With brother Curtis back at her side at Tiburon Golf Club, Lexi Thompson shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.

Curtis, a Korn Ferry Tour player, also caddied for his sister in 2018 when she won the season-ending event.

Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark was a stroke back after a bogey-free round.

PGA: Amid hopes for the return of fans next year, Commissioner Jay Monahan says tournaments are prepared financially to do without and still break even on operating costs.

In a conference call to look back at a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Monahan said the tour was encouraged that a vaccine could lead to a “slow and steady increase” in how many fans are allowed at tournaments. Still, he said that would not be a decision by the tour alone.

The tour for the last five years had been pushing its tournaments – most are run autonomously – to build reserve funds to cope with a situation like what the pandemic presented. By the end of the year, corporate sponsors were allowed to invite a limited number of clients. Pro-ams returned. The Houston Open was the first domestic event that had fans, selling 2,000 tickets a day. For early next year, most West Coast events have said they will not have fans.

The Phoenix Open is building a single-story structure for its rowdy 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale, instead of what had been an enclosed stadium with seating for thousands.

“I would say that our tournaments are prepared to operate without fans and to do so on a break-even basis which, like reserves, allows you to continue to operate and continue to move your tournament forward,” Monahan said. “And we will try and be more creative and innovative about additional ways to raise money and help them.”

BASKETBALL

NBA: The coach’s challenge is back, and here to stay.

Following the recommendation from the league’s competition committee, the NBA’s board of governors voted Thursday to keep the challenge as an option for coaches going forward. It was introduced last year on a one-year trial.

Coaches challenged 700 calls last season, including the playoffs. Calls were overturned 308 times, or a rate of 44%.

Also approved by the board of governors Thursday: a plan to give teams the ability to expand their active roster on game nights from 13 to 15 for this season – a move being made largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic and in anticipation of the likelihood that teams will be missing players from time to time.

SOCCER

FIFA AWARDS: Robert Lewandowski was named the FIFA Best Men’s Player for 2020 after his 55-goal season lifted Bayern Munich to a sweep of international and domestic trophies.

Voting was by a global jury of national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists and fans. Lewandowski received 52 voting points, with Cristiano Ronaldo second (38) and Lionel Messi third (35).

Lucy Bronze was voted the best women’s player, giving England its first individual victory at the FIFA awards. Bronze got 52 points, beating Pernille Harder (40) and Wendi Renard (35).

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp was voted the best men’s coach for a second straight year.

ENGLAND: Marcus Rashford’s two goals helped Manchester United overcome goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s early gaffe and earn a 3-2 victory at Sheffield United.

The result left the hosts with only one point after 13 games – the worst start for any team since the English league began in 1888.

Manchester United jumped to sixth in the standings, five points behind leader Liverpool with a game in hand.

SAILING

AMERICA’S CUP: United States challenger American Magic won both of its races on the opening day of the World Series, ending with a thrilling match-race win over Cup defender Team New Zealand in Auckland.

On a disastrous day for INEOS Team UK, the British challenger lost to American Magic by more than a leg of the six-leg course, then was forced to retire from its second race against Italy’s Luna Rossa when it sustained a major equipment malfunction.

Team UK’s Britannia had been plagued by technical issues in practice and those problems continued on the first day of racing. It suffered a malfunction and submerged its bow during the race against American Magic. Against Luna Rossa it experienced a more serious breakdown, apparently with the canting foil arm which left it dead in the water.

American Magic’s Patriot looked strong in both of its races Thursday, most importantly in a classic match race with Team New Zealand in the last race of the day. New Zealand-born helmsman Dean Barker led across the start line and defended his lead around most of the course.

Team New Zealand took back the lead when the boats rounded the top mark side by side for the final time. But Patriot regained the lead on the last, downwind leg, hitting 47.37 knots (54.5 mph) – the highest speed of the day – to win by 12 seconds.


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