Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Leaving NKorea, Rodman calls Kims 'great leaders'

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Ending his unexpected round of basketball diplomacy in North Korea on Friday, ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman called leader Kim Jong Un an "awesome guy" and said his father and grandfather were "great leaders."

Rodman, the highest-profile American to meet Kim since he inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011, watched a basketball game with the authoritarian leader Thursday and later drank and dined on sushi with him.

At Pyongyang's Sunan airport on his way to Beijing, Rodman said it was "amazing" that the North Koreans were "so honest." He added that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founder, "were great leaders."

"He's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him," Rodman said of Kim Jong Un. "Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."

At Beijing's airport, Rodman pushed past waiting journalists without saying anything.

Rodman's visit to North Korea began Monday and took place amid tension between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a "hostile" policy toward the North.

Rodman traveled to Pyongyang with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls star that he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, said Shane Smith, founder of the New York-based VICE media company.

Dressed in a blue Mao suit, Kim laughed and slapped his hands on a table during the game at Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium as he sat nearly knee to knee with Rodman. Rodman, the man who once turned up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses, but still had on his nose rings and other piercings. A can of Coca-Cola sat on the table before him in photos shared with AP by VICE.

Smith, after speaking to the VICE crew in Pyongyang, said Kim and Rodman "bonded" and chatted in English, though Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator.

Thursday's game ended in a 110-110 tie, with two Americans playing on each team alongside North Koreans. After the game, Rodman addressed Kim in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands of North Koreans and told him, "You have a friend for life," VICE spokesman Alex Detrick told AP.

At an "epic feast" later, the leader plied the group with food and drinks and round after round of toasts were made, Duffy said in an email to AP.

Duffy said he invited Kim to visit the United States, a proposal met with hearty laughter from the North Korean leader.

Kim said he hoped sports exchanges would promote "mutual understanding between the people of the two countries," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The foes never signed a peace treaty, and do not have diplomatic relations.

Rodman's trip is the second attention-grabbing American visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January to Pyongyang, but did not meet the North Korean leader.

The Obama administration had frowned on the trip by Schmidt, who was accompanied by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, but has avoided criticizing Rodman's outing, saying it's about sports.

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Minnesota takes down No. 1 Indiana 77-73

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Retaining that No. 1 national ranking has been elusive throughout this wild season in college basketball, and Indiana was the latest to lose at the top — again.

Most important and maybe more challenging for the Hoosiers, however, is holding on to first place in the tough-as-ever Big Ten.

Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 12 rebounds to help Minnesota take down top-ranked Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night, the seventh time the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll has lost this season. Three of those losses were by the Hoosiers, who were No. 1 when they fell to Butler and Wisconsin earlier this season. All three opponents were unranked at the time.

Indiana (24-4, 12-3) has held the No. 1 ranking for 10 of the 17 polls by the AP this season, including the last four, and that will likely change next week. But fending off Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin is what's on the minds of the Hoosiers, who'll take a one-game lead in the conference race into Saturday's game against Iowa.

"Winning the Big Ten was going to be tough whether we won today or lost," said star guard Victor Oladipo, who had 16 points. "We knew it was going to be tough from the jump. Now it's even tougher. But I think my team is ready for it. We just have to go back and see what we did wrong and correct it."

Andre Hollins added 16 points for the Gophers (19-9, 7-8), who outrebounded Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers by a whopping 44-30 and solidified their slipping NCAA tournament hopes with an emphatic performance against the conference leader. The fired-up fans swarmed the court as the last seconds ticked off, the first time that's happened here since a 2002 win over Indiana.

"There were just too many times when that first shot went up and they were there before we were because we didn't get into their bodies," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "We weren't physical enough on the glass. That's the bottom line."

Zeller, the second-leading shooter in the Big Ten, went 2 for 9. He had nine points with four turnovers. Minnesota had 40 points in the paint to Indiana's 22.

Mbakwe, a sixth-year senior, had a lot to do with that. While positing his conference-leading seventh double-double of the season, the 24-year-old Mbakwe was a man among boys in many ways in this game, dominating both ends of the court when the Gophers needed him most. He grabbed six of Minnesota's 23 offensive rebounds, two of them to keep a key possession alive. His off-balance put-back drew contact for a three-point play with 7:22 left that gave the Gophers a 55-52 lead.

Mbakwe was called for a loudly questioned blocking foul, his fourth, with 4:39 remaining on Zeller's fast-break layup and free throw that put the Hoosiers up 59-58. But Austin Hollins answered with a pump-fake layup that drew a foul for a three-point play and a two-point advantage for the Gophers.

The Hoosiers didn't lead again, and Joe Coleman's fast-break dunk with 2:35 left gave Minnesota a 68-61 cushion that helped it withstand a couple of 3-pointers by Christian Watford and one by Jordan Hulls in the closing minutes. That was the only basket Hulls made after halftime. He had 17 points.

"Just the way we bounced back is unbelievable. We showed that we can beat one of the best teams in the country. Now we have to build off this," said Mbakwe, whose team lost eight of its previous 11 games starting with an 88-81 loss at Indiana on Jan. 12. The Gophers were ranked eighth then. They didn't even receive a vote in the current poll. That could change next week.

The Hoosiers are still in position for their first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 1993. With another home game against Ohio State on March 5, Indiana could still clinch the title before the finale at Michigan on March 10.

For now, though, the Hoosiers have to regroup and re-establish their inside game after the trampling in the post they endured here.

"They were relentless on the glass. We just didn't do a great job of boxing them out," Oladipo said.


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AP source: Tom Brady gets 3-year extension

Tom Brady will be a Patriot until he is 40 years old.

Brady agreed to a three-year contract extension with New England on Monday, a person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. The extension is worth about $27 million and will free up nearly $15 million in salary cap room for the team, which has several younger players it needs to re-sign or negotiate new deals with.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the extension has not been announced.

Sports Illustrated first reported the extension.

The 35-year-old two-time league MVP was signed through 2014, and has said he wants to play at least five more years.

A three-time Super Bowl champion, Brady will make far less in those three seasons than the going rate for star quarterbacks. Brady currently has a four-year, $72 million deal with $48 million guaranteed.

Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks, at an average of $20 million and $18 million a year, respectively.

Brady has made it clear he wants to finish his career with the Patriots, whom he led to Super Bowl wins for the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons, and losses in the big game after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. By taking less money in the extension and redoing his current contract, he's hopeful New England can surround him with the parts to win more titles.

Among the Patriots' free agents are top receiver Wes Welker and his backup, Julian Edelman; right tackle Sebastian Vollmer; cornerback Aqib Talib; and running back Danny Woodhead.

Brady has been the most successful quarterback of his era, of course, as well as one of the NFL's best leaders. His skill at running the no-huddle offense is unsurpassed, and he's easily adapted to the different offensive schemes New England has concentrated on through his 13 pro seasons.

The Patriots have gone from run-oriented in Brady's early days to a deep passing team with Randy Moss to an offense dominated by throws to tight ends, running backs and slot receivers.

Brady holds the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season with 50 in 2007, when the Patriots went 18-0 before losing the Super Bowl to the Giants. He has thrown for at least 28 touchdowns seven times and led the league three times.

Last season, Brady had 34 TD passes and eight interceptions as the Patriots went 12-4, leading the league with 557 points, 76 more than runner-up Denver.

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Johnson back on top with 2nd Daytona 500 victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson went two years without a title and suddenly became an afterthought at the Daytona 500.

All the attention went to Danica Patrick and a handful of other drivers.

Not that it mattered Sunday, because look who pulled into Victory Lane.

Five-time is back. Not that he ever went away.

Johnson won his second Daytona 500 on Sunday, a year after he completed just one lap in the race and three months after falling short in his bid for a sixth Sprint Cup title. That so-called drought had made him something of a no-name during Speedweeks.

"In my mind, I didn't feel like I was under the radar," he said. "I felt like we were working hard to put the best product on the track. I guess I was quiet in the overall spectrum of things from the media side. I think people in the garage, people knew we were sitting on a lot of speed and had a very good race car."

But in winning the biggest race of the year, the No. 48 team wasn't sending a message to the competitors.

