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    (Reuters) - Albert Pujols hit the 609th home run of his career on Friday which tied him with Sammy Sosa for the most homers by a foreign-born player.

    Dominican Republic-born Pujols hit his drive during the first inning against Baltimore on a ball that narrowly cleared the left-field fence.

    Pujols and Sosa are now tied for eighth on the all-time home run list.

    The latest homer was the 18th of the season for the 37-year-old Pujols.

    (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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    (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their World Series aspirations by acquiring veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson in a trade with the New York Mets on Friday.

    The Mets sent cash considerations and the three-time All Star Granderson in exchange for a player to be named later, the Dodgers said.

    Los Angeles lead the majors with an 86-34 record and have a 19-1/2 game lead over Arizona in the National League West.

    The 36-year-old Granderson is batting .228 with 19 home runs this season for the Mets, who have a 53-66 record and are unlikely to make the playoffs. They were in the World Series in 2015.

    "Its been a great four years here with the Mets organization," Granderson told reporters. "All these guys have been amazing.

    "It's a little bittersweet, but to get an opportunity to play into the post-season is going to be exciting."

    (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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    (Reuters) - Australia's Wade Ormsby tore up the back nine with five birdies to take a one-stroke lead at the end of the third round of the Fiji International at Sigatoka on Saturday.

    The 37-year-old's six-under-par 66 put him on 10-under 206 for the tournament at the Natadola Bay Golf Course, a shot clear of compatriot Jason Norris (70).

    Another Australian, James Marchesani, shot a 67 to stand alone in third place on eight-under at a tournament co-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australasian Tours.

    Ormsby is a former European Tour regular renowned for his putting but it was not until the eighth hole that he started converting the birdie chances he was creating on the greens.

    Four successive birdies from there, including one at the 10th set up by a seven iron to a couple of feet, and three more in the last six holes left him in a good position to add a second career title to that he won at the 2013 Indian Open.

    "I didn't think I would be in that position after seven holes, I was getting a bit frustrated, the putter started to get a bit hot so I started to move in the right direction," he said.

    "I think everyone who has played golf knows that when the putts start dropping you get happier out there.

    "I have led one and I won that. You obviously learn every time you play and you're around the front so I am always trying to learn that little bit more. Even at 37 you are always learning how to manage yourself and your emotions."

    Norris had a share of the overnight lead and could have owned it outright going into the final round but for a triple bogey at the par-four 16th after a poor drive.

    "In the hazard you should still make five but a couple more poor shots as well and it adds up to a seven," he said.

    Scott Hend, the big-hitting Australia who finished 10th at the recent WGC-Bridgestone, hit a level par 72 to drop from a share of the lead to a share of fourth.

    "It was a frustrating day out there," said the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.

    "I missed only two greens but made only two birdies today. I just couldn't make putts. Hopefully I can make some tomorrow."

    U.S. Masters champions Mike Weir (69), Angel Cabrera (72) and Vijay Singh (73) probably have too much ground to make up to challenge in Sunday's final round at six, seven and 10 shots off the pace.

    (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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    KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Singapore's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling has apologized to Malaysians for saying he was going to teach their swimmers a lesson at the South East Asian Games, which open on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.

    The 22-year-old, who won the city-state's first Olympic gold in the 100 meters butterfly in Rio last year, had told local media it would be "nice to go to Malaysia's backyard and teach them a thing or two".

    "If I offended anyone, I do apologize... that wasn't my intention," Schooling said on his arrival in the Malaysian capital on Saturday.

    "I'm really sorry for my comments and I definitely didn't mean it that way."

    Schooling won nine gold medals at the last SEA Games in Singapore two years ago but will race in fewer events this year.

    "I'll do my best in all of them. I'm just going to do my best and let the outcome speak for itself. We have two days to prepare so hopefully we'll put on a good performance in the Games," he added.

