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Midfielder Kante feels

“at home” with Chelsea


Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante says he feels “at

home” at the club despite speculation linking him with a return

to France. Kante was instrumental to Leicester City’s league

triumph in the 2015/16 season before he moved to London

and helped Chelsea do the same the following year. “I am at

home. It is my club, I am a Chelsea player,” Kante, who has

been linked with a move to Paris St Germain, was quoted as

saying by the Evening Standard. “This is my second year at

Chelsea. After what happened last season, it was a very good

one for us because we got to celebrate winning the title. In the

second season, I have got to play in the Champions League

... We will fight until the end to finish in the top four and to

get in a Champions League position.” Chelsea, which faces

Southampton in the FA Cup semifinals next month, is fifth in

the league, five points behind Tottenham Hotspur with eight

matches left to play.

— Reuters

NFL VP Vincent confirms changes

to catch rule to be proposed


NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent

confirmed to the Washington Post in an interview published

Tuesday that changes to the league’s catch rule will be

proposed. Vincent said the competition committee will propose

that the league eliminate the “going to the ground” rule, which

NFL Network reported as a possibility last month. Also to be

proposed for elimination will be the rule that slight movement

of the ball in a receiver’s hands should negate a catch. “We

worked backward,” Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays

and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied

that to the rule. Slight movement of the ball, it looks like we’ll

reverse that. Going to the ground, it looks like that’s going to

be eliminated. And we’ll go back to the old replay standard of

reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable.”

Athletics director charged with

theft of high school funds


The athletics director of a New Jersey

high school is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from

ticket sales for sports events at the school. Somerset County

prosecutors say 53-year-old Michael Fanizzi, of Hillsborough,

was arrested Friday on a theft charge. He’s been the athletic

director at Hillsborough High School for 14 years but has

been on administrative leave since December. Prosecutors

say Fanizzi received checks from the New Jersey State

Interscholastic Athletic Association from 2013 and 2017 as

reimbursement for high school athletic event services. He was

supposed to deposit the money into the school board account.

But authorities say he instead deposited the NJSIAA checks

into the athletic department’s bank account in place of the cash

ticket sales. It wasn’t known Tuesday if Fanizzi has retained an



Larry Kwong, Asian pioneer

in NHL, dies in Canada at 94


Larry Kwong, the first player of Asian heritage

to appear in an NHL game, has died at 94. According to an

online obituary, he died Thursday in Calgary, Alberta. Kwong

played a shift with the New York Rangers against the Montreal

Canadiens on March 13, 1948. The brief NHL stint came after

he joined the New York Rovers, a Rangers farm team. He led

the team in scoring in the 1947-1948 season. Kwong was born

in British Columbia and played with his hometown Hydrophones

before moving up to the senior ranks at 18 with the Trail Smoke

Eaters. After the Rangers, Kwong spent several seasons in the

Quebec Senior Hockey League. He later played in England and

Switzerland, where he also coached. Kwong was inducted into

British Columbia’s sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

— AP

Brother of Cavs’ Korver dies at 27


Kyle Korver likely will miss the Cleveland

Cavaliers’ Wednesday game against the Toronto Raptors

following the death of his brother. Kirk Korver died Tuesday in

Iowa at age 27 after becoming seriously ill last week, according

to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kyle Korver, 37, wasn’t with the

Cavaliers for their Saturday road victory against the Chicago

Bulls, but he came back to participate Monday in a home win

over the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 12 points. The Cavaliers

tweeted Tuesday night, “We are very sad to share that

Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver’s brother, Kirk, passed away today.

Kyle has been excused from the team to be with his family. We

extend our deepest condolences and heartfelt best to Kyle and

his entire family as they go through this very difficult time.” Kirk

Korver played three seasons as a forward for the University

of Missouri-Kansas City from 2009-14, scoring 597 points and

267 rebounds. Two other Korver brothers also played college

basketball, Kaleb at Creighton (where Kyle starred) and Klayton

at Drake.