"I don't think we went anywhere; anybody in the garage area, they're wise to all that," Johnson said.

Johnson's win came on the same day that Patrick, who became the first woman in history to start a Sprint Cup race from the pole, again made history as the first woman to lead laps in the Daytona 500.

She ran inside the top 10 almost the entire race, kept pace with the field and never panicked on the track.

Her only mistakes were on pit road, where she got beat on the race back to the track, and on the final lap, when she was running third but got snookered by the veterans and faded to eighth. That's going to stick with Patrick for some time.

"I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win," she said. "I think that's what I was feeling today, was uncertainty as to how I was going to accomplish that."

There were several multicar crashes, but no one was hurt and none of them approached the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans in the grandstand at the end of the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the same track a day earlier. Daytona International Speedway workers were up until 2 a.m repairing the fence that was damaged in the accident, and track officials offered Sunday morning to move any fans who felt uneasy sitting close to the track.

Several drivers said the accident and concern for the fans stuck with them overnight and into Sunday morning, and Johnson was quick to send his thoughts from Victory Lane.

"I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans, and I also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everybody that was injured in the grandstands," Johnson said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose father was killed in this race 12 years ago, was involved in Saturday's accident but refocused and finished second to Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

"Me personally, I was just really waiting to get the news on how everybody was, how all the fans were overnight, just hoping that things were going to improve," Earnhardt said, adding that he "wasn't really ready to proceed until you had some confirmation that things were looking more positive."

The race itself, the debut for NASCAR's new Gen-6 car, was quite similar to all the other Cup races during Speedweeks in that the cars seemed to line up in a single-file parade along the top groove of the track. It made the 55th running of the Daytona 500 relatively uneventful.

When the race was on the line, Johnson took off.

The driver known as "Five-time" raced past defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart and pulled out to a sizeable lead that nobody challenged over the final six laps.

Johnson and Keselowski went down to the wire last season in their race for the Sprint Cup title, with Johnson faltering in the final two races as Keselowski won his first Cup championship.

Although it was a bit of an upset that stuck with Johnson into the offseason, it gave him no extra motivation when he found himself racing with Keselowski late Sunday for the Daytona 500.

"As far as racing with Brad out there, you really lose sight of who is in what car," Johnson said. "It's just somebody between you and the trophy. It could have been anybody."

Once Johnson cleared Keselowski on the last restart he had a breakaway lead with Greg Biffle and Patrick behind him. But as the field closed in on the checkered flag, Earnhardt finally made his move, just too late and too far behind to get close enough to the lead.

Earnhardt wound up second for the third time in the last four years. But with all the crashes the Hendrick cars have endured in restrictor-plate races — teammate Kasey Kahne was in the first accident Sunday — team owner Rick Hendrick was just fine with the finish.

"We have a hard time finishing these races. Boy, to run 1-2, man, what a day," Hendrick said. Jeff Gordon, who was a contender early, faded late to 20th.

And Johnson considered himself lucky to be the one holding the trophy at the end.

"Man, it's like playing the lottery; everybody's got a ticket," he said. "I've struck out a lot at these tracks, left with torn-up race cars. Today we had a clean day."

Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Keselowski, who overcame two accidents earlier in the race, wound up fourth in Penske Racing's new Ford. Ryan Newman was fifth in a Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing and was followed by Roush-Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle, who was second on the last lap but was shuffled back with Patrick to finish sixth.

Regan Smith was seventh for Phoenix Racing, while Patrick, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley rounded out the top 10.

Patrick was clearly disappointed with her finish. When the race was on the line, she was schooled by Earnhardt, who made his last move and blocked any chance she had.

Still, Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in the 500 when she passed Michael Waltrip on a restart on Lap 90. She stayed on the point for two laps, then was shuffled back to third. She ended up leading five laps, another groundbreaking moment for Patrick, who as a rookie in 2005 became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and now is the 13th driver to lead laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500.

"Dale did a nice job and showed what happens when you plan it out, you drop back and get that momentum. You are able to go to the front," Patrick said. "I think he taught me something. I'm sure I'll watch the race and there will be other scenarios I see that can teach me, too."

Earnhardt was impressed, nonetheless.

"She's going to make a lot of history all year long. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress," he said. "Every time I've seen her in a pretty hectic situation, she always really remained calm. She's got a great level head. She's a racer. She knows what's coming. She's smart about her decisions. She knew what to do today as far as track position and not taking risks. I enjoy racing with her."

Johnson, one of three heavyweight drivers who took their young daughters to meet Patrick — "the girl in the bright green car" — after she won the pole in qualifications, tipped his cap, too.

"I didn't think about it being Danica in the car," Johnson said. "It was just another car on the track that was fast. That's a credit to her and the job she's doing."

The field was weakened by an early nine-car accident that knocked out race favorite Kevin Harvick and sentimental favorite Tony Stewart.

Harvick had won two support races coming into the 500 to cement himself as the driver to beat, but the accident sent him home with a 42nd place finish.

Stewart, meanwhile, dropped to 0-for-15 in one of the few races the three-time NASCAR champion has never won.

"If I didn't tell you I was heartbroken and disappointed, I'd be lying to you," Stewart said.

That accident also took former winner Jamie McMurray, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kasey Kahne out of contention.

The next accident — involving nine cars — came 105 laps later and brought a thankful end to Speedweeks for Carl Edwards. He was caught in his fifth accident since testing last month, and this wreck collected six other Ford drivers.

The field suddenly had six Toyota drivers at the front as Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers took control of the race. But JGR's day blew up — literally — when the team was running 1-2-3 with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch setting the pace.

Kenseth, who led a race-high 86 laps, went to pit road first with an engine problem, and Busch was right behind him with a blown engine. Busch was already in street clothes watching as Hamlin led the field.

"It's a little devastating when you are running 1-2-3 like that," Busch said.

Hamlin's shot disappeared when he found himself in the wrong lane on the final restart. He tried to hook up with Keselowski to get them back to Johnson, but blamed former teammate Joey Logano for ruining the momentum of the bottom lane.

Hamlin offered a backhanded apology to Keselowski on Twitter, posting that he couldn't get close enough because "your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time."

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France's Pinturault wins World Cup giant slalom

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Alexis Pinturault of France used a daring second run to win a World Cup giant slalom Sunday as his closest German challengers faltered.

Pinturault was second after the first heat, behind hometown favorite Felix Neureuther and ahead of Fritz Dopfer. But Dopfer crashed out in the second run and Neureuther made a mistake that dropped him down to 12th in the ranking. Germany was seeking its first men's giant slalom victory in 40 years.

World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria and world champion Ted Ligety of the United States profited from the Germans' mistakes to take second and third, respectively.

Pinturault clocked a combined time of 2 minutes, 32.42 seconds for his second win of the season and his first giant slalom victory.

"I have good memories from Garmisch, I also won the junior giant slalom title here in 2009," said Pinturault, who now has three career World Cup victories.

Hirscher overcame a stomach virus to extend his overall World Cup lead. He was 0.60 seconds behind the winner and Ligety was 0.63 back.

Ligety, the GS specialist who also won two other gold medals at the worlds in Schladming, Austria that concluded one week ago, was fifth after an error-filled first run. The American also made a mistake in the second heat, losing his line at the same spot where Neureuther nearly went off the course.

Ligety had won four of the previous five giant slaloms this season and would have set a record with fifth. His third place was his worst finish in the event this season.

"Third place is not what you want to be getting at this stage, but I'll take it," Ligety said. "In the first run I just made a ton of little mistakes. In the second I was lucky not to get into too much soft snow in that turn. You have to take risks."

Hirscher, who was silver medalist at the worlds behind Ligety, now has a 209-point lead overall over Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who finished sixth.

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Hufner wins final luge World Cup meet

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Olympic luge champion Tatjana Hufner edged out two other Germans to win the women's singles in the final World Cup meet of the season, a test event for the Sochi Winter Games next year.

Natalie Geisenberger, the current world champion and Olympic bronze medalist, finished second in Saturday's meet, but had already won the overall World Cup before the competition started. Anke Wischnewski was third.

