The leading two players at Bay Hill are no surprise, even if they have next to nothing in common.
Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world who hasn’t finished out of the top 10 in any tournament since September, shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday morning in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Orlando, Florida.
Matt Every, the No. 309 player in the world whose only two PGA Tour victories in 237 starts were back-to-back at Bay Hill, played in the tough afternoon wind and was one shot better with a 65.
Not only was it Every’s lowest round at Bay Hill, it was 20 shots better than his last round six days ago in the Honda Classic, when he shot 85.
Every, who served a three-month suspension at the end of last year for using cannabis that he said was prescribed legally for mental health treatment, played bogey-free and put on a clinic with his irons, the strength of his game. He poured it on his back nine with birdie putts of 35, 45 and 30 feet.
Scottie Scheffler boosted his bid for a Masters invitation with a bogey-free 67 and joined Talor Gooch two shots behind. Scheffler, the player of the year on the Korn Ferry Tour, is No. 51 in the world and needs to get in the top 50 after the Match Play at the end of the month.
NFL: The NFL Players Association sent ballots to members for voting on the proposed collective bargaining agreement, giving the union a week to either ensure another 11 years of labor peace or send the matter back to the drawing board.
The NFLPA announced that votes would be accepted through March 12 at one minute before midnight. The more than 2,000 members will have a window of about 7 1/2 days to examine the 439-page document and cast a yes or no vote. Ratification requires a simple majority. So if only 1,000 ballots were returned, the union would need 501 yes votes to approve.
• The San Francisco 49ers exercised contract options to keep fullback Kyle Juszczyk and slot cornerback K’Waun Williams on the team for the 2020 season.
• The Philadelphia Eagles hired Marty Mornhinweg as a senior offensive consultant.
Mornhinweg spent 10 years on Andy Reid’s staff from 2003-12, including seven seasons as offensive coordinator. He was most recently Baltimore’s offensive coordinator from 2016-18. Mornhinweg was Detroit’s head coach in 2001-02.
The Eagles also issued a statement saying nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters will become a free agent when the league’s new year starts March 18.
FA CUP: Odion Ighalo scored twice as Manchester United ruined Wayne Rooney’s reunion with his old club by beating Derby 3-0 to reach the quarterfinals.
It was Rooney’s first game against the club where he spent 13 years and became United’s all-time top scorer, but the closest he came to a goal was with a free kick in stoppage time that goalkeeper Sergio Romero tipped over the bar.
United will face Norwich in the quarterfinals.
PELE: Pele is in the hospital for what he says are two days of routine physical exams.
“I hope to be back home tomorrow and starting my physical therapy. All is good, thank God,” the 79-year-old Pele wrote on social media.
The soccer great has suffered with mobility problems since a failed hip replacement surgery in 2012. He’s forced to use walkers and wheelchairs in public.
He did not elaborate on the exams or give the name of the hospital where he was admitted on Tuesday.
RUSSIA: Five Russian athletes challenged their bans for taking part in an systemic doping program during a three-day hearing that ended at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Ivan Ukhov, who risks losing his 2012 Olympic title in high jump, is among those who appealed against bans imposed last year.
The five athletes were able to give evidence by video link, the court said.
The athletes were banned after being found to have used a cocktail of steroids and were protected from positive tests around the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 track world championships in Moscow.
SOCCER: The Premier League is scrapping pregame handshakes between players and officials as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
RUGBY: Italy’s Six Nations rugby match against England next week was postponed because of the virus outbreak in the country.
Italy’s visit to Ireland in Dublin scheduled for this Saturday was already postponed, but tournament organizers insisted all of the remaining matches in the last two rounds were going ahead as scheduled.
CYCLING: The cycling season was plunged further into disarray after the Strade Bianche men’s and women’s races in Italy were canceled because of the virus outbreak.
The races were to be held on Saturday, but following a meeting in the Tuscan city of Siena between the city’s prefect and mayor the decision was taken to cancel Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite, race organizer RCS Sport said in a statement.
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: Mikaela Shiffrin is returning to the circuit in Europe, even though she might not be ready to race after a month-long absence following the death of her father.
The American skier announced in a video posted on Instagram that she is flying to Scandinavia on Thursday. A three-race meet starts one week later in Are, Sweden.
“I have no promises if I’ll actually be able to race,” Shiffrin said in a 6-minute video message that addressed the emotions about her father, Jeff, who died on Feb. 2.
During her absence, Shiffrin has lost her lead in the overall standings to Federica Brignone. In her specialist slalom discipline, Petra Vlhova now has a small lead.