— Reuters

Hamilton and Vettel

kick off for 5th title

New Zealand’s Taylor fit for 1st Test

Poulter a ‘match play ninja’ only when playing well

Golovkin: Alvarez, De La Hoya doping cheats


The first in-

stallment of what Formula One

fans hope will be a genuine sea-

son-long tussle kicks off Sunday

as four-time champions Lewis

Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

lock horns at the season-opening

Australian Grand Prix.

This year marks the first that

two quadruple champions are

competing in the same season

and their battle to see who joins

Argentine legend Juan Manuel

Fangio in second place on the all-

time list with five titles promises

to light up the series.

Michael Schumacher leads

the way on seven world titles.

Hamilton emerged well on

top for Mercedes at the end of

2017 after Ferrari’s Vettel made

the early running, but their ri-

valry added plenty of spice, the

pair banging wheels on the track

in Azerbaijan and exchanging

threats off it.

Hopes are high for more

tense dueling to spark interest in

a championship that has gener-

ally proved a procession for the

Silver Arrows, who have swept

the drivers’ and constructors

championships in each of the

past four years.

Much will depend on

whether Ferrari’s SF71H can

keep German Vettel within

striking distance of Hamilton

in his Mercedes W09, which the

Briton raved about during pre-

season testing.

On that score, the jury is out.

Lap times at testing can be

misleading but there remains a

conviction that Mercedes will

head into Sunday’s race at Albert

Park, as always, the team to beat.

“We know that Mercedes is

a little bit ahead of everyone and

is dominating the sport for the

last four years,” McLaren’s twice

world champion Fernando Alon-

so told Reuters Wednesday.

“And they are the big favor-

ites again to start the new sea-


Mercedes is eager to see

what the W09 can do at the lake-

side circuit in Melbourne, with

technical director James Allison

saying it would “blow away” the

W08 which garnered 12 race wins

in 2017 and a fourth consecutive

constructors’ title.

Hamilton, however, was

guarded about their opening

weekend prospects, believing

Red Bull could be as much a

threat to the Silver Arrows as


“I think at this time of the

year everyone is trying to hype

someone else up and we are the

perfect target because we are the

world champions,” the Briton

said at a Melbourne event with

sponsor Petronas Wednesday.

“From what I understand,

I think Red Bull and Ferrari are

very close. Potentially we are ei-

ther level, just behind or maybe

just ahead of the Red Bulls as far

as I’m aware.”

Ferrari has kept a low pro-

file in the lead-up to the race

but home hope and Red Bull

driver Daniel Ricciardo emerged

Wednesday to express hope for a

“statement” performance.

“Every year, the team works

hard to build a fast car but, come

testing, we’ve never really had

much to show for it,” the Austra-

lian told reporters.

“This year, we obviously had

a bit more so, from a team per-

spective, we’re feeling much

more prepared.”

There will be fingers crossed

in the McLaren garage as Alon-

so and Stoffel Vandoorne put

the new Renault-powered car

through its paces, the once for-

midable outfit having split with

Honda after three miserable


Albert Park will see a number

of debuts, with Formula Two’s

Monegasque champion Charles

Leclerc and Russian Sergey

Sirotkin having their first races

for Sauber and Williams respec-


The much-maligned halo, a

cockpit head protection system,

will also make its race debut along

with ‘Grid Kids’, aspiring young

drivers who have replaced the

female models who paraded on

track in seasons past.



New Zealand

batsman Ross Taylor has been

confirmed fit to take his place in

the side for the first Test against

England, captain Kane Williamson

said Wednesday.

Taylor had been questionable

for the match, which starts Thurs-

day, after sustaining a thigh injury

that saw him skip the third and

fifth matches in the one-day series

against England.

He scored 181 not out in the

fourth game in Dunedin and has

not played since.

He was also withdrawn from a

first-class match after the limited

overs series to ensure he was fit

for the first match under lights in

New Zealand.

“He trained well yesterday,”

Williamson told reporters in

Auckland. “The last 10 days have

been a balance of rest and recov-

ery for someone like Ross.

“That’s been valuable time for

him. He’s feeling good, good to go,

that’s great news for us.”

Taylor scored 304 runs in the

one-day series against England

with two centuries, and 216 runs

in three test innings against West

Indies in December.