Geisenberger had the fastest time of the day at 50.894 seconds in the first run, but Hufner's two-run combined time of 1 minute 41.922 seconds was 0.038 faster. Wischnewski placed second in the overall World Cup standings and Hufner was third.

Although bobsledders and skeleton riders had expressed dissatisfaction with the ice quality at the Sanki track earlier in February, Saturday's sliders praised the conditions.

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Prosecutors: Pistorius top cop should be dropped

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against a policeman leading the murder investigation into world-famous athlete Oscar Pistorius, in the latest twist in a case that has captivated South Africa and threatens to bring down a national idol.

The announcement that detective Hilton Botha faces reinstated charges in connection with a 2011 shooting incident came a day after he testified for the prosecution in Pistorius' bail hearing, and by all accounts bungled his appearance. He acknowledged Wednesday that nothing in Pistorius' account of the fatal Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend contradicted what police had discovered.

The spokeswoman for the nation's prosecutors urged that Botha be removed from the Pistorius case.

Pistorius, an Olympian whose lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old, claims he mistook girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her in a locked bathroom in his home.

Bulewa Makeke, spokeswoman for South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority, acknowledged Thursday that the timing of the attempted murder charges is "totally weird" but said Botha should be dropped from the case against the world-famous athlete. However, Makeke said the charges against Botha were reinstated on Feb. 4, before his testimony Wednesday and even before Steenkamp was killed. Police said they were notified Wednesday of the reinstated charges which stem from a 2011 shooting incident in which Botha and two other officers allegedly fired at a minibus.

Makeke indicated the charge was reinstated because more evidence had been gathered. She said the charge against Botha was initially dropped "because there was not enough evidence at the time. But then, obviously the investigation continued up to the fourth (of) February and the senior public prosecutor was in a position to make a decision to reinstate the case."

She emphasized that it is a decision for police and not prosecutors whether to take Botha off the Pistorius case, one that has riveted the world's attention and is bringing scrutiny on South Africa's justice system.

"Is he going to be dropped from the case? I don't know. I think the right thing would be for him to be dropped," Makeke said outside Pretoria Magistrate's Court shortly before Pistorius' bail hearing went into a third day. "Obviously there will be consultations between the two (police and prosecutors) to determine what is the best course of action."

Pistorius' main sponsor Nike, meanwhile, suspended its contract with the Paralympic champion, following eyewear manufacturer Oakley's decision to suspend its sponsorship Monday. Nike said in a brief statement on its website: "We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Botha was summoned by the magistrate at the start of Thursday's proceedings. Pistorius' bail hearing began on Tuesday and is already running behind schedule, with it expected to have been completed on Wednesday.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair asked the defense: "Do you think there will be some level of shock if the accused is released?"

Defense lawyer Barry Roux responded: "I think there will be a level of shock in this country if he is not released."

Earlier Thursday, Nair questioned Botha over delays in processing records from phones found in Pistorius' house following the killing of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV contestant.

"It seems to me like there was a lack of urgency," Nair said as the efficiency of the police investigation was again questioned after Botha conceded to a string of blunders on the second day of the hearing.

They did not discuss anything relating to the attempted murder charges against Botha and if he should continue on the case. Police say that Botha and two other police officers fired at a minibus they were trying to stop, and will appear in court in May to face seven counts of attempted murder.

Pistorius, in the same gray suit, blue shirt and gray tie combination he has worn throughout the bail hearing, stood ramrod straight in the dock as the magistrate arrived Thursday and then sat calmly looking at his hands as Roux picked apart the prosecution's argument. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the athlete was slumped over and sobbing uncontrollably at times as detail was read out of how Steenkamp died in his house.

Roux continued to cast doubt on the state's case and the investigation, following up after lead investigator Botha conceded Wednesday that police had left a 9 mm slug in the toilet where Steenkamp died, had lost track of illegal ammunition found in the home and that Botha himself had walked through the scene without protective shoe covers, possibly contaminating the area.

"The poor quality of the evidence offered by investigative officer Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings of the state's case," Roux said Thursday. "We cannot sit back and take comfort that he is telling the truth."

Roux also raised issue of intent, saying the killing was not "pre-planned" and referred to a "loving relationship" between the two.

He said an autopsy showed that Steenkamp's bladder was empty, suggesting she had gone to use the toilet as Pistorius had claimed. Prosecutors claim Steenkamp had fled to the toilet to avoid an enraged Pistorius.

"The known forensics is consistent" with Pistorius' statement, Roux said. The lawyer said the evidence does not even show Pistorius committed a murder.

Botha also testified earlier Thursday that he had investigated a 2009 complaint against Pistorius by a woman who claimed the athlete had assaulted her. He said that Pistorius had not hurt her and that the woman had actually injured herself when she kicked a door at Pistorius' home.

Botha was only questioned for 15 minutes before he was excused by Nair, but South Africa's prosecuting authority and the police still had to make a decision over whether the 24-year police veteran would be removed from the investigation because of the charges against him.

In summing up the defense argument in the bail hearing, Roux asked that bail restrictions be eased for Pistorius, who then began crying softly.


AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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Police: No inconsistencies in Pistorius account

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A police detective testified at Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing Wednesday that authorities have not found any inconsistencies in the star athlete's description of his shooting of his girlfriend — a killing Pistorius says was accidental but which prosecutors call murder.

The second day of the bail hearing in a case that has riveted South Africa and much of the world appeared at first to go against the double-amputee runner, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel saying a witness can testify to hearing "non-stop talking, like shouting" between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. before the predawn shooting on Valentine's Day.

Pistorius said in an affidavit read in court Tuesday that he and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV star, had gone to bed and that when he awoke during the night he detected what he thought was an intruder in the bathroom. He testified that he grabbed his 9 mm pistol and fired into the door of a toilet enclosed in the bathroom, only to discover later to his horror that Steenkamp was there, mortally wounded.

The prosecution alleged the couple had a fight before he fired shots.

Under cross-examination by the defense, police Detective Warrant Officer Hilton Botha acknowledged that the witness who allegedly overheard the argument was 600 meters (yards) from Pistorius' house, where the shooting occurred. Later, prosecutor Nel re-questioned Botha, and the detective said the distance was actually much closer.

Pistorius, the first Paralympian runner to compete at the Olympics, is charged with premeditated murder in the case.

The prosecution attempted to cement its argument that the couple had a shouting match, that Steenkamp fled and locked herself into the toilet stall of the bathroom and that Pistorius fired four shots through the door, hitting her with three bullets.

Botha added: "I believe that he knew that Reeva was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door."

When asked if the police found anything inconsistent with the version of events presented by Pistorius, Botha responded that they had not.

However Botha — who has 24 years' experience as a policeman and 16 as a detective — presented evidence that appears to disagree with Pistorius' account. Botha said the trajectory of the bullets showed the gun was fired pointed down and from a height. This seems to conflict with Pistorius' statement Tuesday, because the athlete said that he was on his stumps and feeling vulnerable because he was in a low position when he opened fired.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has said the killing was premeditated because Pistorius took time to put on his prosthetic legs before the shooting.

Nel projected a plan of the bedroom and bathroom for the courtroom and argued Pistorius had to walk past his bed to get to the bathroom and could not have done so without realizing Steenkamp was not in the bed.

"There's no other way of getting there," Nel said.

Hilton said the holster for the 9 mm pistol was found under the side of the bed on which Steenkamp slept — also implying it would have been impossible for Pistorius to get the gun without realizing that Steenkamp was not in the bed and could have been the person in the bathroom. Pistorius testified Tuesday that the bedroom was pitch dark.

Hilton said Steenkamp was shot in the head over her right ear and in her right elbow and hip, with both joints broken by the impacts.

Defense attorney Barry Roux asked Botha if Steenkamp's body showed "any pattern of defensive wounds," and the detective said it did not.

Botha said the shots were fired from 1.5 meters (five feet), and that police found three spent cartridges in the bathroom and one in the hallway connecting the bathroom to the bedroom.

Police also found two iPhones in the bathroom and two BlackBerrys in the bedroom, Hilton said, adding that none had been used to phone for help. Pistorius had said that he called the manager of his guarded and gated housing complex and a private paramedic service.