    "It's definitely not like training for me. Every race my dad likes to say race fast and that actually holds a lot of ground. There are a lot of great swimmers in the South East Asian region so I gotta be the best as I can to make my country proud."

    The 29th version of the biennial SEA Games continue until Aug. 30.

    (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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    By Neil Robinson

    LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United netted four goals for the second consecutive week in the Premier League to rout Swansea City 4-0 on Saturday and ensure their highest-scoring start to a season for 110 years.

    United manager Jose Mourinho said he "let the horses run freely" at the Liberty Stadium but his old foe Arsene Wenger was left frustrated after his Arsenal thoroughbreds were shackled in a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City.

    Liverpool struggled to squeeze past Crystal Palace 1-0 and promoted Brighton and Hove Albion suffered their second defeat in two games, 2-0 at Leicester City.

    Goals flowed at Southampton, who snuffed out an astonishing comeback by 10-man West Ham United to win 3-2.

    Mourinho's United completed their victory with a devastating late burst in which Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and substitute Anthony Martial scored between the 80th and 84th minutes after Eric Bailly had netted late in the first half with his first goal for the club.

    United, who scored twice late on to beat West Ham by the same score last weekend, have one of the strongest benches in the league and it was Martial's 75th-minute introduction that began the mayhem.

    "It was 1-0 and we thought let's go for more and exploit the fragile morale of the opponent. Our bench is really good - the players have a lot to give," Mourinho said.

    Martial capped the rout with a delightful strike after he picked the ball up 35 yards out, cut inside and thumped the ball past a despairing Lukasz Fabianski.

    "There was happiness in our play," Mourinho said. "There was no need to close the door."

    Swansea badly missed the departed Gylfi Sigurdsson and injured Fernando Llorente and look to be in desperate need of reinforcements in the transfer window.

    Arsenal's early-season optimism after their opening day win over Leicester was dissipated quickly after Jese, Stoke's new loan signing from Paris St Germain, capped a fine debut by scoring the winner 90 seconds after the break.

    The home side, reveling once again in being Arsenal's bogey team, then produced a magnificent rearguard action to keep out the Gunners, who had an equalizer from Alexandre Lacazette ruled out for a fractional offside.

    Liverpool secured their first league win of the season, and inflicted Palace's second defeat, when Sadio Mane broke the Anfield deadlock after 73 minutes, although Christian Benteke should have given the visitors the lead moments earlier.

    Southampton got the better of an astonishing game of two penalties, a sending-off and an ultimately futile West Ham fightback at St Mary's.

    After the home side went 2-0 through Manolo Gabbiadini and a Dusan Tadic penalty, and West Ham's Marko Arnautovic was sent off for elbowing Jack Stephens, the Hammers started to play.

    Mexican forward Javier Hernandez scored his first goals for the club to bring hope of an unlikely point before Saints' second penalty deep into stoppage-time was converted by Charlie Austin.

    Watford, who drew with Liverpool last week, beat Bournemouth 2-0 with a first goal from new Brazilian striker Richarlison while West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 at Burnley with a late goal from Hal Robson-Kanu who was then sent off for elbowing.

    The win was Albion's second of the season and put them level on points with leaders Manchester United.

    (Additional reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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    By Richard Martin

    BARCELONA (Reuters) - Chris Froome's bid to win the Vuelta a Espana for the first time got off to a strong start as the Briton's Team Sky came fourth in the team time trial in stage one on Saturday in Nimes, which was won by BMC Racing.

    BMC's Rohan Dennis of Australia is the overall leader and will wear the red jersey in Sunday's flat 203.4 km stage, which also takes place in the southern French city before moving into Spain in stage four on Tuesday.

    "It’s a good start for us," Froome told reporters.

    "OK, it's not the stage victory, but we put in a very solid ride. We're there or thereabouts with the best teams."

