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Couples making rare appearance on PGA Tour

Fred Couples doesn’t talk in circles, but that’s generally the path of his conversation.

The Seattle native can talk about Justin Bieber and Blake Griffin one minute, switch over to the redo of the fifth green at Riviera the next minute, and then wonder why the Champions Tour gets to play Pebble Beach during the prime part of the season.

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Couples, 54, went silent when talking about his 32nd appearance at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, where he will play the opening two rounds with Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth, his two captain’s picks for the Presidents Cup. Did he realize that Spieth was born a year after Couples won the Masters?

“No,” he finally replied. “Wow.”

Couples then added: “He’s 20. I’m 54. This is going to be a blast. He’s one of my favorites. He walked into that Presidents Cup and he owned the place.”

This is one of the few appearances on the PGA Tour that Couples will make, because it’s one of the few courses he still feels like he can play reasonably well. The other is Augusta National, and Couples had a chance to win both of them since turning 50.

College football

Brown gets payout from Texas

Texas said it agreed to pay former coach Mack Brown $2.75 million that would have been owed him if he had been fired, and placed him in a $500,000, one-year job as a special assistant to the president for athletics.


Rutgers will pay $11.5M to leave conference this summer

Rutgers will pay $11.5 million to the American Athletic Conference as part of an agreement that will allow the school to enter the Big Ten this summer, the school and the conference said.

Rutgers has already paid $5 million to the AAC, including revenue withheld by the conference. The school also agreed to drop a lawsuit challenging the conference’s exit fee. Rutgers said the conference was asking for $15 million.

Rutgers officially withdrew from what was then called the Big East on Nov. 21, 2012, when it accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten. The Big East changed its name to the American Athletic Conference last year.


U.S. defender injured

Timmy Chandler became the latest World Cup hopeful to suffer an injury setback, another potential blow to the U.S. team’s depth as it prepares for a friendly at Ukraine next month.

Chandler, a defender for Nuremberg in the German Bundesliga, injured his left knee early in Saturday’s game against Bayern Munich.

Nuremberg later posted on the club’s Twitter account that the 23-year-old had torn his meniscus and will miss eight to 10 weeks after surgery. That puts Chandler out of action likely until mid-April at the earliest, leaving him only a few opportunities to impress U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann before Nuremberg’s season ends.

Arsenal and Manchester United played to a scoreless draw that frustrated both teams, while Liverpool beat Fulham 3-2 to return to the English Premier League title race.

Fourth-place Liverpool came from behind twice to maintain its three-point lead over Tottenham, which won 4-0 at Newcastle.

Arsenal missed the chance to go to the top after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, and remained a point behind in second place. The result, combined with Liverpool’s win, dropped United 11 points behind the Champions League places.

Barcelona set up another Copa del Rey final against rival Real Madrid, drawing 1-1 at Real Sociedad to win their two-legged semifinal. Barcelona, the record 26-time cup champion, faces Madrid on April 19 — three years after losing to its bitter foe 1-0 in extra time in a classic final.


American triumphs

American Jack Sock beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1 at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis, Tenn., to advance to his second quarterfinal this year. Defending champion Kei Nishikori of Japan beat Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 6-4.

Top-seeded Li Na of China, playing her first match since winning the Australian Open last month, beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in the second round at the Qatar Open in Doha. Third-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic outlasted Venus Williams of the United States 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7).


• Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina returned after a month out with injury to advance to the second round of the ABN Amro tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The defending champion beat Gael Monfils of France 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, while Andy Murray of Britain dispatched Edouard Roger-Vasselin, also of France, 6-3, 6-3.

• Third-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain reached the quarterfinals of the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires, Argentina, defeating Guido Pella of Argentina 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

• East Carolina said defensive end Terrell Stanley was in critical condition after he and a teammate were involved in a single-car accident in Greenville, N.C. Offensive tackle Isaac Harris was a passenger in a car driven by Stanley.

• Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux has received an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA after missing most of last season because of a gruesome knee injury.

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