Roux said Pistorius did make calls, including to the guards of the housing estate. In one case, he said, a guard could hear Pistorius crying.

"Was it part of his premeditated plan, not to switch off the phone and cry?" Roux asked sarcastically.

Botha said Pistorius did not have a license for a .38-caliber weapon and consequently his possession of ammunition for such a weapon was illegal.

The detective said that all Pistorius would say after the shooting was "he thought it was a burglar."

In an additional revelation Wednesday, police said they found two boxes of testosterone and needles in Pistorius' bedroom.

But Roux said the substance was an "herbal remedy," and not a steroid or a banned substance.

Police "take every piece of evidence and try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court," defense lawyer Roux said.


Imray reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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Pistorius says no intentions to kill girlfriend

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius told a packed courtroom Tuesday that he shot his girlfriend to death by mistake, thinking she was a robber. The prosecutor called it premeditated murder.

The double amputee said in an affidavit read by his lawyer at his bail hearing that he felt vulnerable because he did not have on his prosthetic legs when he pumped bullets into the locked bathroom door. Then, Pistorius said in the sworn statement, he realized that model Reeva Steenkamp was not in his bed.

"It filled me with horror and fear," he said.

He put on his prosthetic legs, tried to kick down the door, then bashed it in with a cricket bat to find Steenkamp, 29, shot inside. He said he ran downstairs with her, but "She died in my arms."

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Tuesday charged the 26-year-old athlete and Olympian with premeditated murder, alleging he took the time to put on his legs and walk some seven meters (yards) from the bed to the bathroom door before opening fire. A conviction of premeditated murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in jail.

The Valentine's Day shooting death has shocked South Africans and many around the world who idolized Pistorius for overcoming adversity to become a sports champion, competing in the London Olympics last year in track besides being a Paralympian. Steenkamp was a model and law graduate who made her debut on a South African reality TV program that was broadcast on Saturday, two days after her death.

The magistrate ruled that Pistorius faces the harshest bail requirements available in South African law.

Nel told the court that Pistorius fired into the door of a small bathroom where Steenkamp was cowering after a shouting match. He fired four times and three bullets hit Steenkamp, the prosecutor said.

"She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere," prosecutor Nel argued. "It must have been horrific."

Pistorius sobbed softly as his lawyer, Barry Roux, insisted the shooting was an accident and that there was no evidence to substantiate a murder charge.

"Was it to kill her, or was it to get her out?" he asked about the broken-down door. "We submit it is not even murder. There is no concession this is a murder."

He said the state had provided no evidence that the couple quarreled nor offered a motive.

Nel rebutted: "The motive is 'I want to kill.'"

There were affadavits from friends of Pistorius and Steenkamp read out by defense lawyer Roux in the bail hearing.

The statements described a charming, happy couple. The night before the killing, they said, Pistorius and Steenkamp had canceled separate plans to spend the night before Valentine's Day together at his home.

As details emerged at the dramatic court hearing in the capital, Steenkamp's body was being cremated Tuesday at a memorial service in the south-coast port city of Port Elizabeth. The family said members had arrived from around the world. Six pallbearers carried her coffin, draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers, into the church for the private service.

June Steenkamp, the mother, said the family wants answers.

"Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?" she said in an interview published Monday in The Times newspaper.

Outside the court, several dozen singing women protested against domestic violence and waved placards urging Pistorius be refused bail. "Pistorius must rot in jail," one placard said.

South Africa has some of the world's worst rates of violence against females and the highest rate in the world of women killed by an intimate partner, according to a study by the Medical Research Council. Another council study estimates a child or woman is raped every four minutes. While homicide rates have dropped, the number of women killed by current or former partners has increased, said the council's Professor Rachel Jewkes. At least three women are killed by a partner every day in the country of 50 million, she said.

Steenkamp campaigned actively against domestic violence and had tweeted on Twitter that she planned to join a "Black Friday" protest by wearing black in honor of a 17-year-old girl who was gang-raped and mutilated two weeks ago.

What "she stood for, and the abuse against women, unfortunately it's gone right around and I think the Lord knows that statement is more powerful now," her uncle and the family spokesman Mike Steenkamp said after her memorial.

He said the family had planned a big get-together at Christmas but that had not been possible. "But we are here today as a family and the only one who's missing is Reeva," he said, breaking down and weeping.

Pistorius was born without fibula bones and had them amputated when he was 11 months.

The man known as the Blade Runner because of his running prostheses has lost several valuable sponsorships estimated to be worth more than $1 million a year.

On Tuesday, the athlete was ousted from a pro-gay campaign being launched in Cape Town, organizers said. In a video axed from the campaign, Pistorius says "You don't have to worry. You don't have to change. Take a deep breath and remember, 'It will get better.'"


Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed from Johannesburg and AP photographer Schalk van Zuydam from Port Elizabeth.

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Oscar Pistorius faces bail hearing in murder case

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Oscar Pistorius faces a bail hearing Tuesday and Wednesday, in which prosecutors explain why they've charged the Olympian with murder over the Valentine's Day shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius hasn't entered a plea in the case, though his family has said they strongly deny the 26-year-old double-amputee runner committed murder. They have not, however, denied outright that Pistorius shot Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law school graduate who is featured in a South African reality television show.

Here are some facts about the case that has shaken a nation that idolized the runner:



Pistorius made history in the London Games last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics. He's known as "the Blade Runner," a nickname that plays off the high-tech carbon-fiber blades that he races on. Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, and campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. He was initially banned because of his blades — which critics said gave him an unfair advantage — before being cleared by sport's highest court in 2008. In 2011, he won a silver medal at the world championships having been the first amputee runner to ever compete there.



Steenkamp is a local celebrity in South Africa, known for appearing in both domestic and international commercials. She's also known for her vampy, bikini-clad photo spreads in men's magazines. She was named one of the world's 100 Sexiest Women for two years running by FHM magazine. She met Pistorius in November at a race track near Johannesburg and ended up accompanying him to a sports award show the same night, a mutual friend has said. She also was a contestant on "Tropika Island of Treasure 5," a reality television show sponsored by a milk-fruit drink now being aired on South Africa's national broadcaster SABC.



In the predawn hours of Feb. 14, police officers arrived to Pistorius' home in a gated community in the suburbs of South Africa's capital, Pretoria. There, police say they found paramedics trying to resuscitate Steenkamp, whose body lay in a pool of her own blood. Police say officers found a 9 mm pistol and arrested Pistorius, who they say was the only other person in the home at the time of the shooting. Pistorius later underwent DNA testing and had samples of his blood collected. Investigators also conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp's body, though police declined to give any information about what they found. They have said she was shot multiple times in the attack. Police have not offered a motive for the killing and Pistorius' uncle Arnold later said that "the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."



Pistorius has had troubles in the past in his personal life. In February 2009, he crashed a speedboat on South Africa's Vaal River, breaking his nose, jaw and several ribs and damaging an eye socket. He required some 180 stitches to his face. Witnesses said he had been drinking, and officers found alcoholic beverages in the wreckage, though they did not do blood tests. In November, Pistorius was involved in an altercation over a woman with a local coal mining millionaire, South African media reported. The South African Police Service's elite Hawks investigative unit became involved before the two settled the matter. Pistorius had a fondness for guns and once tweeted about him searching his house once with a pistol, looking for an intruder.



The bail hearing Tuesday and Wednesday in Pretoria will see prosecutors offer Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair evidence about the killing to bolster their arguments that Pistorius should be denied bail and held until his trial. That evidence likely will include specific details about the killing and why they believe the athlete killed Steenkamp — things that police have been hesitant so far to release publicly. Pistorius likely will offer a plea in the case, as he didn't in a brief court appearance Friday. Pistorius' lawyers will likely try to show that he is not a flight risk and represents no danger to the community if he's free until trial. Prosecutors have said they'll pursue a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, which could make it more difficult for him to be granted bail. Nair will hear both the prosecution and the defense, then issue a ruling about whether Pistorius will be allowed bail. That could include Nair asking Pistorius to put up cash for his release, as well as the athlete giving up his passport and setting other restrictions. If Pistorius is held without bail until trial, he will be transferred from the local police station he's currently being held in to prison, likely in Pretoria.