    Four-time Tour de France champion Froome is aiming to become the first rider in 39 years to win the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year and made an early dent on his rivals in the general classification (GC), leading Vincenzo Nibali by 22 seconds, Alberto Contador by 26 and Fabio Aru by 32.

    Sky came across the finish line with five riders, nine seconds behind BMC Racing, who finished six ahead of second placed Quick-Step Floors and Team Sunweb in a messy time trial which saw frequent crashes as several riders struggled to negotiate the highly technical course.

    The 13.7 km track, which went mostly through winding, narrow city center streets and through a Roman amphitheatre, was almost half the length of the team time trial in last year's Vuelta, where Sky pipped Movistar to victory by less than a second.

    UAE Team Emirates, LottoNL-Jumbo and Movistar all experienced crashes, although all riders were able to continue.

    "It was a hard course, very technical to start and we really had to tactically figure out if it was better to finish with nine or drop a few beforehand," said stage winner Dennis.

    "It tested everything, it tested strength, technique, speed and handling. I’m not too worried about GC on this year’s grand tour. My goals were always Giro for GC, and then Vuelta.

    "I just want to go for some stages and test myself against some of the GC guys. Hopefully I can come away with a couple of stages."

    (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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    (Reuters) - The United States extended their Solheim Cup advantage to a commanding five points after an impressive afternoon fourball session at Des Moines Golf and Country Club gave them a 10-1/2 to 5-1/2 lead heading into Sunday's singles matches.

    Cristie Kerr, who had earlier passed American captain Juli Inkster for the most Solheim Cup points for the U.S. with 18, teamed with Lexi Thompson on a decisive 4&2 win over Europe's Catriona Matthew and Georgia Hall.

    Kerr, 39, helped the cause with a pivotal birdie on the 15th hole that gave her side a 3-up lead with three to play.

    Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang birdied their first two holes for an advantage they never relinquished as they topped Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda 2-up.

    American duo Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst also captured their match against Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom 4&2.

    Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist were the only European side to record a point in the afternoon session.

    The American duo of Kerr and Thompson had got the U.S. off to a winning start on Saturday morning, thrashing Carolina Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 5&3, with Europe winning only one hole.

    "She putted amazing today, walked in so many putts," Thompson said of her partner Kerr. "I just gave her the opportunities and she was just rolling the ball."

    The U.S. won the second match by the same lop-sided margin as Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst outplayed Mel Reid and Emily Pedersen.

    Creamer also reached a milestone, passing Inkster as the all-time American points winner in foursomes matches with 8.5 points.

    With the Cup slipping away, Europe grabbed a lifeline by winning the final two matches, both by 2&1 margins.

    Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall beat Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, while Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher edged Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Greensboro and Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Greg Stutchbury)

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    (Reuters) - Second seed Simona Halep will face Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the final of the Cincinnati Open after they both won their semi-finals easily on Saturday.

    Halep crushed Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-1, while Muguruza beat top seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-2.

    Victory in the final would give the Romanian the world's top ranking, moving past Pliskova.

    "I think it's something special to get number one in the world," Halep told reporters. "Everyone can get to number one now. The ranking is close. I really want that."

    Halep needed just 54 minutes to end the run of Stephens, who had enjoyed strong form following her return at Wimbledon after an 11-month absence with a foot injury.

    Halep said she believed Muguruza, who beat American Venus Williams for her Wimbledon crown last month, is the favorite for the final.

    "I know that she has a lot of confidence coming with title from Wimbledon, so she's favorite, in my opinion," Halep said.

    "She's hitting the ball strong, but I had already two matches, so I know how the ball is gonna come.

    "But still, I want just to do the same and not thinking about the result. I just want to go there and enjoy the moment."

    Muguruza had lost six successive matches to Pliskova, who made 28 unforced errors and ended the match when a forehand sailed long on the fifth match point.

    In stark contrast to two of her earlier matches in the tournament, Muguruza advanced to Sunday's final in less than 80 minutes.

