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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

Early eagle helps Mahan shoot 62 at Barclays

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARAMUS, N.J. - With two perfect shots, Hunter Mahan put a terrible week at the PGA Championship behind him at The Barclays.

Playing in calm morning conditions at demanding Ridgewood Country Club, Mahan split the fairway with his opening drive, then watched his 98-yard sand wedge shot spin back into the hole for an unlikely eagle. Seventeen holes and eight birdies later, he signed for a 9-under 62, good for a four-stroke lead yesterday in the FedEx Cup playoff opener.

"I was surprised to shoot so low," Mahan said. "I didn't have any idea what was going to be a good score out here. It's definitely not that easy. It's perfect conditions. You've got great weather. The course is in perfect shape right now. Playing in the morning helped a lot. The greens were a little bit more receptive."

Two weeks ago in the PGA at Oakland Hills, the 26-year-old former Oklahoma State player shot 81-79 to miss the cut, and made news with critical remarks about the Ryder Cup in a Golf magazine interview.

England's Paul Casey shot a 66, and Bo Van Pelt, Kevin Streelman, Mathew Goggin, Charley Hoffman and afternoon starter Dudley Hart had 67s. Steve Stricker topped the group at 68.

CINCINNATI - Quarterback Ben Mauk is taking his case for another year of eligibility at Cincinnati back to the NCAA.

At the request of both sides, a judge in Hardin County postponed a hearing scheduled today in Mauk's lawsuit against the NCAA. That puts the lawsuit on hold while Mauk submits new information to support his contention that a foot injury prevented him from playing his freshman year at Wake Forest.

Mauk's attorney, Kevin Murphy, said the material will be reviewed by NCAA staff as early as this weekend.

Mauk led the Bearcats to a No. 17 final ranking last season, after coming back from arm and shoulder injuries suffered in 2006 while playing for Wake Forest. At Cincinnati, he passed for 3,131 yards and 31 touchdowns.

The NCAA has rejected three earlier appeals. After the latest rejection, Mauk filed suit in his hometown of Kenton.

NEW YORK - Sisters Venus and Serena Williams would meet in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, a bit earlier than their matchup in the final of the last Grand Slam, Wimbledon.

Venus and Serena, coming off a doubles gold medal together at the Olympics, found themselves in the same part of the bracket when the Open held its draw.

On the men's side, struggling four-time defending champ Roger Federer might have to get through No. 3 Novak Djokovic to reach the final. Djokovic, the Australian Open champ, owns something Federer lacks this year: a Grand Slam title.

New No. 1 Rafael Nadal avoided a potential semifinal matchup with Djokovic, but several hot players are in his half of the draw. No. 17 seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina has won four straight tournaments. American James Blake, the No. 9 seed, is coming off a breakthrough victory over Federer at the Olympics.

Top seed Ana Ivanovic could face No. 6 Dinara Safina in the women's quarters. Safina has been playing well lately and won an Olympic silver medal.

Serena Williams is seeded No. 4, and Venus, who beat her sister at Wimbledon, is the No. 7 seed. Each is a two-time Open champ.

•NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Top-seeded Fernando Verdasco won his quarterfinal at the Pilot Pen, beating Mischa Zverev 6-2, 7-6 (4).

The Spaniard said he was still mourning the death of the 153 people who died in the crash of a Spanair Flight at Madrid's Barajas Airport on Wednesday.

"I want to dedicate my victory today to all the victims and all the families of the victims in the flight in Madrid yesterday, and send them all of my support," said Verdasco, who lives in Madrid. "It is my hometown and when this thing happened I felt so bad yesterday and today."

Verdasco, ranked No. 13 in the world, advanced to his fourth ATP Tour semifinal of the season and will face eighth-seeded Mardy Fish, a 6-3, 7-6 (4) winner over fellow American Jesse Levine.

Among the women, second-seeded Daniela Hantuchova lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Alize Cornet.

•LONDON - ATP president Etienne de Villiers, who introduced video replay and increased prize money on the men's tour, will step down when his contract ends in December.

De Villiers will leave the post after instigating a series of changes since taking over in June, 2005. He reshuffled the tour calendar, allowed byes for seeded players at Masters tournaments and introduced the Hawkeye system of judging line calls.

"Now that this much needed change has been realized, I believe this is the right time for someone new to build on this strong platform," he said.



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