South Africa is one of a few countries in the world that that has a court system that takes root in Roman-Dutch law. Because of this, those appearing in criminal trials do not have the option of a jury trial, common in the United States and other countries. Instead, a single judge will hear the entire case and then rule on a person's guilt or innocence. The judge can be assisted by two advisers during the trial. Typically, those advisers offer assistance in looking at the more technical aspects of the evidence given at trial. If found guilty, a person can later appeal the ruling or the sentence they receive. A premeditated murder charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison. There is no death penalty in South Africa.



The day of the shooting, companies quickly removed billboards and advertising featuring Pistorius. One pulled an Internet ad for Nike showed Pistorius starting to sprint in his blades, with the caption: "I am the bullet in the chamber." Pistorius' agent was forced to cancel all the athlete's future scheduled races. Pistorius' sponsors — including big-name brands like Nike and eyewear manufacturer Oakley — are sticking by him, the agent said.


AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report.


Jon Gambrell can be reached at .

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No. 2 Duke falls to Maryland 83-81

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — As the final horn sounded and Maryland fans rushed the court to celebrate a rare victory over its bitter rival, weary Duke had just enough energy left to escape the mayhem for the safety of its locker room.

Seth Allen broke a tie by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and the Terrapins stunned the second-ranked Blue Devils 83-81 Saturday night to end a six-game skid in the series.

Coming off a five-day break, Maryland notched its most significant win of the season at the expense of a tired Duke playing its fourth game in 10 days.

The Blue Devils were worn out, and it showed.

Duke was outrebounded 40-20, never led in the second half and got only four points and three rebounds from 6-foot-10 senior center Mason Plumlee.

"This has been an exhausting schedule for our team," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're playing on fumes and I think you could tell that with Mason. I thought he looked exhausted the whole game. He's been great. Obviously not good tonight."

The Terrapins (18-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not trail after halftime but never could pull away.

Duke (22-3, 9-3) was down by 10 with 3:39 left but pulled even when Rasheed Sulaimon made three foul shots with 16.7 seconds to go. Quinn Cook then fouled Allen as the freshman guard drove through the lane, and Allen made both shots.

After a Duke timeout, Cook's desperation 30-footer bounced off the back rim. Chaos ensued as the fans immediately rushed the court.

"I thought it was in when I got it off," Cook said of his final attempt.

Alex Len had 19 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, and Allen scored 16. The Terrapins had lost 12 of 13 against Duke, including a 20-point embarrassment last month.

"I told our players before the game, there's a lot of pride in Maryland basketball," coach Mark Turgeon said. "There's also a lot of passion about Maryland basketball. We talked about playing with those two things for us and for our fans. Our fans were just tremendous."

From the end of the Star Spangled Banner to the final buzzer, the crowd never stopped shouting for the Terps, who rewarded their fans with a memorable victory in a rivalry that appears destined to end when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten in 2014.

"I have a great deal of respect for Maryland," Krzyzewski said. "If it was such a rivalry they'd still be in the ACC. Obviously they don't think it's that important or else they wouldn't be in the Big Ten."

Oh, but it's very important to Maryland and its coach.

"This win was for my family and the fans," Turgeon said. "I know what this win means for our fan base, and I really wanted to beat Duke."

The Blue Devils had their six-game winning streak end. Seth Curry scored 25 and Cook added 18. But Plumlee was completely outplayed by the 7-1 Len, who went 6 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the foul line.

"There's so much pressure for Mason to play outstanding," Krzyzewski said. "That wears on you as the season goes on. He just didn't look fresh tonight."

Said Plumlee: "I didn't show up to play today and I let my teammates down. It's all on me."

Maryland committed a whopping 26 turnovers, eight by Allen. The Terrapins shot an impressive 60 percent from the floor and finished with a 40-20 rebounding advantage.

Maryland played without reserve guard Pe'Shon Howard, who was suspended for violating team rules. Despite being demoted from his starting role last month, Howard still leads the Terrapins in assists.

Maryland led 66-63 before Allen scored on a drive. Dez Wells then stole the ball from Cook and went in for a dunk for a seven-point lead with 5:20 left. After the Blue Devils closed to 71-63, James Padgett made a layup for Maryland and Wells made two foul shots for a 10-point cushion.

The crowd increased its volume with every subsequent basket by the Terrapins, whose previous win over Duke came in March 2010, when Greivis Vasquez celebrated Senior Night with a 20-point performance.

In this one, it was 80-72 before Curry made two straight 3-pointers to bring Duke to 80-78 with just under a minute left. After Wells was called for a charge, Curry had a 15-footer bounce in and out of the basket.

It was that kind of night for the Blue Devils.

This score was 39 all before Allen hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 run that included five points from freshman Shaquille Cleare. It was 53-43 before Curry bagged a 3-pointer, Alex Murphy made a layup and Curry drove the lane following Maryland's third turnover in a 60-second span.

That cut the gap to three points, and seconds after a 3-pointer by Cook got the Blue Devils to 55-53.

After the Terrapins went up by six, they committed turnovers on three straight possessions. That enabled Duke to close to 59-57 on a dunk by Murphy, but four straight free throws by Len gave Maryland a 64-59 advantage with 7:20 remaining.

The first half featured two ties, 10 lead changes and ended with the Terrapins up 35-34. Curry (14 points) was one of only four Duke players to score before halftime.

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Pistorius' uncle says athlete 'numb with shock'

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is "numb with shock, as well as grief" after the shooting death of his model girlfriend at his home in South Africa, the runner's uncle said Saturday, as his family "strongly refutes" charges that he planned to kill her.

Arnold Pistorius spoke with The Associated Press and two other South African journalists about his nephew's arrest in the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times on the morning of Valentine's Day. Arnold Pistorius spoke to reporters from his three-story home in the eastern suburbs of South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

The statement, the first on camera and directly made in person by Pistorius' family, also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.

"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius said. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder."

The track star's arrest in the killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetics and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in the London Games. She was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in Pretoria. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at the home.

Pistorius remains held at a police station pending a bail hearing Tuesday.

Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting, but said that his nephew and Steenkamp had become very close since they started dating in November.

"They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," the uncle said.


Jon Gambrell in Johannesburg contributed to this report.


Gerald Imray can be reached at .

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Pistorius statement disputes he committed murder

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius held his head in his hands and wept openly in court Friday as prosecutors said they would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against the Paralympic superstar.

Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrate's Court with one count of murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show contestant. The 30-year-old was shot multiple times and died at Pistorius' upmarket home early Thursday morning.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Friday in court it was premeditated murder, indicating the prosecution would file that more serious charge, upgraded from murder.

The double-amputee athlete's arrest and murder charge had already left South Africa stunned after Steenkamp's death on Valentine's Day at Pistorius' house in a gated community in an eastern suburb of South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

Following the hearing, Pistorius' family and his London management company issued a statement calling into question the criminal charge the 26-year-old athlete faces.

"The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms," the statement read. The statement did not elaborate.

The statement also said Pistorius wanted to "send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva."

"He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received — but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family — regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy," the statement read.

Those who knew Pistorius, including a former girlfriend, also weighed in on social media.

Trish Taylor, mother of Pistorius' ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor, wrote on Facebook: "I'm so glad Sammy is safe and out of the clutches of that man."

But another ex-girlfriend, Jenna Edkins, defended Pistorius in messages Friday on Twitter.

"All I am saying is let him speak, let his side be heard without jumping to conclusions," Edkins wrote. She offered "love and support" to the Pistorius family and wrote: "I have dated Oscar on and off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life."

Prosecutors said Friday that they would argue the history-making Olympic athlete — the first amputee to run at the games — had planned Steenkamp's killing. It sent South Africans reeling further as their national hero, and a global role model in overcoming adversity, was set to face accusations that he intentionally gunned down his girlfriend.

South Africa's tabloid Citizen newspaper had the headline "Blade gunner?" Friday morning, playing on double-amputee athlete Pistorius' well-known nickname of "Blade Runner" because of his carbon fiber running blades.

