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Dallas’ Jordan Spieth receives sponsor’s exemption to play in HP Byron Nelson

By Bill Nichols

Three years after announcing himself to the golf world by contending at age 16, Dallas’ Jordan Spieth is returning to the HP Byron Nelson Championship as a pro.

Spieth will play the May 16-19 event at the TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas on a sponsor’s exemption, tournament director Jon Drago said Tuesday.

“We’ve been following him the last two years and couldn’t be more impressed with what he’s accomplished,” Drago said. “With the ties he has to our tournament and the way he represents himself, he’s the exact type of player Byron would want for this.”

Spieth, 19, was a big draw for the tournament in 2010, when he tied for 16th and 2011, when he tied for 32nd. He entered the final round within striking distance of the leaders in both. He did not play last year because he was competing for Texas in the NCAA regionals.

His star power continues to rise. He tied for second at the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday, earning $308,000 and an entry to this week’s Tampa Bay Championship.

With no status on any tour, Spieth turned pro in December, hoping to earn membership through his performances on sponsor’s exemptions and Monday qualifiers.

After five starts, Spieth is all but assured of temporary membership on the Web.com Tour, earning $50,150 with a tie for seventh and a tie for fourth.

Spieth is $101,295 shy of temporary membership (No. 150 on 2012 money list — $474,295), which would enable him to receive unlimited sponsor’s exemptions for the remainder of the 2013 season in his attempt to earn his 2013-14 Tour card.

“I think we all had high expectations for him as a pro,” Drago said. “He has succeeded at every level. But for anybody, it can be difficult to live up to expectations. What he’s done with no status is amazing.”


Sherrington: Lance’s lies & Te’o’s tale … frauds of the century?

Here is a sample of Kevin Sherrington’s column on Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o. To read the entire column, click here

One of the occupational hazards of the business, as common as the poison-tipped email, is the fact that sources will lie to you. Big lies, small lies, incomprehensible lies. They will lie to make themselves look better, lie to preserve trade secrets, lie to shift blame, lie to make you come back, lie to make you leave, lie about others’ lies.

Given that track record over the last 36 years, here’s my take on the official frauds of the week, if not the century:

Lance Armstrong, who consistently and defiantly challenged any and all who questioned the methods he employed to rise to status as one of the world’s great athletic icons, simply followed the lead of his generation of athletes.

Meanwhile, Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker who nearly won a Heisman on the strength of a fine season, a fabled school and a flat-out fable, is either the world’s biggest dupe or dope, take your pick.

A quick synopsis of Te’o’s bizarre tale: Stories last fall out of South Bend, Ind., and national outlets as reputable as Sports Illustrated related the heartbreaking loss of Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend in a 24-hour period. Making it even more powerful was its intimate detail, including the vivid image of Te’o falling asleep on the phone, only to wake hours later to the sound of his dying girlfriend’s labored breathing.

Over and over last fall, whenever Te’o’s Heisman case was argued, supporters cited what he overcame.

As it turns out, there was just one problem with the story, according to Deadspin: The girlfriend never existed.

Te’o and Notre Dame officials confirmed the report, at least in part, with statements released Wednesday contending Te’o was the victim of a cruel hoax.

Now school officials, who say they learned about the fraud on Dec. 26, must figure out a way to explain why they waited three weeks to reveal it, and then only after it was reported nationally.

Better question: How could Te’o or anyone over the target age of Seventeen be so naive?

Deadspin’s reporting doesn’t give Te’o much room to wiggle. The hoax appears to have been perpetrated directly by a distant relative or friend. Even if Te’o wasn’t in on the fraud, why would a friendly acquaintance expose him to the potential embarrassment? What would he have to gain?

On the other hand, Te’o stood to benefit if the real story never came out, which was, in fact, precisely the case until Wednesday.

Armstrong apparently will admit to Oprah on television Thursday that he cheated, reversing years of lies. No matter what Armstrong conceded to Oprah, it won’t help him as much as he hopes. He’s not doing it out of guilt. He just wants a reduction in the lifetime ban that keeps him from competing as a triathlete, his event before making a legend of himself cycling.

Winning seven Tour de France titles certainly was impressive, maybe the greatest athletic accomplishment in the last half-century. But what won Armstrong the affection and loyalty of legions of admirers outside the sport was beating death. A cancer survivor, he was an inspiration to millions. A residue of that respect remains, as well it should.

Of course, Armstrong isn’t the first athlete to cheat and lie about it, just the latest in a long line.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that, given the technology today, it’s harder to perpetuate a lie. Records and statements and stories are easier to research and double-check. The truth eventually comes out. When it does, it still hurts.

Granted, not as much as it used to. Little by little, our heroes chip away at our innocence and awe until a really sad day comes, when it doesn’t hurt at all.

London Games were superb, and the U.S was even better

Staff Writer

LONDON — The myriad concerns ahead of the 2012 London Olympics — predictions of transportation gridlock, unrelenting rain and security worries — we know now were all rubbish, as the Brits say.

So, too, were any thoughts Team USA would slip in the medal table. The men’s basketball team’s nip-and-tuck win over Spain for the gold medal on Sunday’s final day of competition capped a dominant display by the Americans, who won the overall count for the fifth straight Summer Games. They also reclaimed the gold medal count, which China had won in 2008. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blared at North Greenwich Arena as NBA superstars shimmied.

USA's Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams during the national anthem of the medal ceremony after defeating Spain in the gold medal basketball match at the London 2012 Olympics on Sunday, August 12, 2012 in London. USA defeated Spain 107-100 to win gold.

“The American public has high expectations for our Olympic team,” said U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst. “There was a lot of opinion about where we would finish. … We are extremely proud of what our athletes accomplished. We like to come in first, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The Brits’ lovely, multicultural capital and its venues provided stunning backdrops as the athletes took ownership of the Games.

Sure, the Queen dropped into the opening ceremony, but it was Team Great Britain’s athletes who really inspired the host nation, infecting the feel of these Olympics in their entirety.

Midway through the Games, Britain won three gold medals by Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford in track and field during a span of an hour. Team GB won six golds that day alone. Union Jacks waved everywhere, the tabloids preened and soon Londoners didn’t even recognize their own city. Who were these giddy, smiling people? “Inspire a Generation,” indeed.

Hosting the Olympics triggers a surge in performance. China ran away with the gold medal count at the 2008 Beijing Games. Britain’s 65 medals mark perhaps its best performance of all-time. That’s another reason the U.S. wants to host a Summer Games; it hasn’t since Atlanta in 1996.

“We think the Games need to come back to America,” Probst said, “and the sooner the better.”

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt — as Bolt himself will tell you — and American swimmer Michael Phelps only reinforced their greatness here, taking breaths away for the second straight Olympics.

New U.S. stars emerged, including gymnastics all-around champion Gabby Douglas and 17-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin.

Athletes with Dallas-area ties who won medals included swimmer Dana Vollmer, basketball’s Tamika Catchings and Deron Williams and track and field’s Brigetta Barrett, Doc Patton and Jason Richardson.

In the first Games in which all the participating countries included female athletes, the U.S. women flexed — winning 29 of the U.S.’ 46 golds.

The U.S. medal haul derived from its traditional areas of strength — swimming (31) and track and field (29).

The watch now turns to Rio 2016. And the Brits can tell those who believed they were destined to muck this thing up to jump in the Thames. On Sunday, the final day of the London Games in the British Capital, it was sunny and 80 degrees.

Follow Kate Hairopoulos on Twitter at @khairopoulos