– Rory McIlory shot a final round 1-under-par (34-35=69) at The Honda Classic to earn his first PGA TOUR win of 2012, and with it the No. 1 ranking in the world. McIlroy’s 12-under (66-67-66-69=268) got him two strokes ahead of Tiger Woods and Tom Gillis. Woods made a great push with a birdie-eagle finish to shoot 62 and get within one shot of the lead. McIlroy responded with a birdie, then a series of par putts, including a 13’1″ one on 2, a 12’1″ save on 7, and a 4’6″ clincher on the 18th. For the week, McIlroy ranked fifth in Strokes Gained-Putting, eighth in driving distance, eighth in sand saves, and tied for 10th in GIR. He now becomes the world’s No. 1. He is the 16th player to be atop the world ranking, and at age 22, the second-youngest No. 1 player behind Woods. Woods had his lowest final round ever and finished two behind, along with Tom Gillis (69).
– Brewers’ OF Corey Hart (right knee) will require arthroscopic surgery and is out 3-4 weeks. Hart could start the season on the DL, meaning he’ll need a rehab assignment before getting back to speed. Hart, 29, batted .285/.356/.510 with 26 home runs and 63 RBI last season for Milwaukee.
– Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro said 1B Ryan Howard (torn left Achilles) could be in a walking boot for as many as 10 days following a procedure to have stitches removed from an infected area of his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon. After initially saying this wasn’t a setback, Amaro now acknowledges that Howard “could be backed up for a while.” Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the “recent events could certainly delay” Howard’s projected timetable of a return in May. “We immobilized him, just because our main priority is to just get the infection out of there.” Amaro also added that Howard won’t necessarily be ready to resume baseball activities immediately after the boot is removed. “I don’t know when he’s going to start baseball activities. I don’t have any idea. I don’t have any time frame one way or another.” Howard’s Achilles repair remains intact, but he could be a bit worse off than initially expected.
– Twins’ RHP Joel Zumaya (Tommy John surgery) intends to continue his playing career following surgery at the end of March. The procedure will be performed by Dr. James Andrews. The oft-injured flamethrower tore his UCL after throwing just 13 pitches in Twins camp and will likely be released by the team prior to Opening Day. Zumaya will have missed two straight full seasons and not appeared in more than 31 games since his rookie season back in 2006. His days as an effective reliever are likely over.
– Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that Red Sox’ RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow) was “very impressive” during a bullpen session Sunday, “throwing hard and using his secondary pitches.” Dice-K is expected to return in July, but he’s hoping to be back sometime in June.
– Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that, “if all goes well,” Pirates’ RHP A.J. Burnett (orbital fracture) could rejoin the Pirates rotation in early May, reaching the early end of the projected timetable. GM Neal Huntington said he’s expecting Burnett back in mid-June, which is probably more realistic. Burnett underwent surgery Friday to repair an orbital fracture.
– Jays’ RHP Jesse Litsch (right shoulder infection) will be sidelined 6 weeks after having surgery to clean out an infection caused by an injection in his right shoulder. Litsch had the injection in hopes that it would calm down some inflammation. He could be ready to join the Blue Jays bullpen sometime in April, assuming he remains free of setbacks. The 29-year-old posted a 4.44 ERA and 66/28 K/BB ratio across 75 innings last season.
– According to the PWInsider, talk within WWE is that a stipulation may be added to the Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show match at WrestleMania 28 would be for the Intercontinental Championship.
– “Diamond” Dallas Page said during an interview with the Pro Wrestling Torch Livecast that the only wrestler he would come out of retirement to wrestle would be WWE Superstar Randy Orton. Otherwise, he has no interest in returning to the ring as he does not want to risk the quality of his life at the age of 55.
“That’s the only match I would come out of retirement for. I would put my body on the line only to be able to show I could still go. I would take my body to the limits I never thought I?could at this age only for that angle, but that’s not going to happen because he’s already beat up all the old men. The only thing I’ll hook him with is he’s killed all the legends but he ain’t killed me yet.”
The former WCW World Heavyweight Champion considers The Viper the best worker in wrestling today and loves that his finishing maneuver, the RKO, is a variation of the Diamond Cutter. Pages credits John Laurinaitis with introducing him to the Diamond Cutter since the WWE executive was performing the Ace Crusher as his signature maneuver in Japan in the 1990s.
– Trish Stratus appeared on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight to discuss her WWE career and how yoga has changed her life. Two minutes into the interview, George Stroumboulopoulos asks the seven-time WWE Women’s Champion if John Morrison resented her appearance at WrestleMania last year. Her participation in the tag team match with Morrison and Jersey Shore star Snooki against LayCool and Dolph Ziggler reportedly upset Morrison and girlfriend Melina.
“I don’t know if he did… he might have said that.”
