Mickelson well off pace — Phil Mickelson opened his season with an eventful even-par 72 on Thursday in the Humana Challenge, leaving him nine strokes behind the first-round leaders. Recovering from flu-like symptoms, the 42-year-old Mickelson had three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at La Quinta Country Club — one of three courses used in the pro-am event that he won in 2002 and 2004. Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn topped the leaderboard at 9-under 63. Russell Henley, the Sony Open winner Sunday in Hawaii in his first start as a PGA Tour member, had a 64 on the Nicklaus course. He’s 32 under in his first five rounds this year.
McIlroy, Woods struggle — With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggling, unheralded Jamie Donaldson took the spotlight at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, shooting an opening-round 5-under 67 for an early one-shot lead. McIlroy, playing with new clubs following his multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Nike, finished with a 3-over 75 and risks missing the cut. Woods, meanwhile, finished a rollercoaster round at even par.
Whisenhunt to Chargers — The San Diego Chargers hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Thursday to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator. New Chargers coach Mike McCoy lauded Whisenhunt’s experience with the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying Whisenhunt has a “very creative mind" and will be a great asset for San Diego. Whisenhunt was fired by the Cardinals on Dec. 31 after six mostly losing seasons but he also led the franchise to its lone Super Bowl appearance in 2009.
Turner to Browns — The Cleveland Browns named Norv Turner their new offensive coordinator on Thursday. Turner, fired by the Chargers as head coach earlier this month, led San Diego to a 59-43 record in six years with three division titles. He also was head coach of the Washington Redskins (1994-2000) and Oakland Raiders (2004-05).
More Leaf problems — Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has been moved from a drug treatment center to the Montana State Prison for threatening a staff member and violating his treatment plan, a corrections official said Thursday. The former San Diego Chargers and Washington State Cougars quarterback was charged last spring with breaking into two houses and stealing prescription painkillers near his hometown of Great Falls. He pleaded guilty in May to burglary and criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and his five-year sentence called for spending nine months in a locked drug treatment facility as an alternative to prison.
Harrison, Rangers ink deal — Matt Harrison has gone from a pitcher the Texas Rangers left off their postseason roster to one they believe can become one of the league’s best left-handers. The Rangers finalized a $55 million, five-year contract with the All-Star lefty Thursday. The deal includes a 2018 club option that could become guaranteed depending on the number of innings Harrison pitches. Harrison was 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA and four complete games in 32 starts last year.
Timbers draft defender — The Portland Timbers selected University of Washington defender Dylan Tucker-Gagnes with the 34th overall pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Thursday. The Timbers acquired the pick earlier in the day when the team traded forward Mike Fucito to the San Jose Earthquakes. The Timbers had just one pick in Thursday’s draft, which was conducted in Indianapolis.
—From wire reports