Pistorius stood with his face in his hands as he broke down in tears on his first appearance at the Pretoria Magistrates' Court. Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir delayed Pistorius' bail hearing until next Tuesday and Wednesday and ruled that Pistorius would be held at a police station in Pretoria until then. Police have said they oppose the granting of bail.

A solemn Pistorius entered the court wearing a gray suit and blue tie and initially appeared composed. When he broke down in tears, his brother, Carl, reached out a hand and placed it on his shoulder. Pistorius' father, Henke, was in the court and later reached over to comfort him as well.

More than 100 people packed Friday morning into Courtroom C at the Pretoria Magistrates Court, including dozens of photographers and videographers. Nasir ruled that no recordings of court proceedings would be allowed in the case.

Police said Friday investigators also conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp's body. Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said the results of the autopsy would not be published.

Pistorius earlier left a police station, his jacket completely covering his head as he got into a police vehicle. He was holding what appeared to be a white handkerchief in one hand. He was led by officers to a police van outside the Boschkop Police Station in eastern Pretoria, where he had been questioned on Thursday and had spent the night in custody.

A policeman was also seen carrying a handgun in a plastic forensic bag outside the Boschkop station. It was believed to be the weapon used to shoot and kill Steenkamp.

Police said the victim was shot four times at Pistorius' villa in a gated community. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home.

Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and the final of the 4X400 relay, propelling the world's best-known Paralympian to the level of an international track star and one of the world's best-known sportsmen.

But police hinted at a troubled lifestyle away from public scrutiny for the runner Thursday when they said there had previously been domestic incidents at Pistorius' home.


AP Sports Writer Imray reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.


Jon Gambrell can be reached at and Gerald Imray can be reached at .

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Olympian Pistorius charged with murder

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius was charged Thursday with the murder of his girlfriend who was shot inside his home in South Africa, a stunning development in the life of a national hero known as the Blade Runner for his high-tech artificial legs.

Reeva Steenkamp, a model who spoke out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women, was shot four times in the predawn hours in the house, in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria, police said.

Hours later after undergoing police questioning, Pistorius left a police station accompanied by officers. He looked down as photographers snapped pictures, the hood on his gray workout jacket pulled up, covering most of his face. His court hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon but has been postponed until Friday to give forensic investigators time to carry out their work, said Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for the prosecution.

South Africans were shocked at the killing. The Star newspaper printed a special afternoon edition Thursday that hawkers sold in the streets of Johannesburg, carrying the headline: "OSCAR ARRESTED: GIRLFRIEND KILLED."

While Pistorius captured the nation's attention with his Olympic dreams, police said there was a history of problems involving him.

There have "previously been incidents at the home of Mr. Oscar Pistorius," said police spokeswoman Brigadier Denise Beukes. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but Beukes said that the 26-year-old Pistorius was at his home at the time of the death of Steenkamp and "there is no other suspect involved."

"Yes, there are witnesses and there have also been interviews this morning," Beukes told reporters outside the gated complex where Pistorius lived. "We are talking about neighbors and people that heard things that happened earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place."

Pistorius' father, Henke, declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press, only saying "we all pray for guidance and strength for Oscar and the lady's parents."

Neither Pistorius' agent Peet van Zyl nor coach Ampie Louw could be reached while Pistorius' own cellphone went straight to an answerphone service.

Pistorius' former coach, Andrea Giannini, said he hopes it was "just a tragic accident."

"No matter how bad the situation was, Oscar always stayed calm and positive," Giannini told the AP in Italy. "Whenever he was tired or nervous he was still extremely nice to people. I never saw him violent."

Gianni said he believed that Pistorius had been dating Steenkamp for "a few months."

"I know he had more than one flirt over the last year," Giannini said.

Paolo Urbani, the mayor of the Italian town of Gemona where Pistorius had a training base and prepared for the London Olympics from said he is shocked as Pistorius was "a delightful person."

"The news shocked not only me personally but also the whole of Gemona and the region," Urbani said. "It come(s) as a huge shock to everyone who knew him. I was woken up this morning by a phone call from his general manager, who called me to let me know so that I didn't find out about it from the news."

Police said that earlier reports that Steenkamp may have been mistaken for a burglar by Pistorius did not come from the police. Several local media outlets had initially reported that the shooting may have been accidental.

"It would be very premature and very irresponsible of me to say what actually has happened," Beukes said. "There have been allegations. We are not sure."

Beukes also said there had been previous incidents and "allegations of a domestic nature" at the home of the Olympic star and double-amputee runner, who is one of South Africa's and the world's most famous sportsmen and made history at the London Games last year by being the first double-amputee runner to compete at the Olympics.

"I'm not going to elaborate on it but there have been incidents (at Pistorius' home)," Beukes said.

Capacity Relations, a talent management firm, earlier named model Steenkamp as the victim of the shooting. Police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale told the AP that officers received a call around 3 a.m. after the shooting.

A 9 mm pistol was recovered and a murder case opened against Pistorius.

Pistorius enjoyed target shooting with his pistol and an online advertisement featuring him for Nike read: "I am a bullet in the chamber." An article in January 2012 in The New York Times Magazine described him talking about how he pulled a pistol to search his home when his alarm went off the night before an interview. At Pistorius' suggestion, he and the journalist went to a nearby target range where they fired at targets with a 9 mm pistol. At one point, Pistorius told the writer: "If you practiced, I think you could be pretty deadly."

Asked how often he went target shooting, Pistorius replied: "Just sometimes when I can't sleep."

On Thursday, Mogale said when police arrived at Pistorius' house they found paramedics trying to revive a 30-year-old woman, who had been shot four times. Mogale, who was speaking to the AP from the scene, said the woman died at the house.

Police have still not released the name of the woman, but the publicist for Steenkamp confirmed in a statement that the model was dead.

"We can confirm that Reeva Steenkamp has passed away," Steenkamp's publicist Sarit Tomlinson said. "We are in communication with people on the scene, please wait for official statements, as there is too much speculation at this moment in time. We will provide further information as soon as we are able to provide accurate information as to what transpired.

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the Steenkamp family, who have asked to have their privacy respected during this difficult time, everyone is simply devastated. She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed."

Tomlinson said Steenkamp, known simply as Reeva, was one of FHM's (formerly For Him Magazine) 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running, appeared in countless international and national advertisements and was one of the celebrity contestants on Tropika Island of Treasure, filmed in Jamaica.

On Twitter, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape alongside her excitement about Valentine's Day. "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she tweeted. "It should be a day of love for everyone."

Mogale and Beukes said the victim's family had not yet identified the body.

Pistorius made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, propelling him to the status of an athletics superstar.

Having had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, he campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. Having initially been banned because of his carbon fiber blades — which critics said gave him an unfair advantage — he was cleared by sport's highest court in 2008 and allowed to run at the top events.

He competed in the 400 meters and on South Africa's 4x400 relay team at the London Games, making history after having his selection confirmed on South Africa's team at the very last minute. He also retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters in London.

South Africa's Sports Confederation and Olympic committee released a statement on Thursday saying they had been "inundated" with requests for comment but were not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.

"SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary," the South African Olympic committee said. "The organization is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned."

The International Paralympic Committee also said it wouldn't comment in detail apart from offering its condolences to the victim's family.

"This is a police matter, with a formal investigation currently underway," the IPC said. "Therefore it would be inappropriate for the IPC to comment on this incident until the official police process has concluded. The IPC would like to offer its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families involved in this case."

South Africa has some of the world's highest murder rates, with nearly 50 people killed each day in the nation of 50 million. It also has high rates of rape, other assaults, robbery and carjackings.

U.N. statistics show South Africa has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, second only to Colombia.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Johannesburg; AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

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Player regrets getting entangled with match-fixing

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Soccer player Mario Cizmek thought it would just be one match. Ease up and let the other team win, he told himself, then collect the payoff and start paying off your debts.

But the broke and desperate athlete soon learned that one match wouldn't do it. He would have to throw another game, then another, then another.

And so it went until, in what he described as his "worst moment," he was arrested at his home in front of his two daughters on charges of match-fixing, frantically dialing his wife to take the children because police were hauling him off to jail.