“He’s entitled to his opinion. It was one of these things where we had an epic moment, it was WrestleMania, our biggest stage of them all, and I had been retired. So I’m out of the scene and suddenly I get to come back and be in the grandest stage of all, I get to be at WrestleMania. Well he thought “that’s not cool” because I guess his girlfriend is a women wrestler and so he thought maybe another girl deserved that spot. But, I had gone back to WWE television to do Tough Enough, which was a reality show they did to find the next WWE Superstar. They asked me to be back, we promoted that show, etc. He was a little resistant, like there were some moments where I was like, “Oh, he’s not meshing with me.”
Stratus then details the ‘famous cold shoulder incident’ where she was snubbed by Morrison during their post-match celebration at WrestleMania when she attempted to embrace him.
“We have a famous cold shoulder incident. Well, we’re on live television. We had a match, we won the match, we were victorious as a team and then I went to go like, we do that typical thing, you raise the hand, you point [and he went in another direction, leaving Trish hanging].”
“I just said to him, “Hey, what you’ve done now, is because your career is made up of moments, so now you’ve taken a moment from the fans, really.” Because they don’t care about backstage politics, they don’t care if you think your girlfriend should be in that spot or whatever it was. So he just denied the fans and himself and that’s that.”
Stroumboulopoulos then asks Stratus if Morrison would have snubbed her had she not been a woman.
“Probably wouldn’t have done that to me if I wasn’t a woman, yeah.”
– During an interview with the official WWE website, SmackDown star Mark Henry spoke in-depth about his recent induction into the International Sports Hall of Fame. Here are some highlights of what Henry said about:
Winning The Arnold Classic: “It meant a lot because that competition is geared toward the heaviest instruments in the world. To win that competition truly proves you are the strongest man. You compete against eight guys, the best in the world. There’s no dodging anybody and you lift the heaviest apparatus. It spoke volumes about my talent. I only had four months to train, because I was with WWE. If I had more time to train, I might’ve done even better. It’s hard to better than first, though, you know?”
His Favorite Moment From His Power Lifting Career: “Being 19 years old and making the Olympic team on my last lift. I went 6-for-6 and had a perfect Olympic trial. Making the team and being one of the youngest to ever go to the Olympics was pretty special.”
– Boris Zhukov appeared on World Wrestling Insanity with James Guttman. Boris talks to James Guttman about his talent for doing impressions and changing his voice. The difference is so startling that JG asks if there was ever a consideration to work an angle with Zhukov suddenly speaking with his southern drawl. Unfortunately, WWF never did that and no other company ever had the chance. Why? Because when Boris left full time wrestling with WWF, he had no options left. For some reason, Vince McMahon saw to that.
“Full time duty I pretty much left in ’91 because I was training to be a truck driver in January of ’92. When I left Vince and stuff, I was never able to go to WCW because he never would release me out of my contract. I couldn’t even go over and do jobs in WCW back in the day. Dusty couldn’t use me at all.”
James responds with a “Wow.” As the ClubWWI.com interview continues, Boris explains that Dusty Rhodes had said he would use him, but never was able to…and it was all because McMahon had a spot in mind for Zhukov on WWF’s roster.
“After I officially left and everything, Vince kept trying to bring me back just to do jobs on TV. I said, ‘No. I’m done.’ I started doing independent shows. But he made it hard for me. Even when I worked for Universal Wrestling or whatever, they couldn’t even put me on TV. I couldn’t even get booked on WCW to do jobs.
“They wouldn’t use me at all and the territories at the time were quickly dropping out of sight. The only one left was Portland and I had no desire to move to Portland because it was all dying out anyway. I saw that happening when I was with Vince. Vince told us at a meeting one time that the territories were going and we pretty much just had to work for him. We didn’t have any place else to go and that’s pretty much what his whole goal was.”
Guttman tells Boris that this situation seems to come up a lot, especially with some tag team guys from his time period. One second, Vince was friendly and the next he was battling you. As JG points out, it didn’t sound like Zhukov had any heat with WWF but was being treated like he did. Boris explains to ClubWWI.com members that all seemed to be going well until he had to return and serve as a sub for an injured star.
“Well, he talked to me about leaving, you know. It came up after the run with Nikolai. (Nikolai turned babyface) when Reagan did the thing with ‘tear down the wall’ with Gorbachev and all that happened. There was pretty much nothing he could do with me. He told me I’d be finishing up and he got me booked in Japan and all that and pretty much gave me my notice. After we all that was worked out, I remember Macho Man had got hurt. He was in an angle with Jim Duggan.
“So Macho Man got hurt and he brought me in to take his place. I had a little run with Duggan until Macho Man came back. Then he just wanted me to come back and start doing jobs on TV because he started offering to pay for my rental car and hotel room and I knew exactly what that was. I said, ‘I ain’t doing that.’ They said, ‘Where else you gonna go?’ I said, ‘I’ll do something else for a living.’ I learned that when I first went to Atlanta and got started, old timers said, ‘Be ready for when you have to get out.’ Baron Von Raschke said to me, ‘Jim, there’s a day you get in, but there’s a day you have to leave. You have to have something else to do on the side.’”