    She endured a two-hour, 45-minute three-set win over Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova on Friday that followed a two-hour, 18-minute win over American Madison Keys on Thursday.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Greensboro, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)

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    (Reuters) - Australian Nick Kyrgios overcame Spanish veteran David Ferrer on Saturday to set up a clash against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Cincinnati Open.

    The 22-year-old Kyrgios, looking for his first title of the year, beat the former world number three 7-6(3) 7-6(4), while Dimitrov also advanced to his first Masters 1000 final with a 7-6(4) 7-6(10) victory over American John Isner.

    Kyrgios, who had beaten Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals, showed no drop off in performance against the 35-year-old Ferrer in the match that lasted just over two hours.

    Seventh seed Dimitrov needed almost two hours to book his place in Sunday's final.

    The world number 11 had his work cut out against big-serving Isner, with neither player dropping serve in a match where break opportunities were few and far between.

    Isner had two break point chances, Dimitrov only one.

    Dimitrov saved a set point in the second set tiebreak, before putting away the dogged American.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Greensboro, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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    By Andrew Both

    GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - Swede Henrik Stenson remained patient before reeling off three consecutive birdies to earn a one-shot lead after the third round at the Wyndham Championship on Saturday.

    A double-bogey at the par-three seventh proved only a temporary setback for Stenson, who carded four-under-par 66 on another ideal day for low scoring at Sedgefield Country Club.

    The 2016 British Open champion posted a 16-under 194 total, with Americans Webb Simpson (68), Kevin Na (65) and Ollie Schniederjans (66) at 15-under.

    The 53-year-old Davis Love, seeking to become the oldest PGA Tour winner, shot 67 to trail by three shots.

    Love, already the third oldest winner after his success at the tournament two years ago, surged into contention with an outward nine of four-under 31, but stalled on the inward half.

    Stenson, on the other hand, made his move late.

    "Things weren't going great in the middle of the round but I was hanging in there and hit a couple of nice shots and made a couple of putts coming home and we find ourselves right where we want to be for Sunday," said the world number nine.

    "I hit a lot of good putts and I've been hitting a lot of good iron shots as well, trying to attack the hole and that's been working nicely so far.

    "I've been in contention a lot this year so it feels nice to be out there again. I feel I'm in a good place mentally."

    Stenson's two dropped shots at the par-three seventh came after his mishit seven-iron found a water hazard short of the green.

    Simpson, the 2011 champion, led late in the round until a bogey at the 17th.

    "I'm very hungry to win again but right now I got dinner on my mind," said Simpson, a four-time tour winner, including the 2012 U.S. Open.

    Na, also one back, is seeking his second tour victory, while Schniederjans is after his first.

    Johnson Wagner is two behind after a 65 that included an eagle from 95 yards at the par-four first, following up his second round albatross which he made with a five-iron from 215 yards at the par-five fifth.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Greg Stutchbury)

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    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal, who will return to the top of the world rankings for the first time in three years on Monday, announced on Sunday that he would be opening his 18th season as a professional at the Brisbane International in January.

    The 31-year-old was beaten in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open warm-up by Milos Raonic on debut this year before going on to lose the final to Roger Federer at Melbourne Park.

    Nadal, who lost to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open on Saturday, said he had thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of the Queensland Tennis Centre.

    "Last year for me was the first experience and was very successful," he said. "The atmosphere is great and there's a lot of nice people supporting the event."

    The Brisbane International runs from New Year's Eve to Jan 7 next year.

    (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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    KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Malaysia apologized on Sunday for the upside-down printing of Indonesia's flag in the souvenir guidebook for the Southeast Asia Games, which officials said is being withdrawn and reprinted.

    The mistake, spotted at the games' opening in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday, sparked an outcry in Indonesia and the hashtag #ShameonyouMalaysia was trending on social media.

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters in Jakarta the incident concerned "national pride", and called for an apology.

    Within hours, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman apologized to the government and people of Indonesia for the "inadvertent error", saying that all measures have been taken "to address this unfortunate situation".

