Sports Briefs


LAS VEGAS — Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts opened as a four-point favorite to beat New Orleans in the Super Bowl.

Oddsmaker Sean Van Patten of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said the firm gave that line after watching New Orleans struggle to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday night. Las Vegas Sports Consultants provides betting lines for roughly 90 percent of sports books in Nevada.

"The big factor here is that Indy has been there," Van Patten said. "The experience factor is such a huge thing when it comes to the Super Bowl."

Manning and the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2007 over the Chicago Bears.

Patten said oddsmakers like that Indianapolis has succeeded against two top NFL defenses in consecutive games. The top-seeded Colts beat the New York Jets 30-17 Sunday in the AFC championship.

Indianapolis was a 41/2;-point favorite in the Glantz-Culver line, with the over-under at 551/2; points.

Sports books gave Indianapolis 8-1 odds to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, compared with 18-1 for New Orleans.

NEW YORK — Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, Browns wide receiver Mike Furrey and Chiefs guard Brian Waters are finalists for the NFL's Man of the Year Award.

The award, named for the late Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, which goes annually to the player who combines on-field excellence with off-the-field community service.

This season Fletcher started a curriculum, mentoring program for 25 Washington, D.C., middle school students. The students visited Capitol Hill, talked with congressmen, explored museums, distributed food to local residents and participated in a forum about peer pressure, health and education.

"I'm extremely humbled by being one of the three finalists," Fletcher said. "Each team submits all their individual 'Men of the Year' candidates, so out of 32 players I'm one of three who's been selected to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year, so truly I'm humbled and honored."

Furrey created a foundation and spends time supporting charitable causes. The foundation has created relationships with local kids in the community as well as with more than a dozen charitable organizations. Furrey provides inspiration for children in hospitals, serves as a mentor for kids in children's homes, tackles hunger and nutrition issues, supports neighborhood development and organizes holiday initiatives.

Waters' foundation has awarded 82 college scholarships to low-income students. Children have benefited from his back-to-school program that provides backpacks with school supplies, as well as haircuts, uniforms, shoes, immunizations and dental care.

Recent winners include Kurt Warner of the Cardinals in 2008, Jason Taylor of the Dolphins in 2007, and Drew Brees of the Saints and LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers, co-winners in 2006.

The winner will be announced live on CBS before the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.


KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Tom Watson became the 13th oldest player to win on the Champions Tour on Sunday, birdieing the final two holes for one-stroke victory over senior newcomer Fred Couples in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

The 60-year-old Watson, coming off a win with Jack Nicklaus in the Champions Skins at Kaanapali, closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 22-under 194 for his 13th Champions Tour title and his first victory in 34 career starts in Hawaii on the two tours.

After driving into the right rough, Watson hit a spectacular second shot that rolled 20 feet on the 18th green and stopped 4 feet from the flag.

Couples, who closed with a bogey-free 64, just missed his 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Watson calmly sank the winner and waved his cap to the roaring crowd.

Bob Hope Classic

LA QUINTA, Calif. — Bubba Watson double-bogeyed the final hole in the fourth round at the Bob Hope Classic, dropping him into a tie with PGA Tour rookie Alex Prugh heading into the finale in the five-round event.

Watson finished with 3-under 69 to match Prugh (70) at 23-under 265. Bill Haas and Tim Clark were a stroke back after 66s, Joe Ogilvie (68) followed at 21 under, and Mike Weir (67) was in a group at 20 under.

Watson was in position to take a solid lead into his chase for his first PGA Tour victory Monday in the event that was pushed back a day after rain washed out play Thursday. Instead, Watson dropped back with his disappointing finish on the Nicklaus Private course, allowing Prugh to sneak back atop the board.

Abu Dhabi Championship

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Germany's Martin Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi Championship for the second time in three years, making a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over England's Ian Poulter.

Kaymer closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 21-under 267 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and earn his fifth PGA European Tour title. Poulter also finished with a 66.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (67) was third at 19 under.

MOUNT GILEAD, Ohio — A scorecard confession that cost an Ohio high school golfer the state championship five years ago has earned him a national sportsmanship of the decade award.

Adam Van Houten (HOW'-ten) of Mount Gilead High School in north-central Ohio had finished the 2005 state high school golf championship with a seven-stroke lead when he noticed a mistake on his card.

A playing partner had written down a 5 for the 10th hole instead of 6. Van Houten pointed out the mistake to officials and was disqualified because he'd already signed the card.

Five years later, Van Houten's act has won him a spot on Sports Illustrated's sportsmanship of the decade list.

Van Houten is now a sophomore on the golf team at George Mason University near Washington.


MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — A 16-year-old has set out to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks sailed into the sunny Pacific Ocean on Saturday after being delayed a few days by a series of violent storms in California.

Her boat-builder father, Laurence, along with other family members and fiends cheered at the Del Rey Yacht Club as they watched the 40-foot craft called Wild Eyes depart. She plans to be at sea for five or six months. She will be alone but able to communicate via satellite telephone and a blog (at

The current record holder is 17-year-old Mike Perham of Britain, who took the mark last year from Abby's then-17-year-old brother Zac.


MELBOURNE, Australia — An Aboriginal-themed routine by two Russian ice dancers has stirred up a pre-Olympic controversy, with some indigenous Australians blasting the "rip off" of their culture and Canadian native leaders worrying about the insensitivity of the skaters.

World champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are doing an Aboriginal routine for their original dance — complete with brown-toned costumes adorned with leaves and white Aboriginal-style markings. Their music includes a didgeridoo riff.

In the original dance, couples can create any kind of dance that falls within an assigned theme. This year's theme is country/folk, and skaters are doing routines to everything from Indian music to country western to Moldovian folk songs.

— The Associated Press

"It's appalling," Bev Manton, chairperson of the Aboriginal Land Council in New South Wales state, said of Domnina and Shabalin's choice. "The whole thing was a poor effort. They could have provided more respect to our culture by doing more research."

Domnina, who won the European dance title with Shabalin last week, has said that they researched their dance by watching online videos of Aboriginal dances.

Manton, a member of the Womiri people, said Sunday she wasn't concerned by the idea that the Russians wanted to perform an Aboriginal dance as much as their inaccurate portrayal.

"I don't know why they wouldn't first contact Aboriginal people," she told The Associated Press. "I just think the whole thing is offensive."

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