– Jim Ross is not currently scheduled to call WrestleMania 28. He tweeted on Saturday:
“I’m not scheduled to broadcast WM28 at this time. Anyone in WWE who doesn’t want to contribute to WM28 should be future endeavored IMO.”
– Tough Enough coach Bill DeMott says there is still no word on the show getting a second season.
– WWE will be releasing a new DVD set on the “Biggest Matches in ECW History.” Amazon.com has the release date listed as June 5th – and the project will feature a countdown of the Top 25 Matches in ECW history.
– WWE’s upcoming DVD set on CM Punk is still in production and content is still being filmed for it. The schedule release is sometime in the Fall.
– The Buffalo News reports Rams DC Greg Williams’ bounty system was in place as coach of the Bills from 2001-2003. Two former Bills players confirm a reward for “knockout shots,” similar to Williams’ off-the-books compensation in New Orleans and reportedly with the Redskins as well. Williams could be suspended or even banned for life by commissioner Roger Goodell if he’s caught lying. Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher was DC for Buddy Ryan, who coached against the Cowboys in the 1989 “Bounty Bowl” game.
– The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Redskins continue “to rate as the frontrunner” to acquire the Rams’ No. 2 pick, and that the Browns are currently “unwilling” to part with their No. 22 pick. The Redskins are reportedly willing to trade both their 2012 and 2013 1st-round picks, but don’t want to part with their 2012 2nd-rounder, which “isn’t acceptable to the Rams,” while the Dolphins reportedly “aren’t eager to do business with the Rams” after losing out on Jeff Fisher. There’s also “no chance” of a trade with the Seahawks because the Rams don’t want to face Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in the division.
– The Denver Post reports that Broncos’ RB Willis McGahee is “unhappy with his contract” and recently asked the Broncos for a raise. McGahee wanted the club to upgrade the 4-year/$9.5M deal he signed last July, but the team flat-out said no. He has since fired agent Drew Rosenhaus, but reportedly isn’t planning to hold out. McGahee is due only $2M in 2012 after rushing for 1,199 yards and making the Pro Bowl last season. The soon-to-be 31-year-old has a history of knee problems, though, so doesn’t have much leverage.
– The Union-Tribune San Diego reports that free agent WR Vincent Jackson is “almost certain” to avoid the franchise tag as Monday’s deadline for tags to be assigned approaches. Beat writer Kevin Acee insists the key date for his future is the the beginning of free agency on March 13 as opposed to the March 5 franchise tag deadline. Jackson, 29, is believed to be willing to accept a hometown discount to re-sign with San Diego. Per Acee, the Chargers plan to let Jackson field outside offers before making a counter-proposal to keep him.
– ESPN Dallas reports the Cowboys are “likely” to assign the franchise tag to free agent OLB Anthony Spencer before Monday’s deadline. The two sides are still in talks, though a long-term agreement doesn’t seem to be in the offing in the next two days. The tag would guarantee Spencer $8.8M.
– According to Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Exchange, there have been no serious talks between the Colts and free agent DE Robert Mathis “beyond a couple casual, get-acquainted conversations.” Pasquarelli characterized them as “tepid” because there “hadn’t been any negotiations, substantive or otherwise” by Thursday night. Mathis is reportedly “dead-set” against being franchise-tagged.
– NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora confirms that Cardinals’ LT Levi Brown is looking “increasingly likely” to hit free agency after the sides made little progress in contract talks over the weekend. Brown is due a $17M cap number and $6M roster bonus on March 12. The Cardinals cannot afford to pay him, so a release is the likeliest result. He should draw lots of interest at a thin position in free agency.
– Flyers’ D Kimmo Timonen (lower body) and D Andrej Meszaros (lower body) are out indefinitely.
– Jets’ D Zach Bogosian (undisclosed) will miss the next week. Bogosian just returned from a seven-game absence with a wrist injury, playing in Thursday’s win over the Florida Panthers. In January, Bogosian was sidelined for five games with a lower-body injury. In 54 games this season, the blueliner has three goals and 19 assists for 22 points.
– Shannon Moore stated Saturday on Twitter that he had decided to take a break from wrestling in order to spend time with his family and focus on outside endeavors.
“Before someone gets it and twist it. I’ve decided to step away from wrestling for awhile,” he wrote. “I’m putting effort into my own business. Thanks for your support in the ring but for now I am chill’n at home opening my second tat shop and enjoying my family.”
“Or am I working you…. Who know the wrestling secret talk… Lol…. love you guys peace!!!”
Moore’s TNA ring time has been drastically reduced since partner Jesse Neal opted to part ways with the organization in December.
– Sarita turns 33 years old Sunday.