Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Singh wins HP Classic with birdie

NEW ORLEANS Vijay Singh made a 25-foot birdie on the 18th hole Monday to win the rain-delayed HP Classic, denying Masters champion Phil Mickelson his second straight victory and Joe Ogilvie his first title.

Singh overcame a six-shot deficit in the last eight holes, using an eagle on No. 15 to shoot 29 on the back nine for a round of 9-under 63.

Ogilvie almost forced a playoff after Singh's putt, but his blast out of the sand trap missed by an inch.

Singh finished at 22-under 266 and became the first three-time winner on the tour this season, taking $918,000 of the $5.1 million purse. He also won last Monday at the rain-interrupted Houston Open, and won at Pebble Beach in February.

Mickelson, playing in his first tournament since winning the Masters, and Ogilvie were a stroke back at 267.

Hidemichi Tanaka was fourth at 269 while Charles Howell and Justin Rose tied for fifth at 271. Three players, including former champion K.J. Choi, were tied at seventh at 272.

Bobcats officially join NBA

NEW YORK The Charlotte Bobcats officially joined the NBA on Monday after majority owner Bob Johnson made the final payment on the team's $300 million expansion fee. The Bobcats become the league's 30th team and will begin play next season.

''We are delighted to welcome the city of Charlotte back into the NBA,'' commissioner David Stern said.

Johnson, chief executive officer of Black Entertainment Television, was awarded the expansion franchise in January 2003.

The Bobcats will select at least 14 players from the other 29 NBA teams in an expansion draft June 22. Teams will be allowed to protect eight players, and no team may lose more than one player.

Charlotte has the fourth overall pick, and also the fourth pick in the second round (33rd overall pick), in the June 24 draft.

The Bobcats will play their inaugural season at the Charlotte Coliseum, former home of the Hornets before they relocated to New Orleans in 2002. A new arena is expected to open in November, 2005. Charlotte will play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference with Miami, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington under the NBA's new divisional alignment, which goes into effect next season.

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