    Earlier, Malaysia Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the mistake would be corrected and a new guidebook sent to the games' officials and guests.

    "We apologize for affecting the image and reputation of the Republic of Indonesia, as the flag is a symbol of pride," he said after meeting Indonesia's delegation to the games.

    Indonesia's flag has two horizontal bands with red on the top and white underneath. Turning it upside down makes it look like Poland's flag.

    Indonesian Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi acknowledged Khairy's apology, and said he hoped the incident will not be repeated.

    Imam earlier expressed dismay, posting pictures of the mistake on his Twitter account after the games' opening ceremony.

    "It was a good opening ceremony but spoiled by this fatal negligence that was very painful," he said.

    The flag blunder was the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents at the regional sports meet.

    Last week, a bus driver ferrying the Myanmar women's football team was arrested on suspicion of stealing a watch and for not possessing a driver's license.

    (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR and Gayatri Suroyo in JAKARTA; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Gary West, the coach who guided Anna Meares to gold at the 2012 London Olympics, has died at the age of 57, Cycling Australia said on Sunday.

    West stood down as Australia's head track sprint coach last year after eight years in the role when he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

    "Gary was a man of utmost integrity," Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green said in a statement.

    "His accolades both on and off the bike as a cyclist and coach are well documented: he was a leader, he was humble and a visionary in all aspects of life and sport.

    "Beyond the track, he was a loving husband and father, and friend to so many involved in our sport."

    West competed in the points race at the 1984 Olympics and won gold in the 4,000m team pursuit at the 1982 Commonwealth games but it was as a coach that he enjoyed his greatest success.

    He took over as coach of Meares after she won a sprint silver at the 2008 Olympics and four years later in London was at her side when she gained revenge over British rival Victoria Pendleton to take the gold.

    (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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    DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar will build a stadium shaped like an Arabian skull cap for the 2022 World Cup, organizers said on Sunday, as the Gulf state moves ahead with preparations for the tournament despite a diplomatic rift with its neighbors.

    Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed sanctions on fellow U.S. ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism - a charge Doha denies.

    To get around the boycott, Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects.

    The tournament is the centerpiece of a strategy to project Qatar onto the global stage via sport.

    Doha's Al Thumama stadium, designed by a Qatari architect in the shape of a traditional knitted "gahfiya" Arabian cap, will host 40,000 fans at a World Cup quarter final match, the country's 2022 organizing body said in a statement.

    "This symbolic design embodies everything that unites us as Arabs and Muslims, and is a fitting tribute to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East," said Hassan al-Thawadi, Qatar's 2022 committee chief.

    The venue is one of at least eight air-conditioned stadiums Qatar is building along with a new port and metro system as part of a $200 billion infrastructure upgrade.

    Qatar has denied reports the Arab sanctions have hurt tourism and lowered hotel occupancy rates.

    (Reporting by Tom Finn; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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    BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Mo Farah brought down the curtain on his peerless track career in Britain by winning his farewell race on home soil on an emotional afternoon at the Birmingham Grand Prix Diamond League meeting on Sunday.

    In his penultimate track race -- his final run will be at the Zurich Weltklasse meeting on Thursday -- before becoming a marathon man on the roads next season, the quadruple Olympic champion outclassed a 3,000 meters field with familiar elan.

    The weekend after winning 5,000 meters silver and a fortnight since his 10,000 meters triumph at the World Championships in London, the 34-year-old was presented with a more accommodating field for his domestic goodbye.

    The crowd at the Alexander Stadium gave Britain's greatest racer -- perhaps the best the world has seen too after 10 global title wins -- a rapturous reception before watching him sprint away one last time down the home straight as he won in 7 minutes 38.64 seconds.

    Farah, who clocked 56.89 seconds over the last lap to ease away from Spain's runner-up, Adel Mechaal, the fourth-placed finisher in the world 1500 meters final, told the BBC: "It means everything to me.

