Around & About: Sports news and notes - The Buffalo News

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Around & About: Sports news and notes

Koepka takes lead

After a year spent traveling the world, Brooks Koepka suddenly is in a position to play a lot more golf at home.

In his first regular PGA Tour event, Koepka surged to the top of the leader board Friday in the Open with a 7-under 64, giving him a two-shot lead among the early finishers on what turned into a warm day at Corde Valle in San Martin, Calif.

Koepka received a sponsor’s exemption between stops in Scotland and Shanghai.

The 23-year-old Floridian had no status at the start of the year after failing to advance beyond the second stage of Q-school last year. Instead of trying to qualify for Tour events, Koepka packed his bags and passport for a 15-country journey.

Koepka, who make eight birdies and an eagle, was at 11-under 131.

Robert Garrigus (63) and Jim Herman (66) were two shots behind, while Camilo Villegas shot 66 and was another shot behind at 8-under 134.

U.S. women face Canadians

For the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team, the road to Sochi begins against Canada tonight – the first of a half-dozen exhibitions between the gold medal favorites.

“There’s definitely a level of excitement and energy,” Reagan Carey, the general manager of the U.S. team, said in a telephone interview after the team bus arrived in Burlington, Vt., on Friday afternoon. “We’ve had a few games already, but certainly the first game against Canada, they’re really ready to go.”

Canada and the United States are the dominant teams in women’s hockey, winning every Olympic gold medal and all but one of the silvers. They also have met in the world championship finals every single time.

So even though this is only the first exhibition of a pre-Olympic tuneup tour, the opportunity to face the Canadians adds a little extra to the matchup.

“It’s still very early in our tour, so I think for both teams it will be kind of ‘get your feet wet’ games,” forward Kelli Stack said.

Nadal, Djokovic move on

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic overcame tough challenges in their quarterfinals at the Shanghai Masters on Friday and moved a step closer to a possible showdown in the final.

Top-ranked Nadal saved three set points and finally closed out a 20-minute tiebreak in the first set against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka before winning, 7-6 (10), 6-1.

Djokovic, the defending champion, needed nearly 2 ½ hours to rally past France’s Gael Monfils, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4.

Djokovic and Nadal improved to a combined 20-0 record against the pair.

Compiled by Staff and wire reports

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