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U.S. selects Couples Presidents Cup captain

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Fred Couples, who was selected Tuesday as the U.S. captain for the 2009 Presidents Cup team, said there’s sure to be a defining characteristic of his 12-player squad.

“Laid-back, of course,” he said.

Couples, 47, a four-time member of the team, succeeds Jack Nicklaus as U.S. captain. Greg Norman, 53, follows Gary Player as captain of the International team.

“Look, I can’t change and I can’t change anybody on the team,” Couples said. “Now, is the Presidents Cup laid-back? No, but compared to the Ryder Cup? Of course it is.”

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Couples said he did not lobby for the post and was excited to accept when PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem presented him with the offer two weeks ago at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.

“I was so winded, I couldn’t breathe. I was like a little kid.”

The U.S. leads in the biennial event, 5-1-1. The eighth Presidents Cup, the off-season equivalent of the Ryder Cup, will be played at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The PGA Tour’s new cut rule lasted exactly eight tournaments before getting revised after a policy board approved tweaking the controversial regulation designed to speed up play on the weekends.

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The rule had called for the field to be cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes, but if more than 78 pros made it, then the actual cut would be reduced to the lowest scores closest to 70. That became the MDF rule -- Made Cut but Did Not Finish -- and wasn’t popular with a number of the rank and file who said it cut short possible comebacks.

The amended rule, announced at the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., still calls for the low 70 and ties after 36 holes still make the cut, but if there are more than 78 pros who make it, a second cut to the low 70 and ties will be made after 54 holes.

The final-round coverage of Tiger Woods’ 8-and-7 victory over Stewart Cink at the Accenture Match Play Championships earned a 3.5 overnight rating for NBC -- a 67% increase over last year.

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PRO FOOTBALL

Police: Patriots’ Faulk found with Marijuana

New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was issued a misdemeanor summons last Friday for possession of marijuana in Lafayette, La.

Faulk, a Louisiana native and former Louisiana State standout, was on his way to watch a performance by rapper Lil Wayne, when a routine search by a sheriff’s deputy turned up four marijuana cigarettes, police said.

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The New England Patriots have released linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who was a member of two Super Bowl winning teams, and linebacker Oscar Lua, the team’s seventh-round draft pick in 2007 out of USC. Lua sat out the season because of a knee injury.

In other moves: Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was released by the Washington Redskins, ending his disappointing stay with the team.

Wide receiver Eddie Kennison, 35, was released by Kansas City.

Carolina is closing in on signing wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who was released by the Chicago Bears last week.

TENNIS

Venus Williams falls in opening round

Defending champion Venus Williams was upset by qualifier Petra Kvitova in the opening round of the WTA’s Cellular South Cup in Memphis, Tenn. Kvitova won only the fifth WTA Tour match of her career, stunning the top-seeded Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Sixth-ranked Anna Chakvetadze ended a two-match losing streak by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, in the first round of the Dubai Championships in United Arab Emirates. Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova withdrew because of a viral illness.

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MISCELLANY

Salisbury announces he has left ESPN

Sean Salisbury, saying he and ESPN couldn’t come to terms on a new contract, has left the network and moved from Bristol, Conn., to Dallas, where he has a second home. “I have grown as much as I can at ESPN and decided to expand my horizons,” said the former USC and NFL quarterback who has been at the network for 12 years.

ESPN announced that it had hired former NFL wide receiver Cris Carter as an NFL studio analyst, but said the hiring of Carter had nothing to do with Salisbury’s departure.

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Larry Stewart

Suspended Louisiana State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is not expected to be on the field when the Tigers open spring practice Friday.

Former UCLA lineman Chris Joseph will receive a NCAA post-graduate scholarship. Joseph, who had a 3.95 grade-point average, will receive $7,500.


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