    "The emotion was high and I had a lot of support from the home crowd. This is what we dream of -- having a home crowd cheer you on -- and I want to thank everyone who has supported me and followed my journey.

    "I never dreamed of becoming four times Olympic champion and a multi world champion. All I ever dreamed of was competing for Britain.

    "Now I just want to continue to see what I can do on the road, without having a target on my back, and just try to enjoy it without so much pressure.

    "I'm going to a completely new game on the roads with a new mind and I'm excited."

    Five more newly-crowned world champions celebrated their London triumphs in style, headed by Qatari's magnificent high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who produced the performance of the meeting with the world's best jump of the year, 2.40 meters.

    Barshim again demonstrated why Javier Sotomayor's world record of 2.45 meters is under threat with his clearance that pleased him so much, he promised to leave with the high jump bar as a souvenir.

    "I knew I was in good shape. I felt good and went for it," he said, clutching the bar. "That jump was amazing, I'm taking that bar home!"

    Other world champions to thrive were Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi, who won her 12th consecutive pole vault competition (4.75 meters) and Ramil Guliyev, Turkey's surprise 200 meters winner, who again forged away strongly from a quality field to win in 20.17 seconds.

    Croatia's discus colossus Sandra Perkovic, who won a second world gold to add to her two Olympic golds, was again in a different league, unleashing a 67.51m winning throw, while New Zealand's shotput winner Tom Walsh prevailed again with a 21.83m winner.

    Elaine Thompson, who surprisingly missed out in London, hit her best form a fortnight too late as she raced to victory in a high-class 100 meters.

    Jamaica's double Olympic sprint champion, whose poor fifth place finish in the world championships 100 meters was one of the meet's major surprises, clocked 10.93 seconds to remain unbeaten in the Diamond League this year.

    She ousted London silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou by four-hundredths of a second while bronze medalist Dafne Schippers, who also won the 200m crown in London, finished sixth in 11.22.

    (Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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    (Reuters) - Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza fine-tuned her preparations for this month's U.S. Open by crushing Simona Halep 6-1 6-0 in the Cincinnati Open final on Sunday.

    Muguruza's tennis was as hot as the summer sun in the early afternoon match on the outdoor hardcourt, as she wrapped up victory in less than an hour.

    The Wimbledon champion kept her opponent pinned to the baseline and improved her career record to 3-1 against the Romanian second seed.

    With the loss, Halep once again fell one win short of rising to the top of the world rankings.

    The Romanian, looking to supplant Karolina Pliskova from the top spot, entered the final without dropping a set all week but on Sunday her game fell apart.

    Halep's second serve proved to be a liability, winning only 11 percent.

    Spaniard Muguruza, who had failed to capture a title for more than a year following her triumph at last year's French Open, was now celebrating winning two trophies in as many months as she backed up her Wimbledon victory with her glorious run in Cincinnati.

    She credited Sunday's win on saving three match points in her third-round encounter against American Madison Keys.

    "The match with Keys gave me a lot of confidence," Muguruza told ESPN.

    "I like the big matches. I believe I play well there. I’m happy to be there, happy to be in that situation.

    "When I was a little girl I was dreaming to be there. That’s where I want to play."

    But Muguruza declined to build up her chances for the U.S. Open.

    "The U.S. Open is a very long tournament," said the tall 23-year-old. "It’s completely different. I’m just trying to play well."

    Halep, who also squandered a chance to climb to the top of the world rankings when she was beaten in the French Open final in June, acknowledged she had performed poorly.

    "I played so bad today and Garbine played so well," Halep, told the crowd. "I will come back next year and try to do better."

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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    (Reuters) - The United States recorded their biggest victory over Europe in two decades and continued their near invincibility on home soil to retain the Solheim Cup in Iowa on Sunday.

