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Originally published May 21, 2013 at 7:46 PM | Page modified May 21, 2013 at 8:24 PM

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Golf bans anchored putting stroke

Golf's two governing bodies outlawed the anchored putting stroke used by four of the last six major champions, approving a new rule that...

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Golf

Associations ban

anchored putting stroke

Golf's two governing bodies outlawed the anchored putting stroke used by four of the last six major champions, approving a new rule that starts in 2016 and urging the PGA Tour to follow along so the 600-year-old sport is still played under one set of rules.

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association adopted Rule 14-1b, which prohibits players from anchoring a club against their bodies.

"We strongly believe that this rule is for the betterment of the game," USGA President Glen Nager said. "Rule 14-1b protects one of the important challenges in the game — the free swing of the entire club."

The decision Tuesday ends six months of sometimes rancorous debate over the "belly" putter. The rule was opposed by the PGA Tour and the PGA of America, which contended the stroke commonly used for long putters was not hurting the game and there was no statistical proof that it was an advantage.

Garcia apologizes for

'fried chicken' remark

Sergio Garcia apologized for saying he would "serve fried chicken" while making a joke about having Tiger Woods over for dinner.

The British newspaper The Guardian reported Garcia was asked in jest while on stage at the European Tour's awards dinner if he would invite Woods to dinner during the U.S. Open.

The Guardian reported Garcia said: "We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken."

The newspaper said Garcia released a statement through the European Tour: "I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during The European Tour Players' Awards dinner. I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner."

Tennis

Murray withdraws from French Open with bad back

Andy Murray has withdrawn from the French Open after seeking medical advice on his back injury.

The second-ranked Briton was forced to pull out of the Italian Open during his second-round match against Marcel Granollers of Spain last Wednesday because of a lower back complaint.

The U.S. Open champion met with specialists this week and has opted to now focus on preparing for the start of the grass-court season and Wimbledon next month.

Soccer

Yankees, Man City will own new MLS team in New York

Hoping their baseball success will translate to titles in another sport, the Yankees are combining with English power Manchester City to own a Major League Soccer expansion team in New York that will start play in 2015.

The team, the 20th in a league that has doubled in size in two decades, will be called New York City Football Club. It has less than two years to find a temporary home while also focusing on where it wants to build a permanent stadium.

Lloyd, Solo on U.S. women's roster for exhibition

Carli Lloyd will make her first appearance with the U.S. women's soccer team since breaking her left shoulder in a June 2 exhibition against Canada.

Lloyd was among 21 players on the roster released by coach Tom Sermanni. The sold-out game in Toronto will be a rematch of last summer's contentious semifinal at the London Olympics, which the U.S. won 4-3 in extra time.

Former Husky Hope Solo of Reign FC will join the team in Canada, but Sermanni said the world's top goalkeeper is still a month away from being ready to play after wrist surgery in early March.

"Hope's rehabilitation has been progressing well, but we want to make sure she doesn't jump back into competition prematurely," Sermanni said.

The Americans also will be without Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe, whose club team Olympique Lyonnais could add two more major titles to its French league crown.

Elsewhere

• WNBA general managers are predicting the Phoenix Mercury, with a healthy returning roster and the addition of No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner, to win the championship, and Los Angeles' Candace Parker is the top choice to earn the MVP award. Griner is also the overwhelming favorite for Rookie of the Year, picked by 75 percent of the respondents in the annual WNBA.com GM survey. The Mercury was the top choice to win the title, with 33 percent of the votes.

Benat Intxausti of Spain won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia, and favorite Vincenzo Nibali retained to the overall lead as the race entered the final week. Nibali maintained his lead of 1 minute, 26 seconds over Cadel Evans and remains on course to win his country's biggest cycling race for the first time.

• Virginia finally took that last step and won an NCAA men's tennis championship. After losing in the championship match the last two seasons, the second-seeded Cavaliers defeated top-seeded UCLA 4-3 in Urbana, Ill., to win their first NCAA title.

No. 12 seed Stanford defeated third-seeded Texas A&M to win its 17th NCAA women's tennis championship.

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