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Woods withdraws from event at Bay Hill because of back pain

Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday because of persistent pain in his back, creating more uncertainty for the world’s No. 1 player with the Masters about three weeks away.

“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” Woods said on his website. “I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided.”

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The PGA Tour event starts Thursday at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla. Woods has won eight tournaments on the course.

Woods had to withdraw after 13 holes of the final round at the Honda Classic on March 2 because of what he called back spasms and pain in his lower back. He tried to defend his title the next week at Doral, only for his back to flare up again in the final round. He closed with a 78, the highest Sunday score of his Tour career.

The Masters, which starts April 10 at Augusta National in Georgia, is the only major tournament Woods has not missed as a pro.

“It’s too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluable and work closely with my doctors,” the 38-year-old Woods said.


Chelsea, Real Madrid advance in UEFA Champions League

Chelsea ended England’s one-year absence from the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, beating Galatasaray of Turkey 2-0 on first-half goals by Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory.

“It was a very controlled, very professional performance from all of us,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said.

England failed to have a quarterfinalist last year in Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 1996.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as host Real Madrid of Spain beat Schalke of Germany 3-1 to complete a 9-2 rout in the home-and-home, total-goals series.

Green wants to play for U.S.

Bayern Munich forward Julian Green, 18, wants to play for the U.S. national team and has applied to governing body FIFA to change his association from Germany.

Green, who was born in Tampa, Fla., played for Germany in three qualifiers for the 2014 European Under-19 Championship.

FIFA since 2009 has allowed a one-time change in national-team affiliation for a player who has appeared in an official match for a youth national team as long as the player had dual citizenship at the time.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann — a former Germany player and coach — said in a statement. “He is a very special talent. We wanted him to feel comfortable with our program and listen to his heart when making this decision.”

Green trained with the U.S. team in Germany ahead of its March 5 exhibition match against Ukraine, a 2-0 loss for the Americans.

Track and field

Lawyer for Pistorius says police violated procedure during probe

South African police photographs of the blood-spattered scene where Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend show evidence was moved in violation of procedure during the investigation of the killing, the athlete’s chief defense lawyer said in a Pretoria courtroom.

Warrant Officer Bennie van Staden, a police photographer, took hundreds of images of the scene, including of blood stains, bullet casings, a gun and a cricket bat found inside Pistorius’ bathroom in the hours after the double-amputee Olympic runner shot Reeva Steenkamp, 29, before dawn Feb. 14 last year.

Lawyer Barry Roux has challenged previous police witnesses, seeking to uncover contradictions and reported mishaps to support his argument officers bungled the investigation — an allegation made by Pistorius at the start of the trial when he pleaded not guilty to murder in Steenkamp’s killing.

Roux examined many photos taken by van Staden and another police officer and pointed out objects at the crime scene had been moved and were in different positions in photos.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with premeditated murder. He denies murder and says he shot his girlfriend accidentally, thinking she was an intruder in a toilet cubicle in the bathroom. Prosecutors contend Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument.


• Tinkoff-Saxo rider Alberto Contador of Spain won the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race in Italy to signal a return to form after going all of last year without a victory in multistage races.

The five-time Grand Tour winner finished 2 minutes, 5 seconds ahead of Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana, a Colombian who competes for the Movistar team, in the overall standings. Contador’s last major victory was the 2012 Spanish Vuelta.

• Four Georgia football players face misdemeanor charges of illegal check-cashing.

An investigation found three players — starting safety Tray Matthews and defensive linemen Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach — received double payments for checks of $71.50 issued by the Georgia athletic department, University Chief of Police Jimmy Williamson said.

The players deposited the paper checks through a mobile device and also cashed them at a convenience store, according to Williamson. Receiver Uriah LeMay was charged with cashing a roommate’s check after it already had been deposited through a mobile app, Williamson added.

Brad Marchand and Jarome Iginla scored in a 59-second span early in the second period and the Boston Bruins beat the host New Jersey Devils 4-2 for their 10th NHL victory in a row, the team’s longest streak since 2011.

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