    The U.S. won by five points -- 16-1/2 to 11-1/2 -- the same margin as they started the final day in front of large and enthusiastic galleries at Des Moines Country Club.

    Europe, needing to win eight of the 12 singles matches to achieve an unlikely victory, made U.S. captain Juli Inkster nervous with a strong start, but could only share the Sunday spoils.

    Both teams won five singles matches, while the other two were halved.

    "It was just nerve-racking. I felt like I had no control over anything," Inkster told reporters after guiding her team to a second consecutive victory. She was also at the helm in Germany in 2015.

    She said her team's strength in depth had proved decisive.

    "We just played a little better. I think we were a little deeper. I played everybody at least three times. And I think that really helps for the confidence of the team."

    Europe captain Annika Sorenstam said the better team won.

    "We just got outplayed," she said. "Coming in this morning we all knew that a small miracle needed to happen."

    The U.S. improved their winning record to 10-5 in the biennial event which started in 1990, and are now 7-1 at home, their only loss coming four years ago in Colorado.

    The victory was their most dominant since the 17-11 trouncing in Wales in 1996.

    The hosts' superiority in four-ball matches was decisive this time.

    They picked up seven of eight possible points in the format, which more than made up for the slightly better European record in the foursomes (alternate shot).

    Veteran Cristie Kerr led the U.S. points, with three wins, no losses and one halved in four matches, raising her all-time points tally to 21, the most by any U.S. player in Cup history.

    The top-ranked European player was Swede Anna Nordqvist, 3-0-1, with veteran Scot Catriona Matthew (3-1-0) and Karine Icher of France (2-1-1) the only other Europeans with winning records.

    Europe sent out Nordqvist against Lexi Thompson in the first match, one of the most memorable in Cup history.

    Thompson, four down after nine holes, launched her comeback by holing out from 112 yards to win the par-five 11th with an eagle.

    She later took the lead, before Nordqvist hit an eight-iron approach stiff at the par-four 18th for a conceded birdie, winning the hole and halving the match.

    "That had to be the weirdest round of golf I’ve ever played," Thompson said.

    "Front nine I don’t think I was awake and back nine I played the lights out. It was just a crazy round but Anna played great."

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar / Ian Ransom)

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    (Reuters) - Grigor Dimitrov clinched the biggest title of his career and enjoyed a huge confidence boost ahead of the U.S. Open by beating Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-5 to win the Cincinnati Open on Sunday.

    With three of the 'Big Four' players nursing injuries and Rafa Nadal knocked out in the quarter-finals by Kyrgios, Bulgarian Dimitrov grasped his chance with both hands, winning his first Masters 1000 series event under a broiling hot sun.

    A break in each set was enough for the seventh seed to claim his third title of the year and seventh of his career.

    “I'm just happy. There's nothing else I can say, honestly," the 26-year-old told reporters.

    "I'm just happy and I'm humbled to have that trophy in my hands, and especially to win here, my first Masters 1000.

    "I always like this tournament. I have played it quite a few times and always thought this can be maybe one of the first ones, and it is the first one."

    Dimitrov did not drop a set all tournament, the first player to do so at a Masters 1000 tournament since Novak Djokovic's 2007 win at Miami.

    He was almost impregnable on serve, winning 52 of his 53 service games.

    "Going to the (U.S.) Open, it's for sure a lot of positivity with it," said Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in January.

    "But the most important thing now is just to stay grounded, keep on doing the same work, believe in myself, and just prepare the best way that I can for the Open."

    Both players were in their maiden Masters 1000 title match but Dimitrov showed more poise than his 22-year-old opponent, saving a pair of early break points to set the tone.

    Kyrgios's 31 unforced errors comfortably outstripped his 21 winners, the combustible Australian unable to find the magic he produced in his quarter-final win over Nadal.

    But he was thrilled with his run to a first final of the year, having been jeered by the crowd three weeks ago at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. when he retired from his match with a shoulder injury.