"Twenty years of hard work I destroyed in just one month," he said.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a six-month, multiformat AP examination of how organized crime is corrupting soccer through match-fixing.


The Croatian midfielder was the perfect target for fixers: He was nearing the end of his career, his financially unstable club hadn't paid him a regular salary for 14 months, and he owed money on back taxes and his pension.

Cizmek's story is typical of how the world's most popular sport is increasingly becoming a dirty game — sullied by criminal gangs like the one that bribed Cizmek, and by corrupt officials or others cashing in on the billion-dollar web of match-fixing.

An examination of Cizmek's case turns up contrasting portraits of the 36-year-old with quick feet and an engaging smile.

One is of a victim — a player forced into match-fixing by an unscrupulous club and preyed upon by a shadowy former coach convicted of bribery, fraud and conspiracy in a Croatian match-fixing case and banned for life from soccer by FIFA, the world soccer body. That's the picture painted by FIFPro, the global players' union, which has used Cizmek's story to warn players.

Croatian prosecutors, armed with reams of phone calls and text messages from police wiretaps, have a different take. At a match-fixing trial at the County Court of Zagreb, they portrayed Cizmek as the ringleader who got several FC Croatia Sesvete players to throw six games and tried to fix a seventh in spring 2010. The authorities said he organized the players, handed out sealed blue envelopes of euros, and promised that they could stop whenever they wanted.

Cizmek readily admits he delivered the payments but says it was only because his apartment was closest to the fixer. Looking back, he says, he realizes he was manipulated.

"Now I see that he didn't want to be seen handing over the money," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.


Cizmek joined FC Zagreb on a junior scholarship, signed at 18, and played there for eight years.

"Those were the best years. All my dreams came true," he said. "I signed a professional contract and was among the better players. They thought highly of me. I was even a captain of this club."

After stints in Israel and Iceland, he returned home to play for FC Croatia Sesvete in the country's second league. In 2008, Cizmek scored the goal that sent his team into the top division. That goal benefited every player on the team and lined the pockets of the club's owner, Zvonko Zubak.

But the team fell on hard times, especially with the European economic downturn.

The entire FC Croatia Sesvete locker room was in an uproar for months, with players trying to make ends meet, Cizmek said. A study by the FIFPro union reported that more than 60 percent of Croatian players do not get paid on time.

"We had no money, and we no longer spoke about training or football, but only about how we were going to survive," Cizmek said.

"Every other day we would ask whether we would be paid, and they would say 'Yes, on Monday.' Then we say, 'OK, on Monday,'" he said. But there would be no pay on Monday — only a promise to be paid Wednesday — and then no money that day either.

"It would go on for weeks," Cizmek said, shaking his head.

One man who hung around the players offering advice and sympathy — and loans to those short on cash — was Vinko Saka, a former assistant coach for Dinamo Zagreb, the soccer powerhouse that has won Croatia's national title every year since 2006.

Saka was always somewhere around the field or at the bars where the players gathered, Cizmek said.

A flashy figure in his 50s who drove a BMW X6, he promised to introduce young players to the dozens of foreign coaches and clubs he said he knew.

"He was always offering presents," Cizmek said. "I had known Vinko for years. We were kind of friends. He was someone who was related to sports, whom I was seeing at the matches. He coached junior teams."

Midfielder Dario Susak, then 22, testified that Saka suggested he could help him get a contract with a foreign club, then loaned him $2,550 at a high interest rate. Once he owed the money, Susak testified, Saka told him he would have to lose matches.

Unbeknownst to any of them, Croatian police were already running a wiretap on Saka after being tipped off by German investigators.

Croatian prosecutors said Saka bribed up to 10 people on Cizmek's team, and another five tied to either FC Varteks or FC Medimurje.

Saka ended up being convicted of fraud, bribery and conspiracy and going to jail. His lawyer confirmed the plea bargain but wouldn't discuss the case.


The deal involving Cizmek came together at Fort Apache, a steakhouse on the truck route between Zagreb, the Croatian capital, and Slovenia. Cizmek and his goalkeeper met there with Saka and two associates on March 25, 2010, to fix a game with FC Zadar two days later, according to players' testimony and police transcripts.

Six players would get $24,220, although the money was not divided equally. One of the unwritten rules of match-fixing is that the goalkeeper gets the biggest share because his statistics suffer the worst blow; defenders get the next-biggest, midfielders get less and strikers often are not even included in the fix.

The result: Zadar won 2-1 as Cizmek, one of the best players, stayed on the bench. After the game, he said, he collected $2,550, bought his kids a bunk bed and stashed the rest away, saving up to pay an overdue tax bill.

Cizmek saw himself as a Robin Hood-sort of figure: stealing money from crooks to put food on the table for his teammates and their families who were being crushed by an unjust system.

The match-fixing train had begun rolling, and it would prove difficult to stop.

The stakes were raised for an April 3 match against FC Slaven Belupo, according to players' testimony. This time it was $51,000 for eight players. They not only had to lose, but to do so by at least three goals. That enabled those in on the deal to win two bets in one match.

Cizmek's team lost 4-0. Saka, however, delivered only $43,300, eight Croatia Sesvete players testified in court. Cizmek said Saka did not explain why.

The demands for an April 14 game against FC Rijeka were even greater: $51,000 to trail at halftime, a final score that included more than three goals, with the team losing by at least two goals, Cizmek testified.

Player Ante Pokrajcic testified that he was happy to have scored a goal until the team's owner stormed into the locker room, cursing about the 1-1 halftime score. Only then did Pokrajcic realize the game had been fixed.

The team lost 4-2, but Saka delivered only about half of what was promised, according to players' testimony.

The players were furious. In the next game, they won 3-1 against Inter Zapresic.

But another unwritten rule of match-fixing soon became clear to Cizmek: Once a player has fixed a game, he is trapped forever.

The criminal gang usually has enough evidence to get a player thrown out of the sport for life. Plus, the shame alone will keep him silent, and the fixer's demands will keep escalating until the player quits, retires or gets caught. Some implicated in match-fixing have even committed suicide.

When Cizmek approached the goalkeeper and a midfielder about fixing an April 17 game against FC Lokomotiva, they refused. He handed the money back to Saka two hours before the game, he said.

"If I was really the ringleader, I could have made them do it," he told the AP. "But I couldn't do it. ... We told them, 'No more.'"

Saka exploded in anger but made sure not to bet, Cizmek said. FC Lokomotiva won 2-1 anyway, and Cizmek said he scored a goal "just for pride" in the second half.

For the last three games of the season, Saka went above the players' heads to fix the game, according to players' testimony. Those involved now included the coach and one of the owner's sons — both of whom were convicted in the case.

"Saka came to me and said, 'I have arranged everything higher up. If you want you can check with the son,'" Cizmek said.

Cizmek said he refused to deliver that message to the other players, making the son talk individually with each athlete. Other players confirmed his account in court. Cizmek said the fixer made sure not to involve the owner's other son, a young player on the team.

With substantial bribes now going to the coach, the payouts for the players grew meager: $22,300 for seven players in the last game, according to testimony.

Overall, Cizmek earned $26,130 from match-fixing, not as much as goalkeeper Ivan Banovic ($37,600), defender Jasmin Agic ($35,000) or coach Goran Jerkovic ($33,000), according to the findings of the court in its sentencing document.


The season ended in early May but police did not come knocking until June 8.

Cizmek was arrested at his home and taken to Zagreb's Remetinec jail, where he stayed until July 15. His wife handed police the $20,000 he had been saving for his tax bill. The bunk beds were all he had to show for his money.

He went on trial for match-fixing with 14 others.

With the wiretaps, prosecutors had a very strong case. Cizmek made a full confession, pleaded guilty and gave testimony to the players' union against match-fixing. But he and the coach still got the longest sentence — 10 months.

The goalkeeper, the owner's son and three others were given nine months; two players got eight months; and the youngest member of the team, a 20-year-old midfielder, got a seven-month suspended sentence.

They are now free, awaiting the result of their appeal.

