Weekend Sports in Brief
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored two goals and the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year after beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final on Saturday night.
Stamkos put the Lightning ahead for good in the third period just 21 seconds after New York’s Frank Vatrano scored on the power play with the Lightning captain in the penalty box for holding.
Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 20 saves for the Lightning, who won the series 4-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche.
Game 1 is Wednesday night in Denver.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mo Donegal won and filly Nest was second, giving trainer Todd Pletcher a 1-2 finish at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday for his sixth victory in a Triple Crown race.
Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile track in 2 minutes, 28.28 seconds, ahead of Nest and Skippylongstocking.
Pletcher won the Belmont Stakes for the fourth time, following Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017.
Rich Strike, a stunning Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was sixth after owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed held him out of the Preakness with an eye on Belmont.
ST. ALBANS, England (AP) — Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel banked $4.75 million by winning the richest tournament in golf history on Saturday, while the event’s Saudi backers faced renewed backlash after a 9/11 victims’ group called for American players to withdraw from the rebel series.
Schwartzel held on for a one-shot victory at the inaugural LIV Golf event outside London to secure the $4 million prize for the individual victory — along with another $750,000 from his share of the $3 million purse earned by his four-man Stinger team for topping the team rankings.
Twenty players have now defected from the PGA Tour, with Patrick Reed the latest former Masters champion confirmed on Saturday as signing up to LIV Golf.
BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan described the Saudi-funded league that has signed up Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau as a “series of exhibition matches” that spends billions of dollars on players without getting a return on its investment.
Monahan also said players paid an exorbitant amount of money would “have to be living under a rock” to not know they would be criticized for the source of the money. LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
They were Monahan’s first public comments since Thursday, when Greg Norman’s LIV Golf series began and Monahan suspended all PGA Tour members who played at Centurion Golf Club outside London.
TORONTO (AP) — Rory McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and gave the PGA Tour a strong response to the start of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational, closing with an 8-under 62 to win a wild race to the finish with Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.
McIlroy had his first title defense on the PGA Tour. He won golf’s fourth-oldest national open in 2019 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, only for the the COVID-19 pandemic to cancel the next two editions.
McIlroy finished at 19-under 261 for a two-stroke victory. Finau holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 64 to finish second alone.
Thomas was third at 14 under. Justin Rose matched the tournament- and course-record with a 60 — with three eagles and three bogeys — to tie for fourth with Sam Burns (65) at 14 under.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Brooke Henderson eagled the first hole of a playoff with Lindsey Weaver-Wright to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic for her 11th tour title.
Henderson closed with a bogey-free 7-under 64 at Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to win for the first time in a year. The 24-year-old Canadian overcame a four-shot deficit in the final round, finishing at 12-under 201.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Thongchai Jaidee became the first Thai winner in PGA Tour Champions history, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory in the American Family Insurance Championship.
Thongchai rebounded from a bogey on the par-5 16th with a birdie on the par-3 17th and closed with a par. He finished at 14-under 202 at University Ridge.
Tom Pernice Jr. was second after a 66.
ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — Top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang set the tone by routing Women’s British Amateur champion Louise Duncan, and Rachel Heck completed an unbeaten week at Merion as the Americans won the Curtis Cup for the third straight time.
The Americans had a 8 1/2-3 1/2 lead going into the eight Sunday singles and needed only two matches to secure the cup. They won seven of them for a 15 1/2-4 1/2 victory.
The Americans increased the series lead to 31-8-3 since the matches for amateurs against the Great Britain & Ireland team began in 1932.
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Daniel Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday, holding off Chris Buescher for a historic victory at Sonoma Raceway.
Suárez, a 30-year-old native of Monterrey, finally won in the 195th career start of a Cup Series career that began in 2017. He also drove his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet to the third Cup Series victory of the season for this rising 2-year-old team co-owned by former driver Justin Marks and music star Pitbull.
Suárez got past Buescher and took charge early in the final stage on this hilly road course in Northern California wine country, and he persevered through a pit stop and a caution to emerge in front with 23 laps to go. Buescher pushed him aggressively, but Suárez made no significant mistakes while rolling to victory.
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Max Verstappen extended his Formula One championship lead with a victory Sunday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc retired from the lead with an engine failure.
Leclerc looked on course to challenge for the win but the Monaco driver’s car started spewing smoke on lap 20 of 51 and he had to pull into the pits. It was his second retirement in three races.
Verstappen had overtaken teammate Sergio Pérez shortly before and cruised to his fifth win of the season.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Josef Newgarden earned a $1 million bonus that rewards his versatility by winning on Sunday at Road America.
The victory was the third of the season for the American, who won the bonus money as the first driver this IndyCar season to win on a road course, street course and an oval. Half the money goes to Team Penske half goes to charities selected by Newgarden.
Newgarden redeemed his race at Road America a year ago when his gearbox failed in the closing laps.
Marcus Ericsson finished second and the Indianapolis 500 winner reclaimed the series points lead.
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — NASCAR’s preseason Clash race is rolling back to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2023.
NASCAR said Sunday it will return the exhibition race to the Southern California sports landmark next season. The Clash’s highly successful debut there four months ago was part of the launch of NASCAR’s Next Gen car and NASCAR received some of its most positive reviews in years for the race.
The Clash took place on a temporary 0.25-mile track inside the venerable Coliseum.
LE MANS, France (AP) — Toyota won the 24 Hours Le Mans in the classic endurance race for the fifth straight time, with the No. 8 car finishing ahead of the No. 7 in another dominant performance on Sunday.
New Zealander Brendan Hartley had clinched pole position and was at the wheel as Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 completed the race in sunny and warm conditions, with teammates Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa watching from the team garage.
Swiss driver Buemi has won the race four times while Hartley clinched his third win, and second for Toyota after his first victory with Porsche in 2017. Both had modest Formula One careers.
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Matteo Berrettini showed signs of recapturing the form which took him to the Wimbledon final last year as he beat Andy Murray 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 to win the Stuttgart Open on Sunday in his first tournament for three months.
The Italian hadn’t played since Indian Wells in March because of a hand injury which forced him to miss the entire clay-court swing and, in Murray, faced an opponent whose own injury issues hampered him in the deciding set.
NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil captured her first WTA title by winning the Nottingham Open thanks to a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Alison Riske of the United States on Sunday.
The seventh-seeded Haddad Maia consigned the sixth-seeded Riske to a second loss in the final of the grass-court tournament in central England. The other time was in 2016.
HALLE, Germany (AP) — Bernd Bransch, who captained East Germany at its only World Cup appearance in a symbolic Cold War win over West Germany, has died. He was 77.
Bransch’s former club Hallescher FC said in a statement Sunday that he had died on Saturday following “a long, severe illness.”
Bransch was East Germany’s equivalent of the charismatic West German star Franz Beckenbauer. Both men captained their national teams and both played as a sweeper, sitting deep in defense with space to start counterattacks.
Hallescher FC, which was known as HFC Chemie in the East German league during Bransch’s playing days, said he retired in 1977 and later served as club president.
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