    "Looking back from where I was... I would have never thought I would have had my first Masters 1000 event final," he said.

    "So I'm pretty happy with the result. From where I was to here, it's just been amazing.

    "I lost today but I feel great. I feel great where I'm at right now ... I'm pretty excited for the U.S. Open."

    The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina and Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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    (Reuters) - Henrik Stenson shot a sizzling final round six-under-par 64 to win the Wyndham Championship by a stroke on Sunday and claim his sixth PGA Tour title, the most by a Swede.

    Playing machine-like golf, Stenson missed only nine greens in 72 holes and backed up his fine long game with a hot putter at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    The Swede took the lead by reeling off three consecutive birdies from the 15th hole, the last courtesy of a 25-foot putt, before parring the demanding 18th to edge young American Ollie Schniederjans.

    Stenson finished at 22-under-par 258, the lowest ever tally at the tournament by a stroke, and his sixth career title took him past compatriots Jesper Parnevik and Carl Pettersson, who both have five.

    "I'm very happy with the way I closed out this week, really had to keep on making birdies because Ollie was surely not backing down and there were a few other guys pushing me as well," Stenson told reporters.

    "The two biggest things why I'm sitting here as the champion was my putting and my approach play with my mid irons and short irons."

    It was Stenson's first win in 13 months since his British Open triumph at Royal Troon, where he also set a scoring record.

    "I don't know how many times I'm going to be able to get close to playing as well as I did at Troon," the 41-year-old said.

    "That was a performance of a lifetime."

    The top-ranked player in the field, Stenson relished his role as the tournament's alpha male with most of the big boys taking the week off before the start of the tour playoffs on Thursday.

    "It's funny how it goes," said the world number nine, who played mainly because he needed another event to fulfill his 15-tournament minimum.

    "Sometimes it's just a coincidence why you decide to go to a tournament and make a change in your schedule and this time it certainly worked out."

    Schniederjans also shot 64 to finish in second place on 21-under, the 24-year-old keeping up the pressure on Stenson with three birdies in his final four holes.

    Davis Love III, at 53 seeking to become the oldest winner in tour history, finished eight shots adrift in a tie for 10th.

    The final event of the regular season was also a last chance for some players to secure spots in the top 125 on the FedExCup points list, thus keeping their tour cards for next season.

    Among the winners was American Martin Flores, who made a hole-in-one with an eight-iron at the 16th and finished equal seventh, jumping from 139th to 118th on the points list.

    His ace was one of three on the day with Ben Crane also making one at the 172-yard 16th, while Roberto Castro recorded another at the 174-yard third.

    (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Nick Mulvenney)

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    (The Sports Xchange) - The NBA is investigating the Los Angeles Lakers for alleged tampering involving Paul George after the Indiana Pacers filed a formal complaint.

    The league released a statement Sunday from Mike Bass, executive vice president of communications.

    "At the request of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers," the NBA statement said.

    "The independent investigation is being conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting while the investigation is ongoing."

    Peter Vecsey on Patreon reported Saturday that Lakers president Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss were contacted by an investigator for the NBA and asked to provide "any correspondence pertaining to" George, his agent and his parents.

    "As the NBA's statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation," the Lakers said in a statement.

    "We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible."

    The Pacers declined to comment when contacted by The Indianapolis Star on Sunday.

    George's agent contacted the Pacers on June 18 and informed the team that George would not return after his contract expired following the 2017-18 season and that his preference was to play for his hometown Lakers.

    When contacted in June, a source told The Indianapolis Star the Pacers were more concerned about finding a trade for George. The Pacers dealt the All-Star forward to the Oklahoma City Thunder on June 30 in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.

    George, who is from Palmdale, Calif., previously mentioned his admiration of Lakers legends Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

    Within an hour of an initial report about George's intentions to leave the Pacers, Johnson tweeted "God is good!" Johnson also acknowledged in a late-night TV interview in April that he would welcome George as a Laker.