Saka cut a plea bargain with prosecutors in which he was convicted of fraud, bribery and conspiracy to commit a crime against the public order and sentenced to one year in prison. The Zagreb court ordered him to pay back $58,800 of the $844,000 it estimated his fixing operation made in Croatia.

Saka served his time in jail and then went to Italy to be questioned in a match-fixing investigation there. His lawyer in Italy, Kresimir Krsnik, said prosecutors have six months to decide whether to press charges.

"Saka will answer any call from the court. He has given his statement there and returned home," Krsnik told the AP.

Saka is back living in an affluent Zagreb neighborhood, driving around in his BMW.


Cizmek is trying hard not to be bitter.

Chain-smoking Marlboros at a Zagreb coffee bar, he dreads going back to jail.

"I was in there already, with murderers and rapists and drug addicts," he said. "It was a scary place."

He is angry that Saka got a much better plea deal than the players and doesn't hold out hope for his appeal, which is pending.

He says his club still owes him salary but went bankrupt in 2012 and dissolved.

He works on his family's organic farm, peddling jams and berry tea at farmers' markets, but is just scraping by. In one of his last interviews with the AP, Cizmek mentioned his recent divorce, and worry lines around his eyes seemed deeper.

He mourns for his lost soccer career and doesn't know what he will do with the rest of his life.

"I should have just taken my football shoes and hung them on the wall and said: 'Thank you, guys' and gone on to do something else," Cizmek said.

Still, he knows what he did was wrong.

"Everything I lost is my fault. I need to take the responsibility. I don't blame anyone, not even Saka," he said. "No one made me do this."

He cited an old Balkan expression: "The one who confesses, half their sins will be forgiven."

"I have opened my soul to you," he said. "I hope it will pay me back in karma for being so honest."


Norman-Culp is AP's Assistant Europe Editor in London. Prior to that, she covered FIFA for AP in Zurich. Follow her at snormanculp(at)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a six-month, multiformat AP examination of how organized crime is corrupting soccer through match-fixing.

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IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the Olympic program on Tuesday, a surprise decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.

The IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon — the event considered most at risk — and remove wrestling instead from its list of 25 "core sports."

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.

Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."

Adams said the decision was made by secret ballot over several rounds, with members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group. IOC President Jacques Rogge did not vote.

Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the voting details were not made public.

The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

The international wrestling federation, known by the French acronym FILA, is headed by Raphael Martinetti and is based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. Calls to the federation for comment were not immediately returned.

Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics. Women's wrestling was added to the Olympics at the 2004 Athens Games.

Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It is extremely unlikely that wrestling would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the executive board.

"Today's decision is not final," Adams said. "The session is sovereign and the session will make the final decision."

The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Previously considered under the closest scrutiny was modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games. It was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, and combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting.

Klaus Schormann, president of governing body UIPM, lobbied hard to protect his sport's Olympic status and it paid off in the end.

"We have promised things and we have delivered," he said after Tuesday's decision. "That gives me a great feeling. It also gives me new energy to develop our sport further and never give up."

Modern pentathlon also benefited from the work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a UIPM vice president and member of the IOC board.

"We were considered weak in some of the scores in the program commission report but strong in others," Samaranch told the AP. "We played our cards to the best of our ability and stressed the positives. Tradition is one of our strongest assets, but we are also a multi-sport discipline that produces very complete people."

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Snedeker on the rise with Pebble win

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Everything about Brandt Snedeker moves at warp speed, including his rapid rise into golf's elite.

He talks so fast that he always seems to be a few words short of a complete sentence. He plays fast, giving his hips a quick swivel to set his position before pulling the trigger. Even his putts go into the hole quickly, most of them struck with purpose instead of hope.

But when he reached the 18th tee box at Pebble Beach, he had to wait for the fairway to clear before taking a victory stroll up one of the prettiest closing holes in golf.

And that was OK with him.

"There's not much better place to be on the planet with a three-shot lead on that tee box," Snedeker said Sunday. "It felt pretty special there."

Indeed, Snedeker is in a special place.

With his 10th consecutive round in the 60s, Snedeker finally had a trophy to show for his astounding start to the 2013 season. He knew the opening seven holes were critical, and he made an eagle and three birdies to build a quick lead. He realized a late birdie would give him a cushion, and he fired at the flag on the par-3 17th to 10 feet below the cup and holed the putt. He closed with a 7-under 65 for a two-shot win over Chris Kirk in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

It was the fifth win of his career, and his fourth in the last 22 months. But it's the last six months that have really turned heads.

He captured the $10 million FedEx Cup prize with a win at the Tour Championship, where he held off the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald going into the final round. He played in his first Ryder Cup. He started this year with a third-place at Kapalua, and runner-up finishes in consecutive weeks to Woods and Phil Mickelson, both of whom had big leads going into the final round.

Go back to the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs last August and Snedeker now has six top 3s in his last nine starts. Since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, he has broken par in 33 out of 37 rounds. No wonder he now is No. 4 in the world, the best ranking of his career.

"Just hard to put into words, to have a stretch of golf like I had the last couple of months," Snedeker said. "Something you dream about. Something you think that you can do, but you don't really know until you actually put it together. And I have.

"I'm really enjoying this, and hopefully can parlay this into the best year of my career."

Snedeker set the tournament record at 19-under 267, one shot better than Mickelson (2007) and Mark O'Meara (1997), who each had a 20-under 268 when Poppy Hills (par 72) was part of the rotation. It has been replaced by Monterey Peninsula, which is a par 70.

Chris Kirk closed with a 66 to finish alone in second, though he was never closer than two shots of the lead on the back nine and finished with a birdie. Kirk finished on 269, a score that would have been good enough to win all but four times at Pebble Beach since this tournament began in 1937.

"We've had a lot of tournaments like that on tour this year where somebody has really just kind of blitzed the field," Kirk said. "I felt like I played well enough to win a golf tournament and came up a little bit short."

Snedeker could have said the same thing — except for Woods at Torrey Pines, and Mickelson going obscenely low to win the Phoenix Open.

He wasn't about to take a back seat to anyone at Pebble Beach.

Snedeker started the final round tied with James Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie from the Bay Area, with Kirk one shot behind. He set the tone early with a 4-iron into the par-5 second hole that was on the edge of the left green. It hit the collar and kicked slightly to the right, rolling toward the pin until it settled 4 feet behind the cup.

"Kind of lucky, but it was a good shot, and to end up where it did was a great way to start the day," he said.

Hahn hit his approach high and pure, and it nearly hit Snedeker's ball before stopping 6 feet away. Hahn missed. Snedeker made. It was like that over the front nine.

Snedeker started to pull away with a 3-wood that came off the edge of the green, ran by the cup and stopped 20 feet away for a two-putt birdie. Then, he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the seventh and was on his way.

Most impressive about Snedeker this week was bouncing back from bogey. He made five bogeys for the entire week, and four times made birdie on the next hole. On Sunday, his lone mistake was knocking an 18-foot birdie off the green and three-putting for bogey at No. 9.

The answer, like everything else about him, was fast and furious.

He knocked in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 10th, and then holed from 15 feet for birdie on the 12th. Right when it looked as though he would make another bogey on the par-3 12th, he made par from just short of 10 feet.

There's a reason Snedeker led the PGA Tour in putting last year, though it's his driving that has vastly improved. Snedeker studied some statistics last year that showed his odds of hitting the green go way up when he starts in the fairway. And once he's on the green, he's tough to beat.

Hahn, who shot 70 and tied for third, was looking forward to learning something from his debut in the final group, and he saw Snedeker put on a clinic.

"I learned that he is a better guy than he is a golfer. The dude is world class," Hahn said. "He's obviously one of the best, if not the best golfer right now, and possibly for the last year. But how he conducts himself as a person on an off the golf course, that's also world class. He deserved to win today. ... I'm sure if you ask him, it was never a doubt that he was going to win the golf tournament."

Snedeker concurred.

"I definitely didn't want to do anything but win today," he said. "I was out there for one purpose and one purpose only, and I was extremely focused all day. I did a great job of staying patient and I did a great job of playing the golf course the way you're supposed to play it."

And the outcome was just what he expected. The way he has been playing, it shouldn't have been any surprise to anyone.

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