligaments or other complications, it's possible Gray could return for the postseason.

H.S. coach dies: The coach of a highly ranked Detroit high school basketball team collapsed and died after a game. Family members and an assistant coach say 40-year-old Al Anderson fell to the floor Saturday after Detroit Consortium defeated Dayton Dunbar, an Ohio school. Players from both teams already had left the gym.

• Skiing

U.S. dominates: Julia Mancuso got the ball rolling with an almost forgotten bronze medal on the day when Lindsey Vonn had a season-ending crash.

Ted Ligety followed with three golds to earn the title from local media of "Der Koenig von Schladming" -- "The King of Schladming." And 17-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin capped a historic world championships for the U.S. Ski Team by fighting off a serious case of nerves to win the slalom title.

Colorado to host: The U.S. will host the next skiing world championships in Colorado in 2015.

Organizers finished cutting trees for two new women's courses in Beaver Creek over the summer alongside the existing men's Birds of Prey track.

All medal events for the Feb. 2-15, 2015, championships will be in Beaver Creek, while Vail -- which is about 10 miles away -- will host the team event and qualifying races.

• Tennis

Serena Williams falls: Defending champion Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Sunday, earning her 16th title and ending a 10-match losing streak against the American.

Azarenka will give up the No. 1 ranking to the second-ranked Williams on Monday, but extended her current winning streak to 14 matches.

Nadal earns title: The last time Rafael Nadal won in Brazil, it was at the very start of the most dominant clay-court career tennis has ever seen.

Eight years later, Nadal hopes his second title here will mark the restart.

Nadal beat David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Brazil Open on Sunday, his first trophy since returning from a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee.

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