“Ross has been playing beauti-

fully well every time he’s walked to

the crease,” Williamson added.

“Just the calmness, the con-

fidence and it’s reflected in how

much success he’s had this year,

but probably every other year as


“He’s batting amazingly well,

he’s a great guy to have in the

group and is excited with his body

intact to play tomorrow.”

Williamson also confirmed

that leg-spinner Todd Astle would

replace Mitchell Santner, who has

been ruled out for nine months

due to knee surgery.

Recalled wicketkeeper BJ

Watling, who missed the West

Indies series due to a hip injury,

will bat at number six in Santner’s


Williamson said the team had

adapted their training sessions to

get used to the pink ball for the

day-night test but added that it

would be more a case of the play-

ers learning how to deal with con-

ditions during the match.

The Eden Park match will be

just the ninth day-night test.

“There is probably a danger

of overcomplicating some of the

finer parts of the pink ball game,”

Williamson said.

“They have shown different

characteristics within those tests

and at different stages with differ-

ent conditions of the ball.

“It’s hard to look into too much

but you do want to adapt and think

on your feet.”



AUSTIN, Texas —

Memories are

strong in match play, which might

explain why Ian Poulter picked up

a new nickname.

Golf held its version of a se-

lection show Monday night at

a downtown hotel when the 16

four-man groups were drawn for

the Dell Technologies Match Play.

Poulter is the No. 58 seed in the 64-

man field, and when his number

popped up, he was referred to as a

“ninja” in match play.

Not just once. Three times.

“I’ve never really gone up

against a ninja before in my life,

so it will be a new experience,”

said Tommy Fleetwood, who faces

Poulter in the opening session. “I

don’t know what’s in Austin, but if

there is like ‘Karate for Dummies’

that I can start up on just before

Wednesday, I’ll give it a visit.”

He spoke with respect, as most

do when it involves Poulter and

this head-to-head format.

Fleetwood was finishing up his

first full season on the European

Tour in 2012 when he watched

the Saturday afternoon session of

the Ryder Cup at Medinah from

his home in England. Poulter, fists

shaking and eyes bulging, birdied

the last five holes to earn a crucial

point in a fourballs match with

Rory McIlroy along as merely a

witness. The momentum carried

forward to the final day when Eu-

rope staged a record-tying come-

back to win.

“It was pretty epic,” Fleetwood

said. “Hopefully, that stays a mem-


That’s all it is right now — a


Still to be determined is which

Poulter he faces Wednesday.

It could be the guy who took

his place in Ryder Cup lore at

Medinah, who never lost a Ryder

Cup singles match, and who won

this World Golf Championship in

2010. Poulter has won 23 matches

in the Match Play, tied with McIl-

roy and Paul Casey for the most

among those playing this week

(Tiger Woods holds the record of

33 matches won).

Or it could be the guy who

hasn’t won a tournament in more

than five years.

Yes, there are match play nin-

jas, and Poulter falls into that cat-


“You know if you’re playing

Poulter, that reputation comes

with him to the first tee,” McIlroy


But that usually starts with

playing good golf.

No one called Dustin Johnson

a match play ninja when it took

him four tries just to get out of the

first round. He is not the defending

champion because of his prowess

in this format. He won last year

because no one was playing better


And that’s ultimately the se-

cret to being a match play ninja.

“If you play well, usually that

takes care of your opponent,”

Johnson said with his trademark


It’s a big week for Poulter.

He ended last year at No. 54 in

the world, just outside the top 50

who were assured of getting into

the Masters. He pledged he would

be there, and now faces a tall order.

The Match Play offers big ranking

points, but everyone around him is

in Austin. Not only does he have to

win his group, Poulter likely would

need to reach the quarterfinals Sat-

urday afternoon to move up high

enough to crack the top 50.

It helps that the final tourna-

ment before the final cutoff is

match play instead of stroke play.

“Next week might be a bless-

ing,” Poulter said Sunday at Bay

Hill after he closed with a 2-under

70 to tie for 41st.

He likes the way he’s playing.

He described himself as a “very

frustrated golfer” because he was

doing everything well except for

the one aspect that he usually does

as well as anyone, which is putt.

