Golfer Jordan Spieth, who won two major titles last year, takes his No. 1 world ranking into the Tournament of Champions, which starts Thursday in Hawaii.
Spieth has a tough act to follow
Jordan Spieth had an answer for anyone curious about what he will do for an encore.
“Doesn’t an encore mean that the show is then over?” he asked Tuesday in Hawaii.
The 22-year-old Texan is well aware of the attention that will be heaped on him when he starts a new year at the Tournament of Champions, which begins Thursday at Kapalua on Maui. His hope is to get better in areas of the game that could improve, no matter how slight.
That doesn’t mean it will translate into another year like 2015, when Spieth’s feats included two majors and a shot at the Grand Slam, five PGA Tour titles, $12 million-plus in earnings and a FedEx Cup title with its $10 million bonus, or even staying at No. 1 in the world.
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Spieth has a set of expectations. Many followers of the sport will have a different set for him.
“I’m sure they’ll measure it based on last year,” Spieth said. “The easiest thing for me to look at is Rory (McIlroy) in the past. After his 2014, they’ll compare 2015. I think 2013 was the year which he considered a letdown for him after a major championship in ’12. It just seems that you’re judging from the previous year. That’s the general public, so I give you my perspective as being in the general public for somebody else.
“For me, I’m not even thinking of it as a new year. I’m just thinking we had a three-week break and we’re just continuing to hopefully stay at the same level.”
So what would Spieth consider a great year?
“Last year,” he replied with a smile.
Finland wins title; U.S. places 3rd
Kasperi Kapanen scored a wraparound goal 33 seconds into overtime and Finland rallied past Russia 4-3 to win the gold medal at the world junior championship in Helsinki, Finland.
Meanwhile, Anders Bjork, Matthew Tkachuk and Ryan Donato each scored twice as the United States beat Sweden 8-3 in the bronze-medal game. U.S. defenseman Brandon Carlo of the WHL Tri-City Americans had a goal and an assist.
• Jaromir Jagr scored his team-leading 14th goal, and the Florida Panthers extended their franchise-record winning streak to 10 games with a 5-1 NHL victory over host Buffalo.
• Washington moved into the NHL lead with 61 points by winning 3-2 at Boston.
Players sue Al-Jazeera America
Two major-league players have filed defamation lawsuits against Al-Jazeera America over statements made in a documentary about performance-enhancing drugs in sports.
Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies filed the suits in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suits refer to the documentary “The Dark Side: Secrets of Sports Doping,” which Al-Jazeera America broadcast Dec. 27.
The suits allege Charles Sly, a pharmacist who appeared in the documentary, made false statements when he said Zimmerman and Howard both took a human growth hormone.
Lengthy ban possible for Valcke
Sepp Blatter’s former right-hand man is facing a possible nine-year ban from the sport.
The FIFA ethics committee’s lead investigator, Cornel Borbely, recommended the ban for Jerome Valcke after concluding his inquiry. In his final report, Borbely also asked Valcke be fined $100,000 and that his 90-day suspension be extended for another 45 days.
Valcke, a Frenchman who served alongside FIFA President Blatter as secretary general for nearly a decade, was accused of violating six articles of the FIFA code of ethics, including confidentiality and conflict of interest.
• Pep Guardiola wants to coach in the English Premier League when he leaves Bayern Munich of Germany at the end of this season, but hasn’t yet signed a contract with a team.
“The reason I’m not staying at Bayern is very simple: I want to coach in England in the Premier League. That’s the only reason I’m not extending my contract,” Guardiola said. “I’m young enough. I’m 44 years old. I want a new challenge.”
• Serena Williams didn’t complete her Hopman Cup match in Perth, Australia, completing a day of injuries for leading women’s tennis players less than two weeks from the start of the Australian Open.
Williams, who missed the U.S. team’s opening loss to Ukraine because of inflammation in her left knee, was trailing 7-5, 2-1 against Australian Jarmila Wolfe when she left the court in her first match of the season.
Other top-10 women on the injured list include defending champion Maria Sharapova (sore left forearm) and top-seeded Simona Halep (left Achilles tendon) at the Brisbane International, where they withdrew without playing because of injuries within an hour of each other.
• Skier Nina Loeseth ended a 16-year World Cup victory drought for the Norwegian women’s slalom team, posting the fastest time in both runs in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy.
Loeseth had a two-run time of 1 minute, 57.65 seconds to beat second-place Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic by 1.12 seconds.
• Jon Herb, a former Indy race-car driver, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for child sexual abuse.
Herb, 45, pleaded no contest in a Florida courtroom to lewd and lascivious molestation and 13 counts of child-pornography possession.
Court records show he was arrested in October 2013 after his estranged wife found 243 pictures and three videos on Herb’s laptop of Herb engaged in a sexual act with a 4-year-old girl.
Herb made 16 starts in the Indy Racing League from 2000 to 2007.