“I know when I start holing a

few putts, it’s going to be great,”

Poulter said. “But I’m extremely

frustrated because I’m not deliver-

ing what I should be.”

That was an interesting choice

of words. Before he became a “nin-

ja” during the selection show, Eu-

ropeans referred to him at the Ry-

der Cup as the “Postman” because

he always delivered.

Jordan Spieth faced a must-

win match last year to have any

chance of winning his group, and

Ryan Moore was not the ideal op-

ponent as a U.S. Amateur cham-

pion with a history of being strong

in match play.

“I remember stepping on the

tee thinking he’s half in form, half

he’s got this reputation of being

such a phenomenal match-play

player,” Spieth said. “And it cer-

tainly weighed a little bit into how

I was thinking going into it.”

Poulter at least has a reputa-

tion, and plenty of strong memo-

ries. That’s not always enough. He

was asked the difference of playing

match play and stroke play.

“The mindset changes,” he

said. “But putting doesn’t change.”

Good golf goes a long way in

any format.

—AP golf writer


Gennady Golovkin plans to go

ahead with his rematch against

Canelo Alvarez on May 5, even

after Alvarez failed a doping test

last month.

But Golovkin also believes

Alvarez is a cheater whose at-

tempt to blame the test on bad

meat is a joke and a symptom

of more extensive corruption in


“Again with Mexican meat?

Come on,” Golovkin said Tues-

day, referencing Alvarez’s at-

tribution of his failed test to his

consumption of tainted meat in

his native country.

“I told you, it’s not Mexican

meat,” Golovkin added. “This is

Canelo. This is his team. This is

his promotion. ... Canelo is cheat-

ing. They’re using these drugs,

and everybody is just trying to

pretend it’s not happening.”

Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs)

spoke pointedly about Alvarez

(49-1-2, 34 KOs) before a workout

at his high-altitude training camp

in Southern California. For the

first time, the unbeaten Kazakh

middleweight champion repeat-

edly said he believes Alvarez has

used banned substances for pre-

vious fights, including their first

bout last September.

“It was pretty obvious when

(Alvarez’s) muscles were all (en-

larged) ... and with the traces of

injections, which were visible,”

Golovkin said through a transla-

tor. “I can talk about Oscar De La

Hoya, too. He is also not clean.

He’s dirty.”

De La Hoya is Alvarez’s long-

time promoter and a former six-

division champion. He retired

from boxing in 2008.

Alvarez tested positive for

clenbuterol in mid-February in the

fighters’ voluntary anti-doping pro-

gram, and the results were revealed

two weeks ago. Eric Gomez, the

president of De La Hoya’s Golden

Boy Promotions, responded sharp-

ly to Golovkin’s comments.

“He doesn’t sound like a con-

fident fighter,” Gomez told The

Associated Press in an email.

“GGG is trying to find a way out.

If he doesn’t want the fight, he

should just say so. Just last week

he said the exact opposite. His

remarks about needle marks, Os-

car and every other lie are outra-

geous, false and defamatory, and

we will deal with them appropri-


“As for Canelo, he is focused

on his training,” Gomez added.

“He didn’t need any more moti-

vation, but now he has it.”

The Nevada Athletic Com-

mission still hasn’t announced

whether it will level any disci-

plinary action against Alvarez, or

even when it might hold a public

hearing about its decision. The

fight is just over six weeks away

at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Golovkin expects to be in the

ring on Cinco de Mayo until he

hears otherwise from Nevada or

Alvarez, who has scarcely com-

mented on the positive test since

Golden Boy issued a statement

blaming the mistake on meat

contamination that is common

in some parts of Mexico. Canelo

also moved his camp to the US

after his failed test, but is train-

ing behind closed doors.

Golovkin also is still upset

about the verdict in his first bout

with Alvarez. Golovkin and his

camp felt they comfortably won

the bout, which was ruled a draw.

“He’s always been the favor-

ite, always had benefits,” Golovkin

said. “I don’t think I would have

the same amount of benefits as

he has. That’s why I never use any

drugs, because I know there won’t

be any preferences to me.”


Lewis Hamilton

Ross